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Cover image for Interview Questions You Should Ask

Interview Questions You Should Ask

kaydacode profile image Kim Arnett  ・4 min read

"Do you have any questions for us?"

Have you been the victim of this question, and didn't know what to say? Did you stumble through a response that sounded like "No, I think I'm good." or "So.. are the snacks in the kitchen free?" Yikes.

Or..
Perhaps you did ask some questions.. but then a few months in realized you're in a miserable job, at a terrible company that really could not care if you were hit by a bus.. Then this blog post is for you!

I've been there, and I'd like to share a few tips I've learned along the way to weed out some bad companies, and answer this question like a pro and not a literally hungry college student.

First, Why Does This Question Exist?

Companies want to hire someone who's excited to work there. Realistically, you can only find out so much about a company through their website, social media, and an hour interview. So this question exists to give you a chance to interview the company and make sure it's a good fit from both sides of the table.

What happens if you don't answer? First of all, you're giving them all of the power, letting them know that you just need a job, or maybe don't care that much about what's in it for you. But ultimately, they'll see that you're not really into the company, the team, or maybe even the work you'll be doing. Which leads me into...

Basic Questions You Should Ask & Why

  1. How can I best prepare for this role before starting?
    This question lets them know you're excited not only about the role, but also about starting and self-learning! You're a go getter and that's great! Plus, having this answered will give you a jump start on being prepared for your first day.

  2. Describe a typical week.
    Am I going to be in meetings all week? Am I going to be working until my palms are bloody? Are there team lunches? This question will give you a feel for what you're getting yourself into.

  3. What would my immediate responsibilities be?
    Along with numero uno, this question helps give you a good sense of what you should focus on during your first few days and give you a head start if you need to research anything.

  4. What does the career path look like for this role?
    Most companies will have career paths thought out - unless it's pretty small.. but even then they should have some sort of clue on how to keep their best employees engaged. Perhaps you're not interested in being a manager, it's best to know right away if there's a path that you can take.

Questions I've Asked & Why

I've been in some bad interviews and bad companies. Those experiences have led me to ask the following questions in attempt to avoid the practices that I didn't enjoy.

  1. How does your company promote personal growth?
    Without advancement, technology wouldn't be where it is today. Companies that aren't interested in training their employees are setting them up for failure down the road. I for one, need proof that a company I'm interviewing with takes that seriously. This one is especially important if you are just getting started in tech and perhaps haven't found your true passion yet. Will this potential company support you in finding what you like and allow you to move into that role?

  2. Is flexibility something you accommodate?
    As a parent, this one is a big one for me. If I need to work remotely for a day while school is canceled, or for two while I or my child has the flu, I need to be able to do that without consequence and without judgement. Also consider doctors appointments, vet emergencies, etc.

  3. Do you feel there are any skills currently lacking on the team?
    Read: What can I do to be a total rockstar here. Is there a weakness that I can take head on and make the team stronger? If the team has all the skills, and just needs back up.. is that a role you're interested in taking? All good things to know.

Everything is a Suggestion

Everything I've mentioned here is a part of my interview process and my experiences. Some of this will have hopefully overlapped with yours, which is why you're reading this article. I encourage you to sit down with some paper, and reflect on past experiences. What did you like, what did you not like, and what sort of questions could you have asked to ensure your values and the potential companies values matched up.

Please comment below with any questions on your must ask list!
Thanks for reading!

Discussion

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twof profile image
Alex Reilly

I usually ask "What do you like about working here?" And 90% of the time if it's an engineer, they're super honest.

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kaydacode profile image
Kim Arnett  Author

Great question! Also telling if they hesitate for a few minutes 😂

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Darryl D.

I came here to say the same thing. If they struggle to answer, red flags go up.

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agazaboklicka profile image
Aga Zaboklicka

The good manager will also answer that question.

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Frank Carr

One thing I like to look for is how much a company's management values the people who work there and which types of workers it values and which it does not. While software developers are usually valued in tech companies, this isn't always the case when working in corporate information systems in non-tech companies. For example, some companies I've worked for placed high value on their sales team and treated software developers like trash. At times, I've seen a lot of discomfort from interviewers when I've directly asked, "How much does the company value your work?"

Your example questions about career path, personal growth and flexibility can be good indicators of how much value a company puts on developers. A company that doesn't value them probably won't have a career path, offer any personal growth and will be inflexible. They see programmers as easily replaceable cogs.

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Kim Arnett  Author

So much yes! I know exactly what you’re talking about. I looked the idea of asking them head on. Thanks for sharing!

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Shawn Sommer

I tend to go in with a list of questions. Some questions are tailored to the position, others are more general. The look on the interviewer's face is priceless when I pull out a printed sheet of questions and start taking notes on their answers. I just dug up a doc that had my interview questions for the first job I landed as an intern.

1) What is the biggest change the company has gone through in the last year?

2) If I were to get the internship position, what key accomplishments would you like to see in this role over the next year?

3) What's the style of leadership here at [company name]?

4) What types of people are successful here and which are not?

5) How did you get your start in the industry?

6) What do you like about working here?

7) What is the rhythm of work here? Is there a particular time of year when it's all hands on deck and we're pulling long hours or is it fairly consistent throughout the year?

8) What type of background and experience are you looking for in this position? What would your ideal candidate look like?

9) If I were to start tomorrow, what would be the top priority on my to-do list?

10) What would you say are the top two personality traits someone needs to do this job well?

11) What improvements or changes do you hope someone filling this role will bring to the company?

12) Is there anything that stands out to you that makes you think I might not be the right fit for this position?

13) What is the timeline for making a decision on this position? When should I get back in touch with you?

If the interviewer answered one or more of the questions during the regular flow of the interview or I have a good feel about what the answer would be I'll just skip the question. Typically, I probably ask about 6 or 7 of these questions.

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Kim Arnett  Author

That is amazing! And honsetly I’ve done the same lol and have actually had the interviewer stop me because we were out of time. I think it was a good indicator to them though that they dictated our entire time together. 👎🏼

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Shawn Sommer

I've been fortunate that I haven't been cut off from my questions yet but I would most likely take it as a negative sign if they did.

I tend to ask a handful of company specific questions as well. Really, being prepared is the key to a successful interview. One of my former managers told me that one of the candidates he interviewed came with nothing in hand, not even his own resume. The candidate apparently also came off as cocky and his interview didn't last very long at all.

I always take multiple copies of my resume with me as well because sometimes I'll be talking to multiple people either in succession or in a group and I like for everyone to have a copy so they can offer input or ask questions regarding my skills and experiences.

I've found that a certain level of give and take between myself and the interviewer(s) is key in how I feel about working for a company. If all they do is "take" in an interview, it's a pretty safe bet that they are only looking to fill a seat and have little concern about the growth of their employees and are only looking for an immediate increase to their bottom line. However, if they are looking at how they can help an employee be better at their job (continuing education, professional organization membership, etc...) I can see they are probably thinking about the long-term ROI of bringing someone new onto their team. They recognize that my growth as a professional is an asset to the company and not just a "sunk cost" that they dole out as an afterthought.

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Ryan Norton

I'm job hunting for the first dev job, so this is super encouraging! Not always a subject that is mentioned in advice to job seekers! I'm keeping these close when the interviews come!

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Kim Arnett  Author

Great to hear! Check out my other post to get your resume in top shape! 😊 and also good luck!
dev.to/kimberlypilbeam/resum-4eg

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Arto Tukki

There's two things I'm guaranteed to ask:
First: What is the absolute worst thing working here in your opinion?

This one I usually ask from a person that does the same kind of job I'm interviewing for. If there is not that kind of a person present I'll ask it from the interviewer.

Second: Why should I choose to work here?

I know it seems quite an obvious thing to ask (at least it does for me) but I've heard it several times now from the interviewer that he/she is so happy that someone finally asks for that.

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Kim Arnett  Author

Thanks for sharing! Good thoughts.

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d3rrila

Thanks! :) This is really helpful... I'm kinda unable to think up any questions because of a general lack of interest in working with most companies I apply at ;)

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Kim Arnett  Author

Sounds like your not applying at the right companies! Perhaps sitting down and thinking about what would make you excited about a company and coming up with questions to find that information out would be beneficial. 😊

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Matthew

Love the cover photo~

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Kim Arnett  Author

Thanks! It was inspired by reverentgeek s style of hand drawn slides. But I have a long way to go before I reach his level lol.

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beau_haus

Really helpful, Kim.

Thank you!

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Xing Wang

(assume you are an engineer), how are features or new ideas get accepted into the Product Road map?

Since often times, as engineers, we want to have inputs on the product also on what we worked on. So are we listened to, or does our opinion matter? This question will help answer.

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Kim Arnett  Author

Great question! I whole heartedly agree. Thanks for sharing!

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Alex 👨🏼‍💻FullStack.Cafe

Thanks for the great suggestions! Your interview questions have been added to fullstack.cafe portal and back-linked!

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Alice Rees

I think a really useful question, especially for juniors, is "What do you see new recruits struggle with the most?". Can give you a really good idea of how to prepare yourself and a little heads up never hurts.

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Kim Arnett  Author

I really like this one! Thank you for sharing!

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Ben Sinclair

I think a lot of the questions you get asked as an interviewee can go both ways - after all if you're not in dire straits you're choosing a new employer as much as they're choosing an employee.

"You've been working here for, what, two years? In that time, can you describe a typical day in the office/a problem with technology where you had to bring other team members aboard/something you feel proud of achieving?"

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jadjare

Not applied for a job for sometime(!), but if I was I'd be particularly keen to hear...
What is the size and make up of the development team and can you give some examples of the promotions, in that team, that have happened in the last year.

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Yasin Hamid

This is a problem form me, asking about the job or company. I always do research about the company, so I have general idea what to expect, so there's no point asking about the company (I work mostly for banks). As a freelancer I've been to so many teams and projects that I realized that the only think that matters are the people. Unfortunately you rarely can judge the team or working atmosphere from the interview. If it sucks they won't tell you. I can't imagine a technical guy, a developer, sitting in the same room with his manager and answering me "Well the management sucks, but we are using the latest technology."

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Kim Arnett  Author

You're right, they won't explicitly tell you if they're soul is dying, lol, but you can typically tell if they're excited to talk about the company they work for, the high points, to answer your questions, etc, or if it takes them time to dig up something good to tell you.

I once asked in an interview if a company was attending an upcoming conference I was speaking at, and they said no, and I asked what other ways do you promote growth on your team.. and they hesitated and said we have an internal training tool.

So that gives me a few red flags - they weren't interested in supporting me going to this conference, it was something they would 'tolerate' and I definitely got the vibe they were not invested in promoting team growth, but that it was an individual responsibility that was expected to be done outside of work.

The point is that these questions can open up topics that may be deal breakers for you. :)

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iraj jelodari

Thanks Kimberly. your article is fantastic. I do really need it