Questions to ask in job interviews
We consultants go through a process similar to job interviews with our clients. While they are not hiring us as full-time employees, they still want to make sure we fit into their teams well. I also sometimes interview candidates that want to work for us. Over the last five years, I have been on both sides of that conversation a few dozen times.
Most job interviews follow a similar structure. We talk about educational background, interests, and sometimes test coding skills. Some interviews feel like one-sided exams to the applicant. You have to study beforehand, answer questions on the spot, and hope you get a passing grade (and a contract) at the end.
As an applicant, your main goal is to figure out if you want to work for that company at all. You need to use the interview to get the information you need to make a good decision. These are some of the questions I use for that:
What is your biggest challenge that has nothing to do with code?
Not writing code fast enough is rarely the biggest problem. Are they struggling with competition? Are they having a hard time finding new employees? Get a feeling for whether their challenges are interesting to you.
How do you decide what to work on next?
This tells you how they approach their work. How are tasks prioritized? Who makes the decisions? Who sets the direction for the product?
How many members of my future team have been with the company for more than two years?
This one roughly indicates employee happiness. If new employees leave this early, it might point at organizational challenges.
These worked well for me so far, but I am looking for new ones. What are some of the questions you use?
A good job is not defined by salary alone. There are other things you can look for in a potential position.
There are disagreements in all teams about what we build and how we build it. Given several options, we need to understand each of their effects.
Once you speak the language experts in your field use every day, it becomes harder to remember what it was like to not know what you know now.