Interview Questions — what to ask
Having good interview questions to ask is essential. It shows that you are prepared, ready and interested in the new role with your prospective employer.
When I interviewed earlier this year for my new job in Germany as a Software Engineer, I wrote down a list of questions that I wanted to ask in an interview, both during and at the end of the interview. I categorized them by values / topics that I was interested in. This made it possible to ask questions and keep the conversation going.
Since I had a reference point to look at the questions list, there was not a point when I ran out of topics to talk about. Interviewing is a two-way process — you are also evaluating if this company is where you want to spend & invest your time in for the near future. You should interview the company like they interview you.
I have included the questions I generally tend to ask, along with a crowd sourced list of questions that I have come across in Reddit and Hacker News. So let’s get started for “Do you have any questions?”
General questions about the role
- What are the expectations for this role in 3, 6, 12 months?
Knowing what’s expected of you in the probation period is extremely valuable. This helps you understand if they need you to kick off right from day one or if it’s where you have got time to settle in and then deliver.
- How do you define success for this job position?
- Is this a new position or would I be replacing someone else? What is the driver for this role to exist now? If someone previously held this position, why did they leave?
If it’s a replacement, follow up to see if you can learn why that person left
- How long have you worked here?
This works well for the recruiter and anyone else participating in the interview process. Gives a sign if people stick around or if the company is on fire
- What’s the attrition rate here? (Or churn rate for employees)
I have faced some hesitancy in answering this question. Expect pushback or what’s a churn rate (the rate at which people leave)
- What’s the policy on working from home?
If you’re looking for remote jobs, this is a key question
- How did the company respond to the pandemic?
Gives you an idea of how they operated, if it was remote friendly, if they plan to go back to the office
- What are the goals of the company currently, and how will my position be used to further those goals?
You should verify that the company has measured goals — otherwise it’s going to be chaotic to actually get anything done.
- What does the entire interview process look like and how long is it supposed to go?
Preferably best to ask in the initial interview or call with Recruiter. Helps to know if you expect a lengthy take home project or leetcode questions when you’re a Software Engineer.
- What is the criteria and process for promotion/advancement at this company? Is there an arbitrary cap on the number of available promo spots above my current position?
- Is there overtime? If yes, how often do teams tend to work overtime?
- Is there on-call support?
- How many people have left the team or the company in the last year?
- How diverse is the company?
If diversity is something you care about, see if you can get a deeper look into the numbers
Software Engineering Interview Questions
- How are requirements delivered to the engineering teams?
- What does your development process look like?
- If there’s no process, or lack of CI/CD integration, tests, etc., you know what to do. (Hint: run, unless you’re brought in to do this)
- What does the team composition look like?
- Does my team have an engineering manager, QA testers, frontend / backend / devops, product managers, etc.
- How do you all manage your logging and monitoring infrastructure?
- How is cohesion between colleagues? How long does it take to get PR’s reviewed and approved?
- How often do you deploy to production?
- Are we given time to address tech debt? Is tech debt tracked?
- What’s the current technology stack?
- How do you evaluate current tools and tools we might want to use in future? Who makes the decision? Is it from Engineering?
- Will I be able to set up a virtually identical build to production on my work computer without huge hassles?
- How often do engineers pair program?
- How does Knowledge Transfer happen? (Especially if it’s a remote job)
Work Life Balance Interview Questions
- What’s a standard day, week or weekend as part of this role?
Lets you ask the work life balance question without mentioning it
- Are we expected to respond to emails or messages after work hours?
- How does the company handle when someone makes a mistake?
This helps you see if the blame is on the person or the process
- What’s the holiday policy? How much notice do employees need to provide?
- Ask how they plan projects and create deadline estimates
If this is “spontaneous” or “flexible”, see if you can get more information on it
- If my team puts in extra hours to get a release out on time, what sort of compensation is offered to us?
- What does “flexible work hours” mean? (if this was in the job description)
Remote Job Interview Questions
- Are there core hours when everyone is expected to be online?
Usually companies stick to 10 AM to 4 PM or define a core hour period where everyone is expected to be online. Even if you’re allowed to work from somewhere else, you might have to stick to the core hours in the specified timezone
- Is the company / team fully distributed?
Helps identify if you’ll be one of the few working from home or the other way. Things are easier when everyone in the team works remotely.
- If the team is mostly remote, are there any events that help with social bonding with teammates?
It’s easier to communicate with your teammates if you have met them in person. Remote can pose a challenge to this.
- Where does the team currently struggle with respect to remote working?
- Are there any pain points with remote working so far? What challenges are present and how does the team / company plan to tackle this?
- Is there a budget to help me setup technical equipment?
Relocation / Visa Sponsorship Questions
- Will the company assist with visa sponsorship?
- Will the company assign a relocation agent to help move and settle in the city?
- Is there a relocation budget?
This is especially nice when you’re moving to a new country or city
- Is there a possibility to provide accomodation for the first couple of weeks?