When interviewing, you want to make sure that you are asking the right questions to the right people. These questions can be used for many different parts of the interviewing process such as asking these questions to HR or hiring managers or even team members you talk to.
It’s important that when you ask these questions, you also follow up with how you agree or disagree and an example of you having the skill or have done the job they have talked about. In other words, engage in further conversation after the interviewer has answered the question. Also make sure to jot down the answers to these questions to refer to later.
You don’t have to ask all these questions but it is good to ask a variety to get a feel for the company, team and the position.
I’ve grouped these questions based on what group you could ask these questions to: HR/Recruiters, Hiring Managers, Team Members and a bonus question you can ask all groups.
- How did this job become available?
- Ask this question to get a find out what kind of need they need to fill and if you could be that person that fills it.
- What is the hiring process?
- This is important so that you know how long this process will take. This becomes important when you are interviewing with multiple companies. You can also keep track of this. Also, after each step of the interview process, ask how long it will be until you hear back if they don’t mention it. It will help you time when you follow up with them.
- Timeline for hiring?
- This is like the hiring process above. You’ll want to know how quickly they plan to hire. If they are in a rush, ask them why they are. The answer here could vary (maybe they are planning for a new product to drop soon and need extra hands on deck). Pay attention to things that could be red flags (if they don’t answer this question directly, probe them to gain more insight and if after that you get nothing, you may need to walk).
Hiring Manager/Engineering Manager
- How many engineers are on the team?
- This is important just so you know how large or small the engineering team is. This may not matter to you but for me, I don’t want to be the first or second engineer on the team at this point in my career. I value teamwork and learning from others. However, if being the first or second engineer appeals you then that could be good for you to know early on.
- Whats something the company/team could improve on or is improving on?
- This one is important. If they don’t have any thing they can improve on, that’s red flag. No one is perfect. Also pay attention to the amount of explanation they are going into here. If they can clearly explain what the issue is and how they can make it better and what they are currently doing to resolve things it usually means that they’ve had conversations about this with others at the company or on their team and really want to make things better.
- What are the challenges for someone going into this position?
- You’ll want to know what you are getting yourself into before you walk on the team.
- What productivity tools do you all use?
- You can ask this to the recruiter of the company to get a basic insight into the tools the company uses such as Slack for daily communication or Zoom for meetings.
- The hiring manager would probably be best to answer this especially if the engineering team is using something in addition to what the company uses. You could also gain a bit of insight into what tools they are using for deployment and version control. If they didn’t mention it, then it may be good idea to ask just in case you do get the job, you can look into the tools ahead of time before your first day.
- Is the team agile? How long is the Sprint cycle?
- Some recruiters of direct company’s know how the engineering team works. If not, ask the hiring manager – they should be able to provide you with a lot of insight into this if not, run away 😂
- Is there a product team or does engineering talk directly to business?
- Ask this to get a better idea of how the team is structured. To learn about who the key players you will be speaking with if you join the team. Also, ask where the person who gets this job would land in this equation – i.e. who do you need to be comfortable talking to. You can also use this as an advantage during your interview if you have past experience that correlates to how their work environment is set up.
- Whats something you wish you would have known before you started?
- The answer to this question could give you a leg up if you end up working at the company.
- What is something you’ve learned while working at the company?
- This is big! What they learned is key to what you can learn if you work here. If they didn’t learn anything that’s a red flag that nothing is new and they aren’t being challenged. Which for me is a non negotiable.
Bonus Question – Ask to Recruiter, Hiring Manager and Team Member
- Whats your favorite thing you enjoy about working at the company?
- This tells me a lot about what keeps them at the company. If I hear things that have to do with perks only, it gives me a weird vibe but if they mix in perks along with things they do that help the people using the product or service the company provides then I’m interested in hearing more.