At the end of an interview, the hiring manager (or whomever you interviewed with) will inevitably ask you if you have any questions for them. Now is not the time to say no! If you haven’t prepared questions, it can be off-putting and a sign of disinterest. Let us be crystal clear: having questions to ask them is just as important as how you answered theirs.
This is not only an opportunity to get clarifications on anything you may be uncertain about; it’s an opportunity to show just how knowledgeable you are about their company and tech stack, and it’s your chance to find out what their culture and working environment is like. You’re interviewing them just as much as they’re interviewing you.
“I’ve always tried to tell people that are in the job market to go to their interviews with good questions to ask the person interviewing them. A lot of people don’t realize that this isn’t just a moment for a company to interview you, it’s also your moment to interview them. This gives you the opportunity to get a feel for the company that you will be spending a vast amount of time at, so they need to be as good a fit for you as you are for them,” says Traci Blair-Saxon, Manager of Prepress, Digital and Offset Print Production at local print marketing company PrimeNet. “Asking well thought-out questions also shows the interviewer that you have a vested interest in their company, which actually does mean a lot to the person interviewing you. It has to be a good fit for both the employer and new hire. I’ve interviewed many people in my current position, and when you get to the part of the interview when you ask the candidate if they have any questions about the job or the company and they reply with ‘no, I think I’m good,’ it’s kind of disappointing and a missed opportunity to leave a personal impression on those that are interviewing you.”
A good rule of thumb is to have around 4 or 5 questions to ask your interviewer. Show off that you’ve done your research. Showcase your interest in the position.
But how do I pick what I want to ask about?
Before your interview, while doing research on the company, you’re bound to hit topics that are interesting. Formulate questions about these. For example, if you read about the company’s past change from one tech stack to another, ask them why they did that. If you find out the company switched to a serverless infrastructure, ask about that! Show interest in the why.
If you’re still hitting a roadblock about what to ask, see below – these should be a good starting point for you. The questions we’re about to list off are a mix of questions about you and your skills, the company, and the company’s tech.
-How do you recognize good employees for their hard work?
-What are two reasons people like to work here other than salary / insurance / culture / ‘we’re a family’?
-What are the biggest challenges that the company is currently facing?
-Conversely, what’s exciting about the company’s future?
-Is there anything interesting coming down the pipeline, in terms of new products or services?
-What’s the culture like? What kinds of events does the company host?
You / position questions:
-If I’m to exceed expectations by the 6 month mark, what kind of goals should I set for myself?
-What’s the review process here, and what will I be evaluated for?
-Do you expect the responsibilities for this position to change in the near future?
-What’s the career path for someone in this position?
-Why is this position open? Is it a new opening due to growth, or did someone leave?
-Follow up if it was because someone left: Why did they leave?
-Who will I be working with most closely? How large is the team?
Tech questions (these would ideally be asked through the conversation, not at the end):
-What technologies are you currently working with?
-What database platforms are you currently implementing, and are they working well?
-What are some technologies that I could do some reading on to better help drive success for the team?
-Is all development done in-house, or are there contracted teams contributing work?
-On average, how many hours do you work per week?
-Is there an on-call rotation? If so, how often would someone in my position be on call?
-Depending on the role, you might ask what the development workflow is now.
-How much time do you spend working on technical debt items versus developing new automated processes or product features?
-If you had to describe your management structure’s mentality to bringing success to the business, how would you?
-Could you tell me what the DevOps mantra looks like here? How well do you think it’s working?
-Are you implementing a proper branching and tagging structure to make managing deployments easier?
-Walk me through your current CI/CD pipeline.
-What CI tool do you use to manage deployments, and when it’s primetime for a deploy, how is that triggered? On merge to master, etc?
-What time do you do your deployments? Do they happen during business hours or after hours/weekends?
-For any external web applications you have, where are you serving static and dynamic content from? What CDNs might you be using, and how do the static assets get there during your build/deploy process?
-How much of your infrastructure is in the public cloud versus an on premise or co-lo data center?
-What are the last 2 songs you favorited on Spotify?
-How long have you been at the company? What keeps you here?
Save for last:
-At this point, what’s your biggest hesitation about hiring me? – ASK THIS, ALWAYS!
-Can I get a tour of the office and where I’d be working?
-What are the next steps?
We hope this gave you some good jumping off points. Make sure to formulate these in your own words and apply them to the company you’re interviewing with, as some questions will obviously not be relevant. Good luck in your interviews!
Roxanne Williams is the Marketing Director at Full Stack Talent, a technology staffing agency in Tampa, FL. Find her LinkedIn here. Marcus Bastian is the President / CEO at Clouductivity Navigator, a Chrome extension that makes life easier for AWS cloud engineers everywhere. Download the extension here. Marcus helped with all the tech questions!