Questions you should definitely ask during an interview for a tech role

Must-ask: Questions to ask before accepting a new tech job

When you apply for a job there are a number of important things that aren’t mentioned by the recruiter, at all, during the process of discovery. These are never advertised on the description for the job role, but as an applicant you should ask them during your first round, when given a chance.

If you interview people, on the other hand, this list might prepare you ahead of time.
So let’s get listing!

List of questions to ask a hiring manager during Engineering hiring process

1) Delivery expectations for role

  • Usually the job description mentions requirements and experience, but what is the actual expectation for the role during your first 30-60-90 days at the company doing that job? What about at the end of the first year?

2) Training

  • If I am interested in certain aspects of the technology (or anything pertinent to my role’s vertical), can I get trained in it?
  • How do other people at the company do the training work: i.e. self-learning or workshop based?
  • Any concrete examples of training that benefitted a member of the team at the company?

3) Community contributions/open source

  • Does the company work to contribute to open-source through own projects or supporting others?
  • A good rule of thumb is taking 20% of the engineering team’s time to dedicated to OSS projects, alternatively does the company donate money to OSS maintainers/projects?
  • Hackdays or hackathons can also lead to open-source contributions…

4) Intellectual property

  • Execution is key to nailing any business, but I.P. is a hammer. Asking if the company is working on anything specifically that can be considered their intellectual property is a smart move, and no, you don’t need the details. Most companies don’t have a solid answer to this question but those which do are obviously better prepared. Having a good idea whether someone has some secret sauce recipe is ALWAYS a good sign.

5) Frequency of deployments (CI/CD)

  • When a company has a solid strategy for deploying and continuosly improving their product using git or similar systems, that usually equals maturity and stability. This is because when you set up a working CI/CD pipeline you can rollback, at any time, the code and (data incongruencies apart) sleep tight at night.
  • Also ask about testing, what kind of testing happens during the cycle of deployment?

6) Code quality practices

  • On the topic of testing, how does a certain company review the code within the team? Are there regular code reviews or pair-programming session where multiple members of a team work together

7) Roadmap quality and grooming

  • This is a long one, so I am just going to sum it up in one sentence:
    Who is involved in the grooming process of the roadmap in the company? Top points if the answer includes a mention that engineers can directly propose changes and influence the backlog.

8) Career ladders

  • I find that most organized and well structured have a simple and understandable career ladder document. When there is a defined career ladder, with levels, and expectations for each level of seniority within the team, you know what’s expected for you to progress within the company.
  • It is a great sign for a successful and stable career in a company, on the other hand not having one means you’re probably going to have to spend energy and resources to figure it out with whoever you’re reporting to

9) Compensation

  • Understanding how compensation works is paramount, by this step you should have already asked about the compensation and how bonuses/equity work, but if you haven’t this is an extremely important question to ask. Equity or profit shares increases engagement within the team as people are more involved when their economic ties to the company are defined

10) Work life balance

  • If the company is remote-first, what are the hours where everyone agrees you shouldn’t be working? Are you following a 9-5 approach or something different. Are you going to end up having meetings with the team in SF at 3am? How much ASYNCHRONICITY does the team account for?

Any more ideas?

Let me know what you think of these types of questions to a hiring manager during the job interview process! Reach out to me on twitter (@sunglassesface) for a chat!