I end up referencing this materal often, so I thought I’d publish it here.
Questions for interviewer
- When asked “Do you have any questions for us?”, you don’t need to mumble like you’re not prepared.
- These questions are more geared towards tech/IT white-collar (i.e., cubicle) type jobs in the USA.
- Print this out and bring it with you to an interview.
- You don’t need to ask every question. Use your best judgement.
- Make sure you actually write down the answers you’re given, don’t just nod your head and say “Mmhmmm”.
- Comments and notes are in italics.
- Remember that the company isn’t just interviewing you, you’re interviewing them! You’re about to give them years of your life, blood, sweat, and tears. Be thorough and don’t sell yourself short!
About the (potential) company (may be best to direct this to HR)
- How are you funded? Capital, stocks, private investment, etc…
- How do you make money? Try to explain this to a friend and see if it makes sense to them.
- Are you profitable? If not, what is your runway and what is your plan to become profitable? This mainly applies to startups.
- What is the company’s growth plan for the next 1 year? Next 5 years?
- What is your company’s competitive advantage?
- Do you outsource work? If so, what percentage? Not specifically overseas, but even to contractors.
- Can you tell me about the company culture?
- Is there a busy time of the day/week/month/year? If so, why?
- Am I expected to take my work home with me? Try to find out the work/life balance.
- Am I expected to obtain a security clearance?
- Do you provide open offices, personal offices, or cubicles?
- Is there a dress code?
- Do you allow remote work?
- Will I need to sign a non-compete or non-disclosure agreement?
- Is there a separate tech and management career track?
- Can I contribute to FOSS projects? Try to see if they have a claim to your IP.
- Does this company support FOSS projects? Either with money or developer hours.
- Do employees speak at conferences?
About the (potential) position
- Why is this position open? Try to determine if the position has high turnover or if it’s unnecessarily stressful.
- Why is the company hiring an outsider over promoting an existing employee? This may not apply in all scenarios.
- Can you describe a typical day in this position? What about a typical week?
- What would you expect me to accomplish in the first 60 to 90 days? What about the first year?
- How is the success of the person in this position to be measured? Do you work on a quota (e.g., number of closed tickets per week), or are your goals less quantifiable?
- What are the common attributes your top performers in this position?
- What are the biggest challenges or obstacles a person in this position will face?
- What are the core work hours?
- What timezones does this position span?
- Is there an on-call rotation or shift-work? If so, please describe.
- What do you feel are some best perks of the position?
About your (potential) manager
- How long have you been with the company?
- How would you describe your management style? If they use the words “hands-on” or “micro”, run the other way.
- What is your team’s biggest challenge right now? They’ll probably say “Not enough staff”, since they’re hiring. Ask for their second biggest challenge.
- Is there anything in particular that frustrates you? Anything from the culture, to a particular project. Try to learn what frustrates them, because you need to show them how you can solve their problems.
- What is the number one goal/project you’d like to achieve/complete in the next year or two?
- Do you do one-on-ones?
- What do your employees do in their free time? This not only shows that the employees have lives outside of work, but it shows that their manager knows them on a personal level.
- What excites you personally about coming into work?
- What is it that has kept you working for this company for so long?
About your (potential) team/coworkers
- How is your team structured?
- How big is this team compared to other teams?
- What is the junior/senior balance of the team? Will you end up being the least or most experienced person on the team?
- How long has the longest team member been here?
- Tell me about who I would be working most closely with.
- How do you assign work/projects to members of the team?
- How frequently does your team work with other teams?
- How does inter/intra team communication work (e.g., Skype, Teams, Slack, etc…)?
- Do you use any tools for project organization?
- What kind of recurring meetings does the team have?
- What is the culture around production incidents like? Try to see if they do blameless analysis.
- What kind of laptop do you provide?
- What are the usual tech stacks used?
- What kind of source control do you use?
- How do you track bugs? If they mention Jira, run the other way. I’m only partially joking.
- How do you test code?
- How do you deploy code?
- How you track projects?
- How you manage artifacts (e.g., Artifactory)?
- How do you manage dependencies (e.g., do you use an automated tool like Dependabot or Renovate)?
- What kind of CI/CD systems do you use?
- Do you use infrastructure as code?
- What kind of disaster recovery systems do you use?
- What kind of developement environment will I be using? Is it standardized?
- I highly recommend reading the salary negotiation tips linked at the bottom.
- Do you give formal performance reviews? If so, how often?
- How do you reward tenure?
- Do you give annual salary increases? If so, what was last year’s median raise on your team (in percent)?
- Do you give bonuses? If so, how often and how is the amount determined?
- Do you rank employees against one another when determining raises and bonuses?
- What kind of benefits do you offer?
- Healthcare/dental/vision? Make sure to ask who the provider is for each.
- Life insurance?
- Prescription insurance?
- Retirement plan(i.e., 401k/403b)? Make sure to ask the percentage match and vesting period.
- Stock options or profit sharing?
- Employee stock purchase program?
- What kind of perks do you offer?
- Tuition assistance and other education (e.g., certificates, classes, conferences, etc…)?
- Child/dependent care?
- Flexible hours?
- Employee discounts?
- Company car/credit card?
- Commuter perks (e.g., bus pass)?
- Wellness programs (e.g., gym membership)?
- In-office snacks/food?
- In-office causal dress code?
- Charity donation matching?
- Paid sabbaticals?
- How much PTO is offered? Is it give at once or accrued over time? If accrued, what is the accrual rate?
- Are sick and vacation time separate or part of the same pool?
- What paid holidays are offered?
- Is there a roll-over policy for PTO?
- Is there a sell-back policy for PTO?
- Do you offer maternity/paternity leave?
Work from home
- What is the ratio of remote to office workers?
- How flexible are the work from home hours?
- How frequently can I work from home?
- How frequently will I be expected to come into the office?
- Will the company pay for electronics/office equipment? If so, who owns that equipment?
- How do you feel about BYOD?
- Does the company install any monitoring software? For example, JPMorgan infamously uses Workplace Activity Data Utility (WADU) which is very invasive (e.g., screen recoding, turning on your camera, etc…). This would be a non-starter for me personally.
Below are some other resources that contain good questions/ideas (these are more geared towards tech).
These resources are specifically about salary negotiation.