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Ask These Questions

A curated, categorized list of questions that you may want to know the answers to before accepting a job offer in the software or IT field.

Engineering practices

  • What version control system do you use? Can you explain your branch management strategy?
  • Do you test your code? Can you describe your typical testing plan?
  • Do you use continuous integration tools?
  • Do you employ continuous delivery / deployment strategies?
  • Can you explain what your release and deployment processes are like?
  • Who is responsible for doing deployment? How often do you deploy?
  • How do you make sure that all code is understood by more than one person?
  • Do you do code reviews? Does all code get reviewed?
  • Do you have an issue / feature tracker? How is priority managed?
  • How do you find bugs in your team’s code? What recourse do you have when you find a serious bug in production code?
  • Are Clean Code values important to your team? How is that institutionalized?
  • When something goes wrong, how do you handle it? Can you tell me about a time when something went wrong?
  • How and when do developers talk to non-developers? Is it easy to talk to the people who are or will be using your product?
  • Can I see some code the team I’m interviewing for has written?
  • Who are the people at your company with a lot of depth of experience? Will I be able to speak with them?
  • Who are the newer people at your company? Will I be able to speak with them?
  • What’s your approach to technical debt?

Management style

  • How does engineering work get assigned? Which development methodology do you practice? Can you explain it?
  • How do you balance support work and feature development?
  • Can you give me an example of someone who’s been in a technical role at your company for a long time, and how their responsibilities and role have changed?
  • Do you have a dedicated designer? QA engineer? Technical writer? Development manager?
  • How often do you have meetings? Are there any scheduled/standing meetings?
  • Has there been a situation where someone raised an ethical concern? If so, how was it handled? If not, have there really not been any?
  • How are decisions, technical and non technical, made? Is architecture dictated top down? Are ideas from anyone welcomed? If so, in what scope/context?
  • How are disagreements solved - both technical disagreements and other kinds? What happens when personalities clash?
  • Can you tell me about a time when you’ve had to let someone go?
  • Is there a written roadmap all developers can see? How far into the future does it extend? How closely is it followed?
  • How is performance evaluated? How often?

Quality of life

  • How much vacation do people get? If there’s “unlimited” vacation, how much vacation do people normally take?
  • Is it possible to take sabbaticals or unpaid vacation?
  • What’s your process for making sure you have diversity in your workforce?
  • How many hours do people work in an average week? In your busiest weeks?
  • Is schedule flexibility tolerated or is everyone expected to be on the same schedule?
  • What time do people normally get to work? What time do people normally leave work?
  • Would I need to be on call? How often?
  • How often are there emergencies or times when people are asked to work extra hours?
  • What is your turnover rate like? How many devs were hired last year and how many left? Do you think you could’ve done anything differently to keep people who left?
  • Do people work on the weekend?
  • Do people check in when they’re on vacation? How often?
  • Is it possible to work from home? How often? Does anyone do this?
  • Does this position require travel? How often?
  • What is your biggest pain point of working here?

As many of these as possible are “statistical” questions – a company may say that they “don’t have hours”, but if everyone leaves at 9pm that’s not a good sign.

Community involvement

  • Do you contribute to open source projects? Which projects? Which teams work on open source? Do you work mostly in the community or do you have a private fork?
  • Do your employees speak at conferences about your work? Can you tell me about one of these times?
  • Are there any local communities you support?

Career development

  • Are employees encouraged to go speak at conferences?
  • Do you cover travel to conferences? How many conferences a year do developers typically go to?
  • Does your company support continuing education or provide tuition reimbursement?
  • In what other ways do you support career development?
  • What does the first week/month/90 days look like for a new employee?
  • What are some of the challenges you've seen new employees struggle with?

Culture

  • How do you determine if someone is a poor fit for your company? What does a good fit look like in your mind?
  • How are your teams structured? What is the management structure like?
  • How often do you pair program? How often do inexperienced people work directly with experienced people?
  • What’s the onboarding process like? How long does it typically take?
  • Is there any sort of institutionalized way of dealing with plateauing or preventing burnout? Rotation of duties, sabbaticals, etc.
  • Is it easy to move to other divisions, teams or offices?
  • How does internal communication work?
  • Do people often eat meals at the office? Is it ever provided by the company?
  • How many hours a week does senior management work?
  • Are senior managers accessible to developers?
  • How formal is the office environment? Will jeans and a tshirt be acceptable? If not, what is considered acceptable?
  • Do you allow remote work? Are you a remote-first company?
  • If you allow remote work, how do you support remote workers and make sure distributed teams are effective?
  • What are some common qualities of the top performers in at the company?
  • What are some of your favorite perks of working at the company?
  • What is the turnover like at the company and the team I'd be joining?

Financials, business model and growth

  • Are you profitable?
  • If not, how does this affect what you can do? What’s your planned timeline for becoming profitable?
  • How do you make money? What's your elevator pitch?
  • How much are you planning to hire in the next year?
  • Are company financials transparent throughout the company?

Office space, hardware, and tools

  • How is the office space physically organized? Is it an open environment? Do developers get offices?
  • What type of hardware is provided? How often is it upgraded? Is it a company-wide standard or is it customized for the group/team?
  • Are developers allowed to use whichever tools they need for the job? Will the company provide funding for these tools?
  • Can I install the software I need myself or does an "IT Department" need to do it? Do I have to fill out a formal request?
  • Can I choose my own hardware, OS, and software?
  • How often does installed software, firewalls, proxies, etc. get in the way of you doing your best work?
  • How formal is the office environment? Will jeans and a tshirt be acceptable? If not, what is considered acceptable?

Other

  • Can you tell me about how the entire interview process is structured? How many interviews are there?
  • How often do you offer above asking? Can I speak with someone who got such an offer?
  • What do you wish you had known when you joined this company?
  • Why did you choose to join this company? Why are you still here?
  • What’s the single biggest issue or problem facing the team/department/company? What’s currently being done to address it?
  • Is this position newly created or a backfill? If backfill, why did last person leave? Would I be able to speak with them about it?

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Questions for an interviewer from an interviewee.

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