Useful topics to think of when interviewing for a job. I don’t necessarily believe that all the points/questions below are good or should be asked. Nevertheless.

Questions to ask

Initial chats with the founders or C-suite or senior execs

  • What problem is the company solving?
  • Who has this problem?
  • What is the solution?
  • What megatrends are in favor of this solution?
  • Who is the team? Why is this team the right one? Why are they the ones to deliver a technical solution?
  • What other business challenges are involved with the solution?
  • Who are the competitors? Which of them is good? How much traction are they seeing?
  • What is holding the company back?
  • What kind of company culture is filtering down from senior management?
  • How are the values, vision, plans and strategies communicated?
  • How does communication happen between senior management and other levels?
  • How would you describe the company culture here? How is that culture evolving?
  • Is senior management committed to the department I’m interviewing for?
    • Where do you see the company expanding or focusing its efforts in the next few years?
    • What upcoming initiatives do you find particularly exciting?
    • How do you see (relevant department)’s role in the company’s growth?
  • The following three questions help establish rapport and grant favor with interviewers.
    • If you could design the ideal candidate for this position from the ground up, what skills and traits would they contain?
    • In the next 6 months in the company and industry, what are you most excited about
    • In the next 6 months, what’s the biggest challenge for you in the business to overcome?
    • The response is usually, “Great question!” or “Thanks for asking…” and then the interviewer goes right into the answer. Pay attention, because when interviewers answer these questions, they give away clues about the role and company which weren’t discussed before. They also give you a zoomed-in view of the company culture and how the interviewer thinks.

When being interviewed

  • What brought you to this company/role? What keeps you here?
  • What does a typical day look like?
  • What are some of the biggest challenges within the department currently?
  • Do you like working here? Pay attention to the non verbal response to this question. It will tell you a lot.
  • Whats the turnover rate on your team? Again if it’s high, then ask why.
  • What are your expectations of me in the first month, two months, three months? This question will tell you how high the bar is set.
    • How is my performance measured against expectations?
    • A year from now, how will you know if you’ve hired the right person? What would be different in the org.?
  • What challenges have you experienced in filling this role?
  • Is there anything that you are looking for in a candidate that we have not discussed today?
  • Why do you like to work here?
  • What are the biggest issues you are currently facing that you are hoping I can help with?
  • What would be my first task after joining?
  • Are you happy here?
  • How much of the team’s time is taken up by unplanned work?
  • What are you not working on currently? (What’s in your backlog that you are not prioritizing)
  • What kind of person would not work out well in this role?
  • Think back to your previous job/career/life before this company. What’s one thing you’d like this company to have or do that you had or did before?
  • What is your leadership style, and who have you developed recently into the next level in their career?

  • What sort of person would be successful in this role?
  • How would I be evaluated in this role?
  • In regards to my backgroundand experience, is there anything that concerns you about my performance for this position?
  • Re: Team: Who has been here the longest? What’s the median tenure of the engineering team?
  • Now you’ve had a chance to get to know me, is there any reason you think I wouldn’t be a suitable candidate for this role?

  • Is there something you were hoping to cover that we have not yet talked about?

See also

Compensation tips

  • Negotiation arguments around your life costs (mortgage, student debt, etc.) will be unconvincing to recruiters. Your skills have a market value, what you do with that money has no place in the compensation conversation.
  • Job Architecture: Understand the ladders and levels well. What distinguishes an L7 over an L6?

Suss out re: Culture

  • How do people communicate?
  • How do people disagree with each other?
  • Are people able to separate emotions and ego from the team’s work output and outcomes?
  • What values does each person want to embody in the work that they produce?
  • Are people willing to sacrifice momentary comfort for genuine personal growth?

Good resources