Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Questions To Ask an Interviewer

If you've ever read tips on interviewing then you know it's a good idea to have questions ready to ask someone who's just interviewed you. If you're not good at remembering questions under-pressure you should write down a few and take the note with you.

Most of my important questions are answered in the interview: What does your software process look like, what tools do you use, etc. However, I have a few questions that don't usually come up during the normal course of an interview.
  • At what level are technology decisions made? Do the teams decide what tools and languages are used, or is it the architect, directors, the CTO or someone else? Assuming the team doesn't make the decision, what happens if the team disagrees with the decision maker?
  • What kind of hardware are developers given, and who decided that this was the ideal setup? If I want to reformat my Windows box and run Ubuntu, do I have that freedom?
  • How much freedom am I given to customize my work-space? If my teammates and I want to convert our cubes into a common area with pairing stations, what kind of hurdles are we likely to encounter?
  • How does the organization chart look? If there are 2 levels between me and the CTO, do I need to follow the chain of command, or am I able to go directly to the CTO if I feel it's appropriate? What about the CEO, am I able to get 10 minutes of the CEO's time?
  • What don't you like about working here?
The last one is really my favorite. People actually tend to be pretty honest about what they'd like to change at their organizations.

Obviously, the answers are going to vary largely by the type of organization you are looking to join. If you're interviewing at Google, it's probably not easy to get on the CTO or the CEO's schedule. So, I don't think there's right or wrong answers, but in context the answers can help guide whether the organization is a good fit for you.
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