In the last post about interviews, I mentioned I'll be providing some additional details. In particular, I was planning to give you specific questions to ask in a technical interview. So here you go, I'll go straight to the point.
1. Can you share the coolest stuff you’ve done here either individually or as a team?
This will give you a high-level idea whether this will be an exciting job for you or not. Keep in mind you are here for growth. You don’t want to quickly run out of enthusiasm and sink into boredom.
2. What are the biggest technical challenges you are tackling right now?
Following up on the previous question, this will give you a glimpse of the kind of challenges you might face once you’re in. Listen to this carefully and understand whether you like what you hear or not. They will also appreciate you for asking this question.
3. What’s the percentage or ratio between fire-fighting and project work?
Now, this may or may not apply entirely to everyone but all throughout my experience I have learned that there’s always going to be that split between reactive and proactive, longer-term type of work. The point is switching between them requires more energy than your usual multitasking. They require different types of focus and it’s difficult to get back in flow whenever you’re interrupted. For projects, you really want to be left alone and be productive as possible, and dealing with reactive work may sometime require you to handle chaos.
4. How would you describe the technical debt situation here?
This is a very critical question, and quite a sensitive one too so try to frame this question properly. There are two things that you can get out of their answer. First is you’ll get to have an idea of how work is handled when it get’s thrown to the team, and how it comes out the other side as output. Implementations may be compromised to allow room for other factors such as meeting the timeline or keeping within the allocated budget. Too much technical debt is not a good situation to be in. But a lot of times, technical debt accumulates because of reasons external to the team. But you can almost always trace these reasons all the way back to the business side of things. I guess it’s safe to say that for technical people, give them all the time, budget and all the resources they need and they’ll give what the business wants. As well as what the business needs from an engineering perspective. But often times these two don’t match, and if this happens, needless to say, the business always wins.
5. Do you have any mentorship program?
Again this will show that you’re here for growth and that you want to learn. This is great for you as you always want to have positive takeaways wherever you go. Having a good mentor is a great way to grow inside or outside a company. Again, this is a positive signal to them and they’ll also want to make sure you have a more smooth experience especially during your first year or so. This gives you a good idea of the room for growth and the possibilities for your career in the company.
You can mix it up a little bit depending on the job you're applying for. Even if they don't 100% match your situation I hope they could still serve as a template or guideline to help you find what's important to you. Just to reiterate, an interview goes both ways. You need to also make sure you are getting what you're looking for and that m0ving into a new company serves your purpose. Your job is not the whole game, life is. Whatever you do with your career should ultimately contribute towards your version of the bigger picture. And I sincerely wish you achieve whatever it is you are reaching for.
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