Interviews are for both the interviewer and interviewee. Largely though, they are designed to ask questions to the interviewee.
Recently, I've had a few interviews and was searching for questions to ask the company I was applying to. I realised that there are lots of lists of questions for interviewers but not the other way around.
The goal of your questions should be to clarify:
- What's it like to work there?
- Can I perform the role and grow?
With that in mind, my general approach is to prepare 2-4 questions to ask my interviewers. Usually a mix of a couple of general questions (that can be asked of any software business), and some specific ones (bespoke to that company).
Here are my general questions:
- What is your software development life cycle like?
- How big are teams?
- What are the opportunities to grow in this role?
- What metrics are being used to measure success in this role?
Besides general questions, here are three pieces of advice to craft bespoke questions. Doing so will mean you stand out and show you've done your homework about the business.
- Look at their online presence. Reading the company's Twitter, LinkedIn and blog can allow you to glean what their culture is like. Notice the "voice" they use. What do they share? If there are photos of the office does that look like the place you want to work? A developer may have a blog where they share stories of software they've built or bugs overcome. Understand the process they used, and if the tech they used is of interest to you. I usually spend 20 minutes on this at most. You don't need to read everything in depth, just skim the details.
- Research their latest projects. Using the research you gathered in step 1, you should be able to find their latest project. Build questions around this. If they used some new technologies, ask them why they chose their technologies. Perhaps it's in an unusual industry, ask about the unique challenges of that industry. Maybe it's a regular CRUD app or Shopify store, you can ask about how they approach adding specific business logic into those applications.
- Learn about who started the company. It's essential when interviewing to establish who you're working for. You can ask questions about the history of the company and its future growth plans. This will paint a complete picture of how the business runs. You can also ask about leadership. The CEO won't have a huge impact on your day-to-day, but they will govern the overarching strategy of the company. So understand where their focus is - sales or technology.
Your questions should be things you want the answer to. Don't ask for asking sake. Remember you are trying to establish if the company is a good fit for you.
Interviewing can be a daunting task because you feel like you're under a microscope. But it's a two-way street. Judge them too! Use interesting questions to gather information and stand out as a candidate.