Career

2020-01-28 • 5 minute read

5 Must Ask Questions in Your Job Interview

Consider asking these questions in your interview to see if the job fits you.

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Photo By Christina@wocintechchat.com

Before ending your job interview that you’ve diligently prepared hard for, you would usually get a chance to ask questions. Every one could excel in their technical / personality / cultural interview because it’s about YOU. But what’s the point of getting the job if you don’t know about THEM?

Of course, you could google about the companies you are interested in. But they could be sugar-coated information. It’s always the best to ask someone in-person. This way you can hopefully get the most straight-forward, less filtered information.

Asking questions can be a hidden evaluation of your performance, it could cost you the job that you deeply craved. Good questions can show that you are eager to learn about the company and also help you gather critical information. You can make a better decision on whether to take the job later on.

Here are 5 questions that I personally would ask every time I have an interview:

1. Who are the members that I’ll be working with and what are their experience?

Usually if you went through a few rounds of interview, you could have met your possible future teammates already. This is what happened in my last interview. If that’s the case, just focus on the second part of the question.

If not, the first part can help you see if companies saw the potential in you. This is usually a good sign if they have visioned you to be part of the team and where you can shine.

The second part contains the most crucial information you need. If the interviewer can clearly describe the team, this indicates that they pay close attention to employees. You always want to look for companies that put their employees first. And a team that knows each other well to work seamlessly together.

Once you learnt about the team’s experience, you can judge whether they can take you to a higher level of your career. I had an interview for a Web Developer position before. A project manager interviewed me and I asked him this question. But he couldn’t give a thorough overview of his team.

They all know HTML, CSS, JavaScript, SQL...

This is what all I've heard from him. I mean, of course they do, the point is how well and what have they achieved. I was looking for an engineering focused team but unfortunately they aren't.

We become like the people that we (choose to) expose ourselves to. It follows that you can accelerate your personal growth in whatever direction you desire by spending time with people who already are who you want to become.  - Maarten van Doorn

You should know what's best for you. If you're like me with a growth mindset, find yourself a seasoned team that does what you like to do but way better. This guarantees the best learning environment.

2. Why are you hiring?

This question can be in variations like:

  • Why bring on more [position]?
  • What challenges are you facing?
  • What happened to the last person of this position?

Obviously, the answer can be as simple as they are short-handed or they are expanding their business which requires more talent. On one hand, you can understand their current challenges and the expectation of your role. For example, the company is migrating to a new tech stack or building a cloud infrastructure. These are sensible reasons that they would seek for new expertise.

Sometimes, there could be more than meets the eyes. The real purpose here is to flush out any hidden “danger” in the company. You could be replacing someone in the company. And people can leave for various reasons. You need to be aware of potential management issues like having a hostile working environment, unfair working policies etc.

A friend of mine left his job in software agency within a week. It was because he’s the only one in the web development team. By either asking my first question or this one could have help him realize the issue earlier.

3. How would you help / mentor newcomers?

I came across the idea of “Circle of Safety” from a book Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek. How companies treat newcomers lays the foundation of trust and empathy at work. You should not feel intimidated, humiliated or isolated as a new member. It’s the company’s responsibility to build a “Circle of Safety”. We should feel safe and trusted with all the resources given to us. It could be providing training programs and feedback sessions. This better equips you and the company to defend yourself from dangers outside and to seize opportunities.

In terms of Software Engineering, I would prefer companies to have well-written documentations, code review or pair-programming sessions, freedom to ask anything etc. I’ve been through NOT having almost all of the above. It was an unpleasant experience. I managed to learn fast, yet, it could have been more efficient.

Imagine if you are now working in the company, think about what kind of colleagues you want around you. Then assess the possibility from their answer.

4. What are the future plans?

It’s always good to know if the company’s future outlook is prosperous. Of course, this includes better employee benefits but most importantly the work you would do.

I hope that you’re like me who don’t like doing boring crap everyday. Figure out if companies would share their upcoming business plan. Make sure it excites you or at least you know there’s something challenging behind the curtains.

I previously wanted to learn more hands-on skills in full stack development. My current company happened to be in the phase of tech stack and branding transition. A lot of work needed to be done for the new application launch. I immediately knew that this would be a great opportunity to learn tonnes of knowledge. And I can be the dumbest person in the room. This reminds me to keep learning and have a purpose at work.

Again, this helps flushing out hidden “danger” as well because the company could be going downhill. And you don’t want to be in situations like getting lay-offed, not getting paid or requiring you to work extra and magically bring the company back on its feet again.

A clear future tends to provide a better career path. We all need goals to assess how far we have progressed and what we have achieved in life. When the company has a goal and you believe in it, you will have the motivation to reach wherever you want. Even someday the company collapsed, you will be surprised how much valuable skills you have learnt. And you can bring your expertise to anywhere else.

5. Why do you like working here?

Adding a more personal question could be a surprise to the interviewer. You will get the most realistic answer from them. I’m sure that they could have you asked you “Why do you want to work here?”. This time you will be the judge to see if they are being honest. Remember, an interview to not always about YOU and also THEM.

This question could also give you some insight of how’s the working culture there. You might never know if you don’t ask. Like some companies told me that they would head out for drinks every week, organize sport activities and allow you to work remotely. These are really appealing culture that attracts me. Sometimes it’s not always about work but how people spend time together.

Think of it like it’s having a casual conversation. You could leave a better impression since I doubt many people would be so upfront. It could be a cultural difference as I’m from Asia. So try to be that special person that the interviewer would remember you.

Don’t be Shy! Just Ask!

In this digital age, you could always try to contact employees of the company if you are still confused after asking all these questions. Go on LinkedIn and I’m sure you will find the right person.

Good luck with your interview!

Thanks For Reading 😉

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