Interview questions

Some random thoughts about interviews. I’ve had a few, and they continue, especially with me being a contractor and all that.

It’s worth remembering that an interview is a two-way street. As an English chap, and with my personal background, I’m used to being subservient: ‘what is it you need me to do’ tends to be about the limit in my regular repertoire.

But after I’ve landed there’s Regrets that I didn’t ask some more searching questions, and, possibly didn’t take the job at all.

This goes double for the well-paid jobs where the interviewer doesn’t ask so many questions themselves but offers the job anyway. Why have they offered immediately? Is it because I’m that White Middle-class Middle-aged Male who won’t rock the boat but will prop up their hiring statistics? If that’s the case there’s a good chance I won’t actually fit so well. Better to be somewhere that I can contribute, feel valued and otherwise be content. So these questions should, hopefully, help draw that out.

Some searching questions might include questions about metrics. What do they measure? Why? What has that told them?

Or something more qualitative. What would it take to show success at the job? What impact would that have?

More generally, what are the general themes for the department? Am I hired for a project or for a capability? How long is that likely to last? Who else is involved, across the company? Most interviews would mention at least this as interviewers generally like to talk about themselves, but that’s not given by any means.

And what about the people? Who are the others in the team? Who would I work closely with? Am i replacing someone or is this a new position? How diverse is the group? Do team members move elsewhere in the company? Even as a contractor who wouldn’t normally be moved laterally in a company,

Who else has been considered for the position? Do my qualifications and experience match that?

Then something on the financial side. Why are they considering a contractor? Is this likely to be a long-term commitment?

Finally, engineering questions. Will I cut code? What’s the time taken for a developer to get their code live? Perhaps not so relevant for architecture or strategy jobs but aspects of the Joel Test can illustrate corporate sanity. Or not.

Author: Jeremy McGee

I write software, and try to help others do the same.

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