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9 Questions You Should Always Ask During An Interview

Published 10/16/2015

Today I talk to you about questions you should always ask a potential employer.

Today's episode is sponsored by Hired.com! If you are a developer or a designer looking for a job, Hired is a fantastic place to begin your journey! The special link for a doubled bonus is https://hired.com/developertea.

Mentioned on the show:

A quick note:

I'm aware that I didn't discuss money in this episode. This was partially intentional, as the subject is massive on its own. I will be discussing finances for developers in the future!

And lastly...

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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Hey everyone and welcome to Developer Tea my name is Jonathan Cutrell today I'm going to be talking about questions you should be asking the people you are interviewing with and this is for the programmer who is interviewing for a job not the person who is looking to hire someone so the reality is a lot of the time we we don't know what questions to ask our future employers we go through the process of answering all the questions that they have for us and then so many times the employer asks well do you have any questions and really the only questions you have are you know what's for lunch or something like that and I would recommend that you come a bit more prepared than that there are a lot of questions you can ask to get an idea of what that company is looking for so that you can become more higher both there are also questions you can ask that you may end up deciding that you don't want to work for that company working for a company for a year or two years of your life that that can be a significant investment and there are so many things that you can do to kind of learn about that company in the beginning and avoid a lot of problems later today's episode by the way happens to be sponsored by higher dot com if you are looking for a job higher dot com is a great way to get started we will talk more about the the sponsor later on in the show but I want to jump straight in because I have nine questions here by no means is this comprehensive there are a ton of questions that you could be asking in fact Julia Evans actually wrote a great list of them back in 2013 and of course that list will be in the show notes on spec dot fm but let's jump straight into the ones that I have here some of these are kind of inspired by those some of them are inspired by the reddit post but I want to jump straight in I'm gonna go through a couple of these that will talk about our sponsor and then I will finish out the rest of the questions number one and these are in no particular order by the way I just decided to kind of write out my thoughts both as an employer and as an employee so number one what does a typical day or typical work day and a typical work week look like do people tend to work late or on the weekends and this question is such a hot topic when you start talking about hiring because people are typically very protective of the time that they have outside of work and it's important to be protective of the things that you value the most and so this is a very important question to ask because if you get into a job and you don't know what that internal working culture is like and you're blindsided by everybody feeling like they need to be at the office until you know until dinner then you may not enjoy that job right and and it could be that you actually do enjoy that kind of environment and suffice it to say there's no right answer to this question this is simply the information that you as a developer need because if there is a supposed right answer then the company that that's trying to hire you they're going to know what you are trying to fish out of them right if you are only seeking information if you frame these questions in order to retrieve information from your potential future employer they're going to be much more likely to be honest with you and so if you talk about the typical work day and typical work week what do your hours look like most people will be honest with you as long as you aren't saying you know if you if you frame the question like this do you guys overwork your employees obviously very few people think that they overwork their employees but instead if you frame it like this what are your typical office hours what time do people usually leave the office then you have a better idea of how that actually plays out some people think that working from seven o'clock in the morning to seven o'clock at night is not overworking and in fact there are a lot of industries where that is a very normal thing doesn't really matter whether or not we think it should be normal there are a lot of industries where that has become normal so don't ask questions that have obvious right or wrong answers very few employers think that they are doing things wrong when it comes to overworking their employees so that's the first one ask what that typical work week or work day looks like and number two this one is kind of a longer trajectory of of the working quality and and how busy you would be do you have a particular part of the year where things get busier than normal and this is very common for a lot of businesses to go through a three week or even a six week period where things are much busier than normal a lot of times around the holidays just about every company ends up being busy towards the end of the year towards the holidays whether they're front loading work because people are going to be off for the holidays or whatever but you need to know that going in right you need to know when the busy parts of the year are because if you typically take your vacation during those busy parts well it's important for you to weigh that into your decision about whether or not this company is right for you and that's really the underlying discussion here is that when you go to interview for a company certainly the company is the one who is providing the job and it's nobody's place to go in and make demands but you are providing your time you are providing your services and you are valuable they want you to succeed they want to hire someone to solve their problems they don't want to keep on interviewing people over and over so they see value or potential value in everyone who walks in their door for an interview you should be asking these questions so that you can make the determination if what they are offering for your life for the next couple of years perhaps is something that you actually want is something that you want to take part in so that is the the reason why number one and two are so important what does this job look like what kind of demand will it place on my life what months of the year will I be busier than other months and what parts of the week will I be busier than other parts of the week these are very important things kind of fundamental things to know about a job and this definitely isn't just for developers for number one and two that's pretty much any job you ever go to in life so number three kind of moves away from this idea of how much strained is this put on me and moves towards the idea of the values and the enjoyment that the people at that particular company get out of their jobs so number three is what is your favorite part of the job if you are speaking to the interviewer ask them what their favorite part of their job actually is now of course depending on the size of the company you could be talking to an HR person that's giving you your interview and if you're going to be a developer for this particular company their answer may not be relevant to you if they say something about you know the HR field but it does give you an insight into how the company works and into what people enjoy doing at the company if you're talking to a developer it's even more insightful right because if you if they say something like we just shipped this incredible product together that's very different than them saying well my favorite part of the job is that they provide unlimited vacation these are two very different value sets that speak a lot to the culture of the company that you're applying to work at okay I think that's a great spot to take a quick break and talk about higher dot com today's sponsor for this episode now we're talking about hiring we're talking about the interview process but actually finding a company to interview at is perhaps one of the hardest parts of the hiring process and higher dot com is fixing this problem you are a developer or a designer looking for a job hired dot com provides a free service to you 100 percent free the folks at hired have vetted over 2000 companies from all over the world just to find offers for you you get offers up front that include compensation a lot of times they include equity these can be part time or full-time jobs you get a bonus up front to hired usually makes that bonus two thousand dollars if you use our special link in the show notes you can double that bonus up to four thousand dollars hired dot com check it out if you are looking for a job it is a great place to start a great place to look through offers you actually get to see the offer before you ever even talk to the company so go to the show notes use a link hired dot com you can get a four thousand dollar bonus if you use that special link okay so let's jump back into our questions that you should be asking in those interviews we've gone through the first three and we have six more the first three certainly take longer than the the other six because at this point you kind of have an idea of the amount of energy that you're going to be spending at the company and it's likely that you have an idea of what the company does and now that you've asked the person that is hiring you what their favorite part of the job is you have an idea of what you can expect to be kind of the cultural excitement the things that people get excited about on the job okay number four what are some things that you and your team have done recently that you are proud of now this question gives you two pieces of information first of all it gives you kind of an idea of what you would be working on what you and your team would be working on but secondly it gives you an idea of the kind of things that make people happy at the company that you're working at specifically the kind of things that make people proud this is kind of similar to number three what is your favorite part of the job but if number three was about you know the long term vacation well now you want to know a little bit more about the work you're going to be doing so the things that they've done recently that they are proud of is probably the stuff that you're going to be putting energy into as well number five in the ideal case what is the long term trajectory for this role will the responsibilities change is this the role that is designed for someone to stay in for a long time you know what does this role look like in the long term and the reason you want to ask this question is so you can determine whether or not this role is going to be something you should be depending on for a long time and also if you want to grow into another role in the future if the role that you are applying for is one that actually doesn't have any room for upward growth or mobility then it may be something that you need to consider do I want to be in this role for a long term there's a little bit of a caveat here you should always take the answer to this question with a grain of salt because people change companies change the needs of the company will change the market will change everything changes so you shouldn't take the answer to this question necessarily as the 100% truth forever and always instead look at the answer of this question as the intention of this role is the intention for this role to be static or is the intention for somebody to go through this role for example a junior level developer position is intended to be something that is transitory right if you become a junior developer you won't stay a junior developer for a very long period of time the intention is for you to become you know whatever that next step is if you want to call it an associate developer for example or maybe the company goes ahead and puts you all the way up to a senior level developer the intention is not to keep you at that junior level forever however a senior level or even an associate level position those may be roles that are intended to be fulfilled by the same person for as long as that person wants to stay in that role okay let's jump on to number six because we really could talk about any one of these questions for the length of an entire episode but I want to go ahead and get through them because you know this show is supposed to be short all right number six is remote work a part of your culture and the reason this question is so important is because for many Developer This is a make or break question simply by nature of the type of work that we do the actual coding that we do our work is possibly portable our work allows us to do it from just about anywhere in the world however your company may not be in support of this idea it may be that your company wants you in the office every single hour that you work that's unusual most companies most software development companies allow at least a little bit of remote work especially increasingly in the into the future this will be true but you need to know that going in is remote work a part of their culture or not number seven who would I be working with and who would I be answering to the truth is if you don't enjoy the people that you are working around it doesn't matter how cool the work is you're eventually going to get burnt out because of who you are working with if you end up meeting the person that is going to be in direct superiority to you and they seem overbearing or you don't like their personality you should know this going in again there's no right or wrong answer to this question it could be that the company says you know what you don't really have a person that you answer to directly you're going to be somewhat autonomous well that's not a right or wrong answer if you don't like autonomy that could be something that you don't want if you do like autonomy that could be the perfect situation for you so you just need to know these things going in so you know what to expect and you can weigh all of your options with as much information as you can possibly get okay number eight what kind of professional development does your company engage in are you involved with local developers do you go to conferences do you allow people to speak at conferences do you do you know some kind of networking events that kind of stuff every company engages in this particular you know piece of the pie differently some companies don't go to conferences at all some companies have a very strict limited budget and a strict amount of time that they want to you know put towards that kind of thing and some companies think that conferences are the ultimate way to to develop the company to develop the presence in the industry and there's a sliding scale between all of these situations if you want to develop a speaking career for example then you probably shouldn't work at a company that never allows their employees to go to conferences if you don't want to develop a speaking career then you probably shouldn't work at a company that encourages and hopes for all of their employees to speak as a major part of their strategy and finally number nine what can I do as an employee of your company to be the most valuable what can I do to be the most valuable this question is something that so few employees remember to ask how can I be more valuable to this company this is a question that needs to be answered every single day if you are working for a company what is the most value that you can provide to that company and the way this works is you provide value to a company and they will provide value back to you now of course you shouldn't be providing more value than they provide to you on a regular basis without eventually being compensated for it so for example if you're working 60 hours a week and you're getting paid an hourly wage for 40 hours a week then there's a problem there but if you are trying to provide as much value as possible to the company that you are working for the intention will be to compensate you back for the value that you provide but the way that you provide value to the company may be different than you think it is in other words the people who see you as valuable if you ask them how to be more valuable you may have a surprising answer the answer may be well we need you to be in meetings or the answer could be we we simply need you to be on time to everything these could be very simple ways to increase the amount of value that you're providing to a company without much effort at all in answering this question before you even come to a company gives you even more of an idea of how you can be most successful at that company and if the if the picture of success at at that company doesn't match up with what you want in a job if doesn't match up with what you want to do then maybe that is something to consider maybe that job isn't right for you but if you are getting this valuable information directly from the people who are in charge of hiring you before you're even at the company then you come in as a valuable member of the team you immediately know exactly the path to follow to be the most valuable possible and that ultimately is a fulfilling job when you can provide value to a company and they compensate you for that value that you provide that is such a fulfilling and satisfying moment to realize that you are actually providing value you're creating value for the company that is hiring you I hope you've enjoyed these questions I hope they provoke some thought and discussion if you are a manager that hires people I hope that this has provoked some thought in you as well about what types of things people need to know when they come to your company what kinds of things should you be telling them and encouraging them to learn about at your company when you're hiring if you are looking for a job if you are the person that's in the interview being interviewed I hope this gives you some idea of your responsibility in the interview it's important that you think about these things that you learn about them in advance before you take an offer from a company thank you so much for listening to Developer Teathank you again to hire.com our sponsor for today's episode if you're looking for a job check out hired.com they can provide you up to five or more job offers in a given week designers and developers check out hire.com use our special link so that you can get that doubled signing bonus instead $2000 you would get a $4,000 bonus from hired if you get hired through hired thank you to hired.com thank you so much for listening to the episode of course all the show notes and all the links from today's episode can be found at spec.fm until next time enjoy your routine��&3.sec