Like most software developers I have had my fair share of interviews and I feel like I am getting pretty good at it. Individuals in my industry seem to change positions about every two years, this seems to be the norm. Boredom, or recruiting seems to take over and we shift positions. Not always bad thing but you want to make sure you are leaving a good job for a better one. Here I outline a couple questions you should ask at every interview. Experts will tell you to ask things like, what is the culture like, or what are the typical hours of this position and I am not going to disagree with the experts. I simply want to add questions you should ask at every interview.
You are offered a position with a company but you don’t know what it is like to work at XYZ company.
Can I do a job shadow with a developer in a similar position?
Maybe part of your interviewed with a couple developers in similar positions and if the company is serious about bringing you on for your skills and not just to fill a position this should not be an issue. They will ask you do a myriad of tests and answer questions about your skills but no one knows your skills better than you. Job shadow for a couple hours can give you the insight on if you will like what they are working on. What if the company is using a technology or a development practice you have not used/seen before.
Many of your fears about moving to a new company can be quashed by this one question. How much time you spend with the company or developer will depend but you should get a sense of what the culture is like and what kinds of things the company does. One caveat is that they may not be able to allow you to job shadow for legal reasons and you should be aware of this at the beginning and don’t get discouraged if they say no.
You have an offer to work for XYZ company but you can’t do a job shadow. This may be even a question you can ask during the initial interview when they ask “Do you have any questions for us?”.
“What is the first project you will have me work on?”
The answer to this question may put your interviewer on edge a little and that should not be an issue. Asking this question shows you are concerned about what you are working on and want to make a difference. This should make them think a little too but most of the time they should have something pressing that they want a new person to work on. Either they are simple tasks while you get on-boarded or some major project that has been pushed off for a while. This should also be something to hold your new supervisors accountable for. If they pull you on and you are not working on the said project they described in the interview then you may be in for some issues with the company. I have had this happen and it was a good reason for me to look for something else.
This list is only a couple questions you should ask at every interview, but in truth you only need a couple to get the conversation going and to discuss the position further and you get to learn more about the company you are potentially working for. Not only are they looking to see if you fit with the company, but you should be checking if the company fits with you.