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I bundled these up into groups and wrote some thoughts about why I ask them!

If these helped you, I'd love to hear about it!! I'm on twitter @vcarl_ or send me an email

Onboarding and the workplace

  • How long will it take to deploy my first change? To become productive? To understand the codebase?
  • What kind of equipment will I be provided? Will the company pay/reimburse me if I want something specific?
  • How will you know if I’m doing a good job?
  • How often do two developers work together on a single task? Three or more developers?
  • How many of the developers have been here less than 6 months?
  • How many developers have been here 2 years? 4 years?

Development and emergencies

  • How long does it take to do a complete deployment?
  • What is a big pull request, in lines of code or files affected? How long is it open?
  • How many repositories would I touch to make routine changes?
  • How often do developers have to make simultaneous changes across repositories?
  • How often do you have major outages? What constitutes a major outage for you?
  • Do you have a defined process for handling an outage?
  • Would I be expected to be on-call?
  • What does your on-call process look like?


  • About what fraction of their time are developers given (implicitly or explicitly) the freedom to explore or learn?
  • How do you define success and growth for developers?
  • How often do you do lunch and learns, or other semi-formal knowledge sharing?
  • How often would my manager have 1:1s with me?
  • What kinds of topics are usually discussed in 1:1s?
  • Do you pay for conferences?

Project management and prioritization

  • How do you balance shipping new features and maintaining the codebase?
  • What's the lifecycle of new development, from somebody's idea to deployment?
  • How do you track tasks? How are those tasks created?
  • Do you do agile/scrum?
  • How do you decide what to build?
  • Do you have "swimlanes" in your task tracking? What are they called?
  • How do you know when something is done?
  • What project management software do you use?
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My questions:

  • Why are you hiring for this position? or Why is this job open?
  • What's the process like? How do you build software?
  • Who do I report to and what knowledge of programming do they have?
  • What will be my responsibilities for the next 6-12 months?
  • How do designers work with developers?
  • How do you estimate work? How do you assign work?
  • What don't you like about working here and what would you change?
  • How are technical decisions made and communicated?
  • How frequently do team members find themselves in meetings?
  • What's the state of automated testing? Continuous integration?
  • What exactly will I be working on? What's the tech stack?
  • How big are the teams? How big will my team be?
  • How do you measure the performance of employees?
  • How are decisions made? Is architecture dictated top down?

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JanithaR commented May 18, 2019

Why are you hiring for this position? or Why is this job open?

Living in Asia and experienced IT companies with people who have no clue as to what they are doing I know for a fact that many interviewers will hesitate to answer this. Because most of the time developers have left due to frustrations. And at times, the interviewers themselves are caught in this terrible experience.

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vcarl commented Jun 7, 2019

Also an excellent question @JanithaR!

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Considering the new remote - working schedule, one question I think I would ask in my next interview is :

What are your call schedules and at what intervals are they held?

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What are your call schedules and at what intervals are they held?

Yeah, very relevant if the team is distributed across multiple timezones.

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Here's my smarmy list when I start getting that toxic feeling from the interviewer

  • How many people have held this position before me? Am I here for growth or attrition?
  • If I'm here because of attrition, why did my successor(s) leave? Can I get references from former employees?
  • How much did you pay my successor? I'll need to see proof before I'll consider an offer
  • How exciting are your on-call rotations?
  • Does on-call get any extra compensation for interrupting their personal lives for work?
  • What support does on-call get from other teams? Will they be there with us in the trenches or is it "Tag, you're it!" ?
  • How much time do you spend in meetings?
  • What's your vacation culture like? Do employees actually take vacations? How much do they take? Is there a mandatory minimum?
  • Have any of the managers or c-levels made it a point to call the team "a family"?

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