Smart software developers can have their pick of choice jobs. It’s important to assess the fit when interviewing for new positions, so you can find the best job. These 10 questions help you learn more about the role of developers within the organization, the company’s commitment to implementing new technologies, and the level of support for developers. Learn what to ask—and what to listen for in the answer—to gauge whether a position really lines up with your goals.
1. Are you Agile or Agile-ish?
With agile, does a company talk the talk (i.e. daily meetings) or walk the walk, using story points to actually measure capacity? Story points offer a more sophisticated way to measure workload, plan, and achieve deliverables. If the team pursues Agile-ish development, it’s too often code for multiple meetings that hold back innovation while claiming to do the opposite. Listen to how a company describes their commitment to agile to decide if you want to work there.
2. Do you still have COM components around? Or maybe something written in JDK1.1?
Do you want to work on 20-year old code? It’s not a standout for the resume, but it’s commonly found at companies. Ask in the interview to avoid an unpleasant surprise upon hire—and commit to a company that can move your career forward.
3. What technologies do see you coming into the organization next year? In five years?
The key here is finding companies that are future-forward—in other words, actively thinking about which new technologies may be a strong fit. If the hiring committee struggles to answer this, it is a red flag that they’re not thinking about innovation. A company that has a vision for implementing new technologies is a better fit for developers.
4. What technologies are you using today that you were not using five years ago?
5. What training have you made available to the developers in the last year?
How does the company approach professional development for IT employees? You would hope to hear that they offer trainings or let developers attend conferences, for instance. A company that can’t speak to training for developers does not invest much money in keeping their talent up-to-date with industry changes, which means it would be up to you to stay abreast of skills if you accept the job.
6. Is there a QA team?
Many places do not have QA. Instead, they assume that someone along the way will act as QA, whether it’s business analysts, developers, management, or customers. If there is no QA team, you can expect to spend less time coding and more time doing QA because there was no oversight in-house. Again, it’s a matter of fit; while this may be fine with some developers, it’s not everyone’s top choice.
7. What is the DevOps or release strategy?
Here again, what’s less important are the details of the release strategy but the basic presence of a carefully thought out strategy. If there is no strategy, then packaging and release is likely to to fall on the development team. There will be a trade-off of less time writing code and more time packaging releases.
8. What is the product road map?
The answer to this question will tell you how the company plans. Some companies do not plan post-release, they simply react to the loudest squeaky wheel. Others have a backlog of new features they plan to roll out. It’s a far more pleasant working environment at the latter company than the former company.
9. Do developers talk to the customers/end users?
Listen carefully when the hiring committee explains when, where, and how developers and customers interact. While you should expect to interact with end users, this is often limited to conferences or other settings where you get to see how the software is used and meet your target audience. Unfortunately, some companies expect the software developer to serve as technical support. This is a major red flag, as it guarantees you will be expected to drop everything when customers call for help.
10. What do the other developers like about working here?
By asking this question, you’ll gain insight into what others in your role value about the company. While quality of life perks (like flexible schedules or team happy hours) are nice, listen for perks that are germane to the job. Quality of life perks can only go so far in terms of keeping top tech talent. You want to know that there are rewarding and meaningful career opportunities for you, and hearing how similar hires enjoy their position will guide your decision-making.
Work your way through these questions and consider any information you learn as they talk about the open position. Never assume that something is the case because it’s been that way at past positions or you haven’t heard another perspective in the interview. In a worst-case scenario, you would run into a dealbreaker post-hire that could have been uncovered in the interview.
When you have an idea of what the hiring committee is looking for and what to expect on the job, you can evaluate the fit and make an empowered move.
Decide Consulting provides IT staffing services. Our conclusive hiring methodology enables us to bring the best IT problem solvers to your organization. Our entire management team comes from an IT technical background giving us a unique perspective on candidates and the industry.