tech interview

How to ask the right questions at your next tech interview

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So you’ve made it through the gauntlet of questions flung at you by your keen interviewer for an exciting developer role. You’ve managed to demonstrate your expertise in the required coding language, you’ve spoken as honestly as you dared about your strengths and weaknesses and you’ve communicated the fact that you believe you have what it takes to get the job done. Then there are those last few minutes of a tech interview reserved for your answer to the question: “Do you have any questions?” Do you say no and run the risk of coming across as being disinterested, or do you say yes and run the risk of sounding arrogant? Here’s why we think you should always ask questions and why it’s got nothing to do with over-confidence and everything to do with making an informed decision about your career prospects.


It’s A Matter of Perspective

Here’s what Angela Zhang had to say on the topic: “If your interviewers get easily offended by genuine questions, you probably don’t want to work with them anyway.” We agree. In fact, most tech interviewers associate people who ask questions with good qualities like courage, diligence and assertiveness.

And here’s a perspective you may not have thought about yet. You are being interviewed as a potential employee but you’re also interviewing the person on the other side of the table, as a potential employer. What you should take the chance to uncover, is whether the company you’re interviewing for, is the kind of company that resonates with you on both a professional and personal level. You need to find out whether the company’s values align with your own set of values, whether you can see yourself as being part of their overall mission and if the way they relate to their employees is in line with how you would like to be viewed and treated as an employee. And you won’t be able to discover these kinds of aspects unless you ask the right type of questions at the end of your tech interview.

Furthermore, put yourself in the position of the interviewer, who will possibly be seeing a number of potential candidates for the same role. If you’re going to make a lasting impression, you need to stand out as someone who is really interested in the future of the company – a forward-thinker, someone with an enquiring mind. So go on, put your best foot forward and use the last few minutes of an interview to really seal the deal.


Ask the Question: How Does Your Team Tackle Challenges?

Tech companies vary in their approach to coding problems. Some are extremely agile and believe in the power of good ol’ trial and error, while others are more risk-averse and tend to look at a problem from all angles before coming up with a solution. As Kat Boogaard puts it: “Do they foster an ‘experiment and fail fast’ culture? Or, do they prefer to sit down, analyse the circumstances, and come up with a detailed plan before taking action?” There’s certainly no right or wrong answer here, but this question is a way to test whether the company’s problem-solving methodology aligns with your own person approach to solving problems.


Ask the Question: How Do the Design and Development Teams Work Together?

Too often, in agency environments, there seems to be a large rift between the creative and development teams. And we all know where lack of communication leads – nowhere, or worse. So asking this question will give you a good idea of how the gap between these two essential parts of a team is bridged. Do the teams meet on a weekly basis? Are there strong tech and creative directors at the company who communicate with each other? These are important factors to consider. According to Simon Ensor, managing director of London-based digital agency, Yellowball, “web developers need to be involved in a website project during the design phase.” In order for this to happen, there can’t be an “us” vs “them” culture in a company. This question will help you to decide whether a spirit of good and open communication is being fostered in a company.


Ask The Question: Does Your Company Focus On Developing its Employees?

As a coder, you’ll always be learning. And it’s crucial to your career that you do. Companies that understand that further development is central to the performance of their coders, are the kind of companies that have structures in place to aid continuous learning. According to Angela Zhang: “Learning is one of the highest ROI things you can do in the long run.” Mentorship is the golden thread in the world’s most successful companies, so look out for mentorship programmes. Also, keep an eye out for the ways in which a company is investing in their staff through optional training.

The bottom line is, go ahead and put the last few minutes of an interview to good use. It’s your time to decide whether the company you’re interviewing for, is a good fit, culturally, professionally and operationally. Every job is a potential stepping stone to coding greatness, so make sure you have enough information to make a good decision.

Interested in building a career as a coder? We can show you how. Contact us today and we’ll connect you with a mentor who will share some pearls of wisdom with you. We look forward to getting to know you.