Questions Software Engineers Should Ask During an Interview

“Tell me about a time when leadership used the company values to make a hard decision.”

“How do you decide which projects engineers work on? Who makes the decisions?”

  • Priorities
  • “Outcomes” or “goals”
  • Decisions based on user research and observed behaviors
  • Engineering managers being part of the process
  • CEO or sales “knows” the roadmap, engineering just needs to execute on it
  • “We’re a startup…” as justification for constant ad-hoc scrambles around the crisis d’jour
  • No culture of product management
  • There are a ton of stakeholders and process gates to get anything done
  • “Quality” is said way too much, like it’s a four-letter word

“What are some projects I might work on?”

“Tell me about the people on my team.”

Spend time with your (potential) boss

  • What is your management philosophy?
  • What are the team priorities for the next few months? Did you have input setting these? Are they likely to change?
  • How do you give engineers time and space to deeply focus on one problem, instead of being spread thin between many things?
  • Tell me more about my job title. How does the company think about career progression? Can you step me through the career ladder?
  • How does time-off work? How much vacation did you take last year?
  • What does the team do for fun, or to connect as people?
  • Is there an on-call rotation? What is it like? How many after-hour pages were there this past week?

Other resources

Consulting CTO open to projects. I’m a serial entrepreneur, software engineer, and leader at early- and mid-stage companies. https://www.chuckgroom.com

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Chuck Groom

Chuck Groom

Consulting CTO open to projects. I’m a serial entrepreneur, software engineer, and leader at early- and mid-stage companies. https://www.chuckgroom.com

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