While looking for a new job last year I slowly built a list of questions I would ask the various companies to help better understand if they were a good fit for me. Some of these questions are ripped from other blog posts, like The Joel Test, but many of them were from personal brainstorming and soul searching about what I wanted.
Hopefully this list helps those out there looking for something new.
- Pretend I know nothing about the company, how do you describe it?
- Who owns the company? What are their interests?
- How would you describe the company culture?
- What are its core values?
- How is this evident in everyday action?
- There is a great TED talk by Simon Sinek that has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question “Why?” He describes a circle with the word Why? in the center and then moving outward, How? and then What? — Simon explains that most people can answer the What, what do they do? — some fewer still can answer the How — but the truly successful can answer the Why? Why do they do it? Why does your company do what it does? Why does this company sell paper towels instead?
- What can I see / download as a public example of your work?
- Name something the company is struggling with and how you are trying to fix it?
- Name something the company excels at? What are the lessons to be learned?
- What’s going to change at this company over the next year? three years? five years?
- How does upper management communicate with the company at large?
- How are projects and/or teams organized?
- How do teams communicate?
- How do you plan and track work?
- How do you estimate?
- Do people work on multiple projects at the same time? If so, how is time broken up?
- What is the process like from napkin idea to deployed feature / service? Where am I in this process?
- Who decides what to work on?
- Who is the designer? Do they work closely with the development team? How much to they appreciate, expand on norms of the various platforms?
- Is there a standard process for the handing off assets, specs, motion simulations from the design team to the development team?
- Do you ever do retrospectives? If so when? end of the sprint? end of the project?
- Do you ever have internal projects? How do they work?
- How would you split up my weekly hours between different responsibilities?
- How is customer support handled?
- Do I have any interaction with the customers?
Process (Client-based work)
- If I’m working on a client project, what is my interaction with them?
- How does pricing work for client projects? How is development involved in coming up with these figures? What would my responsibility be in this?
- How do you run employee reviews?
- How do you gauge employee happiness?
- Are there any company events? travel?
- Would I be required to interview people?
- Do you have an official interview process?
- Do new candidates write code during their interview?
- How does overtime work? Are people compensated for overtime?
- How does vacation work?
- Are there sick days? Long term sick days?
- Can people work from home? Do they?
- Is there a 401K?
- Is there a health plan? Dental?
- Is there on-site parking? Do I have to pay for it?
- Is travel involved for this job?
- Do you have a company manual? Can I have a copy?
- Do you have an org chart? Can I have a copy?
- How is the development group organized?
- Who do I report to? Who reports to me (if any)?
- How transparent is the company with regard to it’s goals, it’s plans, it’s money?
- How do you make sure the staff is continually learning?
- Do people get a dedicated budget for things like attending conferences, purchasing books?
- Do you allow people to travel to speak at conference during company time?
- How do you track staff technical skills? Current abilities, wanted improvements?
- Do you have an official mentoring system?
- Do you use the best tools money can buy?
- Do you have testers?
- Do you do hallway usability testing?
- Do you use source control?
- Can you make a build in one step?
- Do you make daily builds?
- Do you have a bug database?
- Do you fix bugs before writing new code?
- Do you have an up-to-date schedule?
- Do you have a spec?
- Do programmers have quiet working conditions?
- Do you do code review?
- Do you do pair programming?
- Can I have a tour of an active project’s code base?
- How many developers are there?
- What is the proficiency ratio between senior level / mid level / junior level developers in the company?
- Do you let people jump around from stack to stack or do most people stay focused on their specialty?
End of list. Best of luck with your job hunt!