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Thursday, March 9, 2023

Top 20 Questions Candidate Should Ask in Programming Job Interviews?

From the first round to HR round, from telephonic to face-to-face, in almost all kind of programming interviews, there will be a time when Interviewer will give you a chance to ask questions. Many programmers are too concern about asking questions, and they politely decline ; Well it's your chance to learn about the Job you are going to do, and you shouldn't let this opportunity goes away. The interviewer, also judges you by your questions; a good, thoughtful, positive question can create the great impression on Interviewer's mind. It also shows that  the interest of a candidate for a Job.

It’s also a chance to show your communication skill and thought the process by asking right questions. Don't ask questions, whose answers are publicly available e.g. what does your company do? You should better know the answer to this question before going for an interview.

Similarly don't ask a question which can be answered in Yes and No, instead ask a question that will get you more information and start a conversation, for example instead of asking questions like, Do you use Continuous Integration or Source Control? 

Ask, what type of source control they use, or which continuous integration tool you use and depending upon the answer, you can follow on with something like "what reasons did you have for picking that over others?". This kind of question will give you an idea about their software development tools and practices, how much technically advanced they are etc.

Another thing to note is asking the right question to right people i.e. you shouldn't ask the technical question to HR, similarly, ask technical questions to programmers and developers. Some questions like related to the quality of life should never be asked in a first interview, you should ask them only when you more or less have the job. Now, let's see  some questions which you can ask your Interviewer in a programming Job interview.

If you are serious about your programming job interview, then I also suggest you take a look at Programming Interviews Exposed, secrets to landing your next job. I really like this book for their step by step guide to the interview process, negotiation and accepting an offer.

What question to ask Interviewer in Programming Job interviews

Questions Candidates Should Ask on Technical Job Interviews

Here are some of the questions you can ask on your programming job interviews. As I told, if Interviewer gives you the opportunity to ask a question, don't let it go. Same time, don't go overzealous, ask right questions, listen carefully and stop at the right time.

1) Why are you hiring for this position? or Why is this job open?
Many programmers don't dare to ask this question, but in my opinion, it's a good question, but you better ask this on the face to face interview, not in telephonic one. Just the response to this one question there, and the way that the Interviewer answers it (if they're being circumspect, direct, shifting their eyes, etc.) will answer a substantial amount of the questions you will have in your mind. Even if the answer is just "we need more help" you should hopefully get a better idea of what you're signing up for and your responsibilities.

2) What have past employees done to succeed in this position?
This will give you some idea of what is the expectation of interviewer or the hiring manager.

3) How is performance evaluated?
If you are thinking long term then this is a very important question to ask.

4) How are decisions made? Is architecture dictated top down? Are ideas from anyone welcomed? If so, in what scope/context?
This will give you some idea about their technical setup and bureaucracy.

5) Does this Job require travels? How often?
If you have a family and young children, this is an important detail. You don't want to leave your current job for a new one which might disturb your work life balance.

6) "Are there any projects or big picture goals the company is focusing on at the moment that if I hired, could keep in mind as I'm learning the ropes? And if so, is there something that I could do I'm my position that would help further the company's progress toward that goal?

7) What is your software development process?
This will give you an idea about how to advance their technical setup is and also help you to gauge potential opportunity where you can work your magic and create your name there.

8) Who do I report to and what knowledge of programming do they have?
Ask this question if you are talking to someone who is not hiring for his team, rather hiring for some other team. Since nowadays many managers prefer to hire for them, there is no point asking this question.

9) What will be my responsibilities for the next 6-12 months?
This is another good question and will provide you some concrete idea about what is the plate. You can even have some good idea about their planning and strategy.

10) What will I get to learn?
Constant learning is very important for a software developer. If you stuck to a job where you don't learn new things, your skill will quickly become outdated. Always choose a job where you can use your skill + you can learn new skills.

Which questions to ask in programming interviews?

11) What ways do you support career development?
Career goals are very important and you must ensure that company has clear career advancement path and you have ample chance to progress up the ladder.

12) What are the prospects for growth and advancement?

13) What do you like most about working here?

14) What don't you like about working here and what would you change?

15) How are technical decisions made and communicated?

16) What are the qualities of successful managers in this company?
This is for people who has been interviewing for a managerial position.

17) What are some challenges that will face the person filling this position?

18) What are the day-to-day responsibilities of this job?

19) What is the organization's strategy/plan for the next five years, and how does this department fit in?
This will give you some idea about your job security. If the company has well defined planned or, at least, thinking some years down the line then it's the good time to join them. This usually happens when a new leadership has taken place.

20) What is organization's policy on transfers to other cities? relocation?
This is not the top priority on my list, but you could be different, some programmers prefer to work at different part of the world for some time, before settling down to their chosen place.

As someone who does a lot of hiring interviews, wouldn't be annoyed by any of those questions. In fact, they will be thrilled to have a candidate who cares so much for working for a great company. So don't afraid of asking question that do your homework, know better and positive way of asking questions and inviting conversation, this will help you to learn more about organization, job, people and team, which should be key to your decision-making process and choosing between different offers.

Btw, don't ask all the question, ask the only couple of them in each round as you progress, to develop your understanding of company's culture.

Further Reading
Succeeding on the interview is a skill and it requires constant improvement. If you take your technical and HR interview seriously then I suggest reading Programming Interviews Exposed, specially written for programmers and covers all aspect of the interview. 

You will not only learn about the interview process but also about how to negotiate your salary and perks. One more book you can take a look is Soft Skills: The software developer's life manual, one of the rare book on soft skill, especially for software developers.

Other Programming Articles and Tutorials you may like

Thanks for reading this article so far. If you have any other questions which you think should be in this list then feel free to share with us in comments. What are the top 5 question you have asked to Interviewer or hiring manager during your interview?


Oscar Amelunge said...

Javi I would like to translate this article to spanish and post it, do I have your aproval?

javin paul said...

@Oscar, Yes you have the permission, provided you mention the source at the top or article with link and keep all the links in the article as it is. Thanks

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