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Good questions to ask at end of interview?

Joel: thanks a bunch for the terrific article:
"The Guerrilla Guide to Interviewing"

Many sites advice interview candidates to ask questions to evaluate whether the job is a good match for him.

How is it possible to ask a question without offending interviewer or revealing lack of research?

Followup question: what was the best question an interviewee ever asked you?

Ana K.
Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Near the end of the interview, most interviewers will ask you if you have any questions. By that time you should have a good idea of what exactly your work will be. If it's not clear at that point, ask them "Can you give me a rough idea of what will I be doing day to day?".

If you have the luxury of choice, find out if this is the type of team you'd like to work with. Ask them what they like most and hate worst about their job(if the interviewer is a techie)/their company(if the interviewer is a hr drone).

The only time I got a weird look for these question was near the end of an interview that had given me bad vibes during the interview itself. That was just the confirmation I needed these people had their head in the wrong place.


Tuesday, November 19, 2002

To me, good questions are ones you want to know the answer to, not attempts to impress the interviewer!

Personally, I'm interested whether the company is actually a fun place to work or not. I consider this important because it's going to be the single thing that I do most. Hence Yves' question "do you enjoy your job?" is a good one, and can be phrased in many ways that eventually lead to similar answers: "is there an office social scene?" "how much office politics is there?" "what's the employee turnover?" Enthusiasum from the interviewer is good, caution or guarded responses indicate that there are likely to be problems.

It's also a good idea to find out how the company is likely to change in the medium term -- this will give you a clue whether your responsibilities will change over the next couple of years. If they're growing then this is likely, if they're hiring to replace then less so.

If they are replacing someone it would be interesting to know why the previous employee is no longer employed, but it's hard to ask such a question subtly!

Tom Payne
Tuesday, November 19, 2002

To quote Jack Handy,

"I think an important thing to ask during a job interview is if they ever press charges."

Ryan Ware
Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Well, this is the time when it's your turn to interview the company/interviewee.  Remember, if you receive and offer and accept the position, you'll have to be around these people all of the time.  So, you would want to know stuff about the environment.  Additionally, you can ask stuff about your career development and that sort of thing.  I used to ask questions like these:

*  Tell me how a typical day for me would be.  (One of the things this would tell me is if I'd be in meetings most of the time or if I'd actually be able to get work done)
*  Tell me how I would be interacting w/ you (you being the manager if he/she was interviewing you) and/or the other senior people.
*  Why have you chosen to stay here rather than move on to another company (this was more of a question I used before the bubble burst and finding another job was easier)
*  Tell me about my career development and how I would be able to "climb up the ladder".  (Tells you if they care about their people and their careers if they have plans set out)

Ron E.
Tuesday, November 19, 2002

I always ask interviewers this question

Do you enjoy working here?

Bruce Perry
Tuesday, November 19, 2002

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 use the best tools money can buy?
Do you have testers?
Do new candidates write code during their interview?
Do you do hallway usability testing?

Ged Byrne
Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Is there any question I should be asking that I'm not asking?

Igor K.
Tuesday, November 19, 2002

A personal favorite (when delivered with the correct intonation and inflection)

"Whaaat eees yoour faaavorite colour"

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

An interviewer should expect an interviewee to ask questions, even in the current job market.  Decide in advance what you want to know and figure out how to get objective answers.  Just a couple of examples of what I would want to know:

- What's the retention rate for technical staff?

This is something that is easy to get an objective answer to.  You might even find it on their web site and not have to ask.  You might also want to ask just how they compute the figure.

- What is the physical work environment like?  Is it quiet?

You should ask to see a typical developer's work space.  If you can, sit around for a little while and maybe talk to some developers.  You'll want to listen to see if there are interruptions every few minutes or if people seem to be getting work done.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

What is your name?

What is your quest?

What is the air speeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

Extra credit if they ask "What do you mean, an African or a European swallow?"

Keeper of the bridge of death
Tuesday, November 19, 2002

I think it's perfectly normal to ask the interviewer if you can go have a look around, introduce yourself to some would-be-colleagues and have a quick chat with a couple of them. Nothing that would get in the way of their daily activities, say 5 mins. Where you probably would go and ask questions like those pointed out by Ged Byrne.

If they have one of those paranoid security policies of not letting strangers wander in company buildings, ask the interviewer if he can briefly show you around.

To me this shows that: 1) you are genuinely interested in the possition 2) you are interested in the people you'll be working with and 3) that you want to evaluate things throughly.

If they don't let you do that and they don't give you a decent reason for it, go and get yourself another interview somewhere else.

I do not know about other countries, but in N & NW Europe this is perfectly acceptable.

Beka Pantone
Tuesday, November 19, 2002

If it applies to you, perhaps mention "I want to have a life.  What hours am I expected to work?"  Honesty is the best policy.  (Except when juggling multiple job offers)

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

The questions I ask during an interview will (obviously) vary based on the interview itself, but there are two questions I always ask:

1. What to you like about this company?

2. What don't you like about this company?

It's an interesting way to see how honest people can be.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

I think the financial renumeration is the most important aspect. Having said that, some other questions are relevant too, it's a very individual thing. For me it's important for my employer to blend into my lifestyle, and this literally means I'll come to work when I want and I'll go home when I want, any organisation that clockwatches is no good for me, so I tend to ask questions along these lines. I have no aversion to working respectable hours, but I want choice as to when I do them. Also I wnt do any work unless its high profile, my friends say that I'm a work snob, but unless its very important (in my eyes) I don't want to do it. So I also tend to find out how 'mission critical' the role is.  My point is whatever questions you ask should relate precisely to the things that matter to you.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

PS - I crave the limelight, so I need to know how 'important' my role is going to be.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Thanks a bunch to everyone who responded. Some pretty good advice up there...

>> The questions I ask during an interview will (obviously) vary based on the interview itself
Can you please explain further?

Followup: I don't get the whole concept of "you should research a company before you interview". What exactly do you research for?
I mean other than getting a rudimentary knowledge of what the company does, I fail to see the use of "research". Any comments? Thanks.

Ana K.
Wednesday, November 20, 2002

How to research the comany:

1) Look for articles about the company (on the internet and in paper magazines).

2) Call the company and request sales literature, annual reports, technical information, product brochures, price lists. You may have to say you're a potential customer, a possible investor, or a consultant doing research for a client interested in buying product.

3) If the product is available in retail, visit the stores.
Buy it (if affordable), use the product. Talk to store personnel. Get the names of the sales people who sell to the stores. Get the store's opinion on the company, ideas for new products, what competitors are doing.

4) If the product is sold through a distribution system, visit a local distributor. Ask about a quality of the product, the skill and training of the sales force, new parketing opportunities, technical support.

5) If the product is sold directly to customers, call some.
Ask the customers' opinion on th edelivery, reputation, innovation, sales force, warranty issues.

6) Call the company's 800 number. Analyze the experience.

7) Call the company's advertising agency and talk to the account executive responsible for the client. Ask where you can see or hear the advertising. Find out at what trade shows the company exhibits.

8) Talk to the salespeople and employees of the company and of its competitors. Talk to ex-employees of the company and competitors.

9) Get competitors' literature.

Hope it helps.

Igor K.
Wednesday, November 20, 2002

the question i asked was what's it working for this company? i was allowed only one question and apparently it worked, i'm on to the next round :)

ubaid dhiyan
Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Thanks for puting up this site. I have a professional interview for school and this site gives me mroe knowledge for what I should do in diffrent situations.  The questions are what I really needed because I don't want to look like a fool without any and I don't want to say the same ones as my classmates.  Thanks again for making this site
                                              Bill 19, FL

Bill C
Monday, April 05, 2004

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