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Questions to ask when stating a new Job

One of the things I admire about this site is the "Joel test": it provides a list of questions to ask to determine a software team's effectiveness. 

If l were starting a new job, l would certainly ask those questions. But what other questions should l ask?

l guess I'm looking for some help developing some questions to help me understand:

what needs to be done
who does what and why
how to get things done

What do you folks suggest?

Reginald Braithwaite-Lee
Wednesday, April 2, 2003

I'm guessing you mean not when you're interviewing, but when it's your first day on the job...?

Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Good questions to ask:

* How much money will I be making?

* What are the minimum number of hours I'll have to work to keep getting a paycheck?

* In the case of an 'inside job', how likely is the company to prosecute the offender?

George McBay
Wednesday, April 2, 2003

What incentive do the employees have to work harder?
Why won't you just take me on as a's cheaper or the same for you and better for me?
Do I get a piece of the pie?
Who is your network?
Who is your competition?
Can you market and sell?

Tom Vu
Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Whoa, it's Tom Vu!

Another question:

* There are two kind of companies: the doer and the loser. Which one are you?

George McBay
Wednesday, April 2, 2003

How far apart are your release cycles?

some companies say: oh we only expect lots of overtime right around release time

releases are every month repeat

the artist formerly known as prince
Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Where is the rest room, coffee machine, soda machine, copier, supply closet.

John McQuilling
Wednesday, April 2, 2003

A new question I'll be asking, if I ever have to look for a job again (god, I hope not):

* Do you fully and completely subscribe to XP?

Man, I was an anti-XP person until I actually put it into practice. Now I can't imagine the typical 6 month release cycle with massive back-end loaded integration and QA. That's just insane. I want a release every two weeks, I want an quick "breaking test" build everytime someone checks into the tree, and I want nightly automated builds with unit tests.

Brad (
Wednesday, April 2, 2003

How do expense reports/check requests/purchase orders work? Where do I find the forms, how do I fill them out, who signs them, who do I give them to?

[You'd think they'd put that stuff in the manual, but I've found they either don't, or the info in the manual is so out-of-date as to be useless.]

Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Some questions I've had in the past three months at my new job:

What are the data flows
Where can I get a copy of the formal reporting structure
What's the informal reporting structure
Who's a contractor and who's a FTE (now that's critical info)
Who is in charge of each data/path/program/pull/push
If I need to get something done, who should I contact
How do we track tasks
How do we handle projects - roving project teams versus procedural upgrades (prefer the former always)
How often is our hardware upgraded - how do I get it upgraded more quickly
Where are our standards documents
What other systems do I need to get access to

and of course - how long a lunch can I get away with on Fridays?

Wednesday, April 2, 2003

One question I wished I'd asked before starting my current job:

"Can I talk to someone who does the job now?"

Would have saved me a a lot of grief. But at least I've got a steady paycheck.

Thursday, April 3, 2003

"Shouldn't you take me out for a beer since it is my first day?"

"Where is the toilet?"

"Who stole all the fscking toilet paper?"

Thursday, April 3, 2003

Find someone you  know inside the organization that is doing a similar job.

Ask them to talk you out of working there. 

At the very least, you'll find out about the stuff you won't learn in an interview, and then can make a more informed choice.  Possibly, you may end up deciding that the culture or environment just isn't the right fit for you.

If the worst things they can come up with are non-issues to you or trivial/minor, you may have found a place to work!


Matt H.
Thursday, April 3, 2003

Thanks for the interesting questions.

My initial question wasn't particularly well formed, but now that I'm seeing some great suggestions I'm getting a clearer idea of what I'm trying to ask.

Reginald Braithwaite-Lee
Thursday, April 3, 2003

I usually ask them to walk me through their development process.

Something like: "Imagine one of your salesmen sees a clear business need for a significant feature in the product. Walk me through, in detail, all the steps between the glimmer in the salesman's eye and the feature being in the customer's hands."

Now, determining if they answer with the theory or the practice of the company is a whole different problem.

Bill Tomlinson
Thursday, April 3, 2003

When you're at a job interview, I think a good thing to ask is, Do you press
              -Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey

A. Coward
Thursday, April 3, 2003

If before taking the job, ask the following:
1. Are you ISO 9000 or ISO 9001 complient?
2. Do you use ClearCase, ClearTool, Rose or any other Rational product?

If you get a "yes" to these questions, think about looking elsewhere for a job.

Thursday, April 3, 2003

I locate people who are from the same university as I am, who are working there or who have worked there.. , set up an informal meeting with them, get more info.

This has been the most useful way for me...

Prakash S
Friday, April 4, 2003

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