Questions to ask at interviews – Do I really want to work there?

by newuser09876 9. April 2014 08:45

Over the last couple of weeks a few friends and I have been discussing getting work in the current economic climate.  The projects are smaller than they were six or seven years ago and the number of vacancies has reduced.  This means that once you accept a position its relatively difficult to “jump ship” if the organisation isn’t what you expected or want.  Hence the most important objective within an interview is to quickly determine if you want to spend the next six or twelve months of your life on the project.

Unfortunately this can be rather difficult:

  • No one will admit their project is failing
  • No one will admit that their development stack is out of date
  • No one will admit that their developers produce low quality code
  • No one will admit that the organisation is so bureaucratic that five people need to approve a code check in or that eight teams are required to change a stored procedure
  • Every company is the world is now “Agile” although somehow the definition is slightly different each time

I have a list of questions that I have “on tap” that I ask during an interview to quickly work out what type of place I am going to find myself. The trick is to scatter these throughout the interview instead of using that small allocation for “questions” that happens at the end of the discussion.

Asking questions throughout:

  • Shows that you’re engaged
  • Shows that you’re an active listener
  • Allows you to take command of the interview
    • Managers like talking about the “org” chart, budget, timelines etc.
    • I want to know whether it’s a .Net 4.5 or .Net 2.0 project and whether it will be a “Death March”

In many ways an interview is an opportunity to do a mini architectural and SDLC review of the organisation you are going to work.

Development tools

  • Is Resharper used on the project?
  • What is the source control system?
  • What version of .Net is used?
  • Are there licenses for .Net Memory Profiler?
  • Does the team have a shared developer VM or image?
  • Will I have administrator access on my machine?
  • Will I have an MSDN license?
  • Do developers have their own private database or is it shared?

Frameworks/Architecture

  • Which GUI framework is being used MVC, Angular, Knockout etc?
  • How does the code connect to the database?
  • Is an IOC container being used?
  • What’s the most complex component in the solution?
  • Is messaging used?
  • Is a NoSQL database in the solution?
  • How is caching managed?

Automated testing and build process

  • Are there automated tests?
  • What code coverage do the tests have?
  • What style of testing is used?
  • Do the testers or analysts help write the tests?
  • What Continuous Integration server is used?
  • How long does the build take?
  • How is code deployed into environments manual or automatically?

Project management

  • Can you describe the SDLC model used on the project?
  • Who attends stand ups?
  • Is there a product backlog and release backlog?
  • Is everything mandatory or can items be prioritised and dropped?
  • Do developers engage with the business directly?
  • How are tasks allocated?

Continuous improvements

  • Is there an official place to put down technical debt?
  • Is there a Wiki and what goes into it?
  • Are developers sent to conferences?
  • Does refactoring occur?

Deployments and Infrastructure

  • Who does the deployments?
  • What’s the process to get code into production?
  • What test environments are there?
  • What are the support hours?
  • Am I expected to do out of hours support?
  • When do deployments occur weekdays or weekends?
  • How regular are they?

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