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Ask HN: What could I (a developer) ask the CEO of our org in a public QnA?
9 points by sh87 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 14 comments

A lot of people are cynical about the whole thing, and while I wouldn't expect to get any actionable information these things are gold for your career if used correctly.

If you can ask an insightful question that is also non-threatening and speaks to things the CEO is worried or cares about you will leave an impression. The biggest impediment to getting promoted is simply being known by upper level management. For most workers this will be the only time they are able to speak directly to C level executives. Come prepared and use it as an opportunity.

Note: this doesn't mean complete softball questions like "We did great this year how much better will we be next year?". Your questions need a very slight amount of edge to them. Its a fine line to walk. This may sound cynical but the best way to accomplish this is to know the answer in advance, this way you can ask what may sound like a question that could put the CEO in a spot but in actuality the CEO is able to provide good news. The answer should not be obvious to everyone in the room - put some leg work in.

Hmm... insightful and relevant but non-threatening. i know (s)he started an AI/ML vertical that’s kinda sorta hush hush (yeah like its goin somewhere). So, How about

‘Recent market trends show a big boost and renewed interest in AI and predictions in <insert domain here> area. Do you see this as an opportunity and what steps are we taking in that direction?’

Try not to phrase it like an essay question, the last thing you want is to come off like you've spent the last week thinking of the question (even if you have). However yes, "What are we doing in the AI space" is a good question if its not widely publicized.

Just make sure its not something that is supposed to be kept top secret and she can actually talk about it.

Gotcha. Thanks!

I have no idea what your CEO is like and have never been in this kind of situation, but one thing I would love to ask the CEO of a big company is: "What's your philosophy of leadership?"

(I've been learning a lot about leadership, and that is a question I ask almost every leader I meet. Interestingly, they all give different answers - and you can learn from almost every answer you get.)

But like I said, I don't really have a clue of the type of situation this will be, that's just my off-the-cuff curiosity kicking in...

Don't ask if you don't have to.

You ask what the CEO wants to answer. Don't expect an honest response. No matter what the answer is, smile and thank him or her for the sugar coated public response.

My view is that the impedance mismatch between the role of CEO V/s Dev is astounding enough to say with confidence that there is no realistic QnA that can benefit the audience.

"We have the best product in the world and we are revolutionizing the life of our users. What's next? What more can we achieve in the next 5 yrs given how great our product is already?"

On a more serious note, I wonder why they keep doing these Q&As given that everyone thinks they are useless BS.

You should have a reason to do so. If you’re at a level where the CEO will influence your future in some way, ask something intelligent and positive.

Otherwise, don’t bother. It’s at best a waste of time and at worst and opportunity to look like a crazy person.

Something that will win you points with the teacher or other students and provide a chance for a heartwarming group chuckle. Cmon these kind of events are insulting to the intelligence of everyone present.

Here are a few that have the potential to produce interesting responses -

"What keeps you up at night?"

"What's one thing you'd do differently in your career?"

softball questions, unless you have FU money, ask exactly what is on everyone's mind, whatever that is.

Don't ask anything that might embarass your boss, or his/her boss.

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