Disclaimer: my role will be in info sec.
Adapted from: "First, Break All the Rules". Gallup found that these questions were correlated against organizational and personal performance across industries, from fast food to the army to law firms. These were intended to be answered on a 1-5 "strongly agree/agree/neutral/disagree/strongly disagree" scale and need to be tailored to the situatino.
1. Do you know what is expected of you? (If the employee answers with a four or a five, this self-score would indicate that he or she knows the goal, how it is measured, and how he or she plans to reach the goal. An answer of one indicates that the employee does not know the goal or objective or how it is measured and has no idea how to reach it.)
2. Do you have the right materials and equipment to do your work right?
3. At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?
4. In the last seven days, have you received recognition or praise for doing good work?
5. Does you supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
6. Is there someone at work who encourages your development?
7. At work, do your opinions seem to count?
8. Does the mission/purpose of the company make me feel that your job is important?
9. Are your co-workers committed to doing quality work?
10. Do you have a best friend at work?
11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to you about your progress?
12. This last year, have you had opportunities at work to learn and grow?
- When did you last miss supper / a personal event because you were working late?
- Think of the last person you know who left the company. Why did they leave?
- When was your last vacation, and how long was it?
These are essentially a way of asking, how’s the work life balance? In a way that avoids the BS answer, “great!”
I don't think you'll get an honest answer for this a lot of the time, often team members might not even directly know why someone was laid off
>When was your last vacation, and how long was it?
This is a bit tough too, it's very subjective. I personally like working, and while I encourage my employees to use all of their vacation time, I rarely do so myself (I spread my time around as individual days rather than large chunks).
Also depends on your audience. Parents will answer this much differently than individuals.
One I ask personally: in the past year, what work are you most proud of doing?
For dev work, I'd ask the questions in the Joel test.
Some questions do apply (I wouldn't expect a 100% YES answer, but hopefully most of them):
Do you have two monitors (or more)
Do you get a fast PC
Do you get your choice of mouse and keyboard
Do you have a comfortable chair
Do you have a fast (and unfiltered) internet connection
Do you have quiet working conditions
Do you use the best tools money can buy?
Do you support developer education by attending conferences, purchasing books, or something of that nature?
Apart from asking just questions it's a good practice to have a look at the office that you are to work from (especially if no remote/wfh is allowed). I learned that the hard way - signed a contract without checking what office I would be working from. A couple days in and I had to use earplugs in tandem with noise cancelling headphones.
1. How do you share knowledge about new vulnerabilities, detection techniques etc.
2. Did you attend any conference recently? Which one is your favorite security conference?
3. Does the management support presenting in conferences?
4. Have you (or any team member) presented in any security conference in the past?
5. How were the team dynamics when responding to critical vulnerabilities like Heartbleed, POODLE, Struts Vulns
6. Does the Chief Security Officer has any seat in the enterprise leadership
7. How often are you required to share metrics around state of security
8. Do you feel overwhelmed for crunching numbers as oppose to doing security review
9. Have you (or team) published and CVEs?
10. What do you think about developers and how much time do you spend in developer's security education?
11. How often the team members go for training and certification like SANS, Offensive Security, ISC2 etc.
These questions will judge whether the team has empathy for developers, encourage research, environment for training and development, management backing for security etc.
I have been in InfoSec for 9 years and have been taking interviews for last 3 years.
But during that same time, I also interviewed with a guy from the Defense Communications Agency. He told me that he knew I had interviewed with a lot of other companies, and that I could assume all the things those recruiters said were also true of working for the government. He then followed by saying he wanted to focus on the disadvantages of working for the government.
He really impresssed me with his honesty and forthrightness. When the call came for a second (phone) interview, I didn’t hesitate. When the tentative job offer came, I didn’t hesitate to take it. They took more than a year to complete the initial background investigation, so I also got a chance to squeeze in an internship that summer before starting to work there in August of 1989, while they continued to finish the investigation which would result in my TS/SCI clearance and the rocket-fueled start to my career.
I still remember Mr. Brewer’s name, and am grateful to him to this day, for helping me get my start in this business.
I also use the questions to learn more about the person and culture: if all people say "there is NOTHING I would change, this is a dream job" there is a very high likelihood that this is an environment where you don't speak openly about ways to improve and where individuals keep their criticism for themselves.
This tends to take place at the very end of the process and discusses some of the flaws of the workplace and/or goals of the candidate ("you mentioned wanting to do compiler design, but as a webdev shop, it's unlikely we'll ever do that. Are you ok with that").
I think it establishes a tone of trust ("hey, we aren't perfect, but we think this is a good fit anyway").
Maybe there are a few questions that make sense for your role!
1. % time spent programming, % time spent not programming?
2. On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you love your job?
3. The biggest thing that would raise answer to last question?
4. On a scale of 1 to 10, the quality of the business requirements you receive?
5. The biggest thing that would raise answer to last question?
6. On a scale of 1 to 10, the quality of the technical specs you receive?
7. The biggest thing that would raise answer to last question?
8. On a scale of 1 to 10, the quality of the dev environment?
9. The biggest thing that would raise answer to last question?
10. Avg length of time from dev complete to deployed into production?
11. If you had not picked this, what would you have picked? Why?
12. Biggest regret from this job?
13. Biggest success from this job?
14. How much longer to you see yourself working here?
15. On a scale of 1 to 10, the quality of the existing code base?
16. How far to closest Chinese buffet?
2. "How many levels are there in the management hierarchy?" (deep vs flat) -- I tend to prefer flatter hierarchies, which plays into 3:
3. "How much personal freedom do you get?" -- Having more freedom means being more responsible for your work, but also enables you to produce better, faster, more creative stuff. The flatter the company management structure, the better (usually).
They've saved me from some bad gigs.
The second half of the video covers questions for your would-be future managers. Some of the commenters have also added excellent questions to ask.
Here are the co-worker questions:
1. What's the most interesting thing you've gotten to work on (or learn about) here?
2. What's the balance between firefighting and project work in an average week?
3. What's the one thing you wish you could improve or change about your everyday work life here?
4. Every company is carrying some amount of technical debt -- what's the tech debt situation here?
-how much they think there is
-what they're doing about it
4. What is the policy/practice as far as WFH or remotely? 5. What does the on-call rotation look like?
"Do you like working at X?"
This question has a "right answer" (yes), and you'll always get it. Instead:
"What's your least favorite thing about X?"
Phrase all of your questions as free-form responses instead of multiple choice. This is very helpful to get interviewers talking.
For specific questions, there's a lot of good ones on this thread, so the only specific question I'd add is this one, which I found very helpful for startups and fast-growing companies:
"It's 2 years from now, and X has failed. What happened?"
Well-run businesses had a well-understood answer about their biggest risks; poorly-run places had platitudes and "it could never happen."
You highlight what you're looking for, and it offers decent ways of asking about them.
I found it here:
The short answer is that it all depends on what you are looking for in a position.
The longer answer is ask them what they do (as a company, team, etc.), then ask them what infrastructure (technical and organizational) they have in place to do that. Then ask them about non-managerial growth paths (unless you're a manager).
Finally, ask them to give you a question - some business problem they're trying to solve - that they themselves don't know the answer to. Ask to sit in a room with the people who would be involved in planning a solution to that problem, and actually plan out the initial steps of solving it. That will tell you more about the team dynamics and the workplace environment than any explicit questions you might ask.
This is useful at an individual level for your expectations, and it's a company flag if people respond negatively.
Should let you know what's wrong without asking directly.
-is this a new headcount or am i replacing someone
In my experience, you never get an honest answer on this one. If there is a vacancy because someone quit, they're not going to say why they quit. They probably don't know themselves since HR never shares exit interviews with others - if they happen at all.
If it's not an open seat and they're replacing someone, they're not going to say that either to avoid tipping off the current employees that someone is about to be sacked.
I'm always amazed by the % of people that work for large companies and never monitor the open jobs page on the website. They seem shocked when told that there are open reqs in their own group.
* How often do you interact with the CEO/insert title?
* How comfortable are you with the level of transparency and your understanding of the company's overall health?
* Do you have input into wider strategic decisions or is that handled by a smaller group?
* What does the X year roadmap/vision for the company look like?
* How does senior management interact with the team? Is everyone together during the day so it's a natural flow or is the management team in their office/meetings most of the time?
etc, etc. Ask enough of these types of questions and eventually you'll wear through the polish and get a better feel for how people really think about the boss.
People under someone they respect and like will tell stories and use superlatives.
2. What's the biggest technical thorn in the company's side? (This is almost always something basic - like convincing management to buy more storage, or getting everyone to migrate to the newest version of something, or an underperforming vendor with a long contract.)
Both of these tell you about the company, and also about the person's perspective from their role and expected duration.
BUT, more important than any of these questions, however, is the one you have to you ask yourself: How will you evaluate these pieces of information?
At the end of the day, it's an intrinsically subjective analysis.
E.g. if two different project managers are giving you tasks that exceed your capacity
Also, try to find out who left the company recently, reach to them on linkedin and try to chat a bit about the reasons to leave. Take it with a grain of salt, thou.
I work in sort of devops teams and I've helped conduct the technical part of a few interviews so I made some questions for that reason.
1. Some technical questions but they're not that important.
2. More important is what they do in their off time. I always try to figure out how nerdy they are.
One person when asked the 2nd type of question brought out their mobile phone and showed us how they could control their entire home with an open source automation system and a homemade app they made themselves.
They were hired and they were very good.
Frankly, I want to go home at night and do anything but code. Music, art, explore the city, have friends. And I want to work with others who value the same.
They would have been an equally capable hire if they did not have the time or inclination to complete that project. Moreover you can acquire all the skills a capable software engineer has without having personal projects. That means this is a poor heuristic for hiring criteria and candidate assessment.
I would suggest to ask process related questions i.e what is the build/deployment process? What happens when you take down site in production due to bug? Etc.
Your interpretation of that question is going to be noisy, subjective, unreliable and intrinsically incomplete. That makes it an exceptionally poor hiring signal. The idea that you can divine interesting insights about a candidate's employability or character based on mundane interview questions is fundamentally flawed.
Times are great to be a software engineer. Don't squander that opportunity working for a place that won't respect you especially when there are so many wonderful places to work at where you will be respected.
A candidate is also testing you, and if you do not respect a candidate's concerns you're making it clear you're not committed to ensuring the potential employee gets the most out of the role.
You seem like an exploiter.