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This is a terrific developer-specific list. The realism about acceptable answers is quite good.

Here's my own list of 20 interview questions, from a more generic business / process / employee life perspective:

1. What's the biggest change your group has gone through in the last year? Does your group feel like the recession is over and things are getting better, or are things still pretty bleak?

2. If I get the job, how do I earn a "gold star" on my performance review? What are the key accomplishments you'd like to see in this role over the next year?

3. What's your (or my future boss') leadership style?

4. About which competitor are you most worried?

5. How does sales / operations / technology / marketing / finance work around here? (I.e., groups other than the one you're looking to work in.)

6. What type of people are successful here? What type of people are not?

7. What's one thing that's key to this company's success that somebody from outside the company wouldn't know about?

8. How did you get your start in this industry? Why do you stay?

9. What are your group's best and worst working relationships with other groups in the company?

10. What keeps you up at night? What's your biggest worry these days?

11. What's the timeline for making a decision on this position? When should I get back in touch with you?

12. These are tough economic times, and every position is precious when it comes to the budget. Why did you decide to hire somebody for this position instead of the many other roles / jobs you could have hired for? What about this position made your prioritize it over others?

13. What is your reward system? Is it a star system / team-oriented / equity-based / bonus-based / "attaboy!"-based? Why is that your reward system? What do you guys hope to get out of it, and what actually happens when you put it into practice? What are the positives and the negatives of your reward system? If you could change any one thing, what would it be?

14. What information is shared with the employees (revenues, costs, operating metrics)? Is this an open-book shop, or do you play it closer to the vest? How is information shared? How do I get access to the information I need to be successful in this job?

15. If we have a very successful 2015, what would that look like? What will have have happened over the next 12 months? How does this position help achieve that?

16. How does the company / my future boss do performance reviews? How do I make the most of the performance review process to ensure that I'm doing the best I can for the company?

17. What is the rhythm to the work around here? Is there a time of year that it's all hands on deck and we're pulling all-nighters, or is it pretty consistent throughout the year? How about during the week / month? Is it pretty evenly spread throughout the week / month, or are there crunch days?

18. What type of industry / functional / skills-based experience and background are you looking for in the person who will fill this position? What would the "perfect" candidate look like? How do you assess my experience in comparison? What gaps do you see?

19. In my career, I've primarily enjoyed working with big / small / growing / independent / private / public / family-run companies. If that's the case, how successful will I be at your firm?

20. Who are the heroes at your company? What characteristics do the people who are most celebrated have in common with each other? Conversely, what are the characteristics that are common to the promising people you hired, but who then flamed out and failed or left? As I'm considering whether or not I'd be successful here, how should I think about the experiences of the heroes and of the flame-outs?

Your #2 sort of bothers me. Actually, a lot of these seem like "answers" to a school assignment about what to ask an employer ... Also, would you really ask all this? You put a lot of work into this.

If someone asked me this stuff, I would thank them and probably go on a vacation to forget the whole experience.

I personally think #2 is quite important: it proves the employer knows why they're employing you, and that they have thought about the scope for career growth in the role. If the employer hasn't got a clear idea of why they're employing you, then your role becomes an amorphous "do whatever I want done" job, that won't necessarily meaningfully contribute to your skills or remain interesting. If the employer hasn't thought about the scope for career growth in your role, then that -- to me -- shows they don't value their staff enough to care about whether they get anything more than a salary out of the job.

I think it's a little strangely phrased (sounds a bit obsequious), but I think it's a valid and important question.

how? Are you in the habit of hiring without knowing the criteria for success in that role? Is the candidate supposed to guess or read your mind?

As a candidate, I always ask what would make my future boss count hiring me an awesome decision. Also, it's really interesting when different interviewers answer the question differently; I've been in the middle of a job I quit after a year where different decision makers thought the role should be different things, and it sucked.

Most other questions may seem too verbose to actually ask in a short interview, but the #2 is a key question that should be asked always. Most likely will tell you more about the actual job contents (i.e., which task you'll be required to focus on) than everything else; and asking it early is key to avoid a mismatch in expectations.

How do you earn a gold star should always be asked.

Yeah, I write the largest career advice newsletter in America over at TheLadders, so I do this stuff professionally.

The key to asking #2 is to be more 'Vince Vaughan' than 'Steve Buscemi' in your approach. More butt-kicker than butt-kisser, if that makes sense.

I have an open source list of these kinds of questions up on github called InterviewThis. Would you object to me adding some of these to it? These are all really good and cover some things I didn't think of previously.


Looks great. I will add via github.

These are good questions, but many seem to be applicable to 100+ person companies only.

I'm currently at an organization of about 50 and almost all of these are questions that would provoke very good information about this company. Even if finance is one person, it's important to know if your manager gets along with her.

Have you considered publishing this list somewhere? It's incredibly useful, and though I'm saving the HN permalink, it could probably become something more.

Thanks. I write the largest career advice newsletter in America over at TheLadders.com -- reaches an audience of 6mm weekly.

You can see all my stuff here: http://www.theladders.com/career-newsletters

This particular newsletter is here: http://www.theladders.com/career-newsletters/it-s-not-about-...

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