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Reverse Tech Interview: Questions to Stump an Interviewer

Hi, everyone, I want to bring up the topic of hiring at tech companies once again. This time I'm going to talk about it from the perspective of the candidate, not the employer. Because the interview, contrary to many stereotypes, is a two-way process - not only the interviewer can ask questions, but also the applicant himself. Last year I conducted a decent number of interviews, and the vast majority of candidates upset me by the absence of questions about the company, only 5 people began to ask me about the actual job.

I believe that the candidate himself should ask questions at the interview since he is going to work at the company. The standard job description makes it impossible to understand what goes on in a company, and, it is a common practice for recruiters to sugarcoat things a bit. Few people want to get into an uncomfortable environment or an unprofitable company with no prospects. If you're wondering how to get a real feel for a company during an interview, you're welcome. I'll give a list of questions that interviewers don't usually expect, maybe they'll help someone make the right decision when looking for a dev job.

I'll start with a block of general questions to help figure out what the company does.

How does the company make money? What kind of business model does it have? If they can't answer that, then there's a good chance they don't make any money at all.

If it is a startup, it is appropriate to ask who invests.

At what stage is the project? Can you show me the product?

It’s not a good sign if they can't answer these questions, especially referring to the NDA, it's probably not about that at all. These questions have nothing to do with revealing trade secrets.

Questions about the attitude toward employees in the company.

Do you have a system of promotions? What was the last time you promoted a person or gave a bonus? What are your criteria for that?

If they can't answer, then they don't understand or don't appreciate the benefits that employees bring to the table. Everyone can say "yes we do", but the specific criteria are usually more important.

Another block of questions about something equally important: Management.

What are my first tasks if I work for you? Do you have an onboarding process?

If you are not given a clear plan, it is likely that you will be swamped with a bunch of random tasks and that's it, do not expect any onboarding.

What do you fire people for?

There should be clear-cut, not vague criteria, so that you don't end up getting fired for some nonsense or because someone just doesn't like you.

How are disputes resolved in the work process? What exactly do you do in such cases?

If they look at the facts, collect feedback - that's good. If there is no objective response, there is a high probability that you will always lose these disputes by default.

More questions about the workflow and team environment.

How is the work process structured? How do I interact with the other teammates in the process? Ask to see the task manager.

If they just say that they practice agile development, maybe there is no structured process, but a swamp.

Pay attention to how the people are treated in the company, whether they show respect to the employees. For example, if an interviewer is distracted by a message or question during an interview and runs off without apologies, this is a red flag.

And one more aspect: be sure to ask for feedback after the interview. If they can't give it to you, maybe it's a good thing you didn't sign up to work there.

Recruiters are usually unprepared for such a barrage of questions, so try to tell them in advance that you want to ask detailed questions about the company. Otherwise, there may not be enough time for that. I do not encourage you to interrogate the recruiter and ask all the questions, act as appropriate, it may be enough to ask just a few questions.

You have no idea how many people can't answer these questions. And remember that you are in no way going to a penal labor, but you are choosing a place where you will spend almost a third of your time, you should be comfortable there.


Thanks 🙌 for reading and good luck on your next tech interview!

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