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Behavioral Interview Guidebook

Useful Questions to ask your Interviewer at the End of a Software Engineering Interview

Learn the best questions to ask at the end of your front end / web developer / software engineer interviews. Written by ex-interviewers at big tech.

In our anxiety to secure a job, some of us might forget that joining a bad team might be worse than waiting it out for a good opportunity. An interview is in fact an invaluable opportunity for the candidate to speak to someone who actually works in the company and find out more about the practices there. Few key aspects you should evaluate about a job before joining:

  • Will the work be interesting to you?
  • Is there room for career growth?
  • Are the teammates/your manager collaborative and easy to work with?

Good questions asked at the end of the interview help a candidate achieve 2 objectives - leave a good impression and help the candidate assess if the company is truly suitable for them.

In this article, we have provided a large list of useful questions you might ask to achieve this. Questions are organized by interviewer/interview round as well as objective.

Screening rounds with HR/recruiters

The recruiter is usually not working directly in the team who is hiring you. Hence, it could be less insightful to ask questions about the team's day-to-day or on-the-ground situation. However, you could still find out information that recruiters would know, such as the candidate evaluation criteria or general company policies.

Get to know the criteria the hiring team is looking out for

These questions are very useful to understand what the hiring team is prioritizing, which they would probably have communicated with HR/recruiters beforehand so that they could help screen candidates accordingly.

"What are the skills, characteristics or experiences that the team is looking for in an ideal candidate?"

These are invaluable as you would be able to pinpoint the key criteria the team is prioritizing in hiring, which allows you to specifically showcase those required skills, characteristics or experiences in the next rounds with the hiring team.

This question is extremely useful as it's often hard to guess what the interviewer is really looking out for. Hiring is often a hit or miss and hiring managers are usually especially excited to find candidates who seem to be a perfect fit to their internal hiring criteria.

"When is the anticipated starting date for this position?"

More often than not, starting dates could be a key criteria when a position has to be filled urgently. You could check this with the recruiter early if you have a delayed start date, to avoid wasting their time and yours.

Get to know more about the hiring team

"Will I have the opportunity to meet my potential manager or colleagues during the interview process?"

If you were to meet the hiring team within the process, it would be good to know which rounds it would be, and if possible, who's who. This will help you prepare relevant questions or conduct background checks beforehand.

"Can you tell me about the team I'll be working with directly, including who I will report to and the team's structure?"

This question may or may not be useful depending on how familiar the recruiter is with the hiring team (sometimes not at all). However, you might still be able to get good insights on the structure or dynamics of the team.

Get to know more from the company's perspective

"What are the current goals that the company is focused on, and how does this team work to support hitting those goals?"

This question gives you insights on the importance and position of the team within the company, including how the team contributes to the company's key goals. This could provide critical insights on the team's key deliverables and priorities, and correspondingly how you could best serve the team. In bad times, lower priority teams could also be laid off.

"Can you give me some examples of the most and least desirable aspects of the company's culture?"

While HR/recruiting might not be familiar with the team's day-to-day, they would most likely know about the company's policies and culture. This could give you some useful insights which could also carry over to the next interview.

"How frequently do employees make themselves available outside of working hours"

In a similar vein, we want to know if there is a general company culture for or against overtime work (without being too obvious). This could be a dealbreaker for some people, and should be cleared up asap.

Rounds with the hiring team/team you will join

As a front end developer / web developer, rounds with the engineering team usually means rounds with the hiring team itself.

Questions to ask in these rounds are highly critical in elucidating the experience you would likely get when you actually join the team (Note: This section is focused on questions to ask your potential team mates except manager. Questions to ask your potential manager are in the next section).

Check if the day-to-day realities of the job aligns with your goals

"Can you show me examples of projects I'd be working on and the technologies I will use? Will I be maintaining projects or building from scratch?"

This question is useful to elucidate the exact kind of work you would be doing, as well as some of the technologies used. In general, having the opportunity to build products from grown up could be a better learning opportunity than doing small, incremental features.

The types of technologies used could also be a criteria, as learning to use modern stacks (and having mentors proficient in that area) will likely be more beneficial to your career growth.

"Can you describe a typical day or week for a developer in your team?" / "Can you walk me through the process of a typical project"

This question helps to clarify quite a lot of things - the kinds of tasks that a developer might be expected to do, stakeholders that you will work with, as well as the project management process and lifecycle.

"What are some of the challenges you expect the person in this position to face?"

This question is useful in uncovering some potential issues in the codebase or workflows which could be a dealbreaker for certain people. It might also uncover dysfunctional teams or processes.

"What does it look like during the busiest and toughest times for this role?"

Asking this question could help uncover unreasonably high expectations or pressure for the role, elucidating more about work life balance without explicitly asking about it.

"Will there be opportunities for stretch assignments where I can learn and use new skills?"

If you're someone who seeks to grow your skills or portfolio in the role, be sure to ask this question to know if you will have reasonable autonomy to work on more complex projects on request.

Check if your potential manager's managerial style is appropriate for your growth

What type of information is shared with employees? Is revenue, profits, expenses, salary ranges, etc. shared?

This question differentiates companies by their levels of transparency. Some candidates might find this important, as it could be frustrating to have little information and hence little control over your compensation and promotion schedule.

Who I will I report to? Can you tell me more about their style of supervision?

This question elucidates if your potential manager is someone who is hands-off or tends to look into the details of your work. This could have a large impact on your experience on the job.

Understand more about the team dynamics and culture

"What is the team structure and how does this role fit into the team?"

This question is useful as it helps you to paint a picture of the role in context to the overall team structure, how big the team is and roughly what each part of the team does.

"How would you describe the work environment here—is the work typically more collaborative or more independent?"

This question indirectly elucidates the likely culture of the team - do people work in silos or do they communicate frequently with one another.

"Can you give me some examples of the most and least desirable aspects of the team's culture?"

Another open-ended, useful question which allows you to gain more insights which may not surface from a more general ask.

"How frequently do team members make themselves available outside of business hours?"

This question indirectly elucidates the culture of the team with respect to work life balance.

Rounds with your potential manager

In these rounds, it is useful to take the chance to find out your manager's managerial style, the performance review process/criteria, as well as his/her expectations of the role (which could give you an idea of how well you might perform on the job)

  • Can you tell me about the kind of supervision you provide?
  • Thinking back to people you've seen do this work previously, what differentiated the ones who were good from the ones who were really great at it?
  • What are you hoping this person will accomplish in their first six months and in their first year?
  • What has been the top accomplishments of the organization over the past year?

Rounds with roles outside the team (who might not know specifically about team's operations)

Questions to ask the founder

  • What are the current goals that the company is focused on, and how does this team work to support hitting those goals?
  • What direction do you see this company heading in over the next few years?
  • What are the current focus areas for the company as a whole?

Questions to ask the team's collaborators

It is common to interview with someone you may not work directly with. In these cases, its best to cast a wider net and ask questions about the general company policy or culture. You could still ask them about your team if they are close collaborators.

  • What's one challenge you occasionally or regularly face in your job?
  • Can you tell me about the team I'll be working with?
  • What learning and professional development opportunities are available in the company?

Questions to avoid

Here are a few examples of what not to ask at the end of your interview:

Avoid asking about salary and benefits early on

Only start discussing salary when the team is already keen on hiring you (i.e. at the end of the process), unless they ask you about your salary requirements.

  • What's the starting salary?
  • Can you tell me about your health insurance?
  • What are your paid leave policies?
  • If I get the job, when can I take time off for vacation?
  • How often do you give out raises?
  • How often do you hand out bonuses?
  • What kind of perks and benefits can I expect?

Avoid asking questions that should be public information

  • What does the company do?
  • Where are the offices of the company located?
  • Who is the CEO of the company?