You're on a job interview and it's wrapping up. The interviewer shuffles some papers around, clears her throat, and then presents the prompt that you knew was coming: “So, do you have any questions for me?"
You're already aware that you can't just sit there bemused—you need to say something in response. Plus, asking informed questions is a great way to demonstrate your engagement, express your interest in the hiring process, and evaluate if the position is the right fit for you.
Of course, there are the old standbys that you can lean on—things like inquiring about the company culture or what qualities the team is looking for in an ideal candidate.
But, when attempting to determine whether or not a particular tech role or organization matches your ambitions, you'll want to dig a little deeper.
So, what exactly should you ask? Keep these five questions in your back pocket to impress your interviewer and better ascertain whether that open role is truly the right opportunity for you.
1. How does your team approach problems?
Regardless of what you do, you know this much: A key responsibility of any tech job is finding solutions and answers to complex problems.
However, nobody works in a vacuum. So, it's important that you get an understanding of how your potential co-workers approach these sorts of situations.
Do they foster an "experiment and fail fast" culture? Or, do they prefer to sit down, analyze the circumstances, and come up with a detailed plan before taking action? Do they celebrate mistakes as learning experiences, or aspire to perfection?
Everybody has different methods for tackling problems, but when that will be a core responsibility of your role, you want to make sure your own approach will mesh well.
2. How has this position evolved, and how might the responsibilities change moving forward?
Technology is always advancing and evolving. What this role looked like a few years ago (if it even existed!) is probably far different than what it is now—or what it will be a few years down the road.
This is why it's important to get an understanding of the history of this position, as well as where the company sees this job headed in the future.
Is there a larger goal—such as a brand new product or service—that the employer hopes this position will spearhead? Do they want the person who accepts this job to help overhaul an entire platform or technology?
Asking this question will give you a feel for the roots and long-term vision of this particular role, as well as what you can expect for objectives beyond the daily responsibilities. Plus, it shows you're interested in growing in the role and with the company.
3. Technical capabilities aside, what soft skills would make someone successful in this role?
Without a doubt, you need to have the technical qualifications required to fill the open position. But, soft skills are arguably just as important to employers.
Do they need a strong communicator capable of making complex topics more digestible for larger audiences? Are they looking for an experienced leader? Do they want a candidate who is highly organized and can juggle multiple deadlines with ease?
Asking about these less technical competencies will give you a more holistic view of what's required to be successful in that job—which is helpful in determining if it's a fit with what you bring to the table.
4. What does the company do to stay on the cutting edge of innovation?
When you work in tech, you undoubtedly have a high interest in innovation. And you likely want to work for an employer who challenges you to push the envelope and disrupt the status quo.
Unfortunately, not every company fits the bill in that regard. So, make it a point to ask what they do to make sure they're always staying at the forefront of their given industry.
Do they host hackathons to empower employees to try different things and pursue different projects or interests? Do they have a budget for conferences, courses, tech events, and professional development? Do they encourage team members to own their work and approach leaders with ideas and suggestions—big or small?
You likely won't be content with the same-old, same-old, so it's crucial that you get an understanding of what that company does to stay on the cutting edge.
5. What do people love about working here?
This isn't a secret: Technical roles are in demand, which means that companies are in competition to land the top tech talent that's available. Just like you know you need to sell yourself in an interview, potential employers feel that same way.
There's nothing wrong with explicitly asking what makes that company stand out—why should you work there over any other organizations that you're considering?
Maybe they place a huge amount of emphasis on professional development. Perhaps they have an awesome culture with brag-worthy perks. Maybe they provide their tech talent with tons of autonomy and flexibility.
The answers here could really run the gamut. But, it's an important question to ask to find out more about the values and benefits of that particular company—as well as how those fit with your own preferences and goals.
You're likely familiar with the standard questions you can use to cap off a job interview. And those are still great to ask to find out more about the company in general.
But, if you're looking to dive into what you can truly expect out of a tech role in particular, consider asking these five questions. Not only are they sure to leave a memorable and positive impression on that hiring manager, but they'll also help you determine whether that position is the right next step for you.
Photo of photo of woman on interview courtesy of Eric Audras/ Getty Images.
Kat is a Midwest-based freelance writer, covering topics related to careers, productivity, and the freelance life. In addition to The Muse, she's a contributor all over the web and dishes out research-backed advice for places like Atlassian, Trello, Toggl, Wrike, The Everygirl, FlexJobs, and more. She's also an Employment Advisor at a local college, and loves helping students prepare to thrive in careers (and lives!) they love. When she manages to escape from behind her computer screen, she's usually babying her two rescue mutts or continuing her search for the perfect taco. Say hi on Twitter @kat_boogaard or check out her website.More from this Author
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