Interview Questions to Ask, and Why?

07-14-2020

I don’t interview all that often, but when I do, I really prefer to have a conversation versus some of the other common interview methods, cough cough white board questions cough cough.

For more Senior roles I find this works better than hypothetical questions explained on the whiteboard. If the conversation isn’t progressing well (probably a good indicator), then I will pull out a more theoretical question and have a white boarding exercise instead. I prefer to not do a lot of data structure or algorithm type questions if I can avoid it. My goal is to understand how a candidate thinks, solves problems, and works as part of larger team.

Interview Progression Options

Option 1. Ask gateway questions, don’t jump immediately into technical questions

Use this approach to provide a more “conversation-like” interview experience. I look for paths to dig deeper. These are more “small-talk” type questions that will hopefully lead to deeper conversations.

  1. Tell me about your recent role
  2. Tell me about a recent project
  3. (Looking at their resume) “I see on your resume you have experience with ___ tell me about that?”

Look for:

  • Talking about other team members involvement, good or bad
  • Knowledge of a specific framework, technology, paradigm
  • Admission of quilt, we all make mistakes, do they own theirs?
  • Opportunities to explore interests, hidden gems
  • Are they passionate about technology? Do they learn on their own about current technologies? Things they are interested in, but not currently using? Interests outside of technology.
  1. What new technologies are you excited about?

Could indicate:

  • Level of excitement about new technology
  • Do they follow the industry? Trends?
  • Do they jump on every new trend for every project?
  • Do they understand the implications of choosing a new technology? Do they do due diligence in choosing new technologies?

Could lead to:

  • Exploring technologies further in depth
  • Exploring application architectures or challenges in depth
    • What do they know about them?
    • What role did they play in implementation?
    • How did they over come the challenges?

Option 2. Review each role asking the following questions for each role

  1. What was your role? Tasks?
  2. What did you like about the role?
  3. What did you not like about the role?
  4. Why did you leave?

Look for:

  • Consistency in things they like vs. don’t like
  • Values. Do they blame others for decisions, etc.
  • Patterns in why they leave roles

Technical Questions

Look up “Top 20 ____ (JavaScript, SQL, etc.) Interview questions and answers”

  • Find technologies or framework questions that are relevant for the role
  • Review questions and answers well ahead of asking them
    • Do you understand the question and “accepted” answer?
    • Do you know other possibly acceptable answers for the question?
      • Be very careful here, if the candidate gives a correct answer that differs from the answer on the exam they will know your level of expertise and will likely be turned off from the role/team
    • Avoid reading down the list, intersperse the questions as part of the larger conversation

Goals

I want to walk away from the interview with answers to some of the following questions:

  1. Does this person have the potential to lead?
  2. Could I have a beer with this person? (Drinking NOT required)
  3. Could I be stuck in an airport with this person?
  4. Can this person learn new technologies or patterns?