Questions to ask in a job interview

Questions to ask in a job interview by Ela Moscicka

You may already know from my 2 previous articles: “How to prepare for a technical interview (and “live coding” part) for a Software Engineer role?” and “Interview preparation checklist” how crucial it is to have your questions ready – thanks to this you not only show your interest but also learn about things that are important for YOU.

They will also help you understand whether the role you’ve applied for and the company you’re interviewing with is really for you.

Use the below questions throughout your interviews. Some might be relevant for a member of the recruitment team, others will be suitable for other Interviewers or your future Manager (they’re usually called “Hiring Managers”).

1. “Why are you hiring?” / “Why is this role open?

Are they building a new team? Growing existing one? Someone has just left a company? Or maybe…got fired and they’re looking for a replacement?

Asking that question will help you understand what is the current situation within a team/company.

2. “While doing an online search I’ve found out about […]. Can you tell me more about that?”

By asking this question you’re showing that you’ve put efforts into preparation and you’re treating this recruitment process seriously – that’s a huge plus!

Microsoft Stories website
Example: Stories | Microsoft news, features, events, and press materialsone of Microsoft’s websites where you can find interesting insights. Why not ask about one of them during your interview?

3. “What are the steps of the recruitment process at your company?” / “How does the recruitment process looks like and how many steps can I expect?”

This information might be mentioned in job descriptions or shared with selected candidates. But be careful! There are also companies which won’t tell you this so be sure to ask about this!

Benefits of asking this question: you will learn how many steps are there, have a chance to prepare properly, and get a better understanding of how long the process might take (this will be especially important in case you’re interviewing at 2 or more companies).

4. “What are the day-to-day responsibilities in this role?”

Even if you’re an experienced professional don’t make assumptions and make sure to ask about it!

Just because they’re hiring for the role you know doesn’t mean the responsibilities will be the same / the one you got used to at your previous employer.

* Example: being a Software Engineer at one company might be all about supporting/maintaining an existing project or bug fixing, while at other places you’ll be responsible for delivering new features. What if you don’t like to do something and it will be a part of your duties? This simple question will clarify a lot for you.

5. “How does the team look like?” / “How many people are in that team and what are their roles?”

Is it a small or a big team? Expand the above question by asking about seniority level: will you be the most senior one or you’ll have people you can learn from?

Microsoft Prague career website
Microsoft Prague’s career website is a place where you can read about currently open roles as well as get a sneak-peak into insightful stories directly from Microsoft’s employees!

6. “Does this role include collaboration with other teams / departments?”

If the answer is yes: ask where are those teams located as there might be time zone differences.

To get even more insights clarify how the work is divided: will you (your team) work independently or you’ll have to ‘adjust’ to other teams?

Depending on the answer you might reconsinder whether the late/early meetings are suitable for you.

7. “How would my performance be measured?” / “What are the KPIs?”

That’s a great question to understand not only the requirements but also learn more about the promotion criteria.

8. “Do you have defined career path for this role?” / “What is the career path for this role?”

Yes, you’re interviewing for a role and you’re not yet part of a team, but this will help you understand what is there waiting for you.

Being in a company that does have a career path defined means you know what to expect, what are the options for you, and what are the requirements to get promoted.

At Microsoft there’re two career paths between which you can choose:
IC (individual contributor) and management.

[You can also go through a career change – this is what I did! I was working for 6 years as a Microsoft Talent Sourcer in the EMEA Engineering Recruitment team and then I became a Software Engineer working at the Microsoft Teams team].

9. “How long do you work here?” and “What do you like the most about your role/work?”

I really loved when candidates were asking me those questions, unfortunately, that wasn’t happening very often 🙁

There’s so much information and insights you can get from the Interviewer’s answer!

Pro Tip: this is one of those questions that you can ask different people with whom you will meet during your recruitment process.

High chances are you’ll hear something new (and interesting) each time.

10. “Are there any Diversity and Inclusion initiatives at your company?” / “Is Diversity and Inclusion an important topic at your company?”

This question will be always on my ‘must ask about’ list.

11. “What type of benefits do you offer?”

Benefits are much more than ping-pong tables or fruits/coffee at work.

Pro Tip: Remember to not only ask about what the company offers, but also clarify things that are not understandable for you, i.e. not everyone knows how company stock might work. Recruiter will be able to explain this to you.

12. “Can you tell me something about the company culture / values?”

Check whether they are aligned with what is important for you.

13. “Will I have a chance to grow my skills in addition to performing my day-to-day job?”

Are there internal meetings where people share their knowledge with others?

Will you have a chance to attend some conferences?

By asking this question you want to check what’s in there waiting for you.

Do you know that at Microsoft we’re having hackathons regularly? It’s a great time when everyone (yes, not only the Software Engineers) comes together to work on exciting areas of their choice!

14. “Do you have a training budget?”

If the answer to this is “No, we don’t have”, ask question number 13 🙂

15. “What are the working hours?”

Again, don’t assume things will be the same as what you’re used to.

Also, the term “flexible” in one company means you really plan your work however you want while in another place they will ‘expected’ you to start working between 8 and 10 am.

Thanks for reading & have a nice day,
Ela

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About The Author / Ela Moscicka
About The Author / Ela Moscicka

Ela spent more than 9 years in tech recruitment (6 years as a Microsoft Talent Sourcer in the EMEA Engineering Recruitment team) where she has helped hundreds of people land jobs in the tech industry.

She went through a career change and became a Software Engineer. She’s currently based in Prague where she works at Microsoft Teams team.

Her career tips have helped people break into the tech industry, change careers, and get jobs in top tech companies!

Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

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