Interviewing the Company

  • Do they have some dedicated HR/Recruiting staff that sounds like they have a clue?
  • Do they want all, or at least most, of the other people who you will work with want to spend time with you, talk to you and meet you. Do you get to meet and chat with most of the people on the team? If you only get to meet with the hiring manager and do not get a good grilling by the other engineers that you will be working with that means that anyone who is deemed good enough gets thrown on the team and that the team does not get to pick who they want to work with.
  • What does their website look like? Can you get a good feel about what the company does and the value it brings to their customers by just looking at their home page?
  • Are they in a rush to bring you on, or are they taking a measured approach to get to know you? If they are in a rush, slow down and find out why. They might just be in panic mode and willing to get anyone on the team who can fog a mirror. If they are taking forever to bring you on that could signal that once someone gets hired there they almost never get fired which means there will be a lot of people there just punching the clock and a large number of unmotivated co-workers.

Preparing for the Interviews

  • Figure out your elevator pitch. Devise one specifically tailored for each employer and position
    • Items to include
      • Clarify goal, what type of position in what field?
      • Focus it on employers needs
    • Who you are
    • What you do
    • Why you should be hired for this job
    • What do you do, for how long, and what is something unique about it or you?
    • What is it that you are looking for?
  • What is your background?
    • How did you get started? Could be your education, an internship, or first job
    • How did you progress? Big picture overview of how you progressed
    • Where are you now? Expand a bit on what was sketched out in your elevator pitch. In general, what are you working on now?
  • What are you working on now?
    • Expect to be asked this question at each stage in the interview.
    • Be ready to describe, in minute detail, the projects that you mention.
      • The use-case and business value of it
      • The design
      • Any technical challenges
      • How it came together
  • What are you looking for?

First Interview


  • Specific Job
    • Can you tell me about the types of projects that I’d be working on?
    • What are the skills and characteristics do people in this position have that make them successful?
  • Company
    • What is the company structure?
    • Team
      • How many people are on it?
      • What is their mission?
      • To whom to they report?
  • Culture
    • Tell me about the company culture?
    • What are the best things about working here?
    • Can you tell me about something that happens here that wouldn’t happen anywhere else?
  • Career
    • What is the career path for this position?
    • Do you have defined individual contributor path or is does it lead to management?

Second Interview

  • Specific Job
    • What does a typical day look like?
    • What is the most immediate project that the person who is hired for this position will be given to tackle?
  • 30, 90, 6 month benchmarks for success for this position
  • Culture
    • How do you foster team cohesion in a remote environment?
    • Tell me about the corporate citizenship of the company?
    • Are employees offered any professional development resources and team building opportunities?
  • Ask the Hiring Manager: Is there anything else that we haven’t talked about yet that is important to you?

. How do they get new customers? What is their sales/pipeline structure like?


  • What is the culture/policy around automated testing?
    • Unit
    • Integration
    • System
  • What is the culture/policy about comments in code?
  • What is the culture/policy regarding documentation? What is the methodology to keep documentation up to date as software evolves?
  • Who participates in system architecture and what is the company procedure for development, documentation, and implementation of architectures?
  • What is the company standard build tool?
  • What does a developer workstation look like, OS, tools, etc?
  • How do they set up their dev/test/production environments?
  • How is the company managing dependency, component libraries? Is there some company-wide policy for vetting and keeping dependencies up to date and secure?
  • CI
  • Continuous Delivery and/or Deployment?
  • How does the company do build and continuous integration during development?
  • . Do they have a separate IT staff from Dev? How do they get along? How do they work together?
  • . Are there testers?
  • . What is their typically software dev cycle look like (requirements analysis, business process models, architecture, sequence diagrams, class diagrams, documentation, etc.)? What type of artifacts do they create along the way? Who participates in architectural design/decision making?
  • . What is the software development methodology? Agile, Waterfall? Mix?
    . How do they calculate/estimate tasks? Is there a methodology for doing so.
  • . Two part question: first, tell me about a time when a team or individual had a big success, what did that look like and how what that recognized?
    second: Despite best efforts, sometimes things fall short of the mark what happens then?


Technical Screening

Things to look for:
. Do they do a good tech check, checking the 6 basics?

  1. Shell Scripting
  2. Binary
  3. Regex
  4. Data Structures and Algorithms
  5. OO Design/Design Patterns
  6. Coding: basics of the language of choice illustrating basic good coding, and recursion