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How To Be More Interesting During A Technical Interview

Originally written in 2018, revised for 2023, a year notable for Big Tech layoffs and industry disruption.

“Do you have any questions for me before we wrap up?”

This your chance to make a lasting impression on your interviewer. It’s an opportunity to show your prospective employer you're interested in solving real problems, not just in getting a job. That you care about the humans at the opposite end of the tech stack.

It’s also a chance to learn something about how your prospective employer operates. Maybe there’s a pain point you can help address, or a process gap you can help fill. Maybe you’ll see some patterns that indicate how happy — or miserable — you’ll be if you accept an offer.

After 20 years of interviewing candidates, the ones I remembered were the ones who tried to engage me in a conversation about things I cared about. Below are some conversation starters I jotted down from memory. Feel free to use them, and create your own.

What’s your worst day like here? How do you manage it?

If you could change one thing about your tech stack, what would it be? What’s blocking you from implementing this change?

What are some common pain points for your customers? Are you working towards solving them? Why or why not?

How do you respond to customer complaints? Do you have a system for customer-reported issues? How has that been working for you?

How does your team handle requests for new features? Do you have a process?

How do you evaluate new technology for use? What are your criteria for adoption?

I see from your source code/press release/company blog that you’ve adopted [a particular technology]. What decisions led you to that adoption? How successful has it been?

Tell me about your deployment methodology. Are you able to do continuous deployment? If so, how? If not, what is your release schedule like and what determines it?

How does your team handle code reviews? Do you have standards or criteria for reviews?

When was the last time your company or team had to migrate to a new tech stack? How did you approach this? Would you do anything differently now?

What’s one thing someone would need to know to be successful here?