Any Questions?

Any Questions?

At the end of almost every job interview, the interviewer asks the candidate something like “Do you have any questions for me?”

Let’s set aside my dislike of the interview format for a moment – a simple social chat works much better, I find.  And let’s also set aside the question of why we most often leave the most telling part of the conversation – the candidate’s questions – to the end.

If you find yourself in this kind of situation, expected to wow the interviewer with your brilliance and erudition through sharp and insightful questions, what could you ask? Accepting for a moment that things have been going well enough that you still feel capable of – or interested in – asking some non-trivial questions, here’s some ideas, by role:

Scrum Masters

  • What is the organisation trying to achieve?
  • What are you personally trying to achieve?
  • What convinced you to accept your current position?
  • What’s your favourite part about working here?
  • What are you / the organisation looking to achieve through this appointment?
  • How does the team feel about having a Scrum Master?
  • When my team and I find and flag impediments outside our scope to deal with, in general how will you and the organisation go about resolving them them?
  • What is the purpose of the team’s work, from the paying customers’ perspective?
  • How does the team go about understanding their success in that that regard?
  • How does the team assess its capabilities, and what progress has it made over the past six months?
  • Who are the strong individuals in the team?
  • How do you measure people’s performance?
  • What do folks here look for in a top Scrum Master?
  • Do you see any reason I might not be a good fit for this position?
  • What question haven’t I asked that you might have?

Agile Coaches

  • What is the organisation trying to achieve?
  • What are you personally trying to achieve?
  • What convinced you to accept your current position?
  • What’s your favourite part about working here?
  • What are you / the organisation looking to achieve through this appointment?
  • How does the team feel about having a coach?
  • When my team and I find and flag impediments outside our scope to deal with, in general how will you and the organisation go about resolving them them?
  • What is the purpose of the team’s work, from the paying customers’ perspective?
  • How does the team go about understanding their success in that that regard?
  • How does the team assess its capabilities, and what progress has it made over the past six months?
  • What do folks here look for in a top coach?
  • Do you see any reason I might not be a good fit for this position?
  • What question haven’t I asked that you might have?

Software Development Managers

  • What is the organisation trying to achieve?
  • What are you personally trying to achieve?
  • What convinced you to accept your current position?
  • What’s your favourite part about working here?
  • What are the one or two things that really drive results for this organisation?
  • What are you / the organisation looking to achieve through this appointment?
  • What behaviours mark a great manager?
  • What kind of support will my group get in dealing with cross-functional issues outside our immediate control?
  • Who are my major customers and what is the purpose of my group’s work, from their perspective?
  • How do we gauge my group’s success?
  • How do we assess my group’s progress, and what progress has been made in the past six months?
  • What are the common attributes of your top managers here?
  • Do you see any reason I might not be a good fit for this position?
  • What question haven’t I asked that you might have?

CTOs

  • What is the organisation trying to achieve?
  • What are you personally trying to achieve?
  • What convinced you to accept your current position?
  • What, for you, marks this organisation out as a great organisation?
  • What are the one or two things that really drive results for this organisation?
  • What are you and the organisation looking to achieve through this appointment?
  • What beliefs govern the way this organisation operates?
  • How sacrosanct are those beliefs?
  • Where does technology fit into the organisation’s strategy?
  • What kind of capabilities does the organisation need to execute its strategy?
  • Where are the priority shortfalls in those capabilities?
  • What resources does the organisation plan to commit to addressing those shortfalls?
  • What do you expect me to accomplish in the first sixty to ninety days?
  • How does the organisation assess its performance, and what progress has been made in the past six months?
  • What are the common attributes of your top performers here?
  • Do you see any reason I might not be a good fit for this position?
  • What question haven’t I asked that you might have?

I find it’s also useful to illustrate that you have studied the organisation, through one or two questions about the organisation and its immediate situation or plans. For example: “I recently read that the company is looking to break into Asia. What do you foresee as the main impact from my point of view?” or “How do you plan to deal with <some pressing industry- or company-specific issue?>”

Do you have any favourite interview questions that you’d like to share?

– Bob

 

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