I love interviewing. As much as anything else we do, it’s the chance to help pick the people who determine what the job’s going to be like, and the direction of the company. I’ll volunteer for any loop, I’ll substitute for anyone who is sick or working on a production issue, whatever. So I’m going to write about that for a couple of days.
When I interview people at Expedia, I only get an hour, and I’m pretty good about reserving at least half of it for the candidate’s questions. I want to answer questions about culture, what the roles are like, what we’re working on, and all of that, because
a) I think the answers to those questions provide as a far better argument for why people should work there than the job description or the salary offer or anything else
b) I’m curious what people will ask
One of the most common questions is “what do you like about working at Expedia?” and my answer depends a little about things have been going, but almost every time, I’ll say
a) huge problems to work on
b) my peers are tremendous people
Tomorrow I’m on two interview loops. And on both of them there are at least two other people that I’ve worked with, respect, and would love to have on any project I’m on. I love that I get to say, “the next three people you meet are just awesome”. Which isn’t to say that the people I don’t know aren’t great… I just haven’t worked with them.
As someone on the other side, I’ve found that part of the conversation’s great — I once got all the way through a loop and when I asked a simple question about the group’s culture, discovered there was no way I’d be a fit… and equally, I talked about sense of humor once and the detailed, thoughtful answer made me desperately want to work there.
A lot of candidates don’t have any questions. I don’t hold it against them, especially if I’m interviewer 5 of 6 that day. But I have to wonder — taking a new job’s a huge life change. What are you concerned about? What would make the job more attractive to you, or less, and how do you ask that in a reasonable way?
For instance, think about:
What’s the culture like at ____?
What did you work on yesterday?
What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing as a team? As a company?
What do you like about working here?
What’s interesting about your job?
Why do you work here, and not, say, your competitor?
I’m really interested in ____. Does your company have non-business DLs? Are they active?
I saw you launched feature X. Why did you do Y and not Z?
I can tell you a lot you want to know in thirty minutes if you ask the right questions. Ask! Ask!