Interviewing the Interviewer

JobInterviewSkillsCartoonIn my life as an opensource geek, I’ve had my fair share of interviews. Over the years like many other candidates, the interview has ended with the obligatory:

“Do you have any questions for us?”

This question plagues many recruits and for good reason. If you are not extremely talkative (or you talk too much!), have social anxiety, etc, being put on the spot in a room full of people you just met can be an extremely uncomfortable position. You can start feeling like you are defending yourself. In a way, you are.

This question is asked to gauge a lot of things. The most obvious of course is really whether or not you have any questions about the company you are interviewing with. On a different level, it can also be used to gauge self-confidence, social comfort, directness, etc. I personally use it when interviewing candidates to determine how comfortable a person is with speaking up in an uncomfortable situation. It’s a friendly parting question with sometimes profound ramifications.

In my days of interviewing, I have come up with my own questions for different levels of the interview process. At times these questions have been met with disbelief (usually by those assuming you’d have no questions) and at other times I’ve found out that part of the decision to hire me was because I was willing to ask hard questions. “That kid’s got moxy!”

Below are some of the questions I’ve asked during different portions of the interview process.

Questions for co-workers

  • What does an average week look like for you? Configuration? Systems Admin? Design/Architecture?
  • What Versions/Distributions of Linux are you currently supporting and why did you choose these?
  • Do you enjoy coming to work each day? Do you feel like you are challenged and fulfilled?
  • How do you describe your relationship with your manager? Are they easy to approach with new ideas, concepts, etc?
  • Do you feel like you are micro-managed by your upper management or do you feel that they trust you to handle your duties?
  • Do you feel like the company allows you to innovate, express ideas for more efficient systems, etc?

Questions for management

  • How do you empower your employees?
  • Do you try to inspire innovation and original ideas within your teams? How?
  • How do you encourage your people to interconnect with other teams within your organization? Do you feel they accomplish this?
  • How do you deal with employees whose opinion or idea differs from your own or the organization’s?
  • How do you bolster the morale within your team?
  • What is one thing about your management style that you would like to change?

Questions for HR

  • Do you feel like you are engrained with the teams you over-see?
  • Do you feel that employee’s under your watch trust you to come forward with issues?
  • Do you feel that the HR organization regularly reviews market trends such as payroll, benefits, etc and stays current?
  • Do you feel training is important to your organization?
  • What is one thing you love about this company?
  • What is one thing you would like to see change or are working on changing?


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