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Since it happened to me to certain degrees over number of positions, I am trying to figure out a script to tell whether interviewers are lying to me in order to increase the odds that I join a team.

For example it happened quite a few times:

  • Do you have CI: Yes, we do have! / (variant) under construction...
  • Do you do code-review? Yes we do!
  • Do you have a ReSharper? (Variant) No, but we can give you a license if you want (while it's not mandatory... I am asking for the truth not for promises that cannot being kept), I don't make it as a requirement, just want to know more about their tooling...
  • Do you write unit tests? Sure we do!

And obviously when starting to work for the company well it seems there is a gap...

How can I investigate that interviewers are not lying about specific details during interviews while not being perceived as the interviewee playing the role of interviewer?

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    You shouldn't accept an answer in the first 24 hours - a lot of people will see the checkmark and not bother to write another answer :) – Erik Oct 15 '17 at 6:12
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    Also, there's no reason why you shouldn't be perceived as the interviewer. You are interviewing the company exactly as much as the company is interviewing you. – Erik Oct 15 '17 at 6:13
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    @Erik thanks for the advice but I think the answer given by Frank is worthwhile. – Jean-Pierre Patulacci Oct 15 '17 at 6:14
  • Okay; if you don't want anymore answers it's fine. – Erik Oct 15 '17 at 6:16
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How can I investigate that interviewers are not lying about specific details during interviews while not being perceived as the interviewee playing the role of interviewer?

I would argue that you are potentially asking the wrong people for these types of questions.

Put yourself in their shoes, would you ever speak poorly of your company as the interviewer?

With this said, if you know of any friends, former colleagues, people who you can trust and can speak informally with you on the company, those are your best bets.

Also be mindful of whom you are asking these questions to. An HR representative with a list of criteria would not know of the minutiae of your field. However, asking the team lead of whom you will report to should definitely be knowledgeable.

Ask open ended questions like "what is the process of which design specifications are compiled, disseminated, written, reviewed, and commited to source?" The questions you listed are all Yes/No responses. If you lead with an open ended question, you can get more answers with one question than otherwise.

I'll edit my answer once I find it, but there was an article involving a tech industry veteran listing made-up programming languages to effectively vet the employer hiring board using pokemon names. Although this was a rather humorous (albeit slightly dishonest) approach, you have options available.

  • the questions I've mentioned were usually asked to the tech lead and / or a manager and / or a developer. – Jean-Pierre Patulacci Oct 15 '17 at 4:55
  • "would you ever speak poorly of your company as the interviewer?" I got a couple of times interviewers who have been honest, clearly not the majority though. Most of the time, it's all rosy which is a lot worse imho. There is a difference between being honest and speak poorly of your company. Instead of saying we do, maybe "we don't feel we need write unit tests because blahblah". People should acknowledge that people may value different things and make their hiring decisions based on that instead answering systematically in a positive fashion once you have passed the technical tests... – Jean-Pierre Patulacci Oct 15 '17 at 5:02
  • Then if verbal confirmation doesn't work, ask them to show rather than tell. Although I doubt they would open the company internal policies to you, it is the last viable option in such a situation. Ask open ended questions like "what is the process of which design specifications are compiled, disseminated, written, reviewed, and commited to source?" – Frank FYC Oct 15 '17 at 5:04
  • well because I've already tried this strategy I can tell that they usually don't. Asking details about a process works slightly better but it remains vague or they legitimately pull the confidentiality card. I think the insider tricky is still my best bet. – Jean-Pierre Patulacci Oct 15 '17 at 5:21
  • i.redd.it/bka1gb843z7z.jpg is that the one you were thinking about? – Jean-Pierre Patulacci Oct 15 '17 at 6:20
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How can I investigate that interviewers are not lying about specific details during interviews while not being perceived as the interviewee playing the role of interviewer?

You probe for lies by the interviewer the same way an interviewer probes for lies from you.

You stop asking simple Yes/No questions.

Instead of just asking "Do you have CI?" ask "Tell me about your CI strategy". Instead of asking "Do you do code reviews?" ask "How are code reviews done here? And under what conditions do you skip the code review?"

Longer answers tell you about what is really going on. And lies tend to fall apart as the liar goes on.

Then, just as your references will be checked, you ask others follow-up questions. I always try to talk with at least one potential peer when I interview.

Getting answers to related questions will give you more than just one person's view on the subject (CI or code reviews, for example). Often more nuanced views will emerge.

  • Something like "What's your process for merging code from different developers?" or "How often is code committed?" would probably be better than "Tell me about your CI strategy". The latter suffers from the problem that the true answer might be "oh, we don't do that", which the interviewer might try to avoid. – Dukeling Oct 15 '17 at 19:46
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    @Dukeling I disagree partly. I like your questions because they are framed as "How are you doing X?" instead of "Do you have a strategy for X?" They might have a strategy but aren't following it. But I also like how Joe's question is much broader which makes it harder for a company to feed you the "correct answer" It forces the answerer to reveal much more about how they do things and focus on what they consider more important because they cannot list everything without a one hour lecture. – Kempeth Oct 16 '17 at 10:05

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