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Some context: I wasn't able to properly assess my last job on these terms prior to accepting the position. I accepted at face value when my interviewers assured me they had secured proper funding for the project they hired me to implement.

My second week on the job was the first time they showed the budget and documentation on the project. I immediately recognized after reviewing these that what they had allocated for my project out of the total budget was completely inadequate--in terms of financials and staffing--to meet the desired scope.

I'd like to avoid a similar situation in my current job-hunt. I'd like to have a direct and honest conversation with my interviewers to determine if they have properly allocated the resources needed for the job they are hiring me to do. But I recognize some may be reluctant to talk in specific dollar amounts, or to show detailed spreadsheets and scoping documents to a job candidate. Some might even refuse to answer questions along these lines.

EDIT: My question is specifically asking how to initiate an effective conversation about budget and resources to an interviewer rather than a question about "work culture."

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Ask them about previous projects and how well they fit the budget/resources.

Ask them how they go about budgeting/resourcing projects.

Ask them whether they have problems with projects going off-track or under-delivering.

Obviously, the context is pretty key here. If you're being employed as a Project Manager, these questions are pretty appropriate. If you're being employed as a lower level worker (i.e. you're the one being managed), then these questions will most probably be taken as inappropriate.

Either way, asking for the spreadsheets and expecting your interviewers to go through the figures with you won't be seen well.

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    Thank you! This is a good approach. Yes, I am interviewing for positions where I am the manager of a major technical project or a department that implements and maintains technical projects. So it is key for me to know if the proper resources have been allocated for the position to have a solid foundation – libarts Nov 27 '17 at 14:20
  • Good. So talk around their other projects in general terms and get a feel for how accurate they are on their budgeting/resourcing. If that's something they're weak on, they might want bolstering in that department. – Snow Nov 27 '17 at 14:22
  • The problem isn't that the numbers on the spreadsheet are wrong, so you don't need to ask about the spreadsheet. The problem is that the processes to decide on the numbers, manage them, change them, and deal with those decisions are wrong. So ask about the processes, not the spreadsheet. – dwizum Apr 3 '18 at 13:54
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I'd like to avoid a similar situation in my current job-hunt. I'd like to have a direct and honest conversation with my interviewers to determine if they have properly allocated the resources needed for the job they are hiring me to do. But I recognize some may be reluctant to talk in specific dollar amounts, or to show detailed spreadsheets and scoping documents to a job candidate. Some might even refuse to answer questions along these lines.

In general, it's not reasonable to ask to see project details at that level. The project may not even be underway yet, and future projects may not be conceived.

Instead, ask to talk to peers.

Ask them about the company, the management, your potential boss, past projects, challenges, company culture, etc. Listen intently for the clues that the company is in the habit of underfunding and/or understaffing projects. Then make your decision accordingly.

During the interview process I always ask to speak with at least one potential peer if it isn't already part of their interviewer list. That, plus the usual interviews with manager(s), and team members give me a more well-rounded impression of the company and the job.

  • Thank you! I will use this approach for positions where there are peers. For positions where the job is structured as a "one person shop" for small organizations and there are no peers within the department, how would you recommend asking these types of questions to the hiring manager or the supervisor? – libarts Nov 27 '17 at 14:21
  • +1 for speak with peers and others. Try GlassDoor and a nearby coffee shop at lunch, poke your nose in the backdoor (if it's not trespassing). Listen very carefully for clues. Once when I returned a call the person answering said "Ah, another call, I'll put you through", I made certain to be most polite and thanked the person for being so helpful - code or a heads up for something's wrong. Turned out that they'd hired already and wondered what I thought about a junior position for much less. Listen more than talk. Does something seem in disrepair, does the courier seem a bit surely, etc. – Rob Nov 28 '17 at 1:17
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Ask specific questions related to the job description:

  • This position was listed as full-time, is this correct?
  • How big is the team?
  • How many openings are currently open?
  • What are the normal business hours that people come in and go home?

I accepted a job which was advertised as a full-time position on a team which turned out to be part-time position working only with the manager. In my first week, the hiring manager stopped me in the hall one afternoon and asked why I was still there. I stated what I thought to be the obvious, that I was working eight hours. That's when I was told I was only expected to work four hours in the morning each day.

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    To the user who raises the Low Quality Posts flag, what's wrong with this answer? I think the four bullets answer the question. The rest of it is extra info. Please let us know why you think this is a low quality post. – scaaahu Apr 3 '18 at 2:57

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