I'm interviewing for a database-related technical position at a relatively small company. The database team (who I'd be working with) only has 2 people, and both of them have been with the company for a very long time (think in the range of 10-20 years).

I know they use AWS together with their on-prem databases, but I'm concerned that I'll get stuck working with out of date technologies. What can I ask during interviews to find out if they stay reasonably up-to-date with current technology (or at the very least, not totally out of date)?

Note - This isn't a duplicate to the question about company culture. Current technology is completely separate.

  • Perhaps they are interviewing people like you to update some of their databases...
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 19:00
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    @c36 I wrote an answer already, but can you confirm (and edit into your question if applicable) - why are you concerned that you'd get stuck working with out-of-date technologies? I mean, I understand why that might not be desirable. I'm asking what specifically makes you concerned about this, in this situation? Is it because of the 2 people who have been working there 10-20 years so you think they may be "stuck in how we've always done it" for example? Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 19:23
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    @gnat disagree with the dupe, although it's related. Company Culture is not the same as current technology
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 19:27

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I've been in similar positions (as the interviewee/candidate) and would suggest you just ask those kind of questions straightforwardly/directly - either as part of the discussion if it emerges 'organically', or during the "do you have any questions" part they typically have at the end.

You could ask about specific versions of the database software they use (although there may already be a clue to this in the job ad, e.g. "proficiency with SQL Server 2008/2012/2014" would suggest that this is what they are currently using or looking to use. If this was already specified then adapt the question accordingly, e.g. "I understand from the job spec that you are working with SQL Server 2008 through to 2014? ... do you have any plans to use later versions in the near future?").

You could also ask about their approach to new technology in general, for example "would we typically be working with leading-edge versions of the systems or do you tend to stick with more established versions for a long time?"

Perhaps you could ask about how much AWS/cloud/PaaS is used in the company - would you be involved in that? - and whether they envision any movement into the cloud for their "on-prem databases".

Is it a deal-breaker for you if they stick with "older" technologies, as in would you not want to take this job (if offered?) - if so, I recommend you get a very clear answer about this during the interview.

If it's a technical interview I'd expect most of these details to be able to emerge quite naturally/organically during the discussion.

Above all take your lead from the interviewer/how the interview is going as to how to direct these questions. But please do bring them up directly (if they don't come out naturally) since it's clear that this is important to you - I'd feel the same!

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    "just ask those kind of questions straightforwardly/directly" - Totally agree on this. This is something ok to ask directly IMHO.
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 19:29
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    Yeah really. I did an interview yesterday, I explained our tech stack front end is in Angular, the candidate said "so like AngularJS or newer Angular..." and I said "Angular 7" and he said "OK cool." It's a normal part of a technical interview.
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 0:15

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