2

I am looking for a job as a junior software developer (preferably backend in Java or C#). During interviews, what are some good technical questions I can ask potential employers? I don't want to look passive by asking nothing.

I know about The Joel Test, but I don't want to seem too demanding, especially for a junior role.

I already have some general workplace questions (my favorite being about how they functioned during covid), but i feel i should ask some technical questions as well. (Especially since my "sales pitch" is based around being interested in the given technology.)

18
  • 1
    I have found this similar question Questions to ask during an interview? but i feel my question is different enough with its focus on technical aspects.
    – J. Doe
    Apr 25, 2022 at 21:25
  • 10
    What do you care about in the job? Believe me, interviewers can tell if you are asking questions for the sake of asking questions and it makes you look like a fool. Apr 25, 2022 at 21:28
  • @Philip Kendall Great question. I have two somewhat contradicting things i want from job. 1. I like learning new things and applying them to solve the problems. I like being great at my area of expertise. 2. I care a lot about work-life balance.
    – J. Doe
    Apr 25, 2022 at 21:35
  • 3
    Right, so phrase each of those three points as a question and we're done here. Apr 25, 2022 at 21:42
  • 2
    I'm voting to close this question. We don't have the job description. We don't work at your company.
    – Xavier J
    Apr 25, 2022 at 23:27

3 Answers 3

4

As a bit of a frame challenge:

If no questions come to mind, don't ask any!

I've gotten quite a few jobs without asking questions in the "do you have questions" block.

Now, I typically do ask some questions during conversation with the interviewers. Be it to clarify a technical question they posed (that often produces lots of technical questions), or when they introduce their company and how they work or when they introduce themselves.

As an interviewer, I don't really care if you ask questions in the open question block - that block is for you to clarify everything you want to know. If you feel you know all you need already, there is no need to ask anything. If anything, it's typically rather a (very small) negative point if I feel someone asks pointless questions just to appear interested (and waste my time). Now, that doesn't really have much influence on a hiring decision and is more an emotional reaction, I just bring it up to point out that this isn't a interview winning strategy. Surely there are some interviewers that value asking some question over no question and see that as a sign that a candidate has prepared themselves, but they will pretty certainly also weigh that very low (exceptions might exist - as well as in the other direction^^).

Don't get me wrong: If you have questions that interest you, by all means ask them! It's unlikely you come off incorrectly as just asking for the sake of it and even then any jerk that like me tends to weigh subjectively pointless questions emotionally negative AND gets it wrong won't hold that strongly against you - and it is far more important that you get a clear picture of what you are getting into. I'm just saying, if all is clarified and there is nothing you actually want to ask, it is fine to just say that everything seems clear enough already.

The interesting bit of the interview to convince the other side is the interactive part that typically happens beforehand, where usually the interviewer throws in topics and then there is some sort of technical discussion or task etc. That is where you need to typically shine, e.g. with clear counter-questions to get a precise understanding of the question they want you to answer. But that is also the part that is very specific for the company / interview. (Note: interview processes are different so all advice me - and likely anyone can give is an extract from their personal experience).

Now, if we look at the other side, what questions you should ask for yourself depends on what you want. (Even) the Joel Test, for instance, is subjective. Some people love to work in environments where they can juggle projects around without too much oversight, hack a bit here and there, do the bugfixes later if at all. Others want a very structured quality focused environment. Yes, producing quality products tends to happen more in the latter environment, but fast prototyping might work better and be more fun in an environment that does not satisfy all Joel Test bullet points. You need to figure out what is important for you and then come up with questions that help you figure that out - ideally in a ranked list if you end up with a long list of questions, because you might not want to rattle down 20 questions in the 20 minutes assigned for interviewee questions (potentially^^).

8

Questions from the candidate are an important component of the interview, but frequently the candidate comes out with some trite pre-rehearsed question, and then shows no interest in the answer - clearly they've been told they have to ask a question, and are just ticking that box.

If you really want to come across well, then ask a question that genuinely reflects what you want to know, ideally referring back to something the interviewer might have said, or maybe something interesting you've noticed on their Web site - and if that triggers some discussion points, then feel free to ask a few follow-up questions, but be careful not to ask too many, as the interviewer might be on a tight time-schedule.

With regard to asking detailed technical questions, be careful: for a junior post, the interviewer may be from HR, without any real understanding of technical issues. So during the interview, you need to get an impression of the interviewer's level of expertise, then be prepared to simplify your questions as necessary.

Basically, this is your opportunity to show that you are genuinely engaged with the company, and keen to work for them, rather than just repeating something a recruiter has told you to say.

5

What I would want to know if I were you, and what I wished somebody had told me to ask when I was a junior is:

What am I going to learn here and how am I going to learn it?

Ask about internal talks/trainings, mentorship programs, tuition reimbursement for furthering education, etc. Ask what you'll get to work on and what the expectations are (both yours and theirs) about how you're going to get up to speed.

I lucked out but I've both heard of and personally witnessed far too many junior devs (regardless of what their actual rank was on their job title) be tossed into the deep end to sink or swim: it's a lot easier if somebody teaches you how to swim first. And no, school did not even come close to doing this (if you even went to school for CS).

Say you're looking to grow. Don't worry that it might make it seem like you need some hand-holding, they already know that. I've never had a job in software where I walked in on day one and had deep familiarity with the entire stack. Emphasis on wanting to learn can equal adaptability and flexibility if you frame it that way.

1
  • 1
    I was looking more for inspiration on questions about technical things about their product, but these are actually pretty good suggestions anyway. Thanks for advice.
    – J. Doe
    Apr 26, 2022 at 16:03

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .