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Since I work in a technical area, much of my interviews discuss how the team works, what tools and techniques they are using, and what their general philosophy is like (eg. many tools that each do one thing well vs. one monolithic tool that does everything).

Occasionally the interviews will give me the impression that the team is doing something that I strongly feel to be the "wrong way" - often because I've seen many others do it the wrong way and the results have been very undesirable (at least for me). Of course I try to clarify the matter by asking questions. Maybe they know something I don't, or they've found a way to make it work, or they have some use case that's different from what I assume. But typically the responses I get fail to change my mind. Note that it's also not really realistic to have a very deep discussion about it during interviews, due to constraints of time, confidentiality (given that a candidate is not an employee yet) and lack of context (given that the candidate has not experienced working on that team).

How can I handle this situation?

Best I can come up with is to keep my objections to my self (or massively tone them down), treat the point of contention as a major risk, and reject (citing "not a good fit") unless the job is otherwise absolutely amazing.

I thought about being more open about how I think they've made serious mistakes with their architectural decisions, but there seems to be no way to say that and not seem argumentative and unprofessional.

Taking the job anyway with the intent of fixing the wrong thing also does not sound attractive. I've done such things in the past, and I have a good feel for what a team can budge on. I'm talking here about situations where they are very committed to the thing they are doing wrong and will not give it up without significant friction - something I don't enjoy and try to avoid.

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    It's not quite clear: are you in the process of job-hunting? and thus are talking about that during interviews, you perceive certain things that are not done "correctly" in such prospect companies?
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented May 17, 2022 at 0:16
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    "they've made serious mistakes with their architectural decisions" do you know enough about their systems/platforms/integrations to make that judgement? plenty of less than optimal solutions get designed/built due to the environment and they work just fine.
    – cdkMoose
    Commented May 17, 2022 at 14:02
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    xkcd.com/386
    – shoover
    Commented May 17, 2022 at 17:07
  • @DarkCygnus I'm actually speaking about experiences that are some months in the past, but the context of the question is a person who is interviewing for a job, yes.
    – Jessica
    Commented May 17, 2022 at 18:17
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    @cdkMoose As I said in the question, it is impossible to gain enough knowledge during an interview to definitively say they've made a mistake. But it is possible to hear enough to strongly suspect it. Empirically, I have had many cases (more than not) where I strongly suspected it, took the job anyway, and discovered I was right.
    – Jessica
    Commented May 17, 2022 at 18:19

2 Answers 2

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Yes, you tone it down. It's not your place to convince them. As you correctly identify, you don't always know all the information, the historical reasons the way the things are the way the age, and any other factors.

Having said all that, you can always ask if there are plans to move to a different architecture/methodology.

If they are, then your question will actually be good, because it looks like you are on the same page as them.

If they are not, then maybe you'll annoy them, but their response will show how willing they are to take your opinion on board, and give an indication of how much an uphill battle you may be facing.

If there are no plans, but they seem interested in your opinion, that's probably a good sign.

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If you get the sense in interview that (what you consider) best practice is not being followed, the best way to deal with that is to ask a question, such as:

Why did you choose Architecture A over architecture B?

That demonstrates you understand there are different architectures with different trade-offs, and you can then hear their reasons. If their reasoning seems confused or it seems like they don't understand the trade-offs between the different architectures then you can treat that as a red flag. Otherwise you can either accept their reasoning or ask how likely they are to switch architectures in future.

If you feel you cannot work at workplaces that use Architecture A then you will have to take that into account when choosing workplaces. That is indeed part of culture fit.

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