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I'm interviewing for a Software Engineering Team Leader. I already passed all the interviews. The HR scheduled a meeting for me to meet a Group Leader.

Is it okay to ask the group leader the following questions:

  1. Asking about work life balance: "To optimize working hours and minimize burnout, it's important for me to understand how frequently teams work until the late hours of the night or during the weekend? And if so, for what reasons?"
  2. "Are there any conflicts in the team?" (Should this be a serious red flag?)
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In this situation, you are interviewing the Group Leader. So use standard interview techniques to frame your questions so as to prompt more objective answers and give an opening for wider discussion. For example:

"Can you describe a recent situation where you and the team were asked to work extra hours ? How did you handle that situation ?"

"What is your strategy for handling conflicts within the team ? Can you give me an example of how you have applied that strategy recently ?"

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Those direct questions are not great because bad teams are not going tell you they are bad:

What you need to ask are questions that are more a statement of facts than a subjective evaluation.

  • Do you have an up-to-date list of solved and unsolved defects in the system?

  • Do you have historical records of past errors and its solution? Is this system easy to access? Can we easily reach the people that solved these problems?

  • How do you track technical debt?

  • What are your overtime policies and related compensation and expectations?

Regarding conflicts, you can ask things like this:

  • When multiple solutions are suggested, how is the final solution decided?
  • How do you measure success and failure of the solution?
  • Have you ever gone back and implemented the alternate solution when the initial decision is found to be lacking?
  • Have you ever had multiple solutions running in parallel to compare results?
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    None of these questions address work life balance. Sep 2, 2023 at 12:55
  • Work/Life balance is not your employer's responsibility. It is yours. All of these questions has to do with understanding how the company operates behind the scenes and how often you have to "put out the fires". That's really how companies bury their staff and create cycles of burnout. Companies that can't answer these questions are a red flag for me, but everyone has their own definition of what "balance" is.
    – Nelson
    Sep 3, 2023 at 12:48
  • The trouble with that is that you are assuming that staff overwork is something that always happens by accident due to faulty processes. But in reality some companies make a deliberate choice to require excessive work from their staff. And some have faulty processes but don't overwork their staff. None of these questions will identify those cases. Sep 3, 2023 at 13:18
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Is it okay to ask the group leader the following questions:

You can ask any questions you like

It's generally best to ask short concise questions with as close to yes/no answers as you can, it saves misunderstandings.

Asking about conflicts is unlikely to solicit a valuable answer. The interviewer may not know the team well or not willing to say anything negative.

In your case I'd ask if the team is delivering on time currently, and other questions which give me some gauge on both their competence and the work levels. Because these are major underlying causes of conflicts.

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Here's a start on some questions you can ask to learn about work-life balance.

  • When and how do deployments take place?
  • How often is there work during late evenings and on weekends?
  • What does your QA team look like? (If only the end users do QA, run fast!)
  • Is there a helpdesk or operations team for first level support? (If not, the developers are the helpdesk. Run.)
  • Is the development team required to be on call?
  • Is there an established process for sunsetting legacy systems (applications and operating systems)?
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  • Your run and run fast comments are just opinions and is not an advice to give to other people because we don't know what they prefer. Some developers do actually like to interact with the customers to understand their needs and reduce the support they need.
    – CrazyFrog
    Sep 5, 2023 at 16:36
  • @CrazyFrog I think you've missed the whole point of this post, which is about work-life balance. Directly supporting users is a fantastic way for a developer to receive phone calls from frustrated users and bosses while on a family vacation.
    – Xavier J
    Sep 5, 2023 at 16:44
  • Don't know what world you are living in if you are not able seperate work and family vacations. Just because you interact with customers does not mean the have a hot line directly to you.
    – CrazyFrog
    Sep 6, 2023 at 18:46

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