2.3.2 Questions to ask your interviewers

You usually have 5-10 minutes at the end of each interview, and a lot more during the behavioral round, to ask questions. Sometimes, you can learn more about someone from their questions than their answers.

The interview process is a two-way street -- not only a company evaluates whether you’re a fit but you also evaluate whether you want to work for that company. You should use every opportunity you have to ask questions to learn about the company -- their mission, vision, values, competitors, future plans, challenges they’re facing, possible career path, policies that you should know about, internal hierarchy, and existing corporate politics.

You should learn about the team you’re interviewing for: team composition and dynamics, team events, managerial style, the kind of people they want to bring onto the team. You should also try to get a sense of the projects you’re expected to work on and how your performance will be evaluated.

If you care about the visibility of your work -- which is especially important for those early in their career -- you should ask about the company’s publishing policy: do they publish their papers and open-source their code? If a company doesn’t publish at all, you join and disappear -- the outside world has no idea what you work on.

Recently, there have been employee walkouts at major tech companies to protest their employers’ involvement with certain branches of the government. If that’s what you care about, you should definitely ask your potential employer for their stand on working with the government.

Your interviewer’s career perspective is a good indication of what yours will be like if you join the company, so you should try to understand what they do and why/how they do it. Why did they choose this company? How is it compared to their previous employers? What do they find challenging about their job? How much freedom do they have in choosing what to work on?

If you need more questions to ask, Julia Evans has a pretty great list.

⚠ Never ask your interviewers about compensation ⚠
Unless the topic is explicitly brought up by the interviewers. Some hiring managers consider this a red flag as it signals that the candidate only cares about money and will jump ship as soon as a better offer comes along.

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