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  • #2192283

    Are these questions fair game in the interview?

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    by silvergreen ·

    Here are some questions (or a variation therof) I am thinking of asking next time I interview. I am mainly thinking of contract software development work.

    Do you all feel they are inappropiate for contracting interviews? How about FT interviews?

    1. How would you describe the place I would be working in?
    2. How active of a role does managment play in the success of projects/tasks?
    3. (If applicable) How does the team manage workload, support issues and projects?

    Here are the things I would like to avoid:
    1. A) placed at a desk were I cannot focus on my work
    1. B) placed at a desk where I could be bumping into others if I streched my arms out
    1. C) people who constantly complain and are toxic to productivity
    2. A) micromanagment

    I think # 3 is just a nice to know, but still wondering if it’s a bad question to ask to a potentialy insecure hiring manager. I hope that helps…

    Thanks, Zygo

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    • #3270101

      Well you may not get the answers you …

      by j.lupo ·

      In reply to Are these questions fair game in the interview?

      are looking for. Question 1 is perfectly reasonable to ask if given the opportunity, though I wouldn’t ask it. What I would do is ask for a tour of the department/division/whatever. Then you can ask where you might be placed and you would get your answers, but much more professionally.

      2. I wouldn’t ask it that way. You may wish to ask about their project methodology. Or What a typcial day would be like for you and the team you would bw workign with.

      3. See my #2. What you are asking is about how they do project management in the company.

      Keep in mind you want to ask targeted questions about the position so that you can relate how you are the best person to fit that role. It isn’t what they can do for you, but what you can do for them that matters in an interview.

      As a hiring manager, I wouldn’t want someone that was not adaptable to my office environment. I once sat on a kitchen floor for several months because the company was growing and the new furniture hadn’t arrived yet. I enjoyed working for that company and had they not sold when they did I would still be there.

    • #3270085

      My thoughts

      by jamesrl ·

      In reply to Are these questions fair game in the interview?

      as a hiring manager….

      1. Thats a broad question. Be more specific if you want a specific answer. Try “Tell me a little about the working environment”

      2. Some managers may misinterpret that – try “Tell me about your project management process – how do you prioritise projects, how do you track projects”

      3 – related to 2.

      I don’t know that a hiring manager would come out and say they have toxic employees. But if they ask you questions (more than one) about how you might deal with difficult co-workers – thats a red flag.

      Micromanagement – that begs the question around who assigns work, who monitors and tracks work. I don’t know that most micromanagers think they are though, so you wont get a correct answer even if they are honest.

      One question that should really help – what are the biggest challenges your department is facing. Ask that one.

      James

      • #3270002

        Thanks

        by silvergreen ·

        In reply to My thoughts

        James, you have given me good solutions, I can run with, to these issues.

        Thank you, Zygo

      • #3142725

        Toxic Customers

        by too old for it ·

        In reply to My thoughts

        IF they ask more than a little about “How would you handle a difficult customer?”

        Tho the trend around here seems to be “Tell us about a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer, and be specific.”

        IMHO, if they press for specific examples with each end every interview question, they are tipping the heavy micro-management hand.

    • #3270086

      My thoughts

      by jamesrl ·

      In reply to Are these questions fair game in the interview?

      as a hiring manager….

      1. Thats a broad question. Be more specific if you want a specific answer. Try “Tell me a little about the working environment”

      2. Some managers may misinterpret that – try “Tell me about your project management process – how do you prioritise projects, how do you track projects”

      3 – related to 2.

      I don’t know that a hiring manager would come out and say they have toxic employees. But if they ask you questions (more than one) about how you might deal with difficult co-workers – thats a red flag.

      Micromanagement – that begs the question around who assigns work, who monitors and tracks work. I don’t know that most micromanagers think they are though, so you wont get a correct answer even if they are honest.

      One question that should really help – what are the biggest challenges your department is facing. Ask that one.

      James

    • #3270644

      I think so

      by s3data ·

      In reply to Are these questions fair game in the interview?

      I think these questions are completely appropriate. I have been in the IT field for more than 12 years. In those 12 years I have seen the quality and work ethic of the average new employee (CS or MIS graduate) go down and Management become more meddlesome and obtuse. There is a huge misconception out there that if you are technical you need managed and your hand held.

    • #3270621

      Yes

      by mollenhourb9 ·

      In reply to Are these questions fair game in the interview?

      If the hiring manager is so insecure that he doesn’t like that question, you don’t want to work for him 9or her).

    • #3270617

      Be flexible if you want the job

      by thestorys ·

      In reply to Are these questions fair game in the interview?

      I think that if you want the job, you should remember to be flexable and not come across as an inflexible pain-in-the-rump, hard to please employee.

      If you do you will probably NOT get the job.

      Later if you get the job, when you have proven your worth and are not so easily replacable, you can then voice your concerns about problems and good managment will probably appease you.

      Depends on how badly you need the job–for sure.
      I mean if you need it bad enough, take it and keep looking for another, and if those problems occurr and no one wants to help you have a place where you can work, then its your call–you can take the next offer that comes along and say, “Sorry Charlie”

      Just my two cents worth.

      • #3271175

        YOUR history matters.

        by jojov ·

        In reply to Be flexible if you want the job

        Your work history and situation will dictate how/when to use those questions. If you are currently out of work, and jobs in your field are rare, proceed a little more gently. But still ask!

        Interviews are 2-way conversations. If those items are important to you, get them out in the open. Otherwise, they will manifest themselves over time in a less than dignified manner.

        If you’re a seasoned professional, I’d begin that portion of the discussion by being quite frank. “I know we’re not talking about an entry-level position here. We’re both experienced and have seen some workplace obstacles that create limitations to productivity. For example, being in a location that’s just TOO susceptable to interruptions. I have a few questions about the environment that I’d like to ask you if that’s alright?”

        Approach the leadership questions positively-phrased and portray a CONSTRUCTIVE interest in the methodology used.

        “I understand the project and what is being asked of me. How do I bring information back to you and Management? Are there regularly scheduled update meetings or are things less formal? How much of a hands-on role do you or other team leaders plan to invest in this project?”

        My rule of thumb: If any issue is important enough to bug the heck out of you while on the job, it’s important enough to discuss (at the right time) during an interview. Find out NOW before you waste each others time.

        The best job I got was the result of a “blown” interview. A company was converting from an in-house developed mainframe system to client-server SAP. I applied for a technical role. At one point I told the CIO, “I understand you want to convert the whole company in 9 months. Honestly, I’m not your man. I don’t think you’ll change the CULTURE in 9 months. I wish you well.” I didn’t believe in the project and wasn’t going to fake it.

        14 months later: “You were not only right, you were honest enough to tell me what I didn’t want to hear. I’d like you to come MANAGE my I.T. Department.”

        I wish you well….jojov

        • #3141841

          Good viewpoints

          by silvergreen ·

          In reply to YOUR history matters.

          jojov, I thank you for your input. I am a software engineer and have been generally contracting for 9 years. Your alternative quoted solutions are appreciated. This will help.

          On a side note, I received a call from someone who had my resume on file. I decided to interview for the job as I am going back to contracting. The interview went very well and the questions that JamesRL proposed earlier (in this topic) scored big points in the interview. I could tell that the interviewer knew where I was comming from. Unfortunatly, the in house recruiter attempted to steal me from my original recruiter, the original recruiter complained and I was disqualified to avoid political conflicts, so I will not be working the contract. That is another story. But, Thanks again for your advice as it will come in handy.

      • #3141960

        My chip in from a managers viewpoint

        by simon ·

        In reply to Be flexible if you want the job

        Some good replies here, now my turn. I’m an IT Manager for a telco company in the uk and I’ve interviewed a lot of tech people over the last 12 months, dotnet developers and IT Support people. Some of my observations:

        1/ A lot of candidates do not know anything about the company – that’s a big downer in my book. Do your research, even if you are struggling to get information then tell the interviewer, bug the agency if applicable for more info etc

        2/ Know what you are applying for – serious, the amount of people i’ve seen that don’t even know 50% what the role is!

        3/ Know your subject and back up your CV – i’ve had a lot of bullshitters in front of me. Most of them cannot backup what they say on their CV i.e. if someone puts extensive Windows Server 2003 admin, I may ask them to explain how to setup Group Policies for rolling out a new security policy – if you can admin a server, you know how to answer this.

        4/ Relax – I run a pretty informal interview and try to get the candidates in a relaxed mode, those that are tense struggle – remember you are interviewing the company as well as the other way around

        5/ Maintain good presentation standard i.e. don’t come in smelling of BO, Tie untidy, non ironed shirt – I just don’t bother progressing these people much – if they cannot be bothered to arrive smart and particularly on time, then I kill the interview quickly.

        6/ Ask questions, then ask more about the answers you are given – don’t come across as a smartass but be genuinely interested in what the company does and offers.

        7/ Find out what your line manager is like as a person and what they expect in return from you. They may ask what you think makes a good line manager and people person.

        8/ Find out about strengths and weaknesses in the team, always a good one so you can honestly see where you would fit in the team.

        9/ If you are career minded, ask about future prospects.

        10/ Find out how well supported the IT Department is by the rest of the business, do they get buy in from senior management or are they always the last to know and on the back foot.

        There’s loads more but that will do for now 🙂

        Good luck

        Si

        • #3141849

          Reply from a prospective employee view point

          by jmgarvin ·

          In reply to My chip in from a managers viewpoint

          1) I agree. I won’t apply to a company I know nothing about. I will research (at least a little) about the company. If they’ve gone IPO, it makes my life easier.

          2) This can be difficult at best. Sometimes the job listing is vague or doesn’t explain exactly WHAT the job is. I recently applied for a position that wanted a programmer. The position was vague and it sounded like basic app programming. What the job REALLY wanted was an EE that could build chips and write embedded programs for the systems. Not even CLOSE to what the job listing described.

          3) That is a loaded question. It depends on a lot of things. I’d have to know how the groups were setup, what kind of AD structure you’ve created, and some of the ins and outs of your authentication. I could give you the vague answer of running the new GPO in a sandbox and creating groups that fell under the purview of this GPO, but honestly, that isn’t saying much…

          I agree you must quiz the potential hire, but loaded question really annoy me and make me wonder if they don’t really just want free IT advice.

          4) Agreed. If it doesn’t feel right during the interview (not just nerves, but that something je ne sais pas). I’ve walked away from interviews and I knew it just wasn’t a good fit.

          5) Agreed again. Although, ironically, I hired a guy that was late to the interview and was quite sweaty. He turned out to be a great hire, it was just a bad day for him (his car had a flat and he had to change it)

          6) Agreed, although some interviewers make this tough…

          7) I’ve never met a line manager during an interview…I wish they would let you meet them.

          8) Agreed again…Although rarely have I met the team during an interview. Typically (at least in the US), you see HR and possibly the hiring manager.

          9) This usually is threating. I steer clear of this question as it sounds like you are already looking to take your bosses job…even though that isn’t the case.

          10) You’ll never get a straight answer unless you have an ethical interviewer.

    • #3141829

      I have asked similar questions

      by tig2 ·

      In reply to Are these questions fair game in the interview?

      With no negative effect. I have worded them differently.

      I will tell a hiring manager/interviewer exactly how I work- my availability to team, my communication style, willingness to travel, etc. That way, they get a sense of HOW I work.

      I will also ask questions of the hiring manager about their style- culture supported, approach, management style, commitment to process, etc. I feel those questions are fair and reasonable.

      Unfortunately, toxic people are going to be anywhere. I have never found a way to avoid sharing a workplace with them. I simply don’t tolerate toxic behaivior. That generally takes care of the problem.

      I will tell you that if you are project driven you may find yourself at the mercy of a PM with little to no management involvement. That can impact whatever you discover in the interview process.

    • #3269785

      YES – SHOWS YOU THINK!!!

      by nehpets ·

      In reply to Are these questions fair game in the interview?

      You may not get any answers, I have interviewed for positions where the hiring panel didn’t understand what they wanted… terminate interview and leave time!

      Asking such questions helps you get to understand the culture of the company, do they like questions from staff? and assist you in making a decision to accept any potential offer, much better than finding out afterwards OH NO, another bad position/company!

    • #3142728

      Number 2 and 3: PMI Certified Project Management Team

      by too old for it ·

      In reply to Are these questions fair game in the interview?

      … or RUN!!!

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