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Are these questions fair game in the interview?

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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Well you may not get the answers you ...

by j.lupo In reply to Are these questions fair ...

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.

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My thoughts

by JamesRL In reply to Are these questions fair ...

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

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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

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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.

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My thoughts

by JamesRL In reply to Are these questions fair ...

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

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I think so

by s3data In reply to Are these questions fair ...

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.

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Yes

by mollenhourb In reply to Are these questions fair ...

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

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Be flexible if you want the job

by thestorys In reply to Are these questions fair ...

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.

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YOUR history matters.

by jojov In reply to Be flexible if you want t ...

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

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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.

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