Questions to ask the interviewer

At the end of an interview, you're often asked if you have any questions for them. It's important to ask some questions as a way of showing interest in the company, and identifying if the company would be suited for you.

Why did you decide to work here?/What do you like best at this company?/What's your story?

In general, I'm curious why people like this company and if the reasons they would work there are similar to reasons I'd work there. If they are, that's a plus for me - but if not, we might just be different people so it's not necessarily a negative thing.

This is possibly one of the most universal questions you can ask. Sometimes you don't have a question. Maybe you didn't have the time to prepare questions. Maybe you forgot. Maybe you already know everything because this is the 3rd interview with this company and you've already read through their whole website. Fear not! Just ask them to talk about themselves.

People love talking about themselves, you might not need to do any work at all! This question tends to elicit longer answer, which gives you time to find a more targeted question. Plus, as they talk about themselves, they might say something interesting you can latch on to and converse about.

It's useful to have a very general question like this as your backup.

Does your company have code review?

Code review is the stage between you writing code and it becoming part of a codebase. I've had code review at every internship I've done, and it has helped me become a much better engineer. It helps me write better code which is more likely to stick around longer. Companies with code review have nicer code in general, which means when I change other people's code it's much more enjoyable. Lastly, when I get the chance to review other employee's code it's helped me feel like part of the team.

Does your code have unit tests?

When you're starting out and have no idea what most of their code does yet, it'll be nice to run tests and make sure you're not breaking things you're not aware of.

Does your company have 1:1s? In general, what does mentorship look like?

At all my interships, I've had weekly 1:1s with someone who is in charge of making sure I'm having a good time and learning and stuff. I've learned so much from these conversations and they've been the highlight of my week at some internships. They also really help make sure everyone's communicating well - that I'm doing the best job I can, that my mentor is providing me with the help I need, that I'm working on things that I like, etc.

How is it decided what someone on the team works on next?

Task tracking, choice in picking tasks, how often people work on something new, how progress is measured, how often do people check in with each other - this all gives me an idea of how the team works and what it might be like for me.

How much choice does an intern get in what they work on? What are the similarities and differences in how they're treated vs. full time engineers?

I've had a really great time at companies where I'm treated more like a full time engineer. I like being trusted with real work and working on things that are important. I also like getting choice on what I work on, because that optimizes my chances of looking forward to going to work.

How are stress levels / working hours? What things are done to support employee's health?

My mental health is important to me. I hope it's important to them too.

What are you excited about that's going on at your company right now? (product, team culture, engineering things) and what are you excited about that's coming up in the future?

This gives me an idea of what cool things are going on and what I might get to be a part of when I get there :)

Does your company sponsor visas?

If they're a US company, since I'm Canadian I'd need them to sponsor a J1 visa for me. I make sure to ask this early on so I'm not wasting time if they can't hire me.

Is your product accessible? How usable is the project by folks who are blind or deaf or have low internet access?

A lot of smaller companies aren't able to focus on these things right away, but I hope that they at least care about and are keeping it in mind in how they're building things now, so that eventually they can have a very accessible product.

How do you decide what the company is working on (e.g. what's built next, or what technology is being used)? Who gets input into these decisions?

It's really fun when I get to help make big decisions or have influence on people who make the decisions. This is easier at a smaller company though.

It's nice to have a question that's totally related to something they do that I'm curious about and want clarification on - it also shows I know stuff about them.