90 Culture Questions to Ask During Interview (Developer Edition)

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During a job interview, you have the chance to determine whether the company is a good fit for you. The hiring manager will likely ask you if you have any final questions before ending the interview - take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about their culture.

Thankfully, there are more insightful interview questions than the typical "What's your culture like?" to help determine whether a firm is a good fit. You won't ask every interviewer the questions listed below, so choose the ones that matter to you the most.

TL;DR: Ask questions to cultures that matter most to you

  • Great Code Quality
  • Pair Programming
  • Community & Open Source Contribution
  • Leading-Edge Technologies
  • Continuous Delivery
  • Product Love
  • Engineering-Led
  • Data-Driven
  • End-to-End Ownership
  • Moving Fast
  • Internal Promotion & Mobility
  • Learning Oriented
  • Safe-to-Fail Environment
  • Open Communication
  • Continuous Feedback Loop
  • Conscious Work-Life Balance
  • Team Oriented
  • Impressive Team
  • Innovation at Every Level
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

7 Questions about Great Code Quality

High-quality code is easier to read and modify, making development less frustrating. It speeds up long-term development as you do not have to spend as much time fixing old bugs and refactoring code.

  • How does the team approach documentation?
  • How are bugs prioritized and fixed?
  • What is the test coverage?
  • What is the frequency of code review?
  • What are examples of minor details pointed out during code review?
  • When was the last time you traded off correctness for speed?
  • What tools are used to enforce safety and error catching? 

What to look out for in the answers:

  • Code review should look out for simplicity and readability 
  • The team is willing to sweat the minor details, trading off speed for the correctness
  • The team is conscious of technical debt and is actively managing it
  • Tools used include typed languages, linters, and static analyzers

DataSpark, a leader in processing large geospatial temporal mobility data to deliver intelligence on people and places using the highest data privacy standards, when asked "How are bugs prioritized and fixed?":

There is an assigned engineer at any point in time to attend to issues. This engineer is given a low workload in feature sprint so that they can attend to the production issues timely. The service engineers will triage the issue and attempts to recover 1st before escalating to the product engineer on duty. We set severity levels to production issues so we can prioritise what to fix first.

6 Questions about Pair Programming

Having a second set of eyes increases the level of quality control during the development process. Also, a survey found that 96% of engineers who engage in pair programming at work feel that it increases their enjoyment of their work.

  • How many days per week do the team do pair programming?
  • In what situation is pair programming conducted?
  • Do the team rotate pairing partners?
  • Do the team do mobbing sessions for big projects?
  • What are the dedicated tools provided for pair programming?
  • Do interview processes involve pair-programming?

What to look out for in the answers:

  • The team engages in pair programming when approaching complex problems
  • The team sees pair programming as a way to improve code quality and camaraderie

5 Questions about Community & Open Source Contribution

Participating in open source benefits both the business and the community. Companies contributing to the development of OSS are accelerating innovation beyond what they can do on their own by utilising the creative capacity of the open source community.

  • Does the company have any open source projects?
  • Does the company contribute to external open source projects?
  • Does the company sponsor open-source projects?
  • How often do the team sponsor and host meetups?
  • How does the company support team members involved in the open source community?

What to look out for in the answers:

  • The team actively contributes back to the community in different ways

3 Questions about Leading-Edge Technologies

  • How can individuals advocate for decisions around which technologies to adopt?
  • Share an example of the company being readily open to exploring new technologies?
  • Share an example of the company being the first to pioneer and try new technologies?

What to look out for in the answers:

  • Individuals are empowered to advocate for decisions to adopt new technologies
  • The team is not afraid to explore and adopt new less-proven technologies

Here are some examples of how Crypto.com, one of the fastest growing cryptocurrency platform, adopt leading-edge technologies:

Event-driven architecture is used to build crypto exchanges that are up 24/7 and also support seamless upgrades, failover, and event replay for offline troubleshooting. We use Kafka for post-trade data distribution, AMPS for the view server, and Artio as the low latency FIX gateway.

7 Questions about Continuous Delivery

Continuous Delivery (CD) increases operational assurance. Automated debugging tools can quickly identify problems and speed up resolution. For example, automated monitoring technologies can immediately notify engineers of security and user experience issues.

  • What is the test, build and deployment process?
  • How often are new codes deployed to production?
  • How long does it take to run tests?
  • How long does it take to run Continuous Integration?
  • How fast does code go live upon being merged and deployed?
  • Are A/B testing and Feature Flags used to deploy to production?
  • What tools are used for monitoring, logging and alerting?

What to look out for in the answers:

  •  Deployment to production is done frequently with zero downtime
  • Time taken to run tests and Continuous Integration is small, thus reducing the barrier to shipping fast
  • Changes deployed are quickly reflected in the production environment

7 Questions about Product Love

  • How often does the team speak to users?
  • Are engineers included in the user interviews?
  • What is the internal dogfooding process?
  • Is user feedback openly shared with the whole company?
  • How does the team respond to AppStore / PlayStore review?
  • How long does it take to reply to and resolve support requests?
  • Can users report bugs and make feature requests?

What to look out for in the answers:

  • Speaking to users is a part of the team regardless of the company size
  • Employees actively dogfood the product
  • Employees are users of the product outside of the work context
  • The team treats user feedback seriously and acts on negative ones

Carousell, the leading classifieds group in Greater Southeast Asia on a mission to inspire the world to start buying and selling, on their Product Love culture:

Every team member, regardless of tech or non-tech, is included in our internal dogfooding process. We also encourage our teammates to flag issues and bug reports. It is all hands on deck to ensure our user gets the best product experience.

4 Questions about Engineering-Led

The intricacy of engineering projects only becomes apparent as you work on them, so deadlines will be more flexible and realistic when companies are engineering-led. The leadership team also acknowledges the value of designing quality of life and understands the long-term benefits of improving Developer Experience (DX).

  • How big of a say do engineers have on the roadmap?
  • Are the founders and leadership team from technical backgrounds?
  • How are Developer Experience (DX) prioritised and improved?
  • How are engineers' schedules and productivity protected?

What to look out for in the answers:

  • The engineering team is well-represented on the leadership team
  • Engineering is a function worth investing in for the long-term instead of 'ticket monkeys'
  • Engineers get to spend time on the more important and productive tasks

99 Group, a leading real estate technology company that operates real estate portals across South East Asia, when asked "How are engineers' schedule and productivity protected?":

We try to isolate all the possible meetings into a single day and make sure some days are free from meetings. In addition, for each day, we suggest blocking off at least 4 hours of uninterrupted time to focus on the tasks.

4 Questions about Data-Driven

A data-driven company utilises data insights to find new business possibilities, provide better customer service, increase sales, and more. According to a PwC blog post, data-driven businesses can outperform their rivals by 6% in profitability and 5% in productivity.

  • How many A/B tests are ongoing at any one time?
  • How is data used to guide product roadmaps and growth experiments?
  • How closely do engineers work with the data team?
  • What are tools used for A/B testings, dashboard, metrics, and analysis?

What to look out for in the answers:

  • Data heavily guide decision-making, and in the DNA of the team

2 Questions about End-to-End Ownership

Knowing why you are developing the features is one of the most crucial factors for a software engineer when creating software. Seeing a project from start to end allows a greater sense of satisfaction at work.

  • From ideation to maintenance, which parts of the process are engineers involved in?
  • When do engineers hand off a project?

What to look out for in the answers:

  • Besides development, are engineers involved in the ideation process, requirements gathering, QA, releasing, gathering feedback, monitoring, metrics analysis, and product iteration?

Open Government Products (OGP), an in-house team of engineers, designers, and product managers who build technology for the public good, shared:

Engineers at OGP are involved in everything from ideation, requirements gathering and implementation to QA, releasing, gathering feedback, monitoring, analyzing key metrics and iteration, maintenance (rolling out fixes and improvements), and refactoring. Engineers here often play cross-functional roles e.g. Wearing a product manager's hat and working in tandem with their designer and product manager colleagues to determine product roadmap and execution. In cases where the codebase is open-source, such as FormSG, they may also handle and review code contributions from members of the public.

3 Questions about Moving Fast

You must be quick and adaptable to build a startup. Your team will be able to generate numerous ideas rapidly, turn them into usable products, and present them to beta users as soon as feasible by moving swiftly.

  • What is the average time taken from receiving an issue to shipping it?
  • How does the team remove red tapes to move faster?
  • How long does it take for new joiners to push to production?

What to look out for in the answers:

  • Short turnaround time for shipping a ticket
  • Minimal obstruction for new joiners to ship as soon as their first week

7 Questions about Internal Promotion & Mobility

According to LinkedIn, 59% of employees join a company for better career growth. A company dedicated to employee growth will help you achieve long-term success in your career.

  • Are there clear career progression paths and criteria?
  • What is the percentage of roles filled internally?
  • How do you decide when to promote from within or interview external candidates?
  • What percentage of senior engineers and managers are promoted from within the team?
  • How are engineers evaluated during performance review and consideration for internal promotion?
  • Do you provide multiple career tracks for both Individual Contributors and Managers?
  • Do engineers have opportunities to work on different projects?

What to look out for in the answers:

  • Career progression is a deliberate effort, rather than happening by chance

EPAM Systems, one of the world's largest manufacturers of custom software and consulting providers, shared how they do it:

EPAM has its internal portal that showcases a transparent career path map for each EPAMer. This helps them to understand the personalized career opportunities they can have in EPAM, explains how to reach them and provide resources to guide them to their career goal... With every review cycle, ~20% of our EPAMers get promoted internally.

4 Questions about Learning Oriented

Strong learning cultures promote adaptability, flexibility, and innovation in organisations. Additionally, these companies are less inclined to be risk-averse and more likely to welcome change.

  • Is there internal engineering sharing, and if yes, how often?
  • Are monthly learning stipends provided?
  • Do engineers from different teams have opportunities to work together?
  • What are the initiatives to encourage growth and learning?

What to look out for in the answers:

  • How are engineers growing beyond their work responsibilities?

5 Questions about Safe-to-Fail Environment

Instead of pointing fingers at the failure, a "safe-to-fail" environment celebrates it and tries to understand why it happened. It also encourages the team to experiment and take on new initiatives.

  • What is your process for writing post-mortems?
  • Can you share an example of a mistake you have made - how was it handled?
  • When was the last time you asked for help or admitted a mistake?
  • Who sets deadlines, and what happens when people fail to meet them?
  • What are examples of past lessons learnt and actions taken to avoid the same mistakes?

What to look out for in the answers:

  • What does the team ensure post-mortems are blameless?
  • Is the post-mortem focused on improving the systems that led to the failure rather than who caused it?

5 Questions about Open Communication

By eliminating aggressive, passive, or passive-aggressive words and nonverbal cues like body language, the team can work together more effectively.

  • Do you have access to the work of another department (including meeting agendas and notes)?
  • Does everyone have access to OKRs and key company metrics?
  • How does management deliver negative feedback to employees?
  • How are employees encouraged to voice questions, criticisms and concerns?
  • Can you share examples of difficult questions answered by the management team during all-hands?

What to look out for in the answers:

  • The interviewer is comfortable answering these questions
  • Does the leadership team answer or avoid difficult questions?

4 Questions about Continuous Feedback Loop

Your growth and development will be improved when you actively participate in creating and debating goals with the management team instead of only receiving feedback once a year.

  • How often are 1-1 with managers conducted?
  • How often are performance reviews conducted?
  • When is the last time you give feedback outside of a formal setting?
  • What is an example of actions taken by the leadership team upon receiving feedback?

What to look out for in the answers:

  • Are feedback specific, thoughtful, constructive, direct and honest?
  • Do people wait until a formal setting to give feedback?
  • Not only are the leadership team open to feedback, but they are also proactive in acting on them.

6 Questions about Conscious Work-Life Balance

A healthy work environment includes a good work-life balance. Keeping a healthy work-life balance lowers stress and prevents burnout at work, which is especially important for fast-paced environments.

  • What is the on-call schedule like here?
  • How responsive are people after working hours and over the weekends?
  • Are there periods of the year when the team is most busy?
  • How does the team plan projects, do task estimations and set deadlines?
  • When was the last time you went on a long break, and what happened to your responsibilities?
  • How does the team manage stress and avoid burnout?

What to look out for in the answers:

  • Can people take a proper break without worrying or being interrupted by work?

2 Questions about Team Oriented

A team-oriented culture helps you feel you belong to a team and encourages you to achieve their objectives. It also fosters collaboration, which improves productivity and morale.

  • When was the last time you approached someone outside your team for help?
  • Do people hang out outside of work?

What to look out for in the answers:

  • How close are people outside of their immediate team?
  • Are people willing to spend time with each other outside of work willingly?

3 Questions about Impressive Team

Recruiting top talent is critical to the success of any business as employees are a crucial source of competitive advantage.

  • What is the background and experience of the team?
  • Where did the alumni move on?
  • What measures are in place during the interview process to uphold the standard of new hires?

What to look out for in the answers:

  • The background of the team gives a glimpse into the hiring standards
  • Have alumni grown enough and moved on to achieve greater successes?

2 Questions about Innovation At Every Level

Even though the creative process isn't always easy, businesses with innovative cultures expand quickly.

  • When was the last time the company implemented the suggestion of an individual?
  • Where do most of the innovations happen?

What to look out for in the answers:

  • Are initiatives top-down (from management) or bottom-up (from individuals)?
  • Are the voices of individuals heard and just as important?

4 Questions about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

Employers who are fair to their workers foster inclusive, diverse work environments where people may express their distinct viewpoints.

  • What percentage of the team are from underrepresented backgrounds?
  • Does the team practise compensation transparency?
  • How are hiring processes designed to mitigate bias?
  • How are company events and activities planned to ensure everyone can participate?

What to look out for in the answers:

  • The company is deliberate in hiring and promoting diversity
  • Activities outside of working hours that may alienate individuals are avoided, e.g. drinking

How can I know if I am underpaid?

So, you are a software engineer. Congrats! Your skills are in high demand and your salary reflects that. As more and more businesses require software engineer expertise, you can expect to see your salaries continue to increase.

But how do you know if you are underpaid?

Or how do you know you are not being lowballed for your new offer that just came in?

You can check out how much your fellow software engineers are actually getting paid on NodeFlair Salaries. It is a community-contributed salary data, verified with documents, such as payslips and offer letters. Within a few months since its launch, it already has the largest pool of verified and trustworthy tech salary data in Singapore.

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