TagInterviews

Any questions for me

I always walk into an interview with a pile of questions for the interviewer. Some of them will get answered in the course of the interview. Others I will need to ask once we get to the inevitable “do you have any questions for me?” part of the process. Always have questions. A candidate without question is someone who doesn’t want the job.

When I interview a candidate and they don’t ask me anything, I question why they want the job (even if I’ve already asked them.) This post has some great questions. They may not all apply to your particular job hunt, but they’re things to consider and give you a little visibility into the closed box of the company you’re trying to work for.

If I get the job, how do I earn a “gold star” on my performance review? What are the key accomplishments you’d like to see in this role over the next year?

This is a great question and one I always ask. I know I’m going to step into the role (if hired) and knock their socks off. It’s disheartening how often I don’t get a good answer, or any answer at all to this question.

I want to work in a place that rewards hard work. If there’s nothing in place to do that already, odds are, you’ll not see anything but a pat on the back.

How did you get your start in this industry? Why do you stay?

I ask my interviewers how long they’ve been with the company, what brought them here and why they stay. This tells me if we’re looking for the same things. It also tells me what they see as the company’s values. It’s most interesting when I get an answer that isn’t what I’ve heard from the company recruiters or read in the brochures.

What’s the timeline for making a decision on this position? When should I get back in touch with you?

Are you in a hurry to fill this position? I don’t care if they’re looking to fill it today or next month. But I want to know. If they’re looking to fill it today, and I hear nothing back for a week, that’s probably a bad sign. But if they’re looking to fill it later this month then I can be more relaxed in my follow-up and worry about whether I got the job or not.

What is your reward system? Is it a star system / team-oriented / equity-based / bonus-based / golf-clap-based? Why is that your reward system? If you could change any one thing about it, what would it be?

Again, is there a reward system? So many times I’ve worked in places that had no concrete rewards or review system in place.

What is the rhythm to the work around here? Is there a time of year that it’s “all hands on deck” and we’re pulling all-nighters, or is it pretty consistent throughout the year? How about during the week / month? Is it pretty evenly spread throughout the week / month, or are there crunch days?

This is important. Find out the flow of the business. Especially if it’s an industry you’re new to. There is a busy and slow time. But when that falls completely depends on what you’ll be doing, who you’ll be working with and what your customers/clients/partners do.

Government slows down to a crawl from Thanksgiving through the first of the year. Quick printers (like Kinkos/AlphaGraphics) slow down in the summer and pick back up when school gets back in session. Are you releasing products? Working for The Atlantic, they had a monthly release schedule around the print magazine. Finding the ebb and flow of your job prepares for you the busy times and tells you when you can catch up.

Sports commentary with Marshawn Lynch

I don’t know Marshawn Lynch and I don’t follow the Seahawks, but I continue to be amused and interested in his handling of the media. It’s a circus and he wants no part in it. He’s not feeding into the media hype and sound bites to replay a thousand times over.

Is this what an introvert thrust into the spotlight looks like? Or is this a guy who wants to do his job and do it well without the extracurricular activities his workplace demands of him?

Either way, I continue to enjoy his treatment of the media. Because really, what are they expecting from him?

His first required appearance he answered every question with “I’m just here so I won’t get fined.”

The next time he was required to appear, he answered, “You know why I’m here.”

In his required media appearance today, he broke his silence and said:

“I don’t know what story you’re all trying to get out of me,” Lynch said. “I don’t know what image you’re trying to portray of me. It don’t matter what you all say about me.”

“You’re all mad at me,” he said. “And if you’re not mad at me, then what are you all here for?”
Done with his introduction, Lynch glanced at his phone and said, “For this next three minutes I’ll just be looking at you all the way you’re looking at me.”

I’ve followed professional sports for years and every single interview sounds the same. “We went out and played well / didn’t play well. We are going to look forward to the next game and focus on that. It’s not about today’s win/loss but we are looking ahead to the next one.” It’s refreshing to see Marshawn Lynch’s disinterested treatment of the media. They need him and he doesn’t need them. And he knows it. He’s doing what the NFL requires of him and nothing more.

I’ll leave you with another great sports interview. This one from DeAndre Jordan.

“I was listening to Tupac and I forgot the question.”

At the end of the day, say what you will about Marshawn Lynch and his treatment of the media. But the clips of him blowing them off have generated far more interest, hits and views than anything else he could have said. So is he really doing the media a disservice? He’s giving them what they want. Ad Dollars.

The Setup

I’ve read The Setup for as long as I can remember. It’s a collection of interviews with people from all walks of life. There are photographers, writers, hackers, web nerds, Mac/Windows/Linux users. They are people from everyone and anywhere.

I love the interviews because they’re so short, only 4 questions but those four questions can reveal so much about who they are and how they work.

Those questions are:
1. Who are you, and what do you do?
2. What hardware are you using?
3. And what software?
4. What would be your dream setup?

That’s all it is. From those questions, the recommendations, ideas, workflows and combinations of tools are limitless.

Every time a new interview is posted, I learn something new or find out about some cool work being done or awesome tool I never knew existed.

Every interview is a learning experience.

There are even a collection of community interviews that readers of the site have submitted answering those same four questions. There are also a large number of similar projects listed along the same idea such as My Linux Rig, Teachers Uses This, The Desk Setup (Library Stuff and The Creative Setup in addition to more than similar sites in different languages like Das Setup and El Setup. There is even a Google+ featuring interviews from various people who use Google+. 1

I know I’ve just given you a ton of information to read and digest so here’s a starting point of interviews I recommend.

From the community, I’d recommend Thomas Brand, Mac and Newton nerd and Kanen Flowers, filmmaker, hacker.

As for The Setup interviews…

Mc Frontalot, Nerdcore rapper
Marco Arment, Instapaper, Tumblr Developer
Stephen Wolfram, Mathematician
Michael Lopp, Engineering Manager
Richard Stallman, Freedom campaigner
Brad Fitzpatrick, LiveJournal developer
Cheryl Klein, Writer, Editor
R. Stevens, Cartoonist
Warren Ellis, Writer
Adam Lisigor, Video Director
Kari Love, Costumer, Puppet Artist
Paula Pell, , Actor (30 Rock, Parks and Recreation), writer (SNL)
Jakob Neilsen, Usability Specialist
Gina Trapani, Programmer, Writer
Jonathan Coulton, Musician
Gabe Newell, Co-founder of Valve

I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I have. There is the potential to fall down the rabbit hole and try to read them all. You can get started on the interviews page which has them all sorted by category and year.

I’d start with 2009. Even though they’re outdated by now, there are some great ones in that list.


  1. I am falling deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole. I may never find my way back out. 

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