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What questions can I ask to my to-be manager about the team I'll be joining?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer [SDE 2] at Amazon2 years ago

I have my 1:1 catch up call scheduled with my manager soon, this is the first 1:1 / call I'll be having with him since I met him in the interview. What are some of the good questions I can ask w.r.t to the team and the work that I'll be doing? He had taken my System Design interview and there he went on to talk about the team for 15 mins where we discussed about the team work, team size, on call structure, wlb etc. One important point which I feel is that I won't be joining the team immediately, there's still 3 months time.

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  • 29
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    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    a year ago

    Great question! It looks like you've done a good job in the interview already getting important points. Here are some extra ones from my end:

    • "Can I talk with with some of the other engineers on the team?"
      • Managers are inherently biased about the quality of their own team, so talking with engineers will give a more complete picture. And of course, you are an engineer, so talking to another engineer lets you understand the day-to-day more.
      • Try to talk with the tech lead and one other engineer if you can.
    • "What scope is there on the team for me to grow to SDE3?"
      • This gives you a long-term goal to focus on: What part of the team's system can you really own and evolve over time?
      • This question also has value outside the answer. It just lets your manager know that you care about growth and sets the stage for future 1 on 1 meetings where you bring this up.
    • "What are the big launches and wins from the past year for the team?"
      • You can learn a lot about a team from what its wins (or lack thereof).
      • Understanding wins lets you figure out what the team values, so you can do more of it.
      • If the team has had trouble shipping things, it means that it's either dysfunctional, new, or working on a very long-term project that isn't done yet.
    • "What will my first project be?"
      • Very tactical question that lets you hit the ground running fast.
      • If possible, you can get more specifics and try to prepare for it by reading materials and writing practice code.
    • "Will I have a dedicated onboarding mentor?"
      • If no, you can try asking for one.
      • Having a person that is specifically responsible for helping you when you start is really good for efficiency and peace of mind.
    • "What can I do to prepare?"
      • Maybe there is some book or course that your manager holds in really high regard that you can do beforehand.
    • "What are the team's values?"
      • While it's true that big companies like Amazon will have already defined company culture principles, their size also leads to teams having "sub-cultures". I remember back at Robinhood, we went through an exercise to define our team's own principles (on top of the existing Robinhood ones), specifically around how we collaborate.
      • It would be interesting to see if your manager mentions values values that are different from the Amazon Leadership Principles or prioritizes certain tenets of it more (i.e. see what they mention first).

    Related resources:

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    Mid-Level Software Engineer [SDE 2] [OP]
    Amazon
    a year ago

    Thank you Alex!