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What kinds of questions should you ask a new prospective team at another company?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer at Bloomberg LP11 days ago

I passed the mid-level SWE interview at another big tech company and now in the talking to a few prospective teams and salary negotiation.

What kinds of questions can I ask to make sure I'm joining the right team. For me that would be growing into a senior engineer in the team. I also want to join an org that would be most likely to avoid a layoff.

This includes scouting for red flags too like micro-manager behavior etc.

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    Friendly Tarodactyl
    Taro Community
    11 days ago

    Congrats to passing the interview! 3 YOE here. From my personal experience, it's difficult to get a feeling for a team before actually joining it. My experience with a team also changes along the time, so it's difficult to "make sure" you are joining the right team. With that, it's still a good choice to probe your potential team. I would ask precise, data-based, verifiable questions so the HM or engineers can't add too much sugar into it.

    1. For mid-> senior promotion, ask the HM how many promotion have you personally championed? How many I to II, how many II to III and how many III to IIII?
      1. How many people are you hiring in this round? If it's a large hiring round (let's say 5 engineers) and you are the first few to join the team, it's quite possible to position yourself to the center of the team and 12 months after your senior promotion is tenable.
      2. What projects will I work on? Sometimes managers don't want to say this and it depends on your performance of your first few months. Also without proper context in the org, it's difficult to understand the impact of the projects.
    2. For WLB, how many sev-2s do you have per week, per month, per year? How frequent is an on call rotation?
      1. What the team's development process? AGILE? what meetings are mandatory? This could tell something about the manager style.
        1. For the micromanaging issue, I've experienced one manager changing from an inspiring leader to a micro manager. Not sure what happened. Maybe the manager was under PIP pressure or something.
    3. How many engineers are in the team? How long have they been in the team and in the company?
    4. Avoiding layoff it's almost impossible. Even advertising could have layoff. Some executives always consider engineers as cost centers. Operation and sales are what keep the company afloat. For a 12 people team with reasonable on call load, to be frank, laying off 1-3 people wouldn't be detrimental to the service. Given you said "most likely", I'd say go by this order
      1. New or unreleased products or newly launched products that have beaten the expectations. They usually have a good 2-3 year plan laid out, so you don't worry too much what you need to do.
        1. Note that newly launched products that don't beat expectations are risky teams that could be shutdown
      2. Newly formed team in a org to tackle a specific question. Especially if the manager has good track record.
      3. Profit center instead of cost center (e.g. advertising instead of internal tools)
      4. Any team hiring in this economy already has less layoff risks as compared to team's not hiring. New expansion head count is also better than backfill position, so you can also ask the manager if the position is a backfill and if so what's the contact info of the person who left.
    • 1
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      Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
      11 days ago

      This is an amazing answer, I especially like the point about the manager's history on the team and if they've had experience promoting people before.

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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    11 days ago
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