The interview process is your main opportunity to determine if you want to entrust someone to be a part of your team. There are many details to look at outside of technical aptitude and it’s difficult to assess all of these aspects with only a few short interactions. We are hoping that the following questions take out some of the guesswork.

1. What have you done to make a positive impact on the company you’re currently working for?
This question will tell you if this person is able to see the bigger picture and understands the purpose of what they’re doing, allowing you to avoid hiring “ticket takers”. You’re looking for answers that tell you how the individual made the company a better place. This will take a bit of probing when interviewing juniors and intermediates, who generally answer with their job description, but senior candidates should be able to answer without probing. Their answers will be very telling of their abilities, but also the way they approach problems and challenges.

RED FLAG: Not providing specific details; avoiding the question; reiterating their job description (after probing).

2. What skill are you trying to improve right now and what are you doing to improve them?
This question will tell you what their weaknesses are, but it’s more focused on ensuring that he/she realizes and can communicate their challenges and if they have a plan to correct these areas and if they’re focused on self-improvement. The best candidates are down-to-earth and realize they have room for improvement but are not overly critical of themselves. They take pride in improving and excelling in the things that they are passionate about.

RED FLAG: Not providing an answer means the interview is over. Naming skills that are a requirement for your posting means they don’t have the skills for your role. An under or overzealous list is a big flag. Not having a plan for improvement is a no-no!

3. Pitch our company to me as if I were buying our product/service.
This question shows how much research they have done on your company before coming in the door. You want to see that he/she has taken the time to research who you are, what you do and how you do it. Added bonus for a detailed LinkedIn search, reading old blogs, looking into your team and what they do, and of course, any media that has surrounded you and your team. This is also a great place to see the passion they have for your product, technology, and culture.

RED FLAG: Not having viewed your website is a deal-breaker. The candidate should know more than just the basic information from your website; they should have a clear understanding of your product/service. Where applicable, we want to see the candidate sign up for your product and try it out.

4. Tell me about the last project you worked on outside of work?
Programmers that love what they do are artists. They create in their spare time because they’re passionate about their work, not just to make money. A programmer that can discuss personal projects in the interview is usually a candidate we want to talk to. When working in a small team where each individuals contribution will make or break your product, you need people that are always enhancing and growing their skills. If everyone is doing side projects and enhancing their skills they will grow in experience very quickly.

RED FLAG: Someone that doesn’t research new technologies or market trends. Junior or intermediate candidates that do not code in their own time, Senior candidates that have never coded in their own time.

5. Do you have any questions for me?
This question is often overlooked, but very important. Did the candidate ask questions about the job? Were their questions insightful If the questions are limited to vacation policies and the contents of your snack bar, they may not be the right fit for your team. If they are asking about your growth plans, the type of work they’re doing and their future within your company, they’re more likely to care about the job when they start.

RED FLAG: Questions limited to benefits & compensation; questions about working hours and how much time off they get, not asking questions about growth opportunities, culture, projects, etc.


About Sage: we are technical and executive search consultants that strive to make hiring easier for technology startup’s, SMB’s and rapidly-growing software companies. With over 6 years’ in business, we have helped Toronto’s leading brands to accelerate their hiring and grow their business with the most talented Engineers available. Check out our Google Reviews to learn what our clients and candidates say about us. For more information or to get started, contact us today!