4 Non-Tech Questions to Ask Employers in an IT Interview

A recent Dice article calls out an interesting contradiction: though there’s a rise in IT layoffs, tech workers are still finding new jobs at a rapid pace. Moreover, there’s been an increase in tech industry employment by 143,700 jobs since this time last year, which translates to 55% year-over-year growth. Though some IT professionals might encounter bumps in their job search, the overall outlook is positive.

The challenge in this job market is separating the worthwhile roles from those that are just another paycheck. Working with technical recruiters can help narrow down the caliber of options you see. Plus, they’ll have the inside scoop on corporate culture, work environments, and other particulars of your target companies. Even then, some answers only come to light during your interview.

If you want to reveal whether a business should be your next career home, here are some essential questions to ask any potential employer.

1.) What Is the Work Environment Like?

Your day-to-day satisfaction with any job largely depends on the details of the work environment. Unfortunately, it’s one of those intangible factors that is hard to define. The physical space, work methodology, collaborative energy, and management style all feed into this concept and together influence how happy IT professionals are about their jobs.

Though you might be able to learn about the environment by asking broadly about the work environment, several smaller questions can coax your interviewer to paint a detailed picture of your daily work life. Here are just a few:

  • What percent of the work can be done remotely? Are they using a hybrid work model?
  • How do members of the team collaborate on projects? How frequently does the team communicate?
  • Is this a DevOps atmosphere? Do they practice an agile development philosophy?

Your ideal opportunities will emerge when you get a clear mental picture of the working environment. That way, even though you might be drawn to the technologies and projects of a position, you can narrow down your choices to those places where you’ll actually enjoy working.

2.) Why Are You Hiring for This Position?

Of all the details companies share—on their websites, social media accounts, and job advertisements— the reason for hiring isn’t always explicit. For anyone entering an organization, the range of insights you’ll hear in response to this question can reveal coveted behind-the-scene details:

  • They’re growing: You might know this from a job advertisement, but interviewers will likely reveal more conversationally than they would in a blurb. Maybe that growth is from a specific division, office, or product line. Maybe the whole company is growing. If your job is part of that growth initiative, you have a shot at stability and a chance to shine in a visible job.
  • They’re expanding tech: If you’re the first hire for a specific technical skillset, you can distinguish yourself with a company. You set the direction for innovation, and you may even have more autonomy. Since they’re likely looking for self-starters, you’ll have more of a green light to take the initiative on projects.
  • They’re backfilling: Gartner predicts turnover to jump by 20% this year. That means plenty of companies are backfilling roles, so there’s no cause for alarm if this is the case. What you can learn from this response is how they talk about departing employees. Do they wish them well or disparage them in front of a relative stranger? If it’s the latter, you want to take your search elsewhere.

Another red flag is if an interviewer refuses to answer the question. Barring any security clearance or confidentiality required by the industry, there is no reason they should dodge an answer. Any unwillingness to provide transparency into their organization now is often a preview of a culture of secrecy if you take the job. This is one negative sign to always take seriously.

3.) How Can Employees Advance within Your Organization?

Stagnant roles get old fast. In fact, Pew Research found that one of the major reasons why 33% of professionals quit their jobs in 2021 had to do with limited opportunities for advancement. If you’re taking a full-time role, this is your chance to ask about how you can grow as part of their team:

  • Do they prioritize internal promotions? Some companies recognize the value of growing in-house leaders. If they do, you know they’ll take an active role in cultivating your talents and success.
  • Are employees able to cross-train? The chance to study new disciplines and tackle unique challenges is essential to any career. Companies that allow their employees to cross-train give them a chance to build their talents in unexpected ways.
  • Do they subsidize ongoing education? This is the holy grail of employee benefits. Many organizations will advertise this benefit upfront, but some keep this closer to the vest. Asking about it and showing how you plan to use any subsidized training to help the company can build bonds and help them envision you in their open role.

Also, talking about your own growth vision can help steer their responses. If you’re looking for a chance to take on greater responsibility or expand skillsets beyond your current subject matter expertise, your interviewer might be able to provide examples of how they can provide a framework for your advancement—helping both sides in the process.

4.) What Are Your Company’s Challenges? What Are Your Opportunities?

W2 employees share in the obstacles and opportunities an organization faces. You may not be responsible for the big picture actions, but you do contribute to mechanics of how businesses respond. Before you accept an offer, you want to know the lay of the land and rockiness of the terrain ahead from an elevated view. You can get your answers by asking about their challenges and chances for success.

What can you do with their response? There are two key takeaways, one to help you choose between job options and the other to help you prepare if you decide to take the role.

  • How an interviewer, especially managers and executives, respond to this question shows how adaptable and analytical they are in their own position. If they’re already talking through their ongoing actions to address issues, you know you’ll be among likeminded problem solvers.
  • When you accept an offer, you want to hit the ground running. If you understand the master plan before day one, you’ll be better equipped to grasp how your actions contribute to organizational objectives as well as recommend solutions and projects that can make a splash from the start.

Coming Prepared with the Right Questions

Though these questions are the perfect starting point, it’s key to tailor what you’re going to ask to the specific organization. This allows you to show your interviewer that you are proactive enough to learn about their business and that you’re already thinking about how you fit within their structure and delivery.

Again, working with an IT recruiter can simplify this process. For example, our w3r recruiters not only learn about your goals to present the right IT job opportunities, they also brief you on the specifics of organizations and give pointers to boost your interview responses. That way, you’ll have the full insight on where to make your career home—and how to win the job.

Want to make sure you’re asking the right questions during your next job interview? Work with one of our recruiters to help you find and prepare for jobs that can transform your career.