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I would like to know if people have already asked back some technical questions to your interviewer. Saying something like "Well, you asked me a bunch of technical questions, and now, do you mind if I ask you some? If I am going to join your company, we will work closely together and I want to make sure my I respect the skills of my coworkers like they respect mine...".

Doesn't it sound arrogant? I am curious to have your opinion or experience (as the interviewee or the interviewer, of course).

P.S: throwaway account as I dont want that people who know me know I am preparing interviews.

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You can probably gauge their level of competence by the questions they ask and how they respond to your answers. It is a technique to turn the interview around and to silently start interviewing them by shifting the focus. –  Andrew Finnell Aug 15 '12 at 12:56
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If you did that to me while interviewing you the interview would end that instant. "Respect the skills of my coworkers"? No. 1. You won't learn about your team as a whole. You are only asking 1 person. 2. You should be able to garner a great deal of knowledge simply by listening to the questions and the responses to your answers. 3. The person interviewing you may very well be someone that you won't be coding with but a manager. –  Rig Aug 15 '12 at 17:16
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It does sound a little arrogant but if I were the interviewer I would also appreciate the passion. It would make me a little nervous about whether you were too opinionated to work well on a team and I might ask questions to follow up on that. But if other things didn't reinforce that concern then asking that would probably be a net positive for me. –  psr Aug 15 '12 at 19:02
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closed as not constructive by maple_shaft Aug 15 '12 at 16:40

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7 Answers

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"Well, you asked me a bunch of technical questions, and now, do you mind if I ask you some? If I am going to join your company, we will work closely together and I want to make sure my I respect the skills of my coworkers like they respect mine...".

Doesn't it sound arrogant?

Yes, it does. But there are other ways to get that information.

  • Ask to look at the codebase. Say something like "I'd like to see the best and the worst part you can think of."
  • Engage them in conversation, use lots of terms that lesser developers wouldn't understand.
  • Mention bloggers and authors, see if you get a blank expression.
  • Ask them about the technology stack and ask for reasons behind various decisions, compare the frameworks they use with the ones you've used.

Sometimes you can impress as much by the type of questions you ask as the type of questions you answer. I once had a junior developer come in with an A4 sheet full of questions. They were the right questions to ask. They showed a deep (for a junior) knowledge of the right and wrong ways to do things. He was offered the job.

I wouldn't ask someone to code up a method to display the Fibonacci sequence. But then I also wouldn't ask that as an interviewer. It's a waste of time and teaches me nothing about the person.

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+1. That last point is very important! –  Baqueta Aug 15 '12 at 13:04
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"Engage them in conversation, use lots of terms that lesser developers wouldn't understand." This could be seen as using pedantic terms on purpose, and thus really arrogant. But I agree with you more subtle way of judging the interviewer. –  user61891 Aug 15 '12 at 13:06
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Thinking of it, "What is your policy regarding new languages adoption?" might be good for that purpose as well (on top of telling me about my chances to play with new fun languages on the job). –  user61891 Aug 15 '12 at 13:14
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@user61891: If that's of paramount importance to you, yes. But bear in mind that a lot of companies have a lot of developers and they can't expect everyone to learn something new every time a new developer wants to play with a fancy new toy. Perhaps you want to (and can afford to) discount those companies, I wouldn't think any less of you for it, I'm just saying that you should bear that in mind when asking the question. –  pdr Aug 15 '12 at 13:21
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Not sure I agree with "use lots of terms that lesser developers wouldn't understand" - I often find that it's the lesser-developers who throw around the fancy marketing words (like constantly using the phrase 'n-tier', or naming off every design pattern under the sun), whereas the better developers understand what they are, but only use them in conversation when it's absolutely appropriate, which is pretty rare. This could really make you look bad. –  BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Aug 15 '12 at 15:40
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Bear in mind that your interviewer may not be a technical person - and if they are a team manager, they may not even touch code on a day-to-day basis.

Assuming you were talking to a technical person however, I wouldn't start questioning them, just question any ambiguity in the technical questions they may direct at you, which both shows that you may have a deeper understanding than they were looking for and their response will give you an indicator as to approximately their skill level.

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Yes, I am not planning to start by questionning my technical interviewer straight away. That would be rude. What I had in mind was more asking this question when the interviewer says "do you have any question for me?" –  user61891 Aug 15 '12 at 12:14
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I wouldn't start hammering him/her with technical questions. It's likely to trigger a "oh, looks like we've got a smart-arse" reaction. Ask any questions relating to the job at hand and the workplace when he asks if you have any questions. Probably easier to do a bit of research beforehand to establish if it's a company you'd like to work for or not. –  Anonymous Aug 15 '12 at 12:18
    
Well, it's not about "hammering" back the interviewer, but rather having a question ready and ask him if he's ok with it. –  user61891 Aug 15 '12 at 12:20
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I don't think it's appropriate. –  Anonymous Aug 15 '12 at 12:25
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If technical questions translates into "asking questions about specific ways you do things and stuff you use" then I'd be worried if a candidate did not ask that. I want people who care about using the good stuff and software craftsmanship on my team. YMMV.

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No, by technical question I mean something like "could you write Fibonacci?" or a bit more complicated (but not too much, something a competente guy could nail in 5 minutes). –  user61891 Aug 15 '12 at 12:22
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Gotcha. I'd probably blackball you as an attitude problem for that. Now, asking technical questions about the product would be a OK if not encouraged. –  Wyatt Barnett Aug 15 '12 at 12:37
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@user61891 in my experience, if you are wondering when they have finished asking technical questions, you don't want to ask. You don't want to make enemies by putting them in difficulty -- other considerations may make you want to accept the job. –  AProgrammer Aug 15 '12 at 12:40
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@user61891, you don't want to be seen in a "I'm evaluating you" mode, being in a "peer sharing experience" one should be enough. –  AProgrammer Aug 15 '12 at 12:44
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@AProgrammer - I disagree with the "you don't want to be seen in a 'I'm evaluating you' mode"; when I'm looking for a candidate, I want to ensure a good fit both ways - last thing I want to do is get someone who's disinterested, and then decides to leave 6 months in because they're unhappy (and obviously, the candidate probably doesn't want to start job hunting again 6 months in). I tell candidates that they should be interviewing the company, as much as the company is interviewing them. –  ernie Aug 15 '12 at 15:59
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As an interviewee, the questions I was asked, the way they were asked and the reactions to my answer or requests for clarification have been enough for me to get a idea about the technical level of my interlocutors, and what aspects they considered as important. My questions to technical interviewers were more about the working environment and management style.

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When I give interviews, if you don't ask questions I take it as a sign you aren't interested. Asking a question isn't inherantly arrogant. how you ask, however, can be construed as arrogance. The way you phrased it in your question comes across as arrogant "... like they respect mine.".

Be open, honest, naturally curious, factual. Don't ask loaded questions, and don't ask them to prove their technical skills to you.

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Do you really need to ask questions in such a straightforward fashion?
I wouldn't say anything like "I want to be sure I respect the skills of my coworkers." because, honestly, if I were an interviewer, I wouldn't like it.

It's always about compatibility. You can think something along the lines of "I don't respect him because he didn't give me the right answer", but I don't think you should put it that way. Even if you think there's a right answer, even if there really is a right answer, it's always nicer to think of things in terms of compatible or not compatible rather than right or wrong. Showing the latter attitude can be off-putting.

That's why I agree with others who say that you should try to find out the information you need less directly. Ask about the way they do things, to see if their way of doing things and your way of doing things are compatible (even if what you really want is to see is their level of competence).
Also, you can search for the information online, maybe talk to some people who work in that company.

Having said that, you could ask your question if you can afford to do so (because you're a programming superstar or whatever) and if you're looking for an environment in which you don't have to be tactful and in which people like questions like that. But, if all you really want to know is how much technical skills they have, there's no reason to ask your questions in such a direct (and perhaps slightly impolite) manner.

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I used not to ask such questions. I answers theirs, I asked one or two classic questions and I would be done.

That was not a good idea.

I'm leaving my current job soon (only two weeks left:) ) and from now I will ask. I might be won't ask directly, but I'll conduct my lesser Joel test (cvs, automating testing, ticket tracker). If they find offending that I want to evaluate their methods/work: it's not a place I want to work in. IMHO the employer should find it interesting that I want asked, if

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