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I'm not familiar with job interview and software development terminology. So my questions are: what's your opinion of the following job interview questions and what is the best way to respond, especially the last question he asked?

The new employer offered me a job consisting in building very rich interactive web apps in Paris. The questions on which I like to know your opinions are:

1) What kind of salary do you expect?

2) Are you ok to work in a Startup? (What does it means?)

3) Do you know about iterative development processes? (What does it means? maybe working with many developers.)

4) Lean methodology? (What does it means?)

5) We are building a strong web culture, how can you help?

Thanks for your help.


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I think you can google/wiki 2-4. –  bluntkhan Apr 24 '11 at 18:53
What job were you interviewing for? –  Kevin D Apr 24 '11 at 20:05

4 Answers 4

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Are you ok to work in a Startup?

Some people are looking for stability in the world. Some people want every day and every week to be different. In a startup, you cannot wait for maintenance to come change the light bulb or air conditioning filter - because there is no "maintenance" people - you will have to grab a ladder and light bulb/filter and change it yourself.

Do you know about iterative development processes?

This is one important part of agile software development.

Lean methodology?

I think the wikipedia article sets the tone quite well with "'Lean' is a production practice that considers the expenditure of resources for any goal other than the creation of value for the end customer to be wasteful, and thus a target for elimination." In software development, the phrase YAGNI (you aren't going to need it) is a common refrain from people coming from a lean perspective.

We are building a strong web culture, how can you help?

This is very buzzwordy and implies that they are aiming at being customer focused. If they ask you this to your face, ask them what they mean by it, then answer the definition.

I think that in addition and perhaps more importantly than changing light bulbs (how often you need to do it?) is that your "normal" course of development is often "distracted" (I put these terms in quotes because they are highly subjective) by tasks like writing the installation, setting up the network, doing backups, installing the DB, doing the QA etc. etc. It can be diverse and interesting and it can be nightmare - depending on your personality. As someone who switched from 1K-people company to 10-people company, I can tell a lot about it :) –  davka Apr 27 '11 at 9:29
  1. Whatever the market salary is for the man of your skills and the job to do (the ceiling of the two)

  2. Working in a startup can potentially mean significant overtime (can be up to 60 hours) and being ready to rearrange you personal time (evenings, weekends) to get things done on schedule. If the things go badly, might start delaying your paychecks then just go out of business leaving you with several months not paid. A strong warning sign.

  3. That you definitely need to google. But, if you haven't even heard of it, perhaps you're not the man for the job (yet).

  4. Google it

  5. Ask them to define what they understand as the "strong web culture", or better start with the "web culture" in the first place. It is potentially a valid question but it sound like they want to do something webby but not quite sure what and how. A warning sign.

+1 for #3. I find it funny-odd that there's decent devs out there that have trouble finding work, and people with seemingly zero experience/knowledge are getting jobs lobbed at them. –  Steve Evers Apr 25 '11 at 3:04
@SnOrfus: The exact same thought crosses my mind from time to time. It defies any logic... –  user8685 Apr 25 '11 at 7:00
  1. well, really, how much money do you want and expect to get? Don't give a low answer to make it easier to swallow, because they'll pay you less. Don't give a high answer to give yourself a nice salary boost, because they'll take someone else.

  2. take a look at what people are talking about at http://answers.onstartups.com, that is how working at a startup is like. The company is not yet making a profit so turnover and visibility (getting the product out of the door and into peoples' hands) are king.

  3. and

  4. easily searchable, as others said. In this context, I expect these mean that the hiring manager has read a trade journal recently but that might be unfair.

  5. I actually have no idea what that means. I wonder whether the interviewers do either: again this is just my jaded opinion colouring my answer :).

  1. It should be whatever you deserve
  2. Danger sign! In other words it means 'we are not sure about our future, so are you willing to take the risk with us?'
  3. Thats a software methodology, you can easily find more about it on the internet.
  4. Same as above
  5. That means we want to build a strong web culture in the company but are not sure what to do about it and so how can you help us'
Sure, but what the heck is "a web culture" (strong or otherwise). I suspect it means the same as questions 2/3/4 put together. –  Steve Haigh Apr 24 '11 at 19:48

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