On Hiring

Questions I’d like to have answers to after meeting someone

About the candidate’s journey, areas they’re looking to grow

  • Why are you leaving your current company?
    • What are you looking for? How are you looking to grow next in your career?
  • Describe the position we’re hiring for to the candidate. Does this sound like a good fit for you? What do you think?
    • Have you ever had to carry the pager? Be a first responder / member of an incident response team?
      • How do you feel about that kind of work?
  • What sorts of things do you like to work on in a day? (What’s an ideal day for you?)

Past behaviour type questions

  • What are you most proud of accomplishing during this time?
  • What were the trouble spots, the things you struggled with, during this time?
  • Can you tell us about a time when you were under a lot of pressure at work and what you did to get through it?
  • Have you had to make time management or prioritization decisions with your time? Can you think of a time when you had to push back on a request? How did you do that?

Tech / systems questions

  • How do you deploy an application without downtime?
  • Can you think of gotchas using terraform? Things that can go wrong if you’re not careful and controls you should always have in place.
  • What happens when you open up chrome in a browser and navigate to google.com?

From Carmen about how to onboard a new team member

  • Give them real work (small, reasonable tasks to start and increase scope as they become comfortable)
  • Give them a lot of support
  • Give them a friend who’s been around awhile who doesn’t mind being poked by lots of questions 🙂
  • Enjoy the ride! This new hire is going to make your life better!


Smart, and gets things done

I have to add is a good fit with the team to this. Is the person someone you want to spend 8hrs a day, 5 days a week with? A very large part of your life …

Do find out

  • How well does the candidate’s career interests align with the role we’re planning?
  • Give the candidate a sample of 1 or 2 tasks currently in our backlog and see how they would work it. Want to see problem solving process, thoughts around potential gotchas, their method!
  • Have the candidate meet another member of the team for a chat. It’s important that the team has a sense of who may be joining and that there’s a good culture fit


When you’re hiring for a particular role, do think about (and visualize!) what success might look like.

  • eg “In 90d, the balance between unplanned work and project work in our team will have reached an equilibrium at the balance we prefer to maintain – 50/50”

Job ads I love

  • From Honeycomb for a Site Reliability Engineer