After spending most of my career in highly technical roles, I've changed things up a bit, and am now in a position where I'm performing behavioral interviews of other people instead of just technical interviews. In technical interviews, people are afraid questions might leak, this giving some lucky candidates a heads up. I suppose that is possible, but I never try to ask trivia questions during interviews, instead I like to focus on skills.

However, in a behavioral interview I don't think it matters if you know the question or not. The answers are going to be very personal to you. So, here are ten questions you might get from me and why I like asking them.

1. What attracts you?

What attracts you to working for this company, in this role?

I want to know why you care. What is it about this role, this team, this company that excites you. I want to know that you'll be a positive influence on the current company and current team, not something who is going to demotivate people.

This might also be a chance to reinforce that you've done some research into the company, have a general idea about us.

2. Passion

What are you most passionate about in your current position?

Or, the opposite:

What do you not enjoy about your current position?

Both these questions, get to the same thing. I want to know what you love to do, and what you don't love.

Maybe you love coding? Maybe you love mentoring other developers? Maybe your sweet spot is interacting with other teams, or focusing on high level software design? Or maybe you love turning business requirements into an actionable development plan? Maybe you love the flexibility of your current position so you can sleep in and start working at noon. Or maybe the rigidness of the schedule so that everyone stops working at 5?

With both of these questions, I am trying to find out where your passion is, and how I can offer that to you as your new employer/manager. I want to see where you may fit into my current team dynamic and our company culture.

3. Remoteness

What is your experience working remotely or with a distributed team?

If you're in software development you are probably working remotely, or have been for the last few days. How do you handle it? How do you communicate with coworkers? How do you stay connected to coworkers? How do you maintain work life balance? How are you stemming off burn out?

Primarily here, I care about how you've stayed connected to your team mates. Bonus points if you were the one to start some action to stay connected--like virtual game nights or similar. Bonus points--for my team--if you've been dealing with people in multiple time zones, or even countries.

4. Production Problems

What do you do when code you have released to production has a bug and causes a production incident?

Sometimes stuff goes wrong in software development. And sometimes that stuff affects our users. So, what happens when you screwed up and how did you go about fixing it? How did you go about making sure it doesn't happen again?

I'm really trying to figure out how you operated with grace under pressure. To me, you may get bonus points if there is a "no blame" post mortem mentioned--or some type of process to document and track steps the team needs to make to prevent this from happening again.

5. What is your job?

When you explain what you do to your friends who are not cs; how do you explain what you do?

When I ask this, I'm really after your communication style. As programmers, most people who are not programmers have no idea what we do on a daily basis. Can you speak to normal people, such as our product owners, project managers, and customers? Can you take complex tech stuff and make it understandable?

For me, my answer to this question is "Have you ever purchased something on a site like Someone like me made it work!" I might also add "They didn't make it pretty, but they made it work"

6. Disagreements

Tell me about a scenario in which you did not agree with your manager on approach or implementation and how did you navigate through that scenario and what was the outcome?

There is going to be conflict on any team. Being able to assert and support yourself to someone who has power over you is incredibly important for a healthy, productive working relationship.

So, tell me the story. what happened? How did you go about raising your disagreements? Did you give up? How did you try to bring consensus.

7. Feedback

What was some difficult feedback you had received from your manager or peers and how did you respond to it?

This is the same as the previous question, but in a reverse direction. Instead of trying to tackle disagreements up the chain, this is when the bad info is coming down on you. How do you react? How did you try to address it?

I'm probably not gonna be impressed if you say "That's why I'm interviewing"

But, I won't mind if you say you were angry, or got depressed. But, I want to know how you channeled those emotions into change. Did you sign up for a new training course? Or ask for a mentor? Or did you push back in disagreement and argue with them?

8. Worst Project

Describe the project that you had the most trouble with. What would you have done differently?

This is also a question attitude and your approach. What is something that didn't go smoothly. How did you react? How did you prevent yourself from going crazy? If you could do something differently, what would it be?

9. Education

How do you keep your tech skills sharp and learn about new and emerging tech?

Folks say tech is changing a lot and quickly. In my view of the world, there is just a lot of syntactical sugar on old ideas. But, there are always new things to learn, and the more I learn the different insight it gives me into how I build things.

I want to know that you care about learning too. Please have an answer other than books. Or if you do say books, be able to tell me the last book you read.

On one interview, I asked this question. "You say you want to learn about Y Technology and are doing that through books. What was the last book you read" "Z in 3 easy steps"... And I was like "So nothing about Y at all?"

10. Next Role

What are you looking for in your next role?

I know my team, and the roles we're looking to fill. Tell me what you want in your next role, and that will help me evaluate whether you'll be happy on our team. Just be honest and speak from the heart. Maybe you want to work more on front end code. OR backend code. Or do project management. Or learn a new technology.

One person told me that they wanted to be closer to code, and even though the interview went great I recommended not hiring them for a manager position where they would not be touching any code. That person just wouldn't have been happy.

Final Thoughts

A lot of these questions are alla bout trying to better understand you, what you care about, and how you'd react to my environment.

Hopefully it helps you!