dinsdag 20 maart 2012

Questions to ask when looking for a new job?

When you’re looking for a new job, you typically have to go through several interviews. In most cases at the end of each interview, you get the opportunity to ask some questions. Most people ask typical questions like “What are the extra benefits?”, “What will I do when I’m on a project?”, …

Below you can find some non typical questions you can ask when having an interview.
1) Can I decide myself what laptop I’ll be working on? Or will I receive the same laptop everyone is getting?
This will give you an idea, if you can work on your favorite OS and/or laptop. Whether it is Apple, Linux or Windows, the fact that you can choose makes it more fun. Remember that as IT consultant you will be working on that system on a daily basis. You have to like it, and each person tend to like different things to work on and work with.

2) Is the company using VPN to allow employees to work @ home?
With this question, you touch directly two different topics. If a company doesn’t allow working at home, you might think they don’t trust you. And isn’t working for a company all about trust? Having the freedom to work where you want and where you’re the most productive is definitely an extra value.
Having a VPN (Virtual Private Network), causes in many cases a lot of headaches for the employees. You have to make an additional login or use some kind of token device. And sometimes the usage of VPN is blocked when you’re working outside the office, for example from a hotel room.

3) How will I get to the office on day 1?
Most consultants in IT these days are using a company car. So you typically receive your company car the first day when you start working. Now the question is if the company will deliver the car to your home, or you have to use public transport, taxi, … and loose a lot of time on your first working day. The first day you’re in most cases already having a lot of stress, so having a company car being delivered at your home is just nice.

4) What are the working hours?
These days, flexibility is being asked from each employee and/or consultant. This also means that the company you work for should offer this kind of flexibility. Part of that will be having no working hours. In that way you can start when you want in the morning, and for example bringing the children first to school.

5) Are lunches provided by the employee?
Wouldn’t it just be nice to have free lunches when you’re at the office. And of course also free drinks, candy, cookies, …. It just makes it more nice to go to the office and make you feel at home, also when you’re at the office. And for the coffee lovers, just ask for coffee during the first interview. If it is good coffee, it means they deliver quality stuff ;-)

6) Is facebook, skype, hotmail, gmail, … blocked?
Maybe you can consider this as a very strange questions, because you will be working for the company, and not browsing on facebook, etc. So why is this so important? In the past employees had to use the office phone to make a private call. Now everything is being done through email, facebook, … So why should a company block these applications? They shouldn’t! Let the employees be free on also doing private stuff during the working day. This is some kind of flexibility the employer should give to the employees.

7) Is there a dress code within the company?
In the 20th century employees working at IBM had to wear some kind of uniform when going to work. In the 90ties this has changed, into some more business casual dress code. Some companies did go even further than that and gave their employees full freedom. So if you want to go to work in swimming pants, that is your choice and allowed. Maybe you should think of how you would like to go to work everyday and check if that corresponds with the typical dress code at the company you want to work for.

The questions above will give you an idea how the company works and if it will be really fun working for them. Of course you can and should ask also other typical questions. When looking for a new job opportunity, don’t let the company choose you, but you should choose the company!
Joris De Winne recently moved from Belgium to the Netherlands, and is now working for Xebia as an IT architect, with a lot of experience in open source and Agile/Scrum consultancy.

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