What to ask a developer during an initial interview


After advising over 60+ startups at the Impact Hub Los Angeles. I've learned that many new companies often struggle to find and hire a good CTO or developer. The challenge of any non-technical CEO is to first figure out how to understand what software engineers are saying. Here is a short list of probing questions I often provide new CEO's so that they can know what questions to ask. These questions will not help you understand if the person is equipped for the job. Instead, these questions will first help you collect information about a specific engineer's skill set. Once you understand what tools they use to make products, you can then start going deeper.

  • What types of digital products do you make? Websites? Web apps? Mobile apps? Platform services?

  • What computer language(s) do you use to make products? Ex: PHP, Ruby, Javascript, Python, Java, Swift, Objective-C

  • What frameworks do you use to build? What's the name of the framework? Ex: Spring, Ruby on Rails, Django, Zend, Pure MVC, Angular, React, Phoenix

  • What software library do you use for authentication? What's the name of it? Ex: Devise, PassportJS, Firebase, Parse

  • Do you use a specific library for creating permissions across different users? CanCan, Pundit

  • Do you use a specific library for testing the quality of your code? Which one? Ex: Rspec, MiniTest, XTest

  • What tool do you use for project management? PivotalTracker, Jira, BugHerd

  • What tool do you use for tracking bugs?

  • Who do you use for hosting? Ex: AWS, Microsoft Azure Services, RedHad OpenShift, Heroku

  • What database do you prefer? Ex: MySQL, SQL, Postgresql, SQLite, Oracle, MongoDB, CouchDB

  • What design tool do you prefer to use? Sketch, InDesign, Photoshop

  • Do you have a process for publishing code from development to staging to production? What DevOps tool do you prefer? Docker, Ansible

If you'd like for me to expand upon this some more. Please share a commend below.