A key question that candidates should ask more in interviews is:
"What projects will I work on if I join your company?"
Why You Should Ask This in Your Interviews
It's normal that candidates care more about compensation.
However, this question could avoid big frustrations ahead.
Some important factors to look for:
1. Does the Company Even Know? Do They Have a Proper Roadmap To Show You?
If a product roadmap sounds "experimental" or doesn't exist at all, it might mean the company is pre-"Product Market Fit".
This could be risky, as it signals that the company is either disorganized or not viable yet. Or both.
Even early-stage startups should have clear goals ahead, and rough roadmaps on how to get there. Those should also make the constraints and trade-offs visible to you.
2. Will Your Projects Index to the Company’s Main Revenue Streams?
This is ideal, as it signals you'll be part of a "profit center". Your team causes the company to make money.
In case of future company reorgs, your team should be last to be cut.
On the other hand, working on lateral projects means your team is non-core for the business.
Research, platform, new business teams, etc. could mean you're exposed to future reorgs and layoffs that may happen in the company.
3. Will Your Project Depend on One Specific Client?
If so, it may signal that the company is service-oriented. As in, a consultancy or outsourcing business.
As opposed to being product-oriented. As in, a startup, where you work on the company's core product.
There's nothing wrong with either, but services companies have a few historical caveats you should consider:
- Lower salaries since they need to earn a margin on top of your salary.
- Lower engagement. Historically, these companies have shorter employee tenure.
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