The 13 Interview Questions We Ask at Jobbatical

by Jobbatical August 09, 2016

Welcome to our new series of interview questions from different companies to help you hire better! This week we start with our process at Jobbatical, soon to be followed by OneFootball.

if you’d like to share your brilliant interview questions with us, Please email us [email protected].


Newsflash: the best people have nothing in common!

So you’re ready to hire another engineer. Or mobile developer. Or designer. You want the best, obviously. But do you know how to attract high caliber hires?

David Heinemeier Hansson, creator of Ruby on Rails and founder/CTO at Basecamp says, “The best are generally the best because they aren’t typical.”

And you can’t judge an engineer — or a developer, or a designer — by her resume.

Typos toss candidates out


Aline Lerner, a former engineer and technical recruiter, was appalled to discover just how random resume hiring really is. She amassed a year’s worth of hiring data that showed grammatical errors and typos ruled candidates out by a wide margin — but neither GPA nor industry experience had much effect on whether the hiring manager made an offer. In response to this dismal data reveal, Lerner founded intervewing.io, a platform that lets recruiters practice technical interviewing with engineers from top companies — anonymously.

At Jobbatical, most of our recruiter conversations are of the casual, “getting to know you” variety. Half the time is spent explaining what we do as a company, who we are as a team, and what we’re looking for in this particular role. As Hansson points out, since the best people tend to have nothing in common with each other, it makes sense to discover who a candidate is as an individual: personality, lifestyle, background and interests.

Here are the 13 interview questions our Jobbatical’s Head of Talent Acquisition, Alina deems essential:

Personality & Lifestyle

  1. What type of environment do you thrive in — and what kind of management style makes you most effective? This is a company culture check. Alina wants to discern whether a candidate prefers a more stable, corporate environment or enjoys the risk and potential reward of a start-up.
  2. What areas of your work or life need improvement? This question has both obvious and subtle components: understanding where someone falls short (as a team member or as an individual contributor), and listening for an attitude shift. Most people do not like to discuss their weaknesses, or don’t know how to put a positive spin on them. The candidate’s response demonstrates level of confidence — as well as preparedness for the interview.
  3. Where do you see yourself x time from now? Does a candidate want to be in a management position, become a “director”, build a family? Their answer provides insight into what to expect, and if they’re going to be challenged or bored.
  4. Why are you job-hunting now? This opens the door into: are they still employed? If not, why not? Did they quit? Were they fired? Did the company downsize? Did they have conflicts with management or coworkers?
  5. Are you interested in relocating to Estonia? Would it be difficult for you relocate? It’s an indirect way of assessing family priorities.

Company Fit

  1. How did you learn about Jobbatical? Useful for analytics: are people finding the company via a Facebook ad, friend, Google search, etc.
  2. Why Jobbatical? This question is one of the most important interview questions you can ask, says Alina. Are they passionate about what we do, or is it just another job interview?
  3. Why are you interested in working here? Expands on the answer to the previous question. Did the candidate read or hear something about us that made them think, “YES, THIS IS THE COMPANY FOR ME!”

Background & Skill Set

  1. Can you summarize your experience? Does it align with what we’re looking for? Have they read the job description? How detail-oriented are they when explaining their experience — and in understanding whether or not we are a match?
  2. What are your achievements and strengths when it comes to the specific role? This is a good follow-up to question 2, since it reveals more about self-confidence.
  3. How many years of experience do you have with each “language”? What recent technologies have you used? Is the information aligned with what we are looking for? Is it what they described in their resume?
  4. For developers: do you have any open source projects we can review? Are you on GitHub or StackOverflow, etc.? Part of Jobbatical’s interview process is a coding challenge. Would you be able to work on it and email it back to us in a few days?
  5. For Designers: Do you have a portfolio we can review?

Would you like to share your company’s interview questions? Please email us [email protected].


Originally published at Jobbatical on August 9, 2016.

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