You’re interviewing for a remote dev position? Awesome, here’s a tip: spend less time replying to questions and ask them instead.

Why’s that? Not because I want to hear myself talk. But because your questions—what you ask and that you ask them—are a great signal. They tell me you understand interviews, your role and remote work. How’s that?

Ask questions out of Self-interest

Many applicants try to figure out how to please “the company”, but it’s perfectly good to think about yourself in interviews. You’re about to jump into a new role, a new tech stack, with a new team and its dynamics. If you’re not doing well, if you’re not liking it, it’ll be a short stint—and that’s just wasting everyone’s time.

If you’re not asking questions during the interview, you’re gambling! You’re betting that everything will be fine.

Instead of betting, how could you be more intentional? You won’t know how to do a good job—unless you ask. Interviews are a two-way street, and you need to know what the new team expects of you. Only then can you confidently say: Yes! Yes, I can do this. But also: yes, this is what I want.

If you don’t ask questions, then I’m thinking maybe you’re super flexible and able to succeed anywhere. Or maybe you don’t know what you want and how to make sure you do well.

So, take care of yourself. Set yourself up for success: Ask questions.

Ask questions because that’s what good devs do

Building things well is hard enough. And that’s why we tend to think that’s our only job: Maintainability, scalability, performance and all the other goodies we developers love to nerd about.

And then it turns out that no one cares about the fruit of our hard work, because we misunderstood the problem in the first place.

None of what we build matters, if we build the wrong thing!

The gap between requirements and what’s built, that’s where software projects fail way too often.

That’s why, for developers, asking questions is everything!

Ask questions because being remote needs initiative

Grumpy faces and helplessness, they’re difficult to spot in chat. When you’re remote, no one notices you’re having a bad day the very moment you arrive at work.

Nor is it immediately obvious that you don’t quite understand the requirements and have been wrecking your brain over the meaning of that second paragraph in the Github issue. Your team will notice … when you don’t deliver. Don’t wait for that!

You’re remote: it’s on you to reach out if something is wrong.

Now, I’ve read a whole bunch of opinions on this topic, and some people on the Internet seem to think that it’s on the company or the manager to catch those things. And yes: I’m trying to do my part.

But it’s going to be too late. Grievances are best tackled early, before they take roots. And if you don’t know what to do, it’s best to figure it out within minutes, not hours.

The only way is that you bring up issues as they arise.

And that’s what you tell me with your questions: when you’re blocked or you don’t understand something or something rubbed you the wrong way, you’ll speak up. You understand that, when in doubt, the initiative is on you.

So, next time you have a remote interview scheduled, no need to do all the talking yourself. Instead, ask me questions so that we both may learn.

More posts from the Remote Hiring Series:

1. Your Answers aren’t Good Enough, Ask Questions!

2. How I Interview Remote Devs on the First Call

(more coming)