The Pragmatic Engineer Test
12 questions to get a sense of what a tech company is like to work at.
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Company name *
1. Equity or profit sharing *
If you're a venture-funded startup or a publicly traded company, do all engineers get equity allocation? (Buying equity in a publicly traded company at 5-20% below the market value, also known as ESPP does not count) If you're a private, non-venture-funded company, do engineers get *generous* profit sharing (aka amounts that are typically at least 15-20% of annual salary)?
2. Roadmap/backlog engineers contribute to *
Do you have one for all teams, and do engineers regularly contribute to it?
3. Engineers directly working with other ICs. *
Do engineers work directly with other individual contributors (ICs) like other engineers, designers, PMs, data scientists etc? Answer "no" to if they are expected to go through e.g. (project) managers instead of direct communication.
4. Code reviews and testing *
Are they both part of the everyday development process?
5. CI and engineers pushing to prod *
Do you have CI in place? When engineers finish coding, does the code either automatically get pushed to prod (through CD), or can engineers manually trigger this step?
6. Internal open source *
Do you follow an internal open-source model, where any developer can read and contribute to any other codebase - with appropriate code ownership in place?
7. Healthy oncall as a priority *
This assumes engineers go oncall. When engineers are oncall, are they expected to focus on oncall-related work over product work? Is oncall health measured in quantitive ways? Does fixing an unhealthy oncall have priority over any product work?
8. Technical managers *
Are most engineering managers technical - meaning have a background of having done software development at some point in their career?
9. Career ladder (when over 10 engineers) *
Do you have a career ladder, with levels, and expectations at each of the level defined? (For places that have 10 engineers or more)
10. Parallel IC & manager tracks (when over 30 engineers) *
Do you have parallel IC & management career paths that run up to a level or two above the entry-level engineering manager role? For places over 30 engineers.
11. Feedback culture *
When above 30 engineers: do you have at least two of the following three:  a) 360 performance reviews (where directs also give feedback to managers) b) Peers giving feedback to each other c) Company-wide surveys collecting workplace feedback, and acting on this.  When smaller than 30 engineers: do you encourage a culture where you give constructive and direct feedback to each other to improve?
12. Investing in professional growth *
Do you have at least two of the following three: a) Professional development stipend for books/trainings b) Recognizing time taken to do learning as a a good use of work time, and encouraging this. c) A mentorship program within the company.
Other comments?
Feel free to add color to any of the above answers, or more context on the team or company.
Your name *
Your email *
Any other comments?
Note: this form won't give a "score". Your score is the number of questions you reply "yes" or "mostly yes" to.
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