The Contra questions

The Contra questions

Or how to get richer information about someone's experience by asking differently

I participated in a few interview processes during my career and also conducted some more. It is, to me, a very exciting experience where I get to measure my knowledge and a way of gamifying the learning process. In my experience, most of the interviews where I was the answering party, were truly a trigger to either research some new tool or go deeper into what I already had experience in.

But the best interviews I did were the ones I got asked about why NOT using X platform.

I am a Cloud Engineer, so most of my examples and quotes come from an Infrastructure background. But this article applies to any field to be fair.


I have this setup, with these constraints and this expected performance; where do you recommend hosting this? Why?

So one would go over the pros of a certain platform and why it is the best suited for the job. And that has value in itself, given a set of requirements, being able to identify and match strong arguments with the expected outcome is, at the end of the day, what makes a good solution.

But what if you started with cons instead?

I have this setup, with these constraints and this expected performance. Where do you NOT recommend hosting this? Why is that? Can you tell me a couple of deal breakers of X platform?

Every solution, platform, tool or any involved process depends on a specific use case. You wouldn't overcomplicate a solution just because it involves a buzzword.

Right? Right?

So maybe a good way of understanding how a platform would actually fit a given problem is what not to choose. It will show a couple of good traits.

The Pros of the Cons

  • Deep analysis of the problem.

  • Weighing in the possible outcomes.

  • Trade-off discussion and affordable compromises.

What makes this way valuable?

If you can articulate against a few solutions, it shows you have the experience to compare different platforms, which not only demonstrates actual practical hands-on but also that you can discuss approaches and disadvantages to get closer to the best solution.

Example: Kubernetes

Kubernetes is arguably the de facto platform to host and orchestrate most (containerised) applications. I'm not discovering anything.

Is it technically applicable to anything?

Sure, you can use it for 99% of modern use cases and it will just work. Even for a simple API serving a JSON response for a given product metadata? Of course, you can make it happen using a simple setup of required objects (a deployment, secrets, and a couple more).

Here's an example of a Kubernetes implementation using Helmfile, if you are feeling curious...

But is it worth the overhead?

For every use case? Certainly not.

On the one hand, Kubernetes is excellent in a distributed environment, HA, autoscaling, resource management, security and 3rd party tools integration. Lots of documentation out there, everyone is using it, battle-tested, reliable and mature.

On the other, it also introduces some questions that you will have to deal with and think about, naming a few:

  • Will you self-host it? Are you using any orchestrator, like Kind? Are you maintaining it yourself? Are you doing it in a cloud provider instead?

  • Have you considered the (additional) costs involved?

  • Have you planned a new deployment method? Are you willing to change your current one?

  • Is the practical knowledge already available in your team?

Then why would you not use it?

Well, if these sounds like your application:

  • Single instance, no need for high availability.

  • It serves atomic actions, with no interdependencies or moving parts.

  • Short-lived processing, no intensive computing requirements.

And/or your team:

  • Does not have Kubernetes experience.

  • Has a somewhat short budget.

Maybe you can consider other options to host your app. Serverless might be a good candidate.

Everything is a matter of your use case, completely constrained to your app and business requirements.


If you have the chance to conduct an interview, maybe explore this approach. I am sure it will give you much richer information about someone else's experience.

But you know, this is not only applicable to interviewing.

And as a final takeout, do interviews. It keeps you up to date with the market and pushes your learning forward. It is also a great opportunity to discover new ways of doing things, a new technology you haven't used or new features of a tool you use daily and did not know (because every use case is different, remember?).

But also if you do, be prepared to consider an eventual offer - interview processes are ($$) costly and time-consuming for both parties, so please be mindful of others' work too.


Thank you for stopping by! Do you know other ways to do this? Please let me know in the comments, I always like to learn how to do things differently.

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