I asked this on twitter but thought it might get better discusion here. I have read that it is always a good idea when you are being interviewed to think of a few questions to actually ask the interviewer. It might show your interest in the position or company. Something like "what are 1 or 2 tasks you would expect me to begin or take over once I started with your company". Well I have a question I would like to ask, but don't know if it would be appropriate or out of line. That is to ask the team lead or supervisor (depending on who is interviewing you) his/her involvement in the SQL Server community (outside of work)? This maybe directed at the person conducting the interview or of the SQL Server team I would be working with, if the interviewer knew. My reasoning behind this is I have worked with folks before that come to work and then go home. Outside of work they do not seem to have any interest in feeding their minds with all things SQL Server. I ask, how else are you going to learn or advance your career? I'm not saying every breath I spend is on SQL Server but I do spend a good bit of time playing with SQL Server or being involved in forums (mainly here and SSC). That is how I learn things. I would like to know I could come into work one morning and say hey did you know this or that about SQL Server, and get some speck of interest from them in it. This may have been something I learned at a SQL Saturday or reading through a question on SSC or here. **UPDATE**
Interview went well. PASS was actually brought up during the conversation with the team lead about training opportunities. They are aware of PASS and the local user group. I did not really get out of them if the team members attend or not, but that is fine. It was a 2 hour drive home and I got called half way home that they wanted to offer me the job. Short of a few things being worked out I have accepted the position.
Thanks for all the advice.
I think it's a good question and related somewhat to a question I would ask. What are the training opportunities with the company? You want to know not only their level of interest and support and awareness of the community, but how bothered they'll be by your involvement in it. I had to convince my boss, several times, that my involvement in the community had a direct impact on my abilities, but further, on how good a job I could do for the company. People will sometimes not believe that you having a good network helps them out. They think it's all about getting the next job. I'd absolutely ask your question.
I don't think it is out of line at all and is a question I frequently ask. For me it is somewhat a negative when someone tells me they haven't heard of PASS. If for no other reason then them being in the DBA field for several years and not knowing about the PASS Summit. (In the US of course, quite different possibly if I was in the UK, then I would want them to know about SQL Bits). With how popular SQL Saturdays, 24 HOP, and Virtual PASS Chapters have become and how often they are mentioned on twitter and blogs it would be quite difficult to miss. Well that is of course if the DBA in question has spent any time online researching anything. Begin active in the PASS or other SQL community is a huge plus for me. It shows the potential employee has a desire to interact and grow both professionally and in their career. If you are considering joining another company i think it would be good to ask what the teams involvement is, otherwise you might be joining a lame team where others don't share your passion and may lead to a potential hinderance of your career.
Put it this way, if Community involvement is important to you, then if you ask that question and it is seen as 'out of line' then you're probably interviewing at the wrong place for you. One thing I look for, as an interviewer, is someone who has been in jobs for a while, and has some sense of loyalty. If you aren't picky about who you work for, then you can get into a situation where you look like a 'job-hopper' on your CV. Personally, I would be really happy to hear an interviewee ask that question, because to me it implies not only that they are aware of the community as a resource, but also that they are serious about self-improvement. I hate to say it, but it does actually reduce training costs too. So there's a tangible financial benefit to being involved in the community for the employer.
I'd certainly ask the question and would be pleased if an interviewee asked it of me. However, if the question was asked of any of my colleagues then they would have a very different answer from me. I would make sure to ask it in a way that doesnt offer any sort of judgement on the answerer if the answer is No or None. The job may be in a good place to work but others are simply 9-5 type people. At the end of the day its an individual's choice to do any extra over and above what they are contracted for, it wont stop you being in the community and you may well be able to help them join in.