Even if the team is relatively new, ask the manager to put you in touch with some of the team’s engineers.
You should challenge the manager by asking challenging questions such as, “How have you managed problems in the past?” and “What is the worst case scenario for the team?” Check to see if there is a strong possibility that the company could disband the team. If that is a possibility, ask about what would happen to the team.
Get to know the manager’s leadership style. What are his expectations as a manager? How does he like to manage people? Does he come across as empathetic and kind? Has he clearly articulated his goals for the project?
In addition, you should ask the manager about his outlook for the team. Where does he see the team going? What metrics is he optimizing for and do those metrics align with your goals? What is he thinking about in terms of growth? Is he hoping to add new members to the team? If the team stays the same, there probably will not be much room for you to mentor or grow. If they are hiring, ask, “How many people are you in the process of hiring and for what positions? What will onboarding look like?”
Keep in mind that large companies offer some mobility, so if the position is not the right fit, you might be able to switch to another team. Still, there are many advantages to joining a new team. On more stable teams, you might take a year or more to learn the ropes. Like a smaller startup, new teams have the opportunity to set their own goals. New teams must be prepared to hit the ground running and learn as much as possible, as soon as possible.