A former employee recently asked, “What are questions you ask software engineering management candidates?”
Lead Off Questions:
These are vanilla, boring questions which I use to begin to assess a candidate. I usually base follow-up questions on the answers to these questions. One word or short answers to any of these questions, in my opinion, are significant red flags.
- How do you lead?
- How do you communicate information to your team?
- How many people have you Hired/Fire/Laid Off/Promoted? How do you go about it?
- Have you had a position with budgeting responsibilities? What was the size of your operating budget?
Here we start to get into some meat. We’re looking for meaty answers here:
- Compare your role (as an engineering manager) to that of the individual contributor.
- Compare your role (as an engineering manager) to that of your manager (Sr. Manager, Director, VP of Engineering)
- Other than your direct reports, who in your organization do you depend upon most to get your job done?
- Describe your best hire. Why were they your best hire?
- Describe your worst hire. How did you manage him/her?
- How do you prepare for your staff meeting?
- Do you have a to do list? How do you manage it?
Follow-up Even More Advanced:
The serious meat. Tough questions which reveal much about the management style of individuals:
- Have you developed a product without a marketing requirements document? If so, how?
- Have you developed a consumer product without a user interface specification? If so, how?
- How have you improved as a manger over the years?
- Describe a situation where you had to deliver really bad news to a team/person. How do you approach the team/people?
- Describe a situation where you were suggesting a course of action which you did not necessarily support.
- What event made you least proud to be a leader?
- Describe a situation where you were given conflicting priorities. How did you resolve that situation?
- What was your most recent big mistake? Why did it occur and how do you repair the situation?