The Most Effective Interview Questions for an Engineering Manager

For companies with several software engineers, it is advisable to have an Engineer Manager. To find the most suitable candidate for this position, it is crucial to conduct detailed interviews during the hiring process.

While candidates may believe they have the skills required to excel in the position, it is critical that they also have experience in managing teams. We are seeking an individual who is not only proficient in software development but also has a noteworthy track record.

The ideal candidate for this role should have a proven track record of success, both in terms of their management approach and personal characteristics, and should be adept at handling the responsibilities that come with the job.

22 Queries to Pose to a Prospective Engineer Manager

1. Explain your reasons for wanting to work for our company.

Asking the candidate this question can provide useful insight into their level of interest in the position. Additionally, it offers an opportunity to evaluate their opinion on the company’s essential attributes.

Hiring a candidate who shares the same fundamental values as your company is crucial to ensuring a smooth integration into the team.

2. Can you describe how you attained your current position in management and what motivates you to stay in this role?

Instead of asking the generic question “Tell me about yourself,” asking this question can offer valuable insights into the candidate’s career trajectory and primary motivations. Often, it prompts a comprehensive summary of their work experience culminating in their aspiration to become a manager.

3. In a hypothetical situation where you must design a new user interface for a web application, what steps would you take?

At its core, this scenario-based question seeks to uncover a candidate’s approach to prioritization, albeit in an indirect manner.

While the case can be replaced with an alternative scenario, the objective remains to understand how the candidate thinks and works through a problem-solving process.

Engineering managers must possess the ability to efficiently distribute job responsibilities and optimize team time to achieve the desired result in developing a user interface for the web application. Merely assigning tasks without any planning or foresight is unlikely to lead to a successful outcome.

A well-established workflow is essential, and managers should have a clear understanding of every team member’s strengths and shortcomings. Once they have devised a plan to reach their goal, they can begin working towards it.

4. Can you describe your approach to managing a team of ten developers, including monitoring their progress and delegating responsibilities?

A competent engineering manager takes into consideration their team’s strengths and weaknesses. They are aware of each developer’s abilities and limitations and prefer to assign one essential responsibility rather than have them stretch themselves thin. For more insights on effective engineering management, see this article.

This question enables you to assess if candidates follow a particular method when accomplishing their assignments. While many technical managers opt for the Agile framework when collaborating with their teams, some may prefer Kanban or another software development lifecycle.

5. Can you share your perspective on micromanagement?

It is crucial for an engineering manager to avoid micromanaging, as it can result in a lack of trust in employees and a stressful work environment. Micromanagement can inhibit creativity and innovation and increase employee turnover. Therefore, it is necessary to ask candidates if they acknowledge the downsides of micromanagement and their willingness to prevent it. Additionally, probing how they avoid micromanaging may be relevant.

6. Can you describe how your former colleagues would portray you?

This question seeks to obtain the candidate’s evaluation of their former job performance, giving an idea of their self-awareness and assessment of their abilities. Based on their response, additional inquiries may be necessary. Moreover, it is recommended to obtain feedback from a previous colleague or supervisor, be it in the form of a reference or casual conversation, to obtain a more profound understanding of the candidate’s management style.

7. Have you faced challenges communicating with a programmer in the past? If so, what strategies did you employ to resolve them?

The quest for skilled IT professionals can be daunting, with hundreds of interviews resulting in no suitable candidates.

After an exhaustive search, we have finally found a skilled programmer perfect for our project. Nevertheless, we were surprised to learn that they charge significantly less than expected for their Silicon Valley-level expertise. Despite this, we have employed them, but later discovered they may have inadequate interpersonal abilities.

This question attempts to gather information on how a previous engineering manager handled a comparable scenario. It is probable that the manager decided to terminate the developer’s employment and resume the hiring process, rather than allocating resources to enhance the programmer’s communication abilities.

8. In what circumstances and how should a promotion be offered to an engineer?

Engineering managers are accountable for assessing their team members and assigning them to roles that leverage their skills.

This question seeks to determine if the candidate possesses the appropriate qualifications to carry out the job requirements. A seasoned engineering manager evaluates whether an employee has demonstrated the necessary competencies to fulfill the responsibilities of the position before promoting them.

9. What strategies do you utilize to foster development among your colleagues?

As an engineering manager, it is crucial to inspire and lead the team in order to enhance productivity and effectiveness. This question aims to determine whether the candidate has effective tactics to improve the efficiency of their engineers in their daily tasks. It is important to guarantee that the suggested approaches are cohesive with the company’s current operations.

10. Can you provide an instance from your previous work experience where you resolved a problem through precautionary actions?

This evaluation will measure the candidates’ innovativeness and problem-solving talents. A skilled engineering manager anticipates potential challenges and creates plans to address them.

11. What was the most difficult decision you had to make in your previous role?

Requesting the candidate to elaborate on their answer to this question can provide understanding into their analytical skills and decision-making style. Engineering managers must be capable of making challenging choices when there is no apparent answer. Evaluate their ability to correctly define the problem, any limitations, and the factors they examined before coming to a difficult decision. The most suitable candidates will also elaborate on the outcomes of the decision and the valuable lessons learned from the experience.

12. Please don’t hesitate; I am interested in hearing about the most challenging issue you’ve had to resolve in a previous project.

Disputes are a normal occurrence in work environments. In fact, disagreements can be beneficial since they can stimulate discussions and generate new ideas.

By asking this question, it is feasible to understand how an applicant handles conflicts. This includes evaluating whether they can react logically, appreciate constructive debates, or tend to evade them.

The main aim of this inquiry is to understand the candidate’s past involvement in utilizing communication and problem-solving abilities when resolving conflicts.

13. What are your methods for breaking down substantial projects into more manageable sections?

Prior to assigning projects to team members, the Engineering Team Manager needs to be able to divide sizable assignments into more manageable tasks. To examine their aptitude in handling challenging duties, it is preferable to inquire about their project management methodology, such as Agile, Kanban, or Waterfall. It is crucial that they can evaluate projects and their corresponding deliverables, and delegate tasks to team members based on their individual skills while also reducing their workload.

14. What are some examples of software programs used for project management?

Engineering department managers can utilize various project management software such as Asana or Basecamp to ensure their company’s projects remain on track.

Asking a relevant question can help to evaluate a candidate’s familiarity with the mentioned tools. While it would be advantageous for them to have experience with the project management software being used, this is not mandatory. If they do have prior experience with the software mentioned, it is favourable.

15. How should non-performing engineers be addressed?

Organizations may have employees who are underperforming in comparison to the rest of the team. Consequently, it is the manager’s responsibility to create procedures that assist these team members in enhancing their abilities. This question evaluates the extent of the candidate’s ability to guide their team members in enhancing their output, should it fall below the company’s required standards.

16. How do you react when collaborating with teammates who have more advanced skills than you do?

Leading an engineering team can be a challenging proposition, particularly when managing individuals with a higher level of technical proficiency. In the interview process, it is important to evaluate the candidate’s experience of handling similar situations and the methods they applied in managing them. Additionally, the candidate’s charisma and interpersonal skills should be considered, as they can be integral in leading a team with varying expertise.

17. What strategies do you employ for effectively managing remote engineers?

In the event that a company utilizes remote engineers, it is recommended to enquire about the methods the potential manager intends to implement to keep those employees motivated. The answer to this question can be an indicator of whether or not they have the necessary competencies to lead a dispersed team.

18. What strategies do you use to mediate a dispute between two members of your team?

In times of crisis, it is critical for the Engineering Manager to be aware of factors that may lead to friction between team members. It is pertinent to question them whether they are cognizant of the primary factors responsible for team conflict, such as unclear roles and goals or inadequate communication. Additionally, it is essential to guarantee that the candidate understands how to prevent disputes from arising and how to deescalate them if they do occur.

19. What approaches can be used to identify the best technological solution for a specific problem?

The Engineering Manager and their team at your organization must determine the most appropriate technology to use in project management. To determine if the candidate has been in a situation where they had to make a technical decision, this question should be asked.

20. What is your approach to managing multiple urgent tasks?

Do they try to handle multiple tasks simultaneously? Is there a particular method they utilize to prioritize projects?

Engineering teams, especially those with a significant number of team members, frequently need to work on multiple projects simultaneously. Without a project management system and a leader who can oversee all activities, it can be difficult to ensure that all tasks are successfully completed.

Asking a candidate about their approach in effectively prioritizing and managing multiple projects, both by individual task and overarching objective, can yield valuable insights.

21. What is your process for recruiting software engineers?

In essence, the question is asking about the key qualities the candidate looks for in potential employees.

Employers who are hiring usually emphasize a candidate’s capacity to be a good fit in the company’s existing culture just as much as their technical and soft skills. This is fundamental to establishing a work environment where personnel are invested in the organization’s growth and feel motivated to contribute, as well as to developing an awareness of their position in the company.

It is crucial that the newly hired Engineering Manager is in sync with your organization’s values while hiring new personnel, highlighting the significance your organization places on creating a productive culture.

22. In your opinion, what are the most critical skills required for this role?

When evaluating a potential Lead Developer, asking a variety of questions can be beneficial since it can offer insight into the candidate’s analytical skills and job performance. This straightforward approach can help ascertain the individual’s outlook on their duties and responsibilities.

The role demands a diverse set of skills, with a focus on the ones that are highlighted in the candidate’s response. These skills may encompass both soft and hard abilities, or solely the latter. It is crucial to evaluate if the applicants possess the skills that are most relevant to the position.

What is the level of decision-making authority that engineering managers have?

For an Engineering Manager, ensuring that all engineering projects and assignments are accomplished promptly and effectively in accordance with organizational goals is of utmost importance. This necessitates organizing the team’s workload and assigning tasks to engineers under management. Additionally, it is the Engineering Manager’s duty to ensure that the team has access to all necessary resources for performing their duties.

Key Attributes Employers Seek in an Engineering Manager

An Engineering Manager is in charge of organizing and overseeing the tasks completed by a team of Engineers. They keep tabs on the progress of significant initiatives, objectives, and engineering duties while also aiding in developing the most practical plans for resolving any issues that arise.

When interviewing potential engineering managers, these are the main technical skills you should be searching for:

  • Expertise in the code bases of Python and Bash
  • Extensive, practical experience in utilizing cloud services and other offerings from Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, or Amazon Web Services.
  • Demonstrable history of creating, launching, and maintaining cloud-based applications (e.g., EC2 + S3 + DynamoDB)
  • The capability to establish continuous integration and continuous delivery pipelines using tools such as Jenkins, CircleCI, GitHub, and Azure DevOps.
  • Mastery in administrating Linux or Ubuntu/Debian systems.
  • Acquired hands-on experience utilizing one of the primary cloud platform software development kits (SDKs) for robotic process automation.

It is crucial to consider that the optimal set of abilities for an engineering manager may vary based on the position and the particular technologies used by the company.

Discover an Engineering Manager who Achieves Results!

While hiring for the position of Engineering Manager, it is vital to pinpoint a candidate who possesses the necessary technical skillset along with the managerial expertise to effectively perform the role.

After the recruiter has found an appropriate candidate and arranged a virtual interview, it becomes the responsibility of the hiring manager to evaluate whether they are a suitable match for the Engineering Team Manager role.

If the recruitment process feels overwhelming, don’t fret. We’re available to aid you. As remote tech recruiters, we can rapidly discover the perfect engineering manager to join your team at Works. Get in touch with us today, and we’ll scout for the top talent from across the globe on your behalf.

Engineering job seekers are welcomed to connect with us via the Jobs page to explore potential job opportunities.

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