Interviewing for an Engineering Manager Role? 15 Questions You Should be Prepared to Answer
Congratulations! You’ve got yourself an interview to become an engineering manager. That’s great news. There’s just one problem – interviewing to become an engineering manager is probably going to be quite a bit different from your previous interviews.
Here are 15 common engineering manager interview questions that every candidate should be prepared for. If you familiarize yourself with these and have good answers for each, you’ll be well on your way to nailing the interview.
Basic history questions
These questions are among the most basic, but can still be very hard to answer if you’re not prepared for them. Be sure to know your resume and cover letter inside and out. I find it helps to think of your career as a series of short “stories.”
This is also a golden opportunity to really put your best foot forward and take control of the interview by delving into the things you think are most relevant to the job and where you think you shine the most. If you think of your interview as a movie, this is the trailer meant to get people excited about going to see that movie.
- Tell us about yourself
- What was your role with your previous employer?
- Why did you leave your last role?
- How many direct reports have you managed in the past?
- What’s the largest budget you’ve ever managed?
Questions about the open role
These questions probe to see how interested you are in the role and how hard you worked to learn more about it. It’s also an indirect gauge for how your previous experience has helped you to understand what the role requires. If you’re able to glean interesting insights from the job posting that others can’t, interviewers will notice that.
When I interview someone for a position, I want to know how invested they are in getting the job. I want someone who’s eager. A good way to parse that out is to determine whether they’ve done their homework or not, and it’s these kinds of questions that I use to determine just that.
- What can you tell us about the role you’re applying for?
- What do you anticipate are the most challenging aspects of this role?
- What can you tell us about this company?
- How do you think your skills match our needs?
Behavioral questions are very common for engineering management interviews. These questions demand that you be quick on your feet. Again, it’s important to remember your stories and to be able to draw from them to apply them to the question at hand.
If you know your stories, you likely don’t need to imagine what you would do in a given situation, you can discuss what you really did do and how you might do things differently in the future given what you’ve learned from your experience.
One useful framework that I’ve learned for answering questions like these is called STAR:
When answering behavioral questions, you should try hard to cover what exactly happened (Situation), what you had to do in that situation (Task), what you did as an individual (Action), and how things played out as a result (Result).
By taking this approach, you make it clear to the interviewers exactly what happened and how you personally contributed to resolving an issue.
- Tell us about a time you made a mistake. What happened and what did you learn from it?
- Tell us about a time when you were faced with a conflict.
- Tell us about a time when you were faced with an ethical dilemma.
- Tell us about a time when a project was coming down to the wire – what did you do?
For more, check out Hired’s 30 Behavioral Interview Questions You Should Be Ready to Answer.
When going into an interview, it’s important to bear in mind the things you want to learn from the employer and the things you want them to learn about you.
In the past, I’ve gone as far as bringing lists of things to learn and communicate into an interview and crossing things off as they were discussed. This is important, because at the end you’ll get a critical opportunity to deal with any items you haven’t yet crossed off.
- Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?
- Do you have any questions for us?
If you’re interviewing to become an engineering manager, it’s likely that the questions you face will be different from anything else you’ve experienced before. If you go in to your interview prepared to answer these questions, you’ll be well on your way to taking the next big step in your career.
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