The engineering manager position is an integral part of any tech company, as it requires knowledge and expertise in engineering and software development. An engineering manager leads engineering teams and ensures they complete projects on time and within budget. Therefore, hiring the right engineering manager is critical for success. For a successful engineering manager hire, tech companies need to ask the right engineering manager interview questions.
This article will cover software engineering manager interview questions and answers that are essential for an effective engineering manager hire. With these interview questions for managers, tech companies can assess a candidate's software engineering knowledge, technical experience, and leadership skills.
Responsibilities of an Engineering Manager
Before you hire an engineering manager, you should have a clear understanding of the role and responsibilities. This will help you identify the most suitable engineering manager interview questions and answers.
According to Rice University, engineering managers are generally responsible for the following:
- Developing engineering team goals and objectives
- Managing engineering team members and delegating tasks
- Supervising engineering processes to make sure teams complete projects on time and within budget
- Creating team performance metrics and evaluating team performance
- Troubleshooting engineering problems to identify solutions
- Collaborating with other departments to ensure projects are successful
Software Engineering Manager Interview Questions
When you interview engineering managers, there are a few key areas to focus on. Engineering manager interview questions should be directly related to software engineering knowledge, technical experience, and leadership skills.
Here is a list of interview questions for engineering manager candidates. We will look at the questions and answers in three sets: general software engineering knowledge questions, technical experience questions, and leadership skills questions.
Common Software Engineering Interview Questions
These questions will help assess the candidate’s knowledge of engineering and software engineering principles.
What software engineering experience do you have?
The candidate should discuss any software engineering experience they have. They should be able to describe the projects they have worked on, their engineering skills, and the engineering tools and technologies they are familiar with.
Sample answer: “I have over 10 years of software engineering experience. I have designed, developed, and implemented projects for various clients. My skills include C++, Java, HTML, and CSS. I am also familiar with engineering tools such as Git and Jira.”
What are the engineering best practices you follow?
The engineering manager should discuss engineering principles such as scalability, maintainability, and reusability.
Sample answer: “I follow engineering best practices such as scalability, maintainability, and reusability. I also ensure code is clean, organized, and readable. Additionally, I practice engineering automation to reduce engineering costs and time.”
How do you stay up to date with software engineering trends?
The candidate should discuss the ways they stay informed, how they stay connected with engineering professionals, and the resources they use.
Sample answer: “I stay up to date on software engineering trends by following engineering blogs, attending conferences, subscribing to engineering magazines, and listening to engineering podcasts. I also connect with engineering professionals through LinkedIn and engineering-specific meetups.”
Describe an engineering project you’ve worked on.
The engineering manager should discuss a project they have worked on in detail. They should discuss the project’s purpose, their role in the engineering project, and any challenges they faced.
Sample answer: “I recently worked on an engineering project that aimed to develop a new software system for a client. My role was to lead the engineering team, create project plans, and manage resources. We faced various challenges such as a tight timeline and budget constraints. However, I was able to successfully manage the project and meet our goals.”
Engineering Manager Technical Interview Questions
These questions assess the candidate’s technical experience and engineering expertise:
How would you build a system such as a search engine?
The candidate should describe how they would design, develop, and implement the system.
How would you design an app's end-to-end user experience?
The engineering manager should describe the engineering process they would use in developing an app and discuss any relevant engineering principles.
Sample answer: “I would start by creating a user persona and understanding their needs. I would then create diagrams such as wireframes to design the app interface. After designing the engineering architecture, I would develop the components and integrate them. Finally, I would test the system to ensure it meets user requirements. Throughout this engineering process, I would keep engineering principles such as usability and scalability in mind.”
Take me through the process of developing a relational schema for a calendar app.
The candidate should discuss engineering concepts such as database normalization and tools such as SQL.
Sample answer: “I would begin by analyzing the engineering requirements for the calendar app. I would then create diagrams such as entity-relationship models to identify the data entities and the relationships between them. After designing the database design, I would use tools such as SQL to create tables and queries. Finally, I would normalize the database to ensure integrity and performance.”
How would you design a multi-tiered application?
The engineering manager should discuss engineering concepts such as layers and engineering architectures.
Sample answer: “I would start by designing layers such as the presentation layer, business logic layer, and data access layer. I would then create diagrams such as class diagrams to design components. After designing the architecture, I would develop the components and integrate them. Finally, I would test the system to ensure it meets engineering requirements.”
What are your strategies?
The candidate should discuss engineering tools and techniques they use for debugging software.
Sample answer: “I use engineering tools such as debuggers, logs, and profilers to identify bugs. I also use techniques such as unit testing and integration testing to identify bugs. Additionally, I use debugging strategies such as divide and conquer to troubleshoot software.”
Describe a project you completed using engineering automation.
The engineering manager should discuss engineering concepts such as engineering automation and tools such as Jenkins.
Sample answer: “I completed a project using Jenkins. I set up pipelines to automate tasks such as builds and deployments. This engineering automation helped reduce time and costs.”
How have you used engineering tools such as Git and Jira in the past?
The candidate should describe how they have used these tools in projects to manage resources, optimize engineering processes, and ensure project success.
Sample answer: “I have used engineering tools such as Git and Jira extensively in engineering projects. For instance, I use Git to manage resources and track project progress. I also use Jira to create project plans, optimize engineering processes, and monitor project progress.”
Technical Leadership Interview Questions
These questions assess the candidate’s engineering leadership skills and engineering team management experience:
How do you motivate team members?
The engineering manager should discuss the methods they use, any challenges they have faced, and their strategies for overcoming challenges.
Sample answer: “I motivate engineering team members by providing clear guidance, setting achievable goals, and recognizing accomplishments. I also make sure team members have the resources they need to complete engineering projects. If there are challenges, I work with team members to identify solutions.”
What factors do you think are important to consider when delegating technical tasks?
The candidate should discuss engineering processes such as task prioritization, team communication, and resource management.
Sample answer: “When delegating engineering tasks, it is important to consider the team skills and resources. I prioritize tasks based on the project deadlines. I also ensure team members have the resources they need to complete the tasks. Additionally, I make sure the team members are aware of project progress and team goals.”
You are in charge of a team of three developers. You have tasks including design, development, and testing to complete. How would you divide these tasks among engineering team members?
The engineering manager should discuss principles such as task delegation and team collaboration.
Sample answer: “I would start by analyzing project requirements and tasks. I would then assign tasks to the team members based on their skills and experience. Additionally, I would ensure that I distribute the tasks evenly and team members understand the objectives. I would also facilitate collaboration among team members to ensure that they complete tasks on time and within the budget.”
How would you handle team conflict?
The engineering manager should be able to explain their approach to resolving team conflicts. They should discuss their communication and problem-solving strategies, as well as any previous conflict-resolution experience they have.
Sample answer: “I handle team conflicts by using active listening, understanding the team members’ perspectives, and focusing on solutions. I have experience resolving conflicts in a professional and timely manner. I strive to ensure team members feel heard and that we reach a solution."
How do you deal with underperformers on your team?
A competent engineering manager should have the ability to identify team members who are underperforming and address performance issues. They should be able to discuss their strategies for identifying performance issues and any team performance management experience they have.
Sample answer: “I identify team underperformance by monitoring project progress, team collaboration, and team performance metrics. If team members are underperforming, I work with them to understand performance issues. I also provide team members with resources and support to help them improve performance.”
How do you ensure your team completes projects on time and within budget?
The candidate should discuss engineering processes such as project planning, team management, and performance metrics.
Sample answer: “I ensure my team completes projects on time and within budget by creating project plans, delegating tasks, and setting performance metrics. I also ensure team members have the resources they need and the knowledge required to complete projects. Additionally, I monitor project progress regularly to identify any issues and project success.”
Facebook and Microsoft Engineering Manager Interview Questions
Facebook and Microsoft are two of the world's leading software engineering companies. They have different sets of questions for software engineering managers, so if you are a hiring manager, you can borrow some of their software engineering manager interview questions to evaluate your candidates.
Microsoft Engineering Manager Interview Questions
- How would you create an IDE similar to Visual Studio?
- How would you design a system for a cloud-based application such as Dropbox or iCloud?
- How does ALB (Application Load Balancing) work, and how would you use it?
- How would you design a distributed system for monitoring different types of data?
- What is your experience with DevOps and microservices architecture?
- How do you handle data corruption while streaming data from databases to cloud storage systems?
Facebook Data Engineering Manager Interview Questions
- Given an array num of n integers, how do you find all unique triplets in the array which gives the sum of zero?
- Suppose you have a dataset with several columns and are asked to find the correlation between two variables. What methods or algorithms would you use?
- What is the best way to use a load balancer for Memcached servers?
- How would you design a data structure to store millions of records?
- How would you design a comment system that stores and displays comments in real time?
- How do you maintain data integrity when dealing with large data sets?
- How would you design an efficient logic for a machine learning model?
Hire Engineering Managers With Revelo
Hiring an engineering manager requires that you find a candidate who has not only the technical experience and skills required for the job, but also leadership skills. While these questions are just a starting point for your engineering manager interview, they should give you an idea of the types of questions to ask and the skills to look for in a potential candidate. That said, you should tailor your engineering manager interview questions to fit the software engineering needs of the tech company.
Revelo can help you find the best engineering managers for your needs. With our advanced technology, we can match you with top engineering manager candidates who have the qualifications and experience. We’ll also help you find candidates who align with your company culture and values.
Contact us to hire the best engineering managers.