Want to get hired as a software development manager but don’t know how to get started? We’re here to help you out! If you’ve already bagged an interview with a software firm and wish to know more about it, or if you’re just curious about the whole process, then this article is for you. Here we take a look at some of the broad possible questions that can be asked during an interview for the role of a software development manager and the proper ways to answer them. We understand that it’s okay to be nervous about an interview if you don’t know what to expect, and we hope that this article will go a long way to quell that nervousness and give you a clear idea of what you might be dealing with here.
A software development manager or a software engineer manager is a tech professional who has worked extensively as a software engineer/developer and has subsequently advanced to a management position. Their job is essentially about managing technical teams that work on software development, and it takes a combination of hard and soft skills to go about it successfully. Naturally, companies will be interviewing to assess whether a candidate possesses the required skills, such as communication and people skills, management capabilities, technical knowledge, experience, etc., so the questions asked will be designed to judge a candidate based on that.
Software Development Manager Interview Questions
Keep in mind, this is primarily a management role, which means that simply being adept at handling the intricacies of software development will not be good enough for any candidate. A company will be interested in knowing if the candidate can also lead a team and ensure the successful completion of the job at hand within stipulated deadlines. With that being said, let’s check out some of the possible interview questions:
- Tell us about yourself.
A very common interview question is usually asked at the beginning to break the ice and see what kind of tone the candidate sets for themselves. A candidate should ideally answer this question by talking about the relevant skills that they possess. While mentioning their technical capabilities in software development is a good thing, the interviewer will be looking for a candidate’s understanding of their soft skills. Talking about their leadership and communication abilities with reference to past work experience is definitely a must. The candidate may briefly mention anything extra such as a small hobby or their family. Still, since this will probably not be relevant to the job, it’s best not to talk too much about it, or the interviewer might think that the candidate cares more about their hobbies than the actual job.
- Why do you want to work for our company?
A candidate would do well to carry out some basic research before coming for an interview to anticipate such a question. The interviewer would like to see if the candidate knows enough about the company to answer this question’s satisfactory objective answer. We recommend going through the company’s website to get a clear picture of its goals and market. Talking to some current employees to get an idea about the work environment and regulations is also good. While answering this question, it is not enough to say that the pay is good or that the work hours are flexible and good benefits. An ideal answer should outline the candidate’s admiration for the company’s goals and the product they supply, even some of their work ethics and their wish to be a part of that process. This will tell the interviewer that the candidate is diligent enough to do a bit of research before coming for the interview and has ideals that match those of the company.
- Tell us something about your weaknesses.
While this is a specific question, its purpose far broader and deeper, the interviewer may also ask about a candidate’s strengths too, and the aim would be the same—to judge the candidate’s self-awareness. A good leader and manager must be well aware of their strengths and weaknesses and work with or around them. Interviewers usually ask about a candidate’s weaknesses because they also want to hear what a candidate is doing to improve their shortcomings. A good answer to this question would first list the things the candidate considers their weaknesses, and then go into what the candidate feels ought to be done about it, r is already doing about it.
- Describe your previous employers and co-workers to us.
A person in a management role must have a positive attitude and work efficiently with a team. A company would not want someone cynical and grumpy to manage their software development division. How a candidate talks about their past employers and colleagues can tell a lot about their kind of person. A candidate who bad-mouths their previous boss or speaks about their former colleagues in a demeaning and unnecessarily negative attitude will probably not bring out the best in their team as a manager. Such a candidate will definitely get a very short interview. While it is not mandatory to say nice things about their previous job and the people associated with it, a candidate would do well to praise the areas which indeed deserve praise and perhaps mention one or two places where work could be done. It is important not to be negative about anything.
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
This is again a common interview question and is asked to assess a candidate’s commitment and dedication to their industry. A company likes to hear that a candidate has plans of working with them for a long time. However, simply stating that the candidate wishes to stay in the company, for now, can backfire as it may give the interviewer the impression that the candidate has no ambition, and therefore no drive. A proper answer to this question would be around somewhere in the middle. It is safe to start by saying that the IT industry evolves too fast to predict what might happen in five years. The candidate wishes to gain valuable experience working with the company and gain additional responsibilities in the future.
- How would you handle conflict in your team?
A primary responsibility of any leader is to deal with any internal conflict in their team. Unnecessary conflict in a team can bring down productivity and ultimately affect the quality of the product, something no company wants to happen. Therefore, a good manager must have an effective strategy to address such issues to ensure that they do not adversely impact the work that is being done. Some measures to tackle the personal conflict between employees are to hear them out individually and suggest compromises. If that fails, invite the involved parties to sit down together and resolve their issues so no one feels disgruntled. A good manager should also detect simmering issues within their team before they grow to a size that becomes unmanageable. Therefore, it is important to maintain good relations with each employee and remain friendly and approachable, regularly checking upon them.
- What changes would you implement in our product?
This is to test how much the candidate already knows about the company product. Some companies require their managers to possess special knowledge about their work. A good candidate would know enough about what the company has to offer and have enough technical knowledge to suggest some changes. While an opinionated candidate would impress the interviewer, it is important to outline that the candidate has the same basic values and goals as the company and views the industry to keep with the company’s vision. A candidate who knows what they want will be a good leader to work with.
- What, in your opinion, makes a good manager?
This may sound like a simple question, but the interviewer wants to find out something more through this. The image of an ideal manager that a candidate has in their mind will be what they shall try to live up to. The interviewer needs to know that understanding whether the candidate shall try to emulate will ultimately benefit the candidate company. A candidate should start with listing all the abilities they think a proper manager should possess and then move on to outline how they are capable in the same manner. Then, the candidate should talk about how a manager who possesses these skills would contribute to the company’s growth. A candidate who has a clear idea of what they should be aspiring to and knows how to get there will be looked upon favorably.
- Briefly tell us about your working style and preferences.
The interviewer needs to understand how the candidate functions to determine whether they will be a good fit for the company. This is an opportunity for the candidate to talk about their work persona and everything about it, from the coding languages they are good at and like working with to how they collaborate with other managers and the UX team and assess risk and benefit before deciding on a project. A candidate should mention anything that they feel would outline them as a developer, such as what projects they would implement in Java, whether they have completed a project in the Selenium framework, and if so, then how, whether they feel that each team member should be individually responsible for the code they write and why, etc. While there is no singular correct answer to this question, we recommend that the candidate ask around to understand the working style and functions the company prefers and then model their answers accordingly by highlighting the aspects they feel would be in line with the company requirements.
- Tell us about an instance when you had to face a difficult situation and how you went about it.
A fundamental part of a management interview is testing for the experience. Good managers are expected to function calmly under pressure. Someone who already has the experience of dealing with challenging situations will know what to do if they face a storm. This includes the ability to anticipate challenges before they occur and modifying strategies to tackle them. Taking difficult decisions is also a part of a manager’s job. The interviewer needs to know that no matter what the candidate does, they will always keep the company’s interest foremost in their mind. Narrating past instances of taking difficult a choice, such as letting a talented employee go because they were not good with working in a team and though they were contributing well to a project, their presence was decreasing overall team productivity, will convince the interviewer that the candidate can be trusted to uphold the company’s goals over everything else.
An interview for the software development manager position will generally focus on the managerial part of the job. A candidate’s technical expertise in the software will be taken for granted, and their CV can speak for their technical achievements anyway. The interviewer will be more interested in knowing what the candidate can bring to the table apart from their degree(s), including important soft skills such as communication, people management, crisis handling, etc. You may even be asked a few technical questions about the job, such as the software tools you like using and their benefits, but we believe you can easily answer them. If you have made it to an interview for a software development manager, you already have the knowledge and experience to tackle anything related to software, and your interviewer knows it. All the best!
Frequently Asked Questions
- Should I mention any experience in team management outside of my previous jobs in software development? Team managing skills are valuable in a job as a software development manager, irrespective of where it’s been done. It’s fine to casually mention any past instance where you have successfully pulled off a position of responsibility as a team leader.
- How should I dress for the interview? Dress professionally. A neat appearance conveys the message that you take the job seriously, something every interviewer wants to see and boost your chances of getting the job.