10 questions to ask a software development manager before you hire them

Published on : 21st April 2022

10 questions to ask a software development manager before you hire them

Finding the right software development manager for your company can be a challenge. The role is fast-moving, needs the management of many moving parts and is absolutely critical for business success.

The secret to hiring the right software development manager is asking clever interview questions and preparation is paramount.

We hope the following questions will help you find that ideal hire!

1/ What makes you unique to other candidates?

This is a great question to help you dig a little deeper and find out more about a candidate. It’s a classic interview question designed to make the candidate assess their abilities. You’re looking for someone that relates to not only technical and team management skills but also how it brings value. What you don’t want is someone to list off their personal achievements, which you can read from their resume.

2/ Tell me about yourself

If you’re looking for a good starter question, then this is your best bet. It’s a simple question that gets the ball rolling. Ideally, you don’t want someone to give a long answer and waffle on about their life story. You want someone that is straight to the point and tells you relevant information that focuses on the job.

3/ What is best practice software development?

Of course, you need to include some technical questions here. You want them to give a detailed description of some deep technical knowledge associated with the role, for example, agile vs waterfall development. And, they should provide examples and some specific scenarios where they've come across the subject in question.

4/ What is the typical role of a software development manager?

This question is great because it helps you see if the candidate understands their role. If they can tell you what a software development manager should do, then that’s a good sign. Plus, you must remember that roles differ depending on the organization. So, ensure they give an answer that fits your company, rather than a generic one. See if they can 'helicopter up' to give a wider view of how the role fits into the business.

5/ How did you become a software development manager?

This will give you the chance to see how passionate they are about their job. You will be able to see from their early technical bias to a transition into people management - why and how this happened. A good candidate may talk about how they have always loved analytical problem solving, but also managing and working in teams became more of a draw for them.

6/ What are the key strengths of any software development manager?

Ideally, the candidate should tell you about strengths, and then give examples of how and why it’s important. For example, it’s not enough for someone to tell you that good technical and people skills are key strengths. What is critical in this role for success? This will give them the chance to explain why and if someone provides personal examples, then it puts them ahead of the rest.

7/ What are your key tips for successfully managing remote teams?

Software development has long been a function that has occurred across teams who are based in different locations. It will be really useful to see the techniques used, the tools used to develop and deploy software, and the soft skills to keep a team in harmony, motivated and productive. Some areas to cover might be - how do you keep remote teams engaged and motivated? Ask for real-life examples of how the techniques have been applied - and the results. A major part of the role is managing teams - to get the best out of them and this will provide good telltale signs of the ability of the candidate in this area.

8/ With the world constantly changing, how will you remain competitive with other software development managers?

This is a challenging question that gets people thinking on the spot. The world of software development is constantly evolving, you need to see how they are keeping up. The candidate must show you that they have the ability to change and a hunger to learn new techniques and skills. Again, they must provide you with examples to back this up. If they can tell you stories from previous jobs, then you should consider them highly.

9/ What is the single biggest contribution to a company made by a software team?

A question like this will show you how capable people are of thinking at a business level. If they simply answer the team needs to deliver 'great code', 'on time', it might be time to think again! Modern software developers and managers are no longer just 'down in the engine room', but need to deliver a product that contributes to real business value. The manager should consider themselves as part of the leadership team (whether they actually are or not!) and should always challenge the brief given by the product, transformation or business team. They need to fully understand the business value the project will make and keep monitoring the performance post-delivery. This is a good question to ask towards the end of an interview. It shows the candidates take ownership and helps separate the best from the rest.

10/ Do you have any questions for me?

The best way to conclude an interview is to ask the candidate if they have any questions. If they say no, then it’s a bad sign. You want them to quiz you about the job and ask some intelligent questions. The best candidates will take this as an opportunity to flip things around on the interviewer. They’ll make you feel like the interviewee as they ask important questions about the role and your company. Obviously, they can’t ask you totally irrelevant questions. Some candidates will ask random questions because they know it’s bad not to ask any! If you’re interviewing a software development manager, then these ten questions will make your job much easier. They’ll help you narrow down the candidates, and ensure you hire the right person for the job.

We hope these questions will help you find the ideal hire