15 Software Engineering Manager Interview Questions (2023)

Dive into our curated list of Software Engineering Manager interview questions complete with expert insights and sample answers. Equip yourself with the knowledge to impress and stand out in your next interview.

Phil from 4 day week
5 min readSep 20, 2023

1. Can you discuss a time when you led a software development project from inception to completion?

This question assesses the candidate’s project leadership capabilities, their ability to plan, manage resources, and deliver within the stipulated timeframe. It’s important to give a detailed overview of the project and highlight your role and contribution.

I led a team to develop an e-commerce site for a retail client. I was involved from the requirements gathering phase, designing the software Architecture, planning the development sprints, managing the team members, and finally, delivering the project. We used Agile methodology and I ensured that we adhered strictly to Scrum practices. The project was successful and was delivered within the projected timeframe and budget.

2. How have you managed underperforming members in your team in the past?

The question is designed to gauge the candidate’s management style, interpersonal skills, and their approach to performance management.

An Engineer on my team was underperforming due to personal issues. I held a private meeting with him, where we discussed the issues affecting his work. We agreed on a flexible work schedule and set realistic performance goals. I also followed up with regular feedback and the engineer was able to get back on track.

3. Can you describe a time when you had to make a tough decision that was not popular among your team?

This question aims to understand the candidate’s decision-making skills, their ability to stand by their decisions, and handle dissent within the team.

I once canceled a feature development that the team was excited about because our budget was cut. I explained the situation to the team, emphasizing the importance of focusing on core features. While the decision was initially met with disappointment, the team understood and we moved forward.

4. How do you approach technical debt in your projects?

The candidate’s response to this question will provide insights into their understanding of technical debt and its management.

Technical debt is inevitable in software development, and its management is crucial. I follow a balanced approach — address critical technical debt immediately while scheduling less critical ones in regular sprints. Regular code reviews and adherence to coding standards also help minimize the accumulation of technical debt.

5. How do you ensure your team remains motivated and productive?

This question is geared towards understanding the candidate’s people management skills and their strategies for team motivation and productivity.

I believe in creating an open and transparent work environment where each team member feels valued. Regular team meetings, celebrating small wins, providing constructive feedback, and opportunities for continuous learning and growth are some strategies I employ to keep my team motivated and productive.

6. Can you explain your approach to software testing and quality assurance?

This question assesses the candidate’s grasp of software testing techniques and their approach to ensuring software quality.

My approach to software testing involves both manual and automated testing strategies. Automated unit tests, integration tests, and code reviews are part of the development process. I also advocate for manual exploratory testing to uncover potential issues. Continuous integration and delivery practices are also crucial in maintaining software quality.

7. How do you manage conflicts within your team?

The candidate’s response to this question will give an insight into their conflict resolution skills and their ability to maintain harmony within the team.

When conflicts arise, I encourage open communication. I listen to all parties involved, facilitate a discussion to understand different perspectives, and work towards a fair resolution that respects everyone’s views.

8. Can you discuss a time when you had to handle a significant project setback?

This question is designed to gauge the candidate’s problem-solving skills and their ability to deal with challenges and setbacks.

During a project, we discovered a significant flaw in our architecture that required a major overhaul. Despite the setback, I reorganized the team, reassigned tasks, and adjusted the project timeline. We managed to correct the flaw and deliver the project with minimal delay.

9. How do you handle feature requests that fall outside the original project scope?

The candidate’s approach to this question will reveal their skills in managing project scope and dealing with feature creep.

When faced with feature requests that fall outside the original project scope, I evaluate the impact on the project timeline and resources. If the feature adds significant value, I discuss with stakeholders about adjusting the project scope, timeline, and budget. If not, I suggest deferring it to a later phase.

10. How do you ensure effective communication within your team?

This question helps understand the candidate’s communication skills and their strategies for ensuring effective team communication.

I encourage open and frequent communication within the team. Regular team meetings, one-on-one catch-ups, and the use of collaboration tools help maintain clear communication channels. I also promote a culture of transparency and inclusiveness, where everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas and concerns.

11. How do you keep up with the latest trends and advancements in Software Engineering?

The answer to this question will reveal the candidate’s commitment to continuous learning and staying updated in the field.

I subscribe to various tech newsletters, attend industry conferences, webinars, and follow thought leaders on social platforms. I also encourage my team to regularly share and discuss new technologies or practices they come across.

12. Can you describe how you manage and prioritize workloads for your team?

This question is designed to assess the candidate’s skills in workload management and prioritization.

I use Agile methodologies to manage and prioritize workloads. This includes regular planning meetings, maintaining a product backlog, and breaking down tasks into manageable sprints. I also consider the team’s capacity, project deadlines, and business priorities when determining workloads.

13. How do you handle project risks and uncertainties?

The candidate’s response to this question will provide insight into their risk management strategies and their ability to deal with uncertainties in projects.

I always begin with thorough risk identification and analysis. Once identified, I develop mitigation strategies for each risk, which could include contingency planning, risk avoidance, or acceptance depending on its severity and likelihood.

14. How do you deal with a team member who is resistant to change?

This question is geared towards understanding the candidate’s change management skills and their strategies for dealing with resistance to change.

I believe in providing clear communication about the change, its benefits and how it impacts the team. For a team member resistant to change, I engage in a one-on-one conversation, understand their concerns, and provide support to help them adapt to the change.

15. Can you discuss your strategy for the professional development of your team members?

The candidate’s answer to this question will reveal their commitment towards the professional growth of their team members.

I take a keen interest in the professional development of my team members. I encourage continuous learning through training programs, workshops, and online courses. Regular one-on-one meetings are held to understand their career goals and provide guidance. I also promote job rotation and cross-functional projects to broaden their skill sets.

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