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The "The Manager Interview" Lesson is part of the full, Engineering Management Fundamentals 101 course featured in this preview video. Here's what you'd learn in this lesson:

Jem talks about what to expect in a manager interview and provides examples of questions that may be asked. He covers topics such as leadership philosophy, influencing without authority, delivering results for partners, project prioritization, and creating a positive team environment. The lesson also includes a mock interview with Ryan Burgess, where he answers questions about his leadership style and how he would handle certain scenarios.

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Transcript from the "The Manager Interview" Lesson

[00:00:00]
>> When it comes to the interview. I can't say specifically how it's gonna ask. I can talk at a high level about some of the things we're probably gonna dig into. And there it's very different from a software engineering interview. But the interview itself is gonna be very custom and bespoke to the company or culture, whatever they're looking for.

[00:00:18] Some example questions have on the leadership part, describe your management philosophy. You should have one, even if you're not a manager yet, you should probably have a philosophy on how you wanna lead people. I did, mine is very much the cheerleader, the I wanna advance my team, I wanna grow them.

[00:00:41] That's really important to me. But that's one of my philosophies. Everybody has something a little bit different. What does influencing it without authority mean? Remember we talked earlier about you can't make anybody do anything. So you have to influence them to make the right decisions, but even if you don't have the authority, so that means your partners, your customers, things like that.

[00:01:06] Partnerships, you've gotta work with somebody. How do you make sure they're delivering for you and for your team? What are strategies you deploy there? How do you deliver results for your partners? How do you find out what they need from you? I'll tell you, the quickest way to get fired at a company is to not deliver for your partners and they start saying bad things to your manager.

[00:01:30] This person's not reliable. Their team's not delivering. It happens really quickly. It can happen suddenly. You have to make sure your partners are happy. And to do that, you have to understand what is important to them. On the technical side, when it comes to project prioritization, you're gonna have to do that.

[00:01:45] What's your strategy for figuring that out? Who do you talk to? What's your methodology for understanding what's important right now? And in general, how do you think about prioritization? How do you think about what's important right now, what's important next week, and what's not important? So these are the type of questions that will come up in a management interview that if you hadn't thought of them until now, well, now you have, hopefully.

[00:02:14] There isn't necessarily one right answer. Everybody's gonna have a little bit different, and sometimes they're your philosophy, maybe not the right way for the role, maybe it is. But again, it's important to have thought of these ahead of time and just think internally about yourself. So now let's let's cover something you probably don't see very often, which is, what does it look like to interview for a real life with a real life manager for a role?

[00:02:38] And again, we're gonna be talking to Ryan Burgess, who's done, think hundreds and hundreds of interviews in his life. For interviewing candidates, I think he said over 800 the other day, he's talked to 800 people in his time as a manager. But we're gonna do a manager interview and we're gonna to cover some of the questions you'll probably get and we're gonna learn how he thinks about them.

[00:03:00] Solving these conflicts and answering questions, and get some of his wisdom here. To kick it off, Ryan, in 2016, you hired me to Netflix as a senior software engineer. How are you feeling about that decision right now?
>> Feeling pretty good, Jem. I think I made a good choice.

[00:03:19] You've been a long-tenured employee at Netflix and, definitely have been a high performer as an engineer and now as an engineering manager. So, probably a good choice. I think I did a good job, yeah.
>> Yeah, good job, I agree.
>> Good job.
>> Good job, everybody [LAUGH].

[00:03:37] But true story, Ryan did hire me to Netflix all those years ago and helped inspire me to become a manager. So how the tables have turned now that I'm interviewing you for a role.
>> This will be good, Jem.
>> So question one about your style, Bryan Burgess, describe your leadership philosophy.

[00:03:54]
>> Yeah, it's a tough question. And I know I like that you said prepare for that ahead of time, I think that's good. I think the way I would describe maybe my philosophy on leadership or my approach is probably the best way to describe it is empathetic leadership.

[00:04:10] Which means many things I feel like I've talked about it earlier in some of your questions about being able to lean in on people or read and observe that way but also being flexible i think is another thing. Being able to adapt and to different changes and things or styles of other people and how they work is likely the best way to describe how I lead.

[00:04:35]
>> Empathetic leadership, yeah, and how do you see empathetic leadership playing out with your team and your partners?
>> Yeah, I feel as with both as team and partners a big thing to effectively as a leader or as a partner or just being in a team Is building trust.

[00:04:52] And so I think on a human connected people level, I find I'm able to do that fairly effectively. I can build trust, just foster that collaboration really well and also be willing to make mistakes myself. But also be accepting of other people's mistakes, not get frustrated. And it's a good way for us to learn, and grow as a team or a partnering team.

[00:05:16] So I think that's how it really shows up for my partnerships or with my team.
>> Pretty good, we're gonna move you on to round two congratulations.
>> Thank goodness.
>> It was close, but.
>> Could have done better but yeah, sure.
>> You've got some credit, so I'll let you pass questions here around the team.

[00:05:34] How do you create the best team environment? And what does the best team environment look like?
>> These are both good questions. Definitely building trust, encouraging trust. I'm going back to that one cuz I think if you do not trust your team, they don't trust you, they don't trust each other.

[00:05:54] It's not gonna work, so that's a really important aspect of it being able to communicate with one another share things that aren't going well. So encouraging that vulnerability even in yourself to say hey here's mistakes I've made, or being able to even celebrate mistakes within the team I think is so important.

[00:06:19] Making sure that people don't feel that they're scared to make mistake. Yeah, I don't want people to be scared to make a mistake. Yes, if you're making the same mistake over and over again, that's a different story. But we want to be able to iterate and learn. And so that's something I wanna foster in that culture of a team.

[00:06:36] And yeah, I think that's the best way you can kind of evolve as a team.
>> And what's your ideal team culture? What does that look like?
>> The ideal team culture is gotta throw the word trust in there again. But it's a trusting collaborative team that is effective and works well together as a unit, but is also effective individuals.

[00:07:02] So there's effective individuals who are high performing, but they also work very collaboratively together and with partnering teams.
>> Pretty good answers, better than round one. So we're gonna pass you on to the next round, congratulations.
>> Well done, all right.
>> Let's walk through a scenario here, common scenario, two members of the team disagree about a technology solution.

[00:07:25] The disagreement has gotten so heated that it spilled over the team meetings and people are starting to take sides. Tell me how would you resolve the situation?
>> This has never happened. Never seen two engineers disagree on it.
>> Never.
>> I also like that you called out spilling out over team I think that changes maybe the scenario a bit.

[00:07:47] But yeah, we all have disagreements on technologies or approaches I think in this scenario it sounds like it's maybe gotten a little bit heated It's likely causing a little bit of maybe toxicity or tension within the team. So my first thinking here would be to pull aside the two engineers with a disagreement, maybe help understand where each of them are coming from.

[00:08:13] How how hard of a disagreement is, this is it true conflict or is it maybe one where they're just trying to see it from different sides and maybe can work it out themselves? If they can work it out themselves, what I'm gonna do is probably encourage them to work together to outline their perspectives.

[00:08:32] Probably put it in a form of a memo to then articulate the trade-offs with the two approaches. Maybe even they come to a conclusion, maybe they don't, but then bring that back to the team to have a more healthier debate within the team. So that would be an approach there.

[00:08:50] I mean, if it's a super heated debate between the two of them, it might be me having to mediate between the two of them. And there's just, it really depends on the situation.
>> Yeah, it's complicated, but good answer. Scenario two, you've observed over the past few months that a member of your team has been missing deadlines and the projects they have shipped have a number of issues and bugs.

[00:09:13] What's your approach to this type of situation? So I'm gonna assume that this person, maybe it's not the norm for them. So I'm gonna assume that this is something that has just started happening, it wasn't happening before. I might trying to decide is this a new area for them?

[00:09:33] Maybe they're dealing with some new challenges that in a technical way that I'm aware of that, hey, they are thrown in a bit more on the deep end. So I might have some empathy towards that, but I wanna talk with the person, right? I wanna really understand what's going on.

[00:09:49] So I'm gonna in a one-on-one brings this into their attention, say hey, have observed that you've been missing deadlines. You're having some issues that are showing up in your code or what you're shipping, it's just not the quality that it normally is. Do you feel that? Or I wanna put something back on them to say how do they feel about it?

[00:10:09] Are they recognizing that? Do they feel that? Maybe they weren't aware, but maybe they are aware, and then understand why, I can't answer that for them. Maybe there's some external factors, they have family issues, who knows? There's many factors that could be at play or maybe it's just something that they've never dealt with in their career.

[00:10:33] And so that could change my approach too is if they're needing just some time off, maybe they're burnt out, or maybe they need some extra time to deal with a family situation, that could be it. Maybe they don't know that technical. Or that area of expertise for them, maybe I can pair them up with someone to help them learn that.

[00:10:52] Maybe they just have troubles estimating, that's another thing. So it really depends on the situation, but my approach is really much to try and understand their perspective of it too. And also it's probably setting expectations, we need to address, this can't continue to happen because clearly it's causing problems where we're missing deadlines.

[00:11:11] And I wanna work with them on that as if this is a hard expectation for their job critical thing. They don't make it through this, if they can't do that job, I mean, we might have a different conversation. So I wanna be very clear that this is an expectation and then start to work through that with them.

[00:11:29]
>> I like your approach, be curious, but set expectations. That's really important. So overall I'd say these are good answers, I'm gonna hire you Ryan. I think I'm gonna take a chance on you as an engineering manager.
>> Awesome.
>> Thanks, man.
>> Thanks, Jem.