Career management

Hiring Manager Interview Questions

Danbo vs Daruma
Credit: Flickr / Takashi Hososhima

Generally, I’ve really focused on doing technical interviews, but towards the end of last year and start of this I did a bunch of hiring manager interviews. This was a new and scary thing for me – whilst some things (like seeming warm) remained the same, the things I was evaluating were different. It was a much fuzzier process, mainly around whether the person I was speaking to was a potential match for what we were looking for, and whether we were likely to be the kind of environment they were looking for.

I ended up coming up with the following list of questions, and I’ll talk a bit about each and why it was useful.

Tell me about your background?

Nice soft question to warm people up, but also an opportunity to get a sense of if they have the kind of experience we were looking for. E.g. we’re looking for an experienced Android developer, and they just got started with Android three months ago, it’s probably not a good fit. More subtly, a sense of whether they have worked on apps at some level of complexity. Did they work on a team, or solo?

What do you want from your next job?

I think people make better decisions if they are going towards something, so the main thing I’m interested in here is some kind of intentional thought into what would be a good next move. Based on what makes them happy, or where they want to go next in their career.

Sometimes people will list all the things they don’t want, which I don’t think is a good sign.

What is your favourite thing you’ve worked on?

I think passion is bullshit, but I like to ask this question as a gauge of interest and engagement. Why $thing was their favourite is enlightening as to what motivates them – was it because they got to experience a whole project end to end? Was it because it was a product they liked and used themselves? Was it going deep on a specific technical problem?

What do you like about Android / iOS?

Very standard question for mobile developers. I find it interesting as to why people are drawn to that platform.

Do you have any feelings on Android vs iOS?

If someone develops for both, this question can lead to an interesting discussion of what is easier / possible on each platform. But mainly I like to see developers on one platform having some awareness of the other one, even if they don’t work with it day-to-day.

Do you have experience with, or feelings about remote work?

I totally get why remote work appeals, but to some people it appeals in theory more than in practise. Some people are anxious about it and it’s a good opportunity to gauge what kind of support they would need.

Can you talk a bit about an interesting performance problem you solved?

This is my favourite question! My theory of mobile development is that in any interesting app, there is at least one place where something is not standard, and not straightforward. This is where people have to go deepest into understanding the platform, and figuring out how to make it work. Good answers to this question are fascinating, and invariably teach me something.