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Interviewing Your Future Boss?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the putting-forth-pointed-queries dept.

Businesses 447

crimethinker asks: "I am an embedded systems engineer for a small division of a large company. Up to now, we have managed to get by with little more than a 'team lead' position, but as our division grows, they are looking to hire a full-on engineering manager. I was one of the candidates, with my current boss's favorable recommendation, but I withdrew my resume when they told me the job was all paper and schedules; I'd never touch code or hardware again. Now the VP has a 'short list' of candidates, and has invited me to be one of the interviewers. Yes, you read that correctly: I will be interviewing the person who will become my boss. So, I put the question to you, Slashdot: what questions should I ask my prospective boss?"

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I want my future boss to be... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9473077)

Is it any wonder people think Linux [] users are a bunch of flaming homosexuals [] when its fronted by obviously gay losers [] like these?! BSD [] has a mascot [] who leaves us in no doubt that this is the OS for real men! If Linux had more hot chicks [] and gorgeous babes [] then maybe it would be able to compete with BSD [] ! Hell this girl [] should be a model!

Linux [] is a joke as long as it continues to lack sexy girls like her [] ! I mean just look at this girl [] ! Doesn't she [] excite you? I know this little hottie [] puts me in need of a cold shower! This guy looks like he is about to cream his pants standing next to such a fox [] . As you can see, no man can resist this sexy [] little minx [] . Don't you wish the guy in this [] pic was you? Are you telling me you wouldn't like to get your hands on this ass [] ?! Wouldn't this [] just make your Christmas?! Yes doctor, this uber babe [] definitely gets my pulse racing! Oh how I envy the lucky girl in this [] shot! Linux [] has nothing that can possibly compete. Come on, you must admit she [] is better than an overweight penguin [] or a gay looking goat [] ! Wouldn't this [] be more liklely to influence your choice of OS?

With sexy chicks [] like the lovely Ceren [] you could have people queuing up to buy open source products. Could you really refuse to buy a copy of BSD [] if she [] told you to? Personally I know I would give my right arm to get this close [] to such a divine beauty [] !

Don't be a fag [] ! Join the campaign [] for more cute [] open source babes [] today!

$Id: ceren.html,v 7.0 2004/01/01 11:32:04 ceren_rocks Exp $

first question (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9473080)

Are you a master of the first post? If not, why not?

Well (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9473082)

If I hired you, would you agree not to fire me?

vacation...? (3, Funny)

paz5 (542669) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473086)

Can I have next week off?

"What is your opinion on.. (5, Funny)

Various Assortments (781521) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473087)


My question (5, Funny)

teamhasnoi (554944) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473088)

"Will you give me hell about reading Slashdot all day?"

Re:My question (3, Insightful)

Paster Of Muppets (787158) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473141)

Then how would you rate them if they replied "WTF is Slashdot?"

Re:My question (5, Funny)

It'sYerMam (762418) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473193)


1: Hell no. I'll point you specifically to the pro-Linux bits
2: Only if I catch you.
3: Yes
4: WTF Is Slashdot?

1: Super geek. "Hired" pile
2: Benevolent dictator. "Possible" pile.
3: Idiot. "No way" pile
4: "Feed to goatse"

Re:My question (1)

thenerd (3254) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473202)

+5 Insightful :0

Hawaiian Shirt Friday? (4, Insightful)

X-rated Ouroboros (526150) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473090)

I'd ask him what sort of ideas he'd have to improving employee morale/productivity. If all he can come up with is "Casual Friday" or other similarly benighted schemes, give 'im the boot.

Re:Hawaiian Shirt Friday? (5, Insightful)

Flamingcheeze (737589) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473260)

Ask him this question: What is a supervisor's duty to his subordinates?

His answer will reveal much about his leadership ability.

Boss' Daughter (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9473091)

"Is your daughter hot and available?"

Ask more about Life, less about Tech. (5, Insightful)

frostman (302143) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473092)

You should ask your prospective boss about things that will affect your happiness with their "boss-ing."

Since you were a candidate yourself and withdrew, you have probably already figured out that your new boss is unlikely to be your equal in engineering.

But that's not her job anyway.

You should ask things about leadership philosophy, their personal goals in management, their ideas about telecommuting,
about how they balance their work and "real" lives.

Remember that if you are a good engineer, your boss works for you as much as the other way around (unless your boss is the Big Boss of course).

Try to figure out how much you would enjoy having this person around, and how helpful they are likely to be in clearing the way
for you to do your best work.

Use no buzzwords.

Thats my style, and it's worked well so far. I've interviewed about half my bosses and haven't had a bad one in 8 years.

Re:Ask more about Life, less about Tech. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9473127)

not her job anyway

Right, like a woman is ever going to be the boss in a embedded systems team. Dream on, but it's not going to happen how ever much you might want to sleep your way to the top... or even just sleep with someone.

Re:Ask more about Life, less about Tech. (5, Informative)

cduffy (652) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473187)

Right, like a woman is ever going to be the boss in a embedded systems team.

Huh? The best manager I've ever had was Sandy Hoag, when she was the VP of Engineering back at MontaVista (MontaVista being, as you may recall, an embedded software company).

Consequently, I can say with certainty that the chauvinistic horseshit in your post is empirically wrong.

Re:Ask more about Life, less about Tech. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9473249)

was she pretty? ;)

Re:Ask more about Life, less about Tech. (2, Insightful)

ThisIsFred (705426) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473278)

Right, like a woman is ever going to be the boss in a embedded systems team.


I've had four female bosses in various jobs, two of which were in technical fields. Although I recognize that my empirical evidence isn't going to be the universal norm, I found that women are better to work under for these reasons: They're more apt to be direct when they have a gripe, instead of "backstabbing" or manipulating the system to make you look bad. They're more organized. Most importantly, they don't promote incompetents based on feelings of fraternity.

Let me explain that last point in more detail. Career women don't seem to form work relationships like men. They appear to be more objective about their workers' performance than do men. Whereas a male boss would keep around a gang of idiots just because they talk sports / play golf / go to the bar together after work. Don't get me wrong, it's great to be one of the Fraternal Brothers, but I don't talk sports / play golf / go to bars after work.

Re:Ask more about Life, less about Tech. (3, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473159)

The key thing that a boss over engineers needs to do is clear the administrative hassles that a project may run into before the workers on project actually hits it. For example, if things are going over budget, they should detect that and get a correction in place before it actually causes any stopages in work.

Good question... (2, Insightful)

Paster Of Muppets (787158) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473097)

What are my career prospects under you?

Re:Good question... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9473116)

What are my career prospects under you?

Or, if it's a she, and she's really hot, "What are my prospects to get under you?"

It's a joke, people!

Re:Good question... Seriously. (4, Insightful)

frostman (302143) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473196)

That might strike some people as ironic or too bold, but it's actually an excellent question.

Remember, the Prospective Boss is in the management business and not in the geek business.

The person seeking advice here seems to have already decided against a career in the management business.

It is in the manager's interest for that tech person to go as far as possible - as long as it's not into management over his/her head.

I once had a boss who would waffle endlessly on that subject because she really needed me working for her. The best she could honestly offer was "if I climb high enough you can come with me."

Then I got another boss who realized that my success would reflect well on him, and he was extremely supportive. I eventually moved on, and he moved up, and indeed my success did reflect well on him, just as his did on me.

A good Prospective Boss will have a thorough and thoughful answer ready for the question you propose.

Important Question (5, Funny)

MrNonchalant (767683) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473098)

How much of a pay raise would you give me latet for a favorable reccomendation now?

Ask him about his life outside work (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9473099)

Seriously, see what he/she likes to do outside of work. You don't want someone who is a total workaholic who will expect you to put in 80+ hrs/wk if that's not your bag.

Hmmmm (5, Funny)

Deanasc (201050) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473102)

Let's say, hypothetically, that I came in still drunk from last night and told you what I really thought about those ugly kids in that picture frame on your desk and then puked behind the ficas tree in the lobby... How would you handle a situatioin like that?

The correct answer here is to give me a raise.

Don't ask job related stuff (4, Interesting)

Reivec (607341) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473106)

Ask about the shows he/she likes, what he/she reads, what they like to do. Try to find the person you get along the best with. If you 2 are friends it feels less akward to have a boss which you hired because you will have mutual respect for one another. Also, friends don't fire friends ;). If they are uptight and have no social skills I would stear clear.

Re:Don't ask job related stuff (4, Insightful)

The FooMiester (466716) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473211)

I'll get modded troll/flamebait for this, but it needs to be said.

That's right, don't ask anything job related because the most effective boss will be your buddy, and not really need to know anything about the job at hand. Who cares if he doesn't know a widget from a thingamajob, if he's your buddy, all will be fine. As long as nobody's feelings are hurt, it doesn't matter if the whole company goes down the crapper.

Re:Don't ask job related stuff (1)

Reivec (607341) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473280)

Oh yes, and you should also ask if they replied to your question on slashdot, and if so see what they put. You don't want a boss that thinks your slacking off when you stop to read slashdot do you? Even if you are :)

Suggestion (1)

WwWonka (545303) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473107)

Slashdot: what questions should I ask my prospective boss?

"Do you have any issues with sleeping your way to the middle?"

I would... (4, Insightful)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473110)

I would start looking for a new job. You can only move up or out they say.

Also there is probably going to be some resentment when the boss realizes that you were the first choice (if they do not already).

Re:I would... (3, Insightful)

ejaw5 (570071) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473204)

What resentment? The guy would rather work with code and hardware and let someone else deal with the paper shuffling. The incoming boss probably wouldn't like the 'engineering' work enough to do it 8hrs/day, although he/she should know at least a bit of what's going on.

Re:I would... (5, Interesting)

frostman (302143) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473226)

There are other ways to move up.

If you don't want to be in management it doesn't mean your career is a dead end.

If it's strictly about money then in most organizations you won't make more than your manager even if you deserve it - but then, if you're in it for the money you should probably start your own company. A consulting company, for example.

But it's probably not strictly about money for this person, or he would've taken the management position. Lots of tech workers are much happier doing tech work than doing bureaucracy, and find greater rewards in challenging projects and creative freedom than in a slightly larger paycheck.

As for the resentment, it's possible, but hopefully the manager they hire will not be one who is insecure about their choice of career path, or about someone else deciding against it.

Re:I would... (1)

LA_Samurai (730890) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473261)

I was the boss my "ex-underling" interviewed and hired. As you can see, he's long gone. I didn't have to fire him; he went on his own. It was pretty awkward having him around and I'm sure it was uncomfortable for him as well. It got much better with a new tech who replaced him. Anyway, if I were you, I'd start looking for another position somewhere else. Just my two cents...

Ask this guy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9473112)

if he has a favorable view of internet porn. If he does, then you won't have to worry about covering up your screen when he comes by!

Do you allow... (5, Funny)

Exsam (768226) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473113)

Pantless mondays?

how much will you... (1)

sovtekmidget (718312) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473114)

- be "involved" (meddle in my projects)?
- contribute to the team (if at all)
- give me raises?
- let me sleep and/or play videgames on company time?

Re:how much will you... (1)

ArbitraryConstant (763964) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473241)

Hm... There might be something to be said for talking to former employees.

In my experience, employees usually know exactly what they think of their boss and have pretty specific thoughts even if they'll never see the light of day.

I really like my boss. I don't go around saying it because of the obvious conclusions everyone would jump to, but I'd certainly tell someone about it if they asked.

How about these (1)

s7726 (742427) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473115)

"How much homework will there be?" "When's recess?" Male candidate: "Is your wife hot?" Female candidate: "Are you hot?"

raise? (0, Redundant)

potpie (706881) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473117)

Would you be planning to give me a raise? ::wink:: ::wink::

It doesnt matter (1)

VBJonC (576871) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473118)

If you were considered for the position, you know what oure doing. the org chart on paper never matches the one in real life. The guy may be your boss on paper, but it will take a LONG time before he is REALLY your boss.

Engineer or Manager? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9473119)

Are you an Engineer who wants to be a Manager or a Manager?

Tough question! (1)

Scummer (686208) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473122)

Are you going to try your hardest to push our well deserved raise? Otherwise forget 'em. :)

real managers are clerks and secretaries (3, Informative)

SteveMonett (528540) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473123)

Look around. The company let the last secretary for your engineering group retire 5 years ago. You have been doing all the ordering and tracking. A manager of a development group attends all the planning meetings but he or she must also be the clerk and secretary for the group. You do not need to know how the company has changed the PO approval process. Leave that up to the manager.

You're the only geek on the panel most likely... (5, Interesting)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473128)

It's fairly clear that the reason you've been invited to take part in the interview is because you "know your stuff" inside out, more so than anybody who is two levels above you. Therefore, your portion of the interview competition should be to judge how much the candidates know about the exact technologies you're working with.

I'd come up with a list of 10 to 20 buzzwords that you use in your everyday conversations and e-mails, but keep that list secret from the candidates. See how many of those words each canadidate mentions in proper context as they talk with you and the other interviewers.

The point of this exercise isn't so much as to hire the high-scorer like it's a video game, but so that you can have a reason to veto somebody who is talking in generalizations but can't come up with the terms for what you actually do. Basically, your whole point is to eliminate anybody who is likely to become a PHB character if given the job because they don't know what you do.

Re:You're the only geek on the panel most likely.. (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473148)

buzz word bingo for applicants.. hmmm..

I think this is exactly wrong. (3, Insightful)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473184)

You want to make sure they have a feel for the tech but frankly they are not hiring an engineer, they are hiring an exec. Are you really concerned that the VP know as much or more about the tech than you? Isn't that your job?

Tech will be -part- of this person's job, but only part, since they will be managing the business side of things.

Probably more important is the question "can us engineers work with this person?"

Re:I think this is exactly wrong. (4, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473201)

That was my point about that a high score doesn't identify a winner as much as low scores on this test identify losers. The management types will be able to test the management side of things, which is why this person needs to focus on making sure the successful candidate has a minimal level of tech knowledge.

Working under you... (0, Offtopic)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473131)

"How far will raw sex appeal get me? To what extent can I count on this sweet ass to do my job for me?"

from a I/O psychology point of view... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9473133)

Keeping this strictly from what I know as fact, rather than inject my own opinions on what to ask. The MOST reliable indicator of how a person will perform in a job is their intelligence. Don't assume they are smart based on their resume, usually standard tests should suffice, or ask him to write some code for you on the machines you work on. I think it should be necessary that your boss is capable of doing your job, if not as well as you can.

Re:from a I/O psychology point of view... (5, Insightful)

Moofie (22272) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473256)

If I'm a manager, and I can't manage people who are smarter and more capable than I am, that I am the organizational bottleneck. It is imperative to be able to work with people who are smarter than you are.

So, I'm glad you're not my manager, because I think you'd suck at it.

There's a difference between a team leader and a manager.

Mmmmm. Donuts. (5, Insightful)

thinmac (98095) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473134)

"What is your position on the free coffee and donuts issue?"

On the other hand, if you want to ask *good* questions, think about what topics you and your current boss deal with, and ask about those questions. If it's a management job, then think about what managers can be bad at. Ask about their previous management history (are they a good leader?), ask about how well they understand the technology (are they the quentessential pointy hair?), and ask about how they view the postion from the point of view of being the interface between the techs and the upper management (are they there to keep you down, or to make things go smoothly?).

Also, think about what might happen a year or five down the line that will piss you off, and ask questions relating to that.

Re:Mmmmm. Donuts. (1)

Christopher Whitt (74084) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473271)

Ask about their previous management history (are they a good leader?), ask about how well they understand the technology (are they the quentessential pointy hair?)

Management and leadership are two entirely different things. Perhaps the OP would do well to decide if the boss position in question will need to be one or the other, or both. Ask questions that give clues to his personality type. Look into the Myers-Brigg typology, if you aren't already familiar with it.

Here's a few... (4, Insightful)

jarich (733129) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473136)

References... from former employees

Number one way to motivate an unproductive employee.

How well can you estimate time and set project schedules. (You know this can't be done exactly... if he doesn't know, you don't want him)

Why did he lose (or leave) his or her last job? (Double check on this one... it's IMPORTANT)

How many of their former employees will want to follow them to this job?

Annual reviews? Good or bad? How are they done? A form or "free form"?

Do hours worked matter or is getting the job done more important?

Comp time or bonuses (or anything) to make up for overtime needed at deadlines?

Pertinent questions (4, Insightful)

CharAznable (702598) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473138)

Do you read Dilbert?

Did you like Office Space?

Oh yeah, have you read The Mythical Man Month?

Re:Pertinent questions (1) (782137) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473251)

Did you like Office Space?

If he answers this in a slow monotonous voice while holding a cup of coffee, you may wish to immediately fail the candidate. :)

What's this job worth to you? (1)

dangerweasel (576874) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473139)

Kick Backs are always appreciated.

Have you ever hired anyone before? (5, Interesting)

csoto (220540) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473144)

You ask this person the same things as anyone else:

-Ask them if they understand the nature/scope of the job
-Ask them to describe relevant experience (professional, not futzing around on their own time)
-Ask them to describe any characteristics/attributes that make them a good choice for this job
-Ask them how they would handle any particular circumstances you either expect your operation to encounter, or some that you have encountered in the past that could have used some good leadership

Basicallly, when interviewing, you really only need to concern yourself with KSAs - knowledge, skills and abilities. Note that interpersonal communication and team skills are VERY critical KSAs. I value them more than actual technical or academic skills - those can be taught. The former, not as easily.

I sat on the committee that hired my current supervisor. She turned out to be one of the better administrator's we've had...

What is the meaning of life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9473145)

If they answer 42, that is really the wrong answer to a different question.

Management Style (5, Insightful)

n6mod (17734) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473146)

You, no doubt, have an idea what constitutes a good manager. If you don't, here's my opinion:

A good manager:
1. Fights for her people with upper mgmt.
2. Gets her people the resources they need to do their job.
3. Gets the hell out of the way.

Put another way:
1. You know he will be there when you need something.
2. Otherwise, you'd never know he was there.

These are the traits you're looking for.

Re:Management Style (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9473264)

It'd be good to know how much experience your prospective boss has with coding and such. If they hold high respect for the skill as you do then they will know what the schedule demands and how to properly treat employees.

OSS is the future... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9473150)

Resign from your current position and get on with developing free open source software. I've heard that's the future, and that by doing so you will also receive the best recommendations from /., the community (and its pets) and the piracy-master EFF as well, which IMHO counts a lot.

I'm not sure how you'd phrase it... (2, Informative)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473153)

but it sounds like the perfect opportunity to find a boss who works for you, not the other way around.

What I mean is, the Engineering Manager, say, is there to make sure the department is doing what the company needs.. but equally, there to make sure the company is providing the engineers with the resources and environment needed to do their jobs. Disciplinary action aside, a good manager in a position like that should almost NEVER have to exert authority over his staff, becuase the staff already do their job properly.. he's just there to deal with situations where a tiebreaker is needed, and to keep an extra focus on where the company really wants to go. Most of his work should be the other way around... going up the chain of command to get the staff what they need, and properly communicate how things are going to the rest of management.

Obviously... (1)

tag (22464) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473154)

Find out if they read this article on /.

Do they know your BUSINESS (4, Informative)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473155)

This person will be making BUSINESS decisions, be it code, purchasing, product development etc. If they do not know the BUSINESS deeply, they will make bad decisions. Ask them about competitors, products, why certain products and strategies succeeded or failed.

This is not a technical interview if it is a VP job - make sure they know they business.

important question (3, Insightful)

boisepunk (764513) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473156)

Why should we hire you in the first place?

(this is not a troll! it's an honest question!)

Focus on the supervisor-employee relationship (5, Interesting)

wildnight (621084) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473158)

Surveys reveal the #1 predictor of job satisfaction is how the employee feels about his/her relationship with his/her direct manager.

Consider questions like:

  1. What do you feel it is important for those you supervise to focus on?
  2. How do you set and manage goals for your subordinates?
  3. How would you handle the situation when you perceived one of your subordinates was performing below expectations?
    a) describe a situation in the past when you felt you successfully reformed a poor-performing subordinate
  4. How do you communicate your expectations with subordinates?
    a) describe a situation in the past when you felt you successfully communicated expectations with staff
  5. What managerial tools or strategies do you use to motivate staff and/or how do you create incentives? Under what circumstances do you feel incentives and/or rewards have been earned?
    a) describe a situation in the past when you felt you successfully motivated staff using incentives/rewards
  6. How would you handle a situation where your department was assigned a workload that could not feasibly be completed during normal 40-hour work weeks?

Your goal is to try to get an idea of what it would be like to work for this person under good and bad circumstances.

standard questions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9473160)


1. what education do you have?

2. what other companies have you worked for?

3. do you have any hot daughters that are 18+?

4. do you have any hot daughters that are under 18?

5. when will they be 18?

6. social security number?

7. credit card numbers?

8. bank account numbers?

9. is it ok if i empty all your accounts and move to the cayman islands?

no? that'll be all

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What is your style? (4, Informative)

Ruonkrak (788831) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473162)

I would definately want to know what is the boss's stile of management.

Is he/she ...

... a hands-on type of coach who wants to know day-to-day what you are working on and when are you going to have it completed.

... the hands-off type who enables you to guide your projects and assign completion dates, etc. while always being available for manegement-specific questions.

... a good team-lead?

... going to take the team out for lunch once or twice a year to bond?

A good manager IMHO lets their employees guide their own careers while providing targeted guidance.

How's his talking skills? (1)

Achoi77 (669484) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473164)

I suppose the big issue for me would be whether or not he's as smart as me. No PHBs for me, please!

Also, how's his communication skills? And does he worry about getting fired? Because that stuff may trickle down and in my experience it was never too pleasant. If the job title is more of a formality, and he doesn't micromanage, look for the smoothest talker with the highest education, that is jealous of what you do, but doesn't mind dealing with paper all day.

The best experience I've had in the working environment is when the whole team worrys about their work more than them worrying about their job. Quick, efficient, and the core energies are synergized!

The Only Question to Ask (4, Funny)

Enonu (129798) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473169)

What would you do for a Klondike Bar?

get someone you relate to (2, Insightful)

NixterAg (198468) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473171)

It's important that you try to find someone you relate to. They don't necessarily need to have the same interests you do, but should have a similar lifestyle. For example, if many of your team members have a wife and kids at home, try to find someone in the same situation. He'll understand the value of sticking to a focused 8-5 schedule and will better understand your needs to stay at home with the kids when they are sick, to have your weekends free to spend time with your family, etc.

On the other hand, if you guys are all workaholics who spend every daylight minute at the office and you hire a guy that prefers a tight, 8-5 schedule you'll naturally have some tension and frustration when it gets crunch time and he chooses to go home at 5 every day. He may get twice as much work done as everyone else in a shorter period of time but that doesn't seem to matter at midnight to a grouchy, sleep-deprived developer.

Experience (5, Interesting)

quantaman (517394) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473179)

You probably already realize this but make sure this guy understands computers. Ask him general questions to make sure he understands the general technology behind the projects (make sure he has a little geek in him). But most importantly make sure to ask him questions that you claim are easy and he should know but are anything but, see how he handles these situations. If he's starts trying to BS that's definate bad news, you want a boss who will admit when he's outside of his experience and is willing to listen to the advice of his subordinates.

be smart (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9473182)

hire the one with the biggest tits and hottest ass.

Corporate culture issues (1)

ewg (158266) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473199)

I've worked for a series of companies owned by a single individual, the founder. This is neither good nor bad in itself, but does mean that the company's culture bears the imprint of the boss' personality.

I like to ask candidates, at any level, if they've ever worked for a company owned by a single individual. This question is mostly for their own benefit, to gauge how they might fit in.

This point can be generalized to any kind of organizational culture: have they every worked in one like ours? Or will this be a new experience for them?

if you don't know what questions to ask.. (1)

js3 (319268) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473200)

maybe you shouldn't be interviewing your future boss?

Just one question. (2, Funny)

Moofie (22272) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473206)

Have you now or ever in the past had pointy hair?

I was in a similar sutuation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9473207)

..about 6 months ago. My current boss just wasn't working out. CTO asks if I want the job. I say "Hell no". He says OK... go find one then. I searched through monster, and agents and came up nill. I then remember that the best boss I ever had in my career was looking for a position. He was in fact the one who had layed me off not two years prior. Why was he the best boss I had? It wasn't so much his excellent technical know how. It was that he had the same work ethic as I did. Don't ask too much technical questions... find out if a potential candidate has the same work ethic as you do. Because believe me... when crunch time comes along it don't matter how much he knows it's how well he handles the pressure. And it's that which really makes a work environment one you feel like going to every morning.


What bossing is all about (2, Interesting)

ironring (598705) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473208)

They say the single most important person for an employees happiness is their boss.

I think one of the most important properties of a boss is Trust. Trust is at least two dimensional. To trust a boss they must be competent in their roll and they must have your best interests in mind. I think any questions about their experince and skills for the tasks they must perform are important. Secondly, you have to figure out if they care about you and your success.

I would suggest the book Topgrading [] by Bradford Smart as a good reference for asking the right questions and asking them in several ways to correlate results. Interviewing should be a lot like taking a survey. Best to ask the same thing several times for verification.

Hiring your own boss... (1)

shrdlu (42466) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473212)

...managed to get by with little more than a 'team lead' position, but as our division grows, they are looking to hire a full-on engineering manager. I was one of the candidates, with my current boss's favorable recommendation, but I withdrew my resume when they told me the job was all paper and schedules; I'd never touch code or hardware again.

I see that you know something important, without having had to suffer to find it out. I've steadfastly resisted attempts to make me into management over the years, and have hired, or been involved in selecting, my own boss multiple times. Management is rewarding for those that like it, but a pit of misery if you really prefer doing the technical stuff.

There are a couple of questions you need to ask yourself, before going into this:

  • Do you want someone who was technical, and has now moved on?
  • How important are management skills in your company (traditional things, like interperson relationships, and organizational psychology)?
  • Will you be comfortable with someone much (older, younger, higher paid, lower paid) than you?

You will also want answers to general things (some of which you may have already thought of):
  • Is this someone who will support you, or want to direct you (more than you may be comfortable with)?
  • Why is this person leaving the current position (or why did they)?
  • What experience or knowledge do they have or your industry (this is more important in the case of someone who's not technical)?
  • Think about whether you'd hire this person to work for you, or along side of you. Would you go out for a beer?
  • How will you feel at evaluation time? Is this someone you can respect, and will not resent when they make constructive criticism?

If I'd had more coffee, I'd have probably had more to say. Congratulations on making the right decision, and on having a management structure that supports your decision.

ummmm (1)

parasyght (545609) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473214)

Do you know WTF your doing?

What would be the response (1)

carambola5 (456983) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473216)

to this:

Let's pretend. You're the Department of Transportation, and you discover that our company intentionally did nothing about leather seats cured in third world countries with chemicals we know cause birth defects? Brake linings that fail after a thousand miles. Fuel injectors that burn people alive.

What about this? Keep me on payroll as an outside consultant. In exchange for my salary, I'll keep my mouth shut. I won't need to come to the office. I can do this job from home.

Depends on the management goal (1)

MinorHeadWound (710187) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473221)

It may be that you are being asked to interview him just to see if the team likes him. I'd say you should ask your management team what they want to get out of you for this interview.
If you want to be more than just a corporate tool, just find out what is important to you. I would recommend that you try to stay away from the "what will you do for me" questions.
And some questions are just plain dumb. "If my kid is sick, can I leave early?" Yeah, stay away from those, they have only one answer and he'll give it, and you run the risk of wasting everyone's time. And then only you look silly. Don't look silly interviewing your new boss. :)

haha (1)

parasyght (545609) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473222)

Can i have a raise... No? ok, this interview is over.

outsource (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473228)

"If you offshore us, do we have your permission to go postal?"

Most important questions (1)

toupsie (88295) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473229)

What's my kickback if you get the job based on my recommendation?

I've Been In This Position Too (1)

CowboyBob500 (580695) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473231)

Back before I was running my own company I was working for a company where I was given the same opportunity. I didn't ask any direct questions because the I clubbed together with the other staff of my level and we organised a group Q and A session. Afterwards the interviewee spent 10 to 15 minutes with each relevant member of the development team (small company and we were interviewing for a Project Manager) to get to know the potential boss. Each member of the team had received the resume of each candidate in advance as well. After all that, we voted on who we liked best (subject to final approval of the more senior PHBs). And it worked really well as we got a really good project manager for our troubles.


Dilbert (1) (782137) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473233)

Is your hair liable to become pointy [] at any time in the near future?

Its About the Boss, Not You (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9473234)

As flattering as that sounds, the real reason you are getting to interview the boss is so the boss can see what the real lay of the land is on your organization...and not visa versa.

Even if you do not like him, keep it to yourself. If he gets hired and you did not recommend him, life will be bad for you.

Hate to take the wimp way out... (1)

Omega1045 (584264) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473235)

Will you have any significant vote in the decision? In a similar situation a coworker asked some fairly tough questions. And none of them mattered, as a manager ended up picking someone that no one on the interview board (but her) liked.

Asking really tough questions could make an enemy for you, an enemy that will be your boss. I do not envy your position.

Also note that you will probably have to work with those that do not get the position. And one of those individuals may someday rise to a psotion of power, since they have already proven they have ambition.

Walk on egg shells!

3 questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9473236)

1. are they real?

2. can i see them?

3. if you wpuld work here, would you mind the AC being on high?

Thanks (2, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473237)

As one of the short listed candidates I would like to thank all those who submitted questions. I now feel very confident I can blitz this interview. Thanks again.

PS crimethinker, prepare to be sacked for lack of imagination.

well, considering you will be the new tea boy... (1)

nih (411096) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473238)

how many sugars does he take?

Not uncommon (1)

Peyna (14792) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473252)

This is a very common practice, especially in software development where the manager will be working very closely with everyone. You also see the same thing in higher education quite frequently.

Been there and it worked (1)

DrZaius (6588) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473255)


I went through this a year and a half ago. It worked out really well. The CEO came to us with a short list and set up interviews. Everyone had been prescreened and so forth.

The CEO wanted us to ask technical questions. That's silly -- a manager doesn't do technical things. We drilled the candidates on various hypothetical/real situations that have come up. Things like "The marketing team wants more features to make the product more sellable. What do you do?"

You really need to go by track records and references. You want someone who has gotten the job done and stood up for the technical team in the past.

We were lucky. Our top choice matched the executives. I don't know what we would have done if it didn't..

Hope that helps some.

Understanding your job (1)

DrWily (660114) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473257)

I would want to see if they understand what you do to help the company. If they don't understand or don't know how you contribute, even if you explain it to them, then they will place unrealistic goals on you. ...ask them for their definition of Spyware too.

Ask the big questions (1)

Howzer (580315) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473258)

  1. Describe a situation recently where you delegated responsibility completely and were happy with the result. Why?
  2. Describe a situation recently where you delegated responsibility unsucessfully and were unhappy with the result. Why?
  3. In your last management position, how many people did you start with in your department? How many did you have at the end? Those that moved on, why?
  4. Describe a situation where you've saved the day.
  5. Describe a situation where someone working for you saved the day, and where you were barking up the wrong tree.
  6. What was your favourite "employee" moment before you were a boss?
  7. What's your favourite "boss" moment so far in your career?
It's all about if you could work happily with this person. If you find yourself enjoying their accounts of the above, chances are you'll enjoy working with them.

If they are the hero of every story, watch out.

If they "can't think of any screwups" and that bothers you, then you might want to think of not working at the Whitehouse. ;)

Bottom Up Managers (4, Interesting)

GrouchoMarx (153170) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473259)

The last company I was at, I arrived only shortly after the VP of IT. (The company had maybe 20 people.) I liked him. His basic attitude was that he was the representative of the IT team to the CEO, and his job was to work with us to see that stuff got done and to keep the CEO away from us. He had his problems, like having a new great idea for where that stupid bug I was trying to track down might be every frickin' day, but I respected him for his "bottom up" style. He was our representative and leader, not our "boss".

Of course, the CEO didn't like that, which is, I believe, why he was fired about a month and a half after I got there. The CEO wanted a yes-man mouth piece who would see to it that we were broken into generating the response numbers he wanted, not tell him what the rest of us knew full well, that his interpretation of the numbers was asinine and counter-productive.

(I lasted about another month after that before I was canned as well. Wheee!)

Before you interview ANYONE, speak to your upper management and make sure you and they are on the same page about what you're looking for. What you want is someone who will go to bat for you and keep upper management and customers out of your way. The CEO may want the same, or he may be looking for someone he can give a directive to who will then crack the whip on the rest of you to do it. If you don't figure that out now, you're going to only scare away potential good managers and the person you get will be so torn and confused that they won't be able to do a good job for anyone.

experiential questions are a must (1)

wmorrow (16909) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473266)

Make sure you couch the questions to draw out his experience. So, do ask "suppose X happened, what would you do?", ask "when X has happened in your previous jobs, what did you do?". If he's making it up, it should become obvious. Make sure to give him time to come up with an answer. A full minute of silence isn't too much. Good "X" values: - late on schedule - over budget - have taken major wrong turn in design - customer is asking for impossible - employee is not performing If you don't personally like him by the end of the interview, forget it, no matter how exceptional he is on all other fronts. I don't think its crucial that he is 100% on all the techno-babble. He should have come up through the ranks, i.e. been 100% on some techno-babble at one time in his career. You don't want someone who took an MBA because they couldn't code.

It's all in The Book (1)

melted (227442) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473274)

If I were to interview my own manager I would come up with half a dozen realistic scenarios (some of them are modified versions of scenarios described in The Mythical Man Month) and see if the guy finds a sensible way out.

Like for example, you see that your project runs right over its due date, what do you do:
1. Hire more people
2. Cut non-critical features
3. Argue with your boss to extend the deadline
4. Ask the team to pull together and work overtime for a little while

Order the answers by priority, if you think any of the answers are unacceptable, remove them. If the guy doesn't remove 1 (which means that he doesn't know what the heck he's doing) or does remove 4 (which means he's a hypocrite and doesn't have confidence in his own leadership), the decision is "no hire".

See what I mean?

simple (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473283)

What process would you want to put into place that has minimal engineer impact, but be a good documentation procedure?

Your company is growing, you must have documentation of what you do, and did, but not have to spend too much time on the documentation. be reasonable, if you don't want to get bit in the ass later, you have to document now. rule of thumeb, 10% of the time you will be working on the project will be spent documentation.

What would you do to facilitate communication between engineers and upper managment? engineers and the customer?

You will have conerns about project, and sometime the best and quikest way to get them addressed is to tlak to the person the project is for, but you want to be sure they go through your manager to get to you, most of the time.

What will you be doing to help me do my job?
This one is, of course, totally your judgement. Ideally they should say something like, take care of scheduling and managment meeting, so you don't have to worry about them. Or to keep you productive while they handle all the day to day details.

Hre is a question for his boss:
How empowered is the new manager going to be? is he going to be able to make decsicions and go with it, or will he have to constently have to go up the chain for answers? If he has to go up the chain for everything, he will be a waste of time, a burden on your work(it will be an etra step), and the company will gain nothing.

Finally, I would like to address a myth:
You do not have to be knowledgable in the industry to manage it well'. You do have to come up to speed on the terms, and expected time it takes to do a project. His job is the 'people' side. he must know how to allow you to work.
One of the best managers I ever worked for came from a completly different industry. The worse manager I ever worked for was a former engineer.

BTW, I am available for this position.

Why not... (4, Interesting)

Phouk (118940) | more than 10 years ago | (#9473284)

... ask for references? I.e. people both who he as worked for, as well as people who have worked for him?

If he's not willing to give such references, especially of the second kind, that's an answer as well.

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