Main image of article Adapting Your Interview Style for Senior Tech Positions

When you're conducting a senior-level interview, it's important to adapt your interview style. These are vital roles within your organization, making it essential to get the tech hire right.

Balance your questions around the candidate's technical skills, leadership qualities, strategic thinking, and career goals. This gives you a more complete picture of the candidate's capabilities and their fit for the role.

Assessing Leadership Skills

Be sure to assess the candidate's leadership skills during the interview. Since they're applying for a senior-level tech position, they must be able to lead others.

Ask questions about the candidate's prior experience in leading groups. From these answers, you can determine if they have the experience and skills necessary to act as a capable leader of a department.

Key Leadership Qualities

There are certain qualities that good leaders possess. According to a survey by Gallup, great managers have the following talents:

  • Ability to motivate an employee to take action.
  • Assertiveness to drive outcomes.
  • Willingness to create a culture of accountability.
  • Ability to build relationships founded on trust, open dialogue and full transparency.
  • Decision-making based on productivity, not politics.

Behavioral Questions to Ask

Here are some sample questions for your senior-level tech position:

  1. What are the most important skills for a leader to have?  This question determines how closely the candidate's leadership skills align with the company's.
  2. How do you motivate an employee?  Learn about the candidate's motivational style. Ask for specifics about times when they needed to motivate someone.
  3. How do you deliver feedback? Feedback helps employees develop and holds everyone accountable. Look for senior-level candidates who have experience delivering and appreciating feedback.

Understanding Career Goals

Asking about the candidate's goals helps you learn more about their motivations and whether they're a good fit for the position. These questions also show the candidate that your company cares about their long-term outlook.

This information can help your organization map out a potential career timeline for them.

Long-Term Aspirations

A few questions can help you learn about a candidate's long-term aspirations. Sample questions include:

  1. Where do you see yourself in five to ten years, and how does this role fit into your career path? This is a common interview question, as it allows the candidate to discuss their personal career goals. The second part of the question lets you learn more about why the candidate wants this specific position.
  2. What motivates you to stay in a position long-term? This illuminates the candidate's motivators and what they value in an employer. Use these insights to determine if your company can meet the candidate's needs.
  3. How do you envision your role evolving? This question shows whether a candidate has thought about how long they might stay in the role. It also gives you more information on the candidate's interests and how they want to expand their responsibilities over time.

Alignment with Company Vision

You'll also want to find out whether the candidate's goals align with your company's vision. Sample questions you can use include:

  1. What aspects of our company's mission and values resonate most with you?  This is a direct way to learn whether a candidate knows the values of your organization. It also shows how they align with their personal goals.
  2. How will your leadership style contribute to our strategic goals?  Asking this question reveals if the candidate knows your organization's strategic direction. It also explores how their role might drive those initiatives.
  3. What are some examples of how you've driven growth in previous roles? This question provides insight into a candidate's track record for contributing to growth. Learn if their successes can translate into future contributions to the company.

Balancing Technical Skills with Soft Skills

For senior-level tech positions, it's important to find candidates with a mix of technical and soft skills. They need to have the technical proficiency necessary for the role while still being able to lead a team effectively.

Technical Proficiency

The candidate needs to have a high level of technical expertise for this role. Some questions you can use to determine technical qualifications include:

  1. Can you describe a previous complex technical problem and how you solved it? This question assesses a candidate's problem-solving skills. It emphasizes those related to the specific technologies your company requires.
  2. What factors do you consider when making a critical technology choice? Use this question to assess a candidate's decision-making process. It also looks at their ability to align technical decisions with business objectives.
  3. How do you keep up with the latest technologies and trends? This question reveals a candidate's commitment to continuous learning. This is an essential quality for anyone in the tech world.

It's also common to provide candidates with a technical task during an interview. For instance, you might present some code with errors for the candidate to fix or ask them to create a simple algorithm that solves a complex problem.

Soft Skills and Cultural Fit

Assess the candidate's soft skills and cultural fit within your organization. Questions that can help you do this include:

  1. How do you handle multiple high-stakes projects simultaneously? Use this question to learn about a candidate's time management and organizational skills.
  2. Have you previously mentored or developed junior team members?  Learn about the candidate's ability to help others grow. Discover their willingness to invest time in mentoring or providing feedback.
  3. How do you communicate complex technical information to a non-technical audience? This question assesses the candidate's communication skills. This is especially important if the role frequently requires working with stakeholders or team members without a technical background.

Getting the Most from Your Senior-Level Tech Position Interview

When conducting an interview for a senior-level tech position, it's important to take a balanced approach. You want to learn about the candidate's technical skills along with their ability to lead a team.

Assess whether the candidate is a good cultural fit for your business. Consider whether their personal long-term goals align with those of your organization.

Main Takeaways:

  • Ask a combination of technical and soft-skill questions.
  • Discuss a candidate's long-term goals.
  • Look for key leadership qualities.