1. Describe a successful project you managed. What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them?

Sample Answer- When I joined the company as an Engineering Manager, my initial challenge was taking the handover from the outgoing Vendor who were responsible for Development and release of the product. In limited time and resource, I had to ensure that the team understand the existing code base and functionality as much as possible. Although we were new and also under resourced, I had to still ensure that we get the full knowledge transfer and understand the entire end-to-end development and the release process.

( I had divided the team and assigned each member owner of 1 module and asked them to explore the code and functionality as much as possible so that we just not reply on what they explain to us . It has paid off big time, as the team managed to unearth many topics which could have been missed out had we not asked the questions. Each Dev and QA were also assigned to create the documentation of their knowledge they gained. )

The other challenge we inherited was missing the code quality, missing unit test cases , documentation which made our life difficult during every release. We started getting lot of bugs in the development even some of the bugs were escaping to the production.

As an Engineering Manager, I had hard time balancing between executing new development processes and also ensuring that releases are going on schedule. I have always been a fan of metrics as it shows the mirror that were we are getting wrong . Unless you look at these metrics and find all the issues in your process you can’t change it. First , I had got the process metrics Dashboard created for each project.

Some of the initiatives that I took which helped in bringing down total number of defects and overall Cycle and Lead time were:

  1. Though we had the CI/CD implemented but it was missing Code Quality and security check. I had ensured that all the pipelines have these implemented.
  2. I have always been believer of shift-left approach, i.e. detecting the issues as early as possible. I had encouraged team to use free IDE extensions which could detect these changes even before it is raised as the Pull Requests.
  3. I had lot of discussions with Leadership convincing them to adopt Microservices architecture going forward. As full migration to Microservices architecture was not possible, we made decision to any new functionality using the Microservices Architecture and using Micro Frontend. It has helped to release new functionality faster to the Market.

Note: This is just one scenario, there could be many different answers varying based on person to person. I welcome you all to comment and add your experience in the comment section. It will really help others who are looking for help.

2. How do you foster collaboration between development and other teams, and how do you ensure effective communication within your team?

Well, as a Manager responsible for multiple teams, it is critical for me to conduct regular sync up call with the different teams to ensure that I and my team understand and are in sync with departments goal and objective and any issues and dependencies are resolved at the earliest.

First and foremost, my top most priority always used to be ensuring that the Development and QA teams need to work in synchronization and work as a team. This helps QA to be involved very early stage of development ensuring the feature meets the expected criteria without chance of any critical bug detected late in the sprint. It ensure that there is less back-and-forth in terms of bug reports and reworks.

I hold regular sync up calls with Dev Lead/Managers and QAs to discuss project progress, roadblocks, and upcoming tasks. These meetings serve as a forum for team members to share updates, ask questions, and align on priorities.

It is important that the Engineering team are aware of the product road map and are the future features/stories are well groomed. As a Manager, I try to ensure that the POs/PMs are able to provide the new feature’s details early so that the team get more time to understand and size the work item with confidence and accuracy. I am also involved along with Architecture team to provide the technical insights into into the feasibility and potential challenges of product roadmaps.

In addition, I also work closely with the Security ,DevOps and Professional Services and Support team.

Security Team

DevOps Team

Professional Services

Sales Team

3. What is your roles and responsibilities as an Engineering Manager?

Refer question 1 and 2.

4. How do you ensure code quality within your team, and what development practices do you advocate for?

Talk about Static Code Analysis , Shift Left approach for Security and Performance i.e. ensuring that the security scan (testing) and performance test is done early in the development, Pull Requests process, CI/CD pipeline, Feature Flag based development, Bug tracking and tracking other metrics, Training and Skill development.

5. Describe a situation where you had to manage a high-stakes technical challenge or risk within your engineering projects. How did you approach it, and what was the outcome?

One of the issue that I remember happened recently was when one of the third-party API we were integrating with had recently undergone a major update, introducing breaking changes and new authentication protocols. The timeline for our feature release was tight, and any delays would have significant repercussions on the overall project schedule and customer expectations.

The risk was twofold – first, the technical intricacies of adapting our system to the updated API, and second, the potential impact on existing customers who relied on the previous version of the API.

  • I immediately assembled a cross-functional team involving developers, QA engineers, and system architects. This ensured diverse perspectives and expertise in addressing the technical nuances of the integration.
  • We conducted a thorough impact assessment to understand the extent of changes required in our system. This involved reviewing API documentation, analyzing code dependencies, and assessing potential risks to other system components.
  • Recognizing the potential impact on existing customers, we devised a communication plan. This included preparing release notes, updating documentation, and developing a strategy for assisting customers in migrating to the new version of the API.
  • To mitigate risks associated with the tight timeline, we implemented parallel development tracks. One track focused on adapting our system to the new API, while another track worked on fallback mechanisms and compatibility layers to support existing customers during the transition.
  • QA engineers were integral to the process, conducting rigorous testing to ensure that the integration not only met functional requirements but also maintained high performance and reliability standards.

Q6.How do you balance technical debt and feature development in your projects?

First and foremost, it is paramount to keep track of technical debts maintain of backlog of Technical Debts and regularly assess ,understand its impact on the current and future development and prioritize it. I prioritize addressing critical technical debt that affects system stability, security, or scalability. Technical Debts need to be reviewed regularly so that team always remain on top of it.

Technical Debt features are usually little hard to push through when you have other high priority functional features to be delivered. It is thus important to communicate the importance of addressing technical debt to key stakeholders, such as product owners and project managers. It helps them understand that dedicating time to resolve technical debt is an investment in the long-term health of the project.

The other way I try is by allocating a portion of the team’s capacity to address technical debt. This ensures a consistent effort toward reducing debt alongside feature development.

As a Manager, I also keep track of KPIs to assess the impact of technical debt on development speed, system performance, and reliability. These metrics can help justify the need to address technical debt and make informed decisions about prioritization.

Q7. Describe a situation where your proactive approach led to a significant positive outcome for your team or organization.

At the time, our development team was working on a critical client project with a tight deadline. As the project progressed, we realized that the scope of work was more than what was initially discussed which also was complex in nature. As we were working on a tight deadline and were close to official release date it was certain that we would miss the deadline.

Recognizing the potential challenges, I decided to take a proactive stance to address the issues before they could escalate. Here’s how I approached the situation:

Started periodical reviews and encouraged Dev, QAs to work closely so that both are on same page and the issues are identified early.

Stakeholder Alignment: Conducted meeting with PM, PO, Dev Lead , QA, Architecture team to understand the additional scope of work. Followed up with additional meetings with Dev Lead and Architects to analyze and come up with the finalized approach.

Worked with the team to break the User Stories further into smaller testable unit so that the changes are developed and deployed quickly for quick review and feedback.

All these efforts helped immensely in releasing the product on time without comprising on the quality.

Q8. How do you track and measure the success of a software development project? What key performance indicators (KPIs) do you find most valuable?

Checkout this post for detailed answer.

Q9. How do you approach designing scalable and maintainable software systems? Can you provide an example from your experience?

As a <<Your Role>>, I always advocate for the modular architecture. If we start by designing our application right, it becomes very easy to truly make the application scalable. Modular design also ensures that the application is not monolithic and relatively easy to understand and troubleshoot the application.

Broadly Modularization can be done at the following levels : 1. System Level 2. Code Level 3. Data Level 4. Infrastructure Level

a. System Level: If you are developing a cloud application, we should consider Micro Frontends and Microservices Architecture.

b. Code Level: You can ensure your code is modular by following the SOLID Design principles and the Design Patterns. Use of Asynchronous patterns.

c.Data Level: This can be done by applying database sharding or partitioning to distribute data across multiple databases or instances.

d. Infra Level: Consider using infrastructure as code (IaC) and using container orchestration tools like docker etc.

Other important things we need to consider are :

=>Design components to be stateless or share state in a scalable manner.

=>Choose a database that can scale horizontally and vertically.

=>Design the system to scale horizontally by adding more instances or nodes like hosting it on Azure App Service, Azure Function etc, using Kubernetes orchestrator etc.https://jobsverse.in/top-development-managers-interview-questions

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