The Interview Process

Learn about the components of the engineering manager interview process.

Engineering leaders play an important role in how a company operates, so companies invest significantly in hiring good managers. While companies always want to make the correct hiring decisions for all roles, hiring a bad manager would cost a lot more compared to hiring a bad engineer.


During engineering management interviews, candidates are evaluated for skills such as people management, project management, collaboration and communication, organization building, and technical knowledge. Although the interview process varies from company to company, all companies have some common components in an EM interview.

Recruiter screen

The interview process typically starts with a recruiter screen and its purpose is to evaluate if the candidate’s experience and skill-set matches the job’s requirements. This is a lightweight conversation that covers some preliminary questions.


The recruiter screen is a high-level interview, typically lasting between 20–30 minutes. It focuses on gauging the candidate's ability and experience, usually against the following criteria:

  • The number of years of people management experience

  • Skills, technologies, and areas of expertise

Another purpose of this interview is to give the candidate an overview of the company, the nature of their responsibilities, and the interview process itself.

Leadership screen

The leadership or management interview is an interview in which the interviewer evaluates the candidate’s people management knowledge and leadership skills. The nature of this interview is analogous to the engineering phone screen interviews conducted for hiring engineers. The leadership screen is conducted by the company's engineering leaders and lasts between 45–60 minutes.

The purpose of this interview is to know the candidate’s experience and background at a much deeper level. This interview decides whether the candidate should be brought on-site for the full loop or not. An on-site or full loop interview is a big investment for the company. A leadership screen interview makes sure that the right candidate is brought for the full loop.

Writing assignment

Occasionally, some companies will assign candidates a writing assignment before the on-site or full loop interview. This is another step to validate that the candidate has the minimum skills to pass the full loop. There is no standard template for this assignment. It can cover various topics, including people management and project management. Usually, it will involve some situational questions like resolving a conflict situation, making hard decisions in a difficult situation, or making some critical design trade-offs.

On-site or full loop interviews

If previous interview steps go well and there is a good alignment between the candidate's experience and the company's needs, the candidate will be called in for a full loop interview. Full-loop interviews vary from company to company, but there are essentially four main components to them:

  1. Technical

  2. People management

  3. Project management

  4. Behavioral

During these interviews, the candidate is rigorously evaluated for their technical abilities as well as their leadership and management acumen. The goal of this interview is to see if the candidates are a good fit for the team and company.