For those who believe in happy team, happy product, invest in good management. Job seekers, try to pick a manager you vibe with. What the fuck does that even mean? I mean, vibe with. You don’t need to share the same taste in music, but you both need to be on the same page when it comes to communication and goals (usually: success).

Something I read on this topic recently resonated with me deeply. It was from an essay by software engineer Duretti Hirpa: “… managers traffic in human interaction. It’s their one true currency. Why skip the step that will net you the most coins?”

I feel firmly that management is not a promotion but a track. It’s okay not to be into people; in that case, then management is probably not the best-fitting route. This is also common in smaller companies where the manager is also the lead in XYZ and would much rather be doing than managing. If you’re a junior, especially, please avoid these people.

So, what kind of questions should you be thinking of when you’re interviewing with a future manager? I’ve collected a bunch:

Fundamentally, the role of a manager is to unify and elevate the team to reach, hit, and crush company goals. It’s important they’re capable of dealing with people and running interference.

  • What is their management style?
  • How do they measure performance?
  • What kind of environment is important for success?

A good manager gives clear communication. A commitment to reasonable transparency goes hand-in-hand. Politicking will exist, and if a manager is good, it won’t impact the team. A strong desire to see the team succeed as a unit exists.

  • How do they handle stress and pressure?
  • How do they measure success?
  • How do they motivate their team?

Following on, listening carefully and effectively is super-duper important! 1-on-1s are honoured. If they can’t happen, they’re rescheduled with apologies. If they don’t happen — this is a red flag. When an employee is listened to, they are motivated and energised.

  • How close does a manager need to be to their employees?
  • How do they deal with bad news?
  • How do they manage different personalities and characters in team environments?
  • What measures do they take for fostering an inclusive and welcoming space?

Showing, not telling, is something good managers actively work on too. They trust their team to achieve and reach their goals and foster an encouraging environment because they hire and promote the right people. They are also capable of making decisions like firing people who are toxic to the workplace.

  • What was the hardest thing they’ve had to do as a manager?
  • Where does micromanagement have a place in the workplace?
  • What are their strategies for creating a healthy and productive environment?

Ultimately, in a results-oriented environment, the overarching aim should be focussed on hitting company goals. A good manager pushes their team, of mixed skills and different personalities, to thrive and hit them.