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Do Engineering Manager Interviews Include Coding Questions?

by Interview Kickstart Team in Interview Questions
October 14, 2022

Do Engineering Manager Interviews Include Coding Questions?

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The engineering manager’s role is commonly used in mid- and large-sized tech teams that require managerial and technical direction. An EM works with people, supervising and guiding skilled engineers as they complete technical tasks while focusing on non-technical and soft skills such as leadership, hiring, mentoring, project management, delegation, communication, and so on.

So, why do engineering manager interviews include coding interview questions? What kind of coding interview questions do engineering manager interview questions include, and how important are coding interview questions in an engineering manager interview? More importantly, what is the best way to prepare to answer coding interview questions at an engineer manager interview? Let’s look at the answers to all of these questions in this article.

If you are preparing for a tech interview, check out our technical interview checklist, interview questions page, and salary negotiation e-book to get interview-ready! You can also look at the guide to the engineering manager role here.

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In this article, we’ll cover:

  • Why Do Engineering Manager Interviews Include Coding Questions?
  • How Important Are Coding Interview Questions at an Engineering Manager Interview?
  • A Quick Look at the Engineering Manager Interview Process
  • Top Coding Interview Questions Asked at Engineering Manager Interviews
  • How to Prepare for Engineering Manager Technical Interviews?
  • FAQs on Engineering Manager Coding Interview Questions

Why Do Engineering Manager Interviews Include Coding Questions?

Engineering management can mean different things depending on the company you work with. For example, your EM role may be that of the senior-most or highest-level engineer on a team or project. In this case, coding will remain one of your primary responsibilities (in addition to people and project management). This may happen on smaller teams or projects or in cases where technical expertise is essential to technical direction.

This is also how your engineering manager career path is likely to progress — from a purely technical role to an amalgam of technical and leadership and managerial roles to a purely managerial role. 

Unless you’re moving into a top management role laterally, you’re bound to have to work your way up the technical ladder and then move to a management career track. In either case, you’d be required to have coding knowledge or knowledge of a programming language or relevant technologies, if not strong experience in these areas.

On larger teams or projects, an EM may be required to lead and coordinate multiple activities and diverse requirements without the distraction of having to code. In this case too, although EM roles focus on people management:

  • You cannot lead effectively as an EM without clear knowledge and understanding of the technical tasks their teams have to execute or the technical capabilities of their teams. 
  • EMs are expected to aid with problem-solving and code reviews, which you can’t do without the right technical or coding background. 
  • Technical competence as an EM is essential to gaining your team’s trust and exerting influence to provide leadership and direction.
  • EMs are often hiring managers; in this case, coding knowledge would be essential for assessing candidates and hiring the right person for the job. Understanding coding job requirements is a prerequisite to being able to interview candidates.
  • As an EM with the right technical and coding skills, you can make advanced strategic decisions instead of exhausting time and effort on trying to understand and deal with basic coding tasks and problems faced by software engineers and developers.

How Important Are Coding Interview Questions at an Engineering Manager Interview?

Coding interview questions at an engineering manager interview will primarily be asked to assess if you possess the minimum level of coding expertise required to function as an EM in the hiring company. While you can expect easy to medium coding interview questions, you would do well to also prepare for more difficult coding interview questions. Interviewers may dig deeper to ascertain your actual level of expertise since deep tech skills act as a differentiator and enable companies to identify long-term employees.

Although coding interview questions are important, system design and behavioral interview questions are assigned the highest weightage at engineering manager interviews. Design and interpersonal skills are essential competencies for an EM and should be the focus of your engineering manager interview prep.

A Quick Look at the Engineering Manager Interview Process

Tech interviews at most large tech companies follow a standardized process. This is usually emulated as an industry standard by smaller companies as well. Engineering manager roles have developed to become a common component of tech teams. 

If you’re appearing for an engineering manager interview, you can expect a structured interview process focusing on standardized engineering manager interview questions.

We take a quick look at the engineering manager interview process to get an understanding of the type of engineering manager interview questions you can expect:

  • First-Level Engineering Manager Interview Screening or Technical Screen Rounds: In this round, engineering manager interview questions asked by recruiters and hiring managers will gauge your skills, experience, and career goals and assess whether you’re a basic fit for the role and company. Hiring managers often ask a coding interview question to assess basic coding skills. 
  • The On-site Engineering Manager Interview: This comprises multiple rounds of interviews that can last for up to an hour each. Of all the engineering manager interview questions asked at this stage, coding interview questions will be posed during a dedicated coding interview round. 
  1. Engineering Manager Coding Interview: Coding interview questions asked during the engineering manager interview will be of easy to medium difficulty, unlike the coding interview questions asked at software engineering interviews which are usually of medium to hard levels of difficulty.
  2. Engineering Manager System and Product Design Interview: During this stage, engineering manager interview questions will include questions on design and architecture during a dedicated system design interview round. You might be asked a basic coding interview question during this round.
  3. Engineering Manager Behavioral Interview: At this stage, engineering manager interview questions focus on soft and interpersonal skills. These are situational questions to test your behavior and responses in different contexts. If you weren’t asked a coding interview question during the system design interview, you might be asked to do a quick coding test during this round.

Top Coding Interview Questions Asked at Engineering Manager Interviews

The three main types of questions asked at an engineering manager interview are:

  • Coding interview questions
  • System design interview questions
  • Behavioral interview questions

Coding interview questions are not always asked as a part of engineering manager interview questions. For example, of FAANG, Amazon engineering manager interviews don’t feature coding interview questions. However, you can expect coding interview questions at Google’s engineering manager interview or Facebook’s engineering manager interview.

Coding interview questions are standardized across most tech interviews. You can expect similar coding interview questions to be included in most engineering manager interviews. Focus on the following knowledge areas to prepare for EM coding interview questions:

  • Data Structures 
  • Algorithms
  • Dynamic Programming
  • Big O Notation

This includes coding interview questions on:

  • Arrays
  • Graphs 
  • Greedy Algorithms
  • Linked Lists
  • Recursion
  • Search
  • Stacks
  • Strings
  • Sort
  • Trees
  • Queues
  • Mathematic

Below we outline sample coding interview questions asked as a part of the engineering manager interview questions at large tech companies. These include Facebook coding interview questions and Google coding interview questions.

  1. Write a program to find non-letter palindrome substrings for a given string S.
  2. Write a program to add and return the value of the sum of two given linked lists, each of which contains an integer.
  3. Write a program to show, in reverse order, the characters of a string given in the form of a sentence.
  4. Write a program to find a particular element in a given sorted array.
  5. Return the decoded string of an encoded string
  6. Find out the validity of an input string that contains only ‘(‘,’)’, ‘{‘,’}’, ‘[‘,’]’
  7. Can you make a palindrome out of a non-empty string ‘a’ in which you can delete only one character?
  8. Convert a given Binary Tree into a Circular Doubly Linked List.
  9. Search for a given number in a sorted array containing unique elements and has been rotated by an arbitrary number. Return -1 if the number array doesn’t contain the given number.
  10. Write a program to show the node values at every level when given the root of the binary tree.
  11. Find the number of stretchy words in a given query word list.
  12. Write a program to validate a given IP address.
  13. Write a program to correct a binary search tree where two of its nodes are swapped.
  14. Using the next arbitrary pointer, write a program to clone a given linked list.
  15. Determine selling and buying levels for maximum profit from a list of selling and buying values of the stock.

Take a look at the complete list of Facebook Engineering Manager Interview Questions here.

Java Engineering Manager Coding Interview Questions

Below are sample Java coding interview questions that can be asked at an engineering manager interview.

  • Write a program in Java to check if only even numbers exist in a given list of integers.
  • Write a program in Java to check if string ‘str1’ is a rotation of string ‘str2’.
  • Write a program in Java to print the Fibonacci series.
  • Explain constructors in Java.
  • Using Java, design a vending machine.

Look up this comprehensive list of different types of coding interview questions to prepare for your engineering manager interview.

Engineering Manager Interview Questions on System and Product Design

FAANG and other large tech companies serve large user bases. Engineering manager interview questions on system design will test your designing and architecture skills and concepts and your ability to design large-scale or scalable systems.

Unlike EM coding interview questions, engineering manager interview questions on system design will be open-ended. You will be required to use a whiteboard to draw and explain your design, as you would to write code and explain solutions to coding interview questions.

Recommended Reading: More questions answered on ‘An Inside Look Into Engineering Manager Interviews.’

Below are examples of engineering manager interview questions asked at large tech companies, including FAANG.

  • How would you design a system like Instagram?
  • How would you design a shared drive on the cloud?
  • Why is load balancing important?
  • Explain important security features in designing an e-commerce platform.
  • How would you perform API modeling when handling multiple remote systems and servers?

Find more engineering manager interview questions on systems design here.

How to Prepare for Engineering Manager Technical Interviews?

To answer engineering manager interview questions effectively, you have to have a structured interview prep plan. The key ways to prepare are:

  • Instead of solving many different questions, focus on building strong problem-solving skills by identifying patterns and gradually moving from easy to difficult problems. If you don’t have the required technical skills for an EM role, undertake a professional training course to upskill to the desired level.
  • Engineering manager interview questions will focus largely on system and product design and behavioral questions. Research the company and its role to understand its products and culture. 
  • Study your professional and personal profile, noting key strengths, weaknesses, accomplishments, skill areas, experience, career goals, motivations to join the hiring company. Engineering manager interview questions will be based on these areas.
  • Practice mock interviews to enhance your ability to answer engineering manager interview questions effectively.

Engineering manager interview questions can appear challenging at first. However, it’s possible to crack even the hardest interviews with the right preparation. You can check some more tips to crack engineering manager interview questions at FAANG+ companies.

FAQs on Engineering Manager Coding Interview Questions

Q1. What kind of engineering manager interview questions can I expect in a technical interview?

Engineering manager interview questions at technical interviews will typically include coding interview questions, systems, product design interview questions, and behavioral or cultural interview questions.

Q2. Are coding interview questions hard to answer in an engineering manager interview?

Engineering manager interview questions are generally more exacting than software engineering tech interview questions since an EM is a high-level role. However, coding interview questions for an engineering manager interview are usually not as difficult as for a software engineering interview.

Q3. How should I prepare to answer engineering manager interview questions?

Prepare for all engineering manager interview questions, including coding interview questions in a structured manner. Focus on building your skill by starting with easy sums. Try to identify patterns to build strong problem-solving skills.

Q4. What are the best programming languages for engineering manager coding interviews?

Pick a programming language that you are comfortable with to answer engineering manager coding interview questions. Popular programming languages used to answer coding interview questions are Java, JavaScript, Python, C, C++, Go, Kotlin, etc.

Q5. What are the top behavioral or soft skills for an engineering manager interview?

Engineering manager interview questions on interpersonal skills will focus greatly on leadership, communication, and project management skills, among a host of other behavioral skills.

Upskill to Ace Your Engineering Manager Interview

At Interview Kickstart, we have helped thousands of engineers upskill and uplevel their careers through our pioneering technical interview prep courses, including our Engineering Manager Interview Course

Our tech interview prep programs focus on technical skill development in areas such as data structures and algorithms and career skills such as mock interviews, leadership skills, and salary negotiations. Our team of instructors, comprising actual FAANG hiring managers and tech leads, leverage their industry knowledge and experience to help students crack even the toughest tech interviews and land lucrative offers from FAANG and Tier-1 tech companies.

Register for our Free Webinar to learn how our programs can help you upskill and uplevel for success.


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