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Interview Your Next Manager

Interviews are a two-way process, but it's more than just company fit. Your manager is your biggest advocate, but fill your great opportunity with endless challenges. In this talk, we'll cover why and how to interview your next manager as part of your job-hunting process to make sure you end up in a healthy and productive environment.

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Let me start by introducing myself. I'm Marcos Placona. I'm, I've been working in developer relations for many years now, a director of developer relations, and much like you, I have just started to look for jobs, so I used to work for Twilio, for the first that don't know me, I used to work in Twilio, I started looking for a job.

The whole process of looking for a job and everything is like, you know, what do I do now? Because I was at Twilio for seven years, so this was a whole new thing for me, but the one thing that I knew is, during my career of interviewing a bunch of people, so I was on the sorts of like interviewer side, a lot of times, like I must have interviewed hundreds of people, like doing my time at Twilio, or doing ... interviews as well, but right now, I found myself on this other side of the table where people are like asking me questions and everything, and I was helping to prepare, and I found a few things, okay?

First, I wanted to talk about the reasons why it is important for you to interview your next manager, but the reasons why people leave their jobs, okay? And there are a few reasons here, in my opinion. Obviously, I've seen people leave their jobs for more money. They just want to make more money. Some people want to get some more responsibilities. You know, like obviously more responsibility comes with more money, but some people just want to try and do something different to get more responsibility, get more accountability as well.

But there is one that is really, really important, and it is an important reason because you know, I'm not going to pretend that I've made this up, I married it from someone before, but you don't actually leave a bad company, you leave a bad manager, and in a lot of cases, this is exactly what happens. So you leave a company that you may enjoy working for because you don't really have a good relationship with your manager.

So the thing that I've always been very -- I like the idea of people interviewing their managers, and the way you do this is very simple, but the idea here is you're trying to set yourself up for success, so obviously you need to make sure that you do your own research. Let's say you're interviewing with a company, and you're now in this process, and you're talking to HR, you talk to the hiring manager.

I think the most important thing that you can do at this stage before you start doing your interviews is you do some research. You go to LinkedIn and you find who the hiring manager is. Like it is I mean totally okay to ask the HR who is going to be involved in the interviewing process, the names of the people who are going to be involved. Nothing should be as a surprise for you. You should think about this as a two-way street. You want to find a job. The company wants to find someone to fill that job, and that may be you. It is totally okay for you to go and ask the company, hey, who is going to be on this interview, and find out who the hiring manager is. You go on LinkedIn, and you try and get some information about that hiring manager. The next thing thank you is you need to make sure that you prepare some great questions. It is okay to ask as many questions as you have, it's okay to ask as many questions as you want, and honestly, you should make sure that you and your next manager are a good fit. That's what will what the next manager is going to be looking for.

They're going to be looking for the facts that you or not a good fit for this job, and you need to be looking for the fact that you're going to be a good fit for the job and the manager is going to be a good fit for you. If either of those things don't align, it's unlikely this is going to be a good job for you. So you want to make sure that you do your own homework here.

As an interviewer, I always liked to see when candidates came up, and they had some questions, and they had some interesting questions, and sometimes some challenging questions. I will talk a little bit about some of the questions that you can ask during your interviews. But honestly, I think you can't really go wrong. There are a couple of things that you can say that you may go wrong, I've got to mention them, but you can't really go wrong, okay, so make sure that you ask as many questions as you can, and honestly, if you need a follow-up interview, if you have had, I don't know, 30 minutes with the hiring manager, and if you're like, hey, I actually need some more time, it's totally okay. Get in touch with the recruiter, and say I would like some more time with the manager, because the thing about interviews is interviews are, they're almost like, I'm going to use a terrible analogy here, which is of a relationship, okay? So interviews are a date.

When you go to an interview, it's all magical, and everything, and they're like a date. A job is like marriage, okay? So like you can go on many dates, but you would likely not be marrying too many people, and what you want to do is make sure when you do it, you want to make sure that you get it right. I think finding a job is the same thing. You will do interviews with a lot of companies, but the reality is ultimately, you're going to end up with this one job. If it works out for you, great. If it doesn't, your life is going to be miserable. You need to make sure that you do your whole homework before you go into the interviews.

And then when you go into it, and when you're talking to the hiring managers, there are a few things that you can can ask. I like to ask why you're hiring for this position? Why am I here? Why are we talking? And then what will be my day-to-day responsibilities? What do you expect from me? When I get into this job, what would you like me to do? In this situation, if you're interviewing for a developer relations job, for example, this is a time when they're going to tell you I expect you to spend some time writing, creating blog posts, or something, but this is the time when you can actually talk about the responsibilities. Then also, you want to ask where you would like to see me within 30, 60, 90 days, because your probation time, period, is most likely to be 90 days. You want to know exactly what are the things that you're going to have to do to be successful. Then where would I be working within this organisation? Do I work under marketing? Product? Engineering? R&D? Where do I fit within the organisation? How many people in the team? So this can be interesting because you want to know whether you're going to be the only person in that team, where you want to know there are more colleagues for you to work with.

Also, really important question, and this will trip some managers when you ask this question, which is what it their leadership style? What do you expect? How do you like to communicate? What -- how are you going to expect me to communicate with you? How are you going to expect me to kind of like report on this stuff that I'm doing? And then if, you know, sometimes before you go and work for a company and realise some people have left, for example, it's okay to ask why such and such a person left the team.

What was the reason for that that? Because here's where there may be certain red flags in here that you may or you may not be willing to kind of like go through, so obviously, you know, if it turns out that you interview with a company, and you ask why have many people left and they say well because it's a toxic environment, that's not a place you want to be, okay? As marring, I've always been under the -- like, I will never lie during an interview. I will never tell things to a candidate to make sure they get hired. I like to be honest to say how it is, and if it turns out how people left, I never heard the situation, by the way been if it turns out people left because this is a terrible place for them to be, you're not going to be able to hire more people, okay?

You want to be able to go and tell people about this, and candidates need to know, like it's your right to ask as many questions as you need. I have a list of don'ts, and my don't the, like, you will notice that I have a lot nor dos than donts. Like I said, when sue talk on a manager, it's okay to ask as many questions as you want, as long as nothing to do like salary range, for example. I wouldn't ask a manager about salary range. This is something you talk to the recruiter about because as a manager, you often don't even know what the salary range is.

As manager, you also want to make sure that the recruiter is having those conversations before you talk to the candidate, so, you know, if you're talking to the recruiter, you can go and ask the question and it is totally okay. Again, you want to make sure that this is going to work for you. Anything to do with like HR stuff, like holidays and something like that, this is not something that your manager will be able to answer you, like when you're asking that question. This is something that HR will go -- in all fairness, the recruiter will ask manager about this but this is not the best use of your time, and it's not the best use of the manager's time.

You want to make sure that you ask important questions here, and something like holidays, for example, it's like, it is going to be okay. Like you can get an answer for this, but you don't necessarily need to use the time that you have with the hiring manager to ask those kinds of questions. And then, obviously, when you ask the questions, like, make sure that you hear them out. Make sure that you listen to them. Make sure that you pay attention. Make sure that if you want to ask follow-up questions, for example, make sure that you ask follow-up questions on whatever they answered you, so don't ask questions twice, don't ask the same questions many times, and make sure that you're actually there, and you're paying attention.

Also, try to be friendly, okay, because interviews, like I said, I've been on both sides of the table when it comes to interviews, and while I enjoy interviewing people, there's going to be times when you've done five, six, seven interviews in one single day, and they're gruelling. There's nothing like sitting with someone who is nice, who is trying to lighten up the mood, has a nice tone, and is happy to be there. So try and be friendly, try and smile, try and make sure that you're there, and you're there to have a conversation, like, you know, I've always said that interviewers, they are meant to be conversations and not interrogations, okay? Obviously, this is about having an open conversation with your prospect manager, so, yes, make sure that you get and make the most of your time, and, obviously, once you've done all those things, just get ready to receive an offer.

You will get many offers, but make sure that you are asking the important questions. As a manager, I look more positively to candidates who ask questions because they show me they are interested. As a candidate and an interview we, I like to make sure that I'm asking good questions, and I'm always making sure that I'm preparing for that interview, and not necessarily just asking like generic questions, but asking like specific questions about the company. I think this is all the time that I had, so, again, thank you so much for having me here. My name is Marcos Placona. Feel free to get in touch with me. I'm on Twitter, GitHub, LinkedIn. Thank you so much.