The many different flavors of this role can be called Development Lead, Technical Lead, Lead Software Engineer, Software Engineer Lead, Software Manager, or Lead Developer. While the responsibilities differ from company to company, this position is usually held by someone with a software engineer or developer background, who is responsible for the work (and often the people management) of several team members.
Typically this person is senior and more experienced (in years, or in legacy system knowledge for that organization) than many of the other team members. They go to meetings and represent the technical team to other teams in the organization. This role may also include a project management role, working with the design and product teams to create requirements, or supervising system operations and quality (QA).
Technical leads are often responsible for assigning and delegating work among their team, and for reporting progress against deadlines. Many leads serve as technical advisors to management and other business functions, acting as a bridge to the non-technical functions in the organization. This role requires strong technical skills, but also an aptitude for leadership and communication.
Questions for Technical Leads:
- Q: How do you divvy up work to your team?
A: There are no right answers, but they should mention balancing skill-sets with personal preferences, and what is needed from the business in terms of results. You can drill into the specifics, or you can ask how to handle assigning work items to someone that they know won’t like the work. How do they break the news? Has this ever happened to them?
- Q: What is the best way to integrate and onboard people onto a technical team?
A: Most good tech leads have experienced new hires starting at their company, or have been a new hire themselves. Ask what works well and what doesn’t. Most good leads will mention mentors, regular checkpoints with clear goals, and/or starting with small work items like a bug and progressing to larger tasks.
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