10 Questions to Ask Your New Manager

When I interview people for a job position, I always ask them if they have any questions for me.

But they rarely have. Some candidates even look surprised.


A job is an economical relationship between you and your manager. What you bring to the table are knowledge, skills, and experience. What your manager offers are a salary, interesting projects, and a great working environment.

Both of you should be asking each other questions!

Here are some questions, off the top of my hat:

  1. What do know about management? What models do you use?
  2. What books and blogs do you read? Which managers are your source of inspiration?
  3. Are your teams self-organizing? How? And how do you add value?
  4. Can you give examples of your teams being happy about what you've done for them?
  5. How have you motivated your team members?
  6. What kind of direction, rules and constraints do you impose on teams?
  7. What kinds of impediments have you removed lately?
  8. How do you develop competence and craftsmanship in the teams?
  9. Am I free to use social tools and networks, like Twitter and Facebook?
  10. Can I have business cards without a job title printed on it?

Can you think of some more?

Trust in a business environment can only be achieved when both parties in an economical relationship ask the right questions, and give satisfying answers.

Never be the only one to answer questions!

You know what? Next time when you don't ask me questions, I'm not even going to hire you.

(picture by Stefan Baudy)

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  • Gino Marckx

    I totally agree questions need to flow in two directions. However, some of the ones that you mentioned – granted, off the top of your hat – might come across judging. I’d advice to be aware of that 😉
    More questions, also pretty ad hoc:
    – What is the training budget, how can it be used (published training, conferences, books, …)
    – Are there any cross-company group activities
    – How is innovation integrated
    – What is the vision (company, department, …)
    – How does this department interact with that department
    – What are your acceptance criteria for me in three months from now, how do I know if I’m going my job right
    – What are your major challenges in your position

  • http://profile.typepad.com/jurgenappelo Jurgen Appelo

    Great questions!
    Thank you for adding those.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/analyticalmind Analytical_mind

    I totally agree. Great post! Would someone consider going on a date and NOT ask any question to the potential mate? Ludicrous, right? Yet, time and again people do not ask question or ask really simple questions – will I get a laptop? what is agile?
    Here are a few more suggestions:
    – Are there any rules I should be aware off?
    – What would be your expectations of me for the first 3, 6, 12 months?
    – What would I need to do to exceed your expectations?
    – How much freedom would I be given to perform my job?
    – Would it be possible to meet with some of my future colleagues?

  • Sameer Bendre

    Nice post. My question to Managers – How many are comfortable letting the other side ask questions? And with this kinda ammo?

  • http://profile.typepad.com/bootis Bootis

    Once i asked: “What feedback do you get from your teams? Do you think they are happy? Are they stressed? Do you think everyone is satisfied from the management?”

  • http://profile.typepad.com/chrizyuen Chriz Yuen

    Had you fail any projects before?

  • http://www.sqablogs.com/tonybruce Tony Bruce

    What is missing from your team and why?
    I know I can make you look good, how can you make me look good?

  • http://profile.typepad.com/davidjbland Davidjbland

    Good stuff.
    I’m all for “interviewing your interviewer”, and put together a slide deck on it last year: http://www.slideshare.net/7thpixel/10-tips-for-your-scrum-master-interview

  • http://blog.software-acumen.com/ Mark Dalgarno

    As an interviewee I’ve given several interviewers a ‘grilling’ in the past. So, when interviewing people I expect and encourage them to ask questions.
    The types of question asked are a good indicator of how much research they have done on the company, what their interests and concerns are and can even show a little about how well they’ll fit into the team and organisation.
    I’d be happy to answer the above questions as an interviewer – but I’d also want to explore the interviewee’s understanding of the questions – what do they understand by craftsmanship? what value could they bring to the team by using Twitter? what could I as a manager do to remove impediments? etc. Asking the questions because Jurgen told them to wouldn’t score very highly 🙂

  • http://proterra.me.uk Matthew White

    Very interesting post; some good questions to ask.
    One slightly surprises me – why would I not want my job title on a business card? Could you site an example of where this would be a problem.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/jurgenappelo Jurgen Appelo

    That’s not so much about being it a problem. It’s about the freedom to “define” your own job. About being a person, and not a human resource with a label.

  • http://proterra.me.uk Matthew White

    I see your point-of-view; to extent I work in a similar environment. No real job titles; it can work very well at times, but can also be a problem.
    Specifically when it comes to a issue of which individual has responsibility for a given task – but that’s off topic.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/jurgenappelo Jurgen Appelo

    I believe the responsibility issue often hints at deeper problems. In proper self-organized teams responsibilities are shared. There should be no such thing as ‘who is/was responsible for this’? They are all in it together. If one failed, they all failed.

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