How to manage a team that uses a software language you don't know?



  • Last week I participated to a job interview for technical manager position and this question was asked to me, how would u answer this question?



  • Without seeing a job description I'll just have to make the assumptions that:

    1. as a technical manager your job will actually be about managing, and not writing code in that particular language.
    2. if you are applying for a technical manager position you know a lot of tech stuff, which don't resume themselves to just knowing a programming language, but knowing more languages, data structures, multiple programming paradigms, patterns, principles to keep code clean, architecture stuff, database knowledge, network knowledge, etc (i.e. the technical stuff that allow you to understand what you are actually managing)

    With that being said, a programming language is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. It's the lowest layer in a pyramid of other technical stuff that you must also know to do a technical manager's job. So my response would be:

    All programming languages are similar. A loop is a loop no matter the language syntax, an array is an array no matter how you declare it, a function is a function no matter how you define it, etc. I might not know the syntax, but I do know the concepts. And since this job is more about concepts like than writing code in the IDE, I think I have all the technical skills necessary to manage the team even though I don't know the language. Besides, I can always learn another language if needed.


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