A chief technical officer, or CTO, is responsible for technology in a company. He or she leads technology strategy and implementation, as well as research and development. In other words, they’re responsible for a lot! So what should you ask a CTO to better understand their role in a company?
To get an idea of what a CTO does daily, we’ve compiled a list of questions that will give you some insight into their work. We’ve also included some questions you can ask a CTO during an interview.
59 Questions you can ask a Chief Technology Officer (CTO):
- What are your thoughts on the role of a CTO?
- What’s your engineering background?
- How do you feel about change?
- What makes a good team player?
- What makes a good leader?
- What attracted you to this company?
- How do you prioritize and manage projects?
- Which department do you spend the most time with and why?
- How do you connect with other parts of the company outside of your department?
- What do you think is the key to successful interdepartmental collaboration?
- What do you think about failures?
- How do you handle conflict?
- What motivates you?
- Who is/was your greatest mentor and why?
- How do you like to be managed/led?
- What makes someone successful in your eyes?
- How has your job changed since you started?
- In what ways have you had to grow to keep up with the demands of your job?
- What challenges have you faced in your role and how have you overcome them?
- Can you give an example where you had to think outside the box to solve a problem?
- Can you share a success story from your time with the company?
- Can you name someone instrumental in your development as a leader?
- What would your ideal company culture and how would you create it?
- What are your main responsibilities as CTO?
- What role do you play in developing the company’s technology strategy?
- How do you manage research and development?
- What do you think about new technologies?
- How do you handle risk when it comes to new technology projects?
- What do you think about the role of technology in business?
- How do you budget for new technology projects?
- What do you think about open-source and proprietary software?
- How does your department keep up with the latest trends and technologies?
- What do you think about cloud computing?
- What are your thoughts on security and data privacy?
- How do you maintain relationships with vendors and partners?
- How does your department collaborate with other departments in the company (e.g., marketing, sales, etc.)?
- What do you think about the role of IT in the overall goals of the company?
- Do you have any advice for companies looking to improve their use of technology?
- Are there any areas where you feel the company could do better in terms of technology?
- Do you have any plans or initiatives to improve these areas?
- What’s your vision for the company’s technology roadmap?
- How do you prioritize and manage the competing demands on the tech team’s time?
- What are the main challenges you anticipate the company to face in the next two years, and how do you plan to address them?
- What do you think about emerging technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing?
- What role do you think technology plays in your company’s overall strategy?
- How do you measure the success of projects undertaken by your technical team?
- What processes are used to ensure that new features are developed to meet customer needs?
- How does the technical team keep abreast of advancements in their field?
- How does your department contribute to the overall culture of the company?
- What policies or procedures are in place to encourage creativity and innovation within the team?
- What steps have been taken to mitigate potential risks associated with new technologies?
- How do you manage expectations when it comes to delivery timelines for new features or products?
- What methods are used to track progress against goals and performance indicators?
- Are there regular opportunities for advancement within the department?
- What measures are taken to retain and motivate employees?
- How is information shared within the department and with other departments in the company?
- Do you subcontract work to third parties and if so, how is this managed?
- What influence do you have on the company’s budget process?
- Are there areas where you think the department could improve?
17 Questions to ask a CTO on your next job interview:
- What are the biggest technical challenges the company is currently facing?
- How do you prioritize and manage competing demands from different areas of the business?
- How do you make decisions about which technologies to invest in and develop?
- What’s your risk philosophy when it comes to technology investments?
- How do you manage vendor relationships and what criteria do you use to select vendors?
- What factors do you consider when deciding whether to build or buy a tech solution?
- Can you tell me about a situation where you had to manage a complex technical project?
- Can you give me an example of how you used data to decide on technology investments?
- How do you ensure that new products and features are developed with a good user experience in mind?
- What processes do you have in place to ensure that technical debt is minimized?
- What are your thoughts on open-source and proprietary software?
- What strategies do you employ to attract and retain top talent?
- How do you foster a culture of innovation within your engineering team? Can you tell me about a situation where you had to deliver bad news about a technical problem or setback?
- Can you describe a situation where you had to go above and beyond to solve a technical problem?
- Can you tell me about someone influential during your development as a technologist?
- What books or other resources have influenced your thinking about technology management?
- What are your thoughts on the role of technology in society more broadly?
Frequently Asked Questions
What qualities do you look for in a CTO?
Candidates for the position of CTO (Chief Technology Officer) should possess several qualities, the most important of which are creativity, technical expertise, and management skills.
A CTO is responsible for developing and implementing a company’s technology strategy, so he or she must be able to think outside the box and find innovative solutions to problems. He/she must also be tech-savvy and aware of the latest trends in his/her field.
Finally, a CTO must be able to lead engineering teams and ensure that their work goes according to plan.
What does a CTO look for in a candidate?
A CTO looks for excellent communication skills in a candidate. He/she must be able to communicate clearly with the team and stakeholders and articulate his/her ideas and vision. The CTO also looks for someone who’s able to collaborate and build positive relationships. A CTO also looks for someone passionate about their work, is a problem solver, can think outside the box and is a team player.
If you want to get to know your CTO and his/her roles better, these questions will give you a good starting point. Remember that every CTO is different, so think of these questions as suggestions rather than rules, and adapt them to your particular situation as needed. Also, remember that CTO’s primary role is to develop and implement a technology strategy that aligns with business goals – keeping that in mind will get you off to a good start!
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