Interviews · Engineering management

What are Recommended Interview Questions for Chief Engineer & Finance Director?

Jonathan Morgenstein Founder, Chief Executive Officer at Empowerment Solar

April 4th, 2016

I am hiring a Chief Solar Engineer and a Director of Finance (they must do Creative financial modeling/project finance, all our corporate finance, and audit prep). I have vetted individuals via resume and 30 minute interviews to see if their personalities are a "good fit" for our StartUp social enterprise: we're a for-profit selling solar systems to Palestinians in the West Bank, but with an emphasis on a "Triple Bottom Line".

Now I'm calling a select few back for longer interviews. Do people have suggestions on good questions that are open-ended, are simple enough to answer in an interview setting, but elicit something significant about them as potential key members of our leadership team?

Noah Weiner Customer Experience Champion | SaaS Start Up Strategy Executive | Web Presence Specialist | Digital Media Marketer

April 4th, 2016


This comes from limited to no exposure to how far along you are now, but as long as you and the candidates are very clear about the roles and responsibilities needing to be filled right now vs. in the future, you should be in a good place to vet people further.

Folks who have "been there and done that" before will have a keen understanding of how, long before hiring a team, your new Chief Engineer may be asked to strap on headphones and code all day long to breathe life into your platform - which is not what a C-level engineer does by a long shot. So, I'd ask about their experience in facing responsibilities that are not typically C-level at all.

And, be sure you yourself know what your next 3-12 months needs are from these folks. An expert "roll up your sleeves" coder may be exactly what you need, but not all of them can ever become a C-level leader; which is fine and understandable.

Know what role you are filling, and make sure they know that too. Often, start ups I consult find that they just need someone to own and build the code, and that costs far less than a CTO, and can provide more realistic focus to the role at hand.

Good luck.