Career-Oriented Questions

Stories Of Software Engineering Leaders

Impactful Engineer shares the stories and journeys of men and women who are making significant impact in the software industry. The purpose of Impactful Engineer is to inspire young software engineers to see that are many paths they can take to move forward in their careers and grow their impact wherever they work.
Our goal is to publish an equal number of interviews with women and men because we care about diversity and inclusion in technology.

Who Will We Interview?

Tony Tam will interview directors, VPs, product managers, and software engineers who have reached the level of principal, distinguished, or fellow and who are making significant impact in their organizations.

Via Audio

  • Interviews will be 30 minutes long
  • The audio will be recorded and transcribed using the software Trint

Via Email

  • The interviewee may answer the questions via email and send them to

Final Edits and Ownership

  • The transcription will be edited by Tony Tam and will be approved by the interviewee.
  • The final clean up will be done by the editorial team.
  • All interview content is under full control of the interviewee and can be taken down at their full discretion.

Potential Questions

Not all questions need to be answered, we would rather get more detail answers to fewer questions.   We ask our readers what are 1 to 3 interesting tips and 1 to 2 actions they will take after reading the interview.

(A copy of these questions is on Google Docs for you to make a copy to email back:

1. Where do you currently work and what is your current role within the company? What scope of impact do you have within your organization?

2. Could you give us a history of your career path that led to where you are now? During this journey, where did you have the most significant growth/learning experience and why do you think that was the case?

3. What does a typical day at work look like for you and how do you stay on top of everything that is asked of you? What surprises you the most about where you spend your time?

4. Do you have productivity tips that helps you? I.e. meditation, planning apps, journals, exercise.

5. Which manager made the biggest impact on your career and why?

6. Who has helped/mentored you and has made the biggest impact on your career? What did you learn from this person that you still carry with you to this day?

7. How do you prepare for meetings that you are invited to and how do you successfully run meetings? What patterns of behavior do you wish junior engineers would do more of or less of before, during, and after meetings?

8. If a software engineer (senior, staff, principal) came to you and asked for advice on increasing their impact and getting promoted, how do you approach this question?

9. What advice would you give to a smart, driven engineer zero to three years out of college? What advice should they ignore?

10. Thinking back on your career, what do you think has helped you personally grow your impact in the various stages of your career?

11. Do you have any advice on how to effectively mentor someone through their career? What does a successful mentor/mentee relationship look like?

12. Is there anything that hasn’t been mentioned that you think is relevant to helping other engineers increase their impact? If so, what?

13. Was there any particular turning point or decision in your career that changed the trajectory of your career path? Tell us more about that.

14. In your experience, have you ever been faced with a situation in which you noticed certain things you were doing overshadowed the impact you had made or the good things you’ve done? Have you noticed what mistakes other people have made which prevented them from increasing their impact in an organization?

15. What do you wish your younger self 20 years ago would have done more of, or would have known more about?

16. What is one aspect of your current role that you absolutely did not expect?

17. What would you have done differently?

The following questions are from Tim Ferriss’ book Tribe Of Mentors.

18. In the last 5 years, have you adopted any habits or rituals that make you more impactful?

19. If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it — metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions — what would it say and why? It could be a few words or a paragraph. (If helpful, it can be someone else’s quote: Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?)

20. What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.)

21. In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?

22. In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to (distractions, invitations, etc.)? What new realizations and/or approaches helped? Any other tips?

23. When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do? (If helpful: What questions do you ask yourself?)

24. What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or, what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?

25. Who else should I interview? And could you make an introduction?

Meta Question:

What question should I have asked you, that I didn’t ask and what is your answer?

See Also