Securing the CTO Role: Key Strategies

Securing the CTO Role: Key Strategies


Hey there, Orhan here, and I’m about to spill the beans on how you can almost guarantee that offer to become the next CTO of a hot, growing tech company. Let me lay it out for you – real talk, no fluff.

So, picture this: You’re in the final two for the CTO spot at this amazing company. But then, bam, they go with the other guy. Tough break, right? You’ll probably never know why, but I’ve got some insider tips to help you nail it next time.

The Three Biggies That Might’ve Tripped You Up:

  1. Asking the Right Questions: It’s not just about asking questions – it’s about asking the right ones, and in the right order. As a CTO, you’re not just managing tech; you’re making sure it’s dancing to the same tune as the business goals. During your interview, you need to dig deep into the company’s business. Start with the CEO – get the lowdown on the company’s history, market scene, who’s who in the competitor world, and all that financial jazz. Then, hit up the CFO. You need to know if you’ll have the dough to make your tech dreams happen. And don’t forget the HR and Sales VPs – they’ve got the inside scoop on the team you’ll lead and what you’re selling. During my interview process with Bamilo for the CTO position, I first had an extensive two-hour meeting with the CPO. Following that, I met with the COO, then the VP of Engineering, after which I had discussions with the CMO and, finally, the CEO. To get a better understanding of the company, I visited their office and had a total of 13 different meetings in one day, including conversations with the CFO, HR, and many other colleagues. This courtship and the three-month process ultimately led me to decide to join the company. CTO interviews are like a long-distance marathon, and there are many stakeholders to engage with. It’s crucial to understand their roles and to ask the right questions in the right order, as this shapes your understanding of the company and how you can contribute to its success.

  2. Your First Day Plan: If they ask, “What’s your 90-day plan?” and you’re not ready with an answer, that’s a red flag. You gotta show you’ve got a game plan. For the first 30 days, don’t rush to change things. Get to know your team. Next 30 days, be a fly on the wall in other departments. And in the last stretch, bring all your learnings together and lay out a strategy that aligns with the company’s goals.

  3. Earning Respect: This is key. You’ve got to win over both your tech team and the other execs. Do well with the first two points, and you’re golden here. Show that you’re not just another tech head – you understand and care about the whole business.

How to Ace It Next Time:

  • Learn the Biz: Like really learn it. Dive into the company’s roots, goals, and challenges. You’re not just a tech person; you’re a business person too.

  • Get to Know the Money Side: Chat with the CFO. Understand where the money’s flowing and how it’ll affect your tech dreams.

  • Check the Pulse of the Team: HR’s your go-to here. Are they happy? Is the pay good? Are there any gaps in the team?

  • Understand What You’re Selling: Talk to Sales. What’s working? What’s not? Get the real picture.

  • Product Talk: Hit up Marketing and Product Management. Are the products meeting customer needs? Is the roadmap solid?

  • Customer Reality Check: Professional Services will tell you how the customers are feeling. This is crucial.

  • Your 90-Day Masterplan: Show them you’ve thought this through. First 30 days, observe and absorb. Next 30, get into the nitty-gritty of other departments. Last 30, bring it all together and set a clear, transparent strategy.

The Bottom Line:

If you show up to that interview ready to demonstrate how you’ll be a part of the entire company, not just the tech corner, you’re setting yourself up for success. It’s about being a leader who understands the whole picture, respects the team, and aligns tech with the big business goals. Nail this, and you’re not just a candidate – you’re the candidate.

So, there you have it – Orhan’s guide to acing that CTO interview. It’s not just about tech; it’s about fitting into the bigger puzzle. Good luck out there, and remember, it’s all about showing them you’re ready to lead, not just manage.


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