The War Room

How to handle IC --> management question in interviews

I used the search bar before posting but couldn't find anything that closely matched the question.

I am happy in my current position, but as a general rule I like to interview periodically to keep my skills sharp and see what other opportunities are out there. I have been an IC at the same company for the last ~6 years and have been successful in that role. At the moment I don't have interest in going into management and would rather stay an IC.

In almost every interview I've done, they ask if I have goals to move into a management type role. Does it hurt me if I say I don't necessarily see that as a goal, and that I would prefer to remain an IC? Or is it better to get that out the first time they ask so that expectations are clearly set?

Would love to hear what you all think!

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Valued Contributor
Sales Director
Cop out answer but it varies based on culture. Why do you want to remain an IC? I’d say your answer to that question is critical to whether or not I’m going to see it either positively or negatively as a hiring manager.
Senior Account Executive
I feel it is the best role for me and where I would have the best impact on the team. I'm not opposed to moving into management at some point, but I don't see it as an immediate goal.Β 
People can grow their careers by leading others (manager's path) or by becoming the best at a craft (seniority as IC), explain that you prefer the latter route and have been developing your skills for that, and that you're looking for workplaces where you can develop that path further.
Senior Account Executive
That is a great way to frame it, thanks!
Big Shot
What is an IC?

Regardless I'd say that management is something I've thought of, but that my performance and results are my priority. You can say you are seeing success where you are and that you want to make sure you're in a role where you can do the most good for the organization. If that means moving to management in the future then you would consider it.

This lets them know you're not a climber and that they will need to compensate appropriately if they want to move you around. It also doesn't disqualify you from companies that are growing and looking for staff that can scale with them.
Senior Account Executive
Individual Contributor.Β 

Thanks for the insight, that is great!
Well as long as you can explain what and why you want/don’t want it, why not?

I want to be an IC because I love the kick of closing a deal and having everything in my own hands. I don’t get energy from coaching or doing reporting etc.Β 
Are you guys aiming for management positions (VP or Sales Manager) or focusing for on being the number 1 rep?
What's your role? Manager or IC
What's your role?
26GoingOn70 , Β  ChiDawg , Β  jkliger Β  and 89 people voted
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