One of the reasons I don’t give my full name or the company I work for is so I can write posts such as this one. It contains real-world information, not just theory. This is information my company – and fellow Hiring Managers – may not want you to know.
In this post, I’m going to reveal actual questions asked in interviews that I have given, as well as interview panels I’ve been on for other Hiring Managers. These are from a variety of different positions and some of them will even include the key points given to the interview panel. These are the points that are expected in the best answers.
These are not made up or ‘most common’ questions that some interview expert says might be asked. These are the actual questions given to each interview panel member to ask. It’s a real insider’s look at not only the questions but the rating criteria assigned to them.
While the questions may be for jobs different from what you’ll interview for, they will give you a good idea of how common questions are worded and for the logic behind why that question was asked.
I show the list of the actual questions that were given to the interview panel for each of these positions. Keep in mind that the format may vary because they came from different departments, and not all of them contain the rating criteria.
One last point: I take no responsibility for the grammar or sentence structure for these interview sheets. It appears that either HR or the Hiring Managers may not have world-class writing skills!
Senior Business Analyst
Question: What is your definition of Business Analysis?
We want the candidate to cover at least two or three of the following points:
- Defining a Business Problem
- Scoping a Solution
- Process Improvement (analyze to improve processes and/or develop solutions that will achieve greater efficiency, improve outcomes and solve business problems. Gather and review business requirements to define an improved future state)
- Organizational Change
- Technology Component
- Combination of the above
- Process and Requirements Documentation
- Implementation support
- Communications and Training Support
We do not want the candidate to be primarily focused on the following activities:
NOTE: Business Analysis is NOT:
Technical Design or Coding
Question: Explain how you would go about the requirements gathering process
- Business requirements – what and why
- Non-functional requirements
- Functional requirements
- Use Cases
- Technical requirements (are developed AFTER business needs are defined)
Question: Can you give some examples of results you achieved in a business analyst role
Their example should fall into one of the following categories and demonstrate success in that category.
- Make a process more efficient, saving time and resources
- Driving out the real requirements of a system, reducing the rework and re-development required.
- Identified opportunities for increased customer satisfaction
Question: Describe some challenges that a Business Analyst might encounter.
- A Business Analyst needs to balance business needs with technological restraints. It’s important to remember that the purpose of technology is to support the business needs and when in conflict, business needs take priority.
- It’s critical for Business Analysts to put aside their personal prejudices and assumptions in order to objectively listen and accurately describe all business requirements.
- Specifications must be written to accurately describe what the developers must program. While specifications can be written in a very structured manner, it’s not the Business Analyst’s role to actually perform the hands-on technology development.
Question: Tell me about a time when you were faced with a requirement/enhancement that wasn’t feasible. How did you handle the situation?
- Don’t simply dismiss it away. Approach this situation in a way that makes it clear that the decision isn’t a personal one, but one based on a well-informed position with associated costs.
- Clarify the requirement. Remember, often when a “requirement” is elicited it is really stated in the form of a solution. So take the time to verify the true requirement.
- Identify why the requirement isn’t feasible. Do your best to explain the technical limitations using non-technical language that the business can understand.
- If implementation of a new requirement isn’t feasible due to the prohibitive cost, estimate the associated cost and present this information to the business.
Question: Give an example of a time when you analyzed a business need and then identified the best solution to meet that need.
The solution does not necessarily have to be a technology solution. It can be a process improvement or an organizational change. The key point is that the business need led to a solution, rather than finding a solution and then looking for a business need to which it can be applied. The best answer will also include measurable results from applying that solution. (it’s acceptable to expand on an example that was used in question #3).
Question: What analysis and modeling techniques do you use to translate business objectives into system requirements? What information do you put into a Business Requirement Document or a Functional Specifications Document?
- Business Requirement Documents are written to define the requirements of a business process or a system that needs to support a business process.
- In contrast, the Functional Specification Document defines “how” the system will accomplish the requirements by outlining the functionality and features that will be supported by the system.
Question: Is there anything else you would add that would tell us how you would be successful as an IT Business Analyst for XXXXXX?
Information Technology Services Manager, Level 1
Question: Please describe your philosophy of customer service as well as your experience in providing customer service. Given an environment where lack of resources has created work backlogs, how would you deal with a chronically unhappy user community that had high expectations?
- Setting priorities,
- identifying resources, requesting/finding resources
- Willingness to reach out and engage customers regarding business needs
- Direct, honest about service levels
- Willingness to not cave into demands at the expense of other customers
- Maintain technology standards
Question: In an environment of rapid organizational changes, how would you overcome the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality and engage the staff in a manner in which they embrace the changes?
- Understands what motivates people individually
- Share problem solving and involvement in the process
- Constant and transparent communication
Question: What skills do you feel are important for the job of IT Operations Manager and describe your experience with these skills.
- Strong organizational skills
- Strong customer service skills
- Strong communication skills, both with staff and upper management
- Ability to build effective working relationships with subordinates, co-workers, and customers
- Attention to detail
- Strong planning skills
Question: Tell us about a time when you had a conflict with your manager. What actions did you take and why?
- Doesn’t speak negatively about anyone
- The ability to successfully resolve conflicts is important for all members of an IT team
- Involve proof of maturity level, unselfish
- Able to handle conflict – with compromise and working it out without external
- sat down with the other person and asked what his issues were
- outlined my issues
- talked about which issues were most important and which could be compromised on
- looked for the common aspects of our goals and placed those first
- decided together what to give up and what to keep, so that both parties felt they were winning something, satisfied
Question: Give an example of a performance problem you had with an employee, what steps you took, and the end result.
- Address the issue with the employee openly and honestly
- Reach an agreement on the nature of the problem
- Get employee buy-in on a method to resolve
- Follow up to prevent a re-occurrence
Question: What is your philosophy for building a high-performing team, particularly where there are several IT disciplines and levels within disciplines?
- Employee involvement
- Keep employees informed
- Provide interesting work
- Give independence/empowerment/decision-making authority
- Provide the tools they need
- Run interference
- Foster attitude of “we’re all on the same team”
Question: What would you do in the first 100 days on the job?
- Understanding requirements/challenges of the job
- Setting priorities
- Taking initiative
- Meeting the staff
- Meeting the business
(PANEL MEMBER RATING ONLY – NOT TO BE ASKED)
Please rate the applicant’s communication skills based on the interview.
Best rating will include:
- Applicant provided clear and concise, organized answers with sufficient detail to all questions.
- Seems to know shortcomings and strengths
- Excellent verbal communication skills.
- Communications are clear, articulate, on point to questions.
- Addresses questions asked lucidly.
- Listens attentively and with comprehension when others are speaking.
- Does not struggle for phrasing and wording.
- Ideas and points are easy to follow because they are presented in an organized manner.
- Conveys enthusiasm and interest. Answers questions with energy and positive thinking.
- Appropriate verbal/non-verbal behavior accompanies verbal elements (e.g., looks people in the eyes, volume of voice is appropriate, uses appropriate hand/body gestures.)
Enterprise Manager – End User Services (first interview)
(note: this set of interview questions didn’t have key points for each question. Instead, rating criteria are listed at the end and they apply to the entire interview)
Tell us a little about yourself. What makes you the right person for this job? How would your specific skills and experience benefit our organization?
What are the primary qualities of a leader? Give us specific examples of how you demonstrate each of these qualities.
What kind of challenges do you see if you were to move into this leadership role?
Tell us about a time when you were faced with implementing a vision that you may not have been in full agreement. What steps did you take to resolve your conflict?
Can you please describe your approach for getting staff on board with the alignment and vision of this department?
In your opinion, what are the top four benefits that alignment will bring? Please provide two examples for our department and two examples for our customers.
Please provide some examples when you have had to maneuver through complex political situations. What were the outcomes? What would you do differently if you could go back in time?
Please give us your definition of employee development. Describe how you have developed employees with specifics regarding the most successful methods.
Please give us an example of how you approached and worked with a very challenging co-worker, customer, vendor, or direct report. What were the outcome and lessons learned?
SCORING CRITERIA TO BE APPLIED (SCALE OF 0-5)
- Past management and/or leadership skills
- Forward-looking, personal drive, commitment, believes in teamwork
- Politically sensitive
- Enjoys challenges, effectively copes with shifting priorities, anticipates land mines
- Authoritative or visionary?
- Compassion, confidence
- Facilitator, roadblock remover
- Communication, oral and written
- Understands their conflict management style (competitive, collaborative, accommodating, avoiding, compromising)
- Good time management, operational efficiencies, reduces complexities
- Good development plans, goals, and objectives.
- Understands resource allocation and human resource issues
LAN Administrator, Level 1 (Final Interview)
Question: Briefly tell us about your experience and training as it relates to LAN/WAN and desktop support. Give us an example of a challenge you have faced in this area. How did you handle it and what was the outcome?
KEY POINTS FOR RATING
- Organization of the information.
- Did the candidate exhibit poise?
- Did the candidate respond to the specific question?
- Did the candidate do his homework?
- How his skills relate to the requirements of the position.
- Distinguish LAN (Local Area Network) WAN (Wide Area Network)
- Content – Routers, Switches/Hubs, NIC (Network Interface Card), TCP/IP, DHCP, Domain Naming, Active Directory, and Network Connectivity.
Question: What do you consider your strongest technical skill and why? What technical skills would you like to improve upon?
KEY POINTS FOR RATING
Listen for relevancy of the strongest technical skill, particularly in one of the following areas:
- Desktop/laptop operating systems and applications, specifically: Windows XP, Windows 7, Office 2003, 2007, 2010
- Server operation, configuration, and administration
- Network operating systems, configurations, commands, and network protocols
- Microsoft Active Directory
- Windows Server 2000, 2003 and 2008
- Data and security systems
- Backup, disaster recovery, and related processes
Question: All of the users you support use Windows 8. A user informs you that their PC is performing slowly? What could cause slow system performance?
KEY POINTS FOR RATING
- Need to determine what causes the slowness:
- Too many running processes.
- LAN connection speed and file size are too big to open the network drive.
- Hard drive full or needs defrag.
- Virus or worm infection or system memory to low
Question: Describe a past situation in which you provided excellent customer service to a user.
KEY POINTS FOR RATING
Listen for logical thought processes, good communication to the customer, and a successful resolution for the issue.
Question: A user reports they are unable to log into their workstation. Describe questions you would ask the user and/or actions you would take to troubleshoot.
KEY POINTS FOR RATING
4 or more of items below identified = excellent response
2 – 3 = Good response
0 – 1 = poor response
- ID and password are correct
- Workstation or domain login?
- Are they the only user with problems
- NIC connection valid (physical and software)
- Error messages
Question: Give me and example of when you had a disagreement with a team you were working in and how you resolved it.
KEY POINTS FOR RATING
The purpose of these questions is to reveal the candidate’s teamwork and/or management capabilities. Listen for an explanation that indicates the candidate’s ability to objectively handle disagreement with co-workers in a manner that resolves the disagreement and preserves or enhances the relationship.
Question: How do you explain to an angry, frustrated, or confused customer that you will not be able to solve their computer problems in a timely manner? What did you do specifically that was effective?
KEY POINTS FOR RATING
Listen for the following actions:
- Was empathetic to customer’s anger or frustration
- Explained why a quick resolution wasn’t possible in a way that wasn’t defensive or placing the blame on management and/or co-workers
- Looked for workarounds to offer customer
- Gave the customer a specific time frame in which the problem could be solved
- Actions were taken to leave on good terms with the customer
Question: In this position, you may experience a high volume of work and requests for service. It is often difficult to ensure fairness and consistency in the delivery of services. How would you respond to and prioritize three requests, one from your supervisor, one from a customer with a virus problem, and one request from a remote field operations precinct, each of them needing to be handled immediately? How would you approach this situation?
KEY POINTS FOR RATING:
The best candidates can assess the situation by setting priorities, doing an impact evaluation, can use effective negotiation skills, communicate with customers, time management, utilize team member cooperation/delegation, involve management if necessary, multi-tasks. Able to balance priorities, meet deadlines, and seek information needed to make a decision.
The candidate should be able to adhere to department practices. ID and respond quickly to the virus if critical. Presents a positive attitude to working with a variety of job duties and customers. Has demonstrated flexibility in past work assignments.
Cons: Candidate not able to prioritize or take ownership has to ask supervisor for immediate guidance.
Question: How would you resolve a conflict with a vendor or other outside agency regarding ownership of a computer problem/issue when each of you thinks ownership to fix the problem lies with the other person or agency?
KEY POINTS FOR RATING:
This is a problem-solving question. The best candidate is persuasive in handling the situation, has logical thinking, evaluates alternative courses of action, seeks solutions in a positive way, and is flexible. Demonstrates ability to work cooperatively and effectively with others. Aware of shared responsibility for successful outcomes.