Uncategorized13 April 2022by mrussell0Top 20 information technology director interview questions

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A technology director wears multiple hats and is a strategic role within every organization, as the marketplace and world becomes increasingly automated, tailored, and complex. Use this regularly updated resource to stay on top of the key questions executives and business leaders are asking their technology chiefs.

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20 interview questions for Information Technology Directors

Interviewing IT leaders can often be a major challenge for organizations. Often, the hiring manager, whether a CFO, a COO or a CEO, lacks the knowledge to adequately assess technical capabilities. However, in our opinion, technical ability should not be high up on the priority list for an effective IT leader. Staff and vendors should generally bring the technical knowhow. The primary task of your future IT leader should be bringing the strategic vision, the ability to execute, and the relationship management capabilities to deliver a technology roadmap that will enable your business to succeed.

This interview guide will help you formulate the right mix of questions, enabling you to find the right cultural and leadership fit for your organization. If your IT leader also requires specific technical skills, then we recommend finding a consulting partner who can provide a technical interview. We’d be happy to discuss this with you. Just fill out the contact form and we’ll be in touch.

 

1. How do you build a successful team?

What is a good answer?

  • Identifies that the strategic objectives of the business drive the contribution required by the IT team, which in turn drives the capabiltiies and structure of the IT team
  • Understands the importance of building trust within a team
  • Understands the role of mentoring and developing resources
  • Should be able to discuss when to prioritize skills and experience, versus when it’s better to take a shot with a smart but inexperienced resource with bags of potential

 

2. How do you balance letting your employees stand (and fall) on their own with the need to jump in to help them out?

What is a good answer?

  • Recognising that employees need to feel supported, but not disempowered. They need to be able to make mistakes and know you have their back
  • Identifying patterns where staff need more support and coaching them to handle exceptions
  • Creating a culture where people are encouraged to use their initiative whilst feeling comfortable asking for help

 

3. What should people be aware of when transitioning from an individual contributor role to a manager role?

What is a good answer?

  • Recognising that you are a roll model, and that others will look to you for cultural cues and as an example of the desired work ethic
  • The need to position your team for success. And manager is only a success when their team is a success
  • The need to build relationships with key stakeholders and other business units

 

4. What is your approach to prioritizing projects?

What is a good answer?

  • Discusses the need to align with business objectives
  • Utilizing business cases to determine the costs, benefits, ROI and risks of different IT investments
  • Discuss the need to balance projects that are innovative versus scaling or structuring enterprise processes

 

5. What is the role you feel technology plays in our industry?

What is a good answer?

  • Should demonstrate both enthusiasm for and an understanding of how technology is changing your particular industry, such as:
    • Healthcare: privacy, security, interconnectivity, and patient outcomes
    • Mining: safety and environmental management
    • Finance: regulatory compliance, availability, and performance
    • Manufacturing: driving automation excellence, minimizing material waste, reducing in-flight inventory

 

6. What do you know about our company?

What is a good answer?

  • Research the history of the organization and discuss highlights/events
  • Show how the mission and values of the organization align with their own core principles and interests
  • Discuss key imperatives facing the organization and how they can help

Note: This question was purportedly asked by interviewers from Halsall Associates Limited

 

7. What would you bring to this role that others wouldn’t?

What is a good answer?

  • An answer that displays a clear understanding of what is needed to succeed in this specific role, and how that ties in with their demonstrable abilities
  • An awareness of their own abilities and limitations
  • They should be able to sell themselves whilst remaining humble, a key quality in a leader

Something to bear in mind is that IT directors will have a different levels of ability across the 4 leadership domains. It’s up to you to determine which one is most critical for the success of your particular role. Oftentimes people will ask for all of them and end up with someone who excels in none.

Leadership Domains (source: What Are the Four Domains of CliftonStrengths? | EN – Gallup):

  1. Executing
  2. Influencing
  3. Relationship Building
  4. Strategic Thinking

Note: This question was purportedly asked by interviewers from RSA

 

8. Why did you apply for this position?

What is a good answer?

  • They need to demonstrate a clear logic and rationale for their interest, and knowledge of both the role and the company
  • Beyond that, we’ll leave this one to you to determine what a good answer is =)

Note: This question was purportedly asked by interviewers from CIBC

 

9. Give an example of your leadership style?

What is a good answer?

  • As we mentioned above, we recommend considering which of the 4 leadership domains are most critical for the success of your particular role. Oftentimes people will ask for all of them and end up with someone who excels in none.

Leadership Domains (source: What Are the Four Domains of CliftonStrengths? | EN – Gallup):

  1. Executing
  2. Influencing
  3. Relationship Building
  4. Strategic Thinking

Note: This question was purportedly asked by interviewers from Agrium

 

Do you even need to recruit an IT Director?

Wondering whether a virtual IT Director might be a good fit? Check out our article on virtual IT leadership

 

10. Can you provide an example where you’ve had an difficult employee. How did you handle them and what would you do differently?

What is a good answer?

  • An understanding of the underlying issues and how they were resolved
  • Shares an instance where an employee was coached from poor to better performance
  • Shows awareness of what did/didn’t work, and how they can improve

Note: This question was purportedly asked by interviewers from Scotiabank

 

11. What lessons have you learned about working with vendors / partners?

What is a good answer?

  • Recognizes that a good relationship is more than just a solid contract
  • There is a need for the relationship to add value to all parties
  • Can provide examples on how they have managed tricky situations and achieved positive outcomes

 

12. What is your approach to developing effective relationships with stakeholders?

What is a good answer?

  • Demonstrate effective strategies in understanding stakeholder’s needs
  • Understanding that the relationship must add value to all parties
  • Understand the need for relationshp to be based on trust and empathy
  • Demonstrate good interpersonal and communication skills

 

13. How do you manage the triple constraints of cost, schedule, scope?

What is a good answer?

  • Recognising the need for good governance
  • The need to align with business priorities
  • Provide good examples on how to balance trade offs of cost, schedule, scope

 

14. What are the best practices in relationship to cloud enablement?

What is a good answer?

  • Shows a good understanding of Cloud technology and how it has impacted how IT is delivered within businesses
  • Recognises the need to manage security and disaster recovery
  • Identify the need to closely manage licensing and usage

 

15. What are your approaches to managing technology change?

What is a good answer?

  • Discusses the need for an effective change management framework, such as ADKAR
  • Recognises that ‘if you build it they will come’ is not an effective strategy for user adoption
  • The importance of communication
  • Can describe scenarios when they have proactively and successfully managed change
ADKAR Steps 
A - AWARENESSAwareness of the need for change
D - DESIREDesire to support the change
K - KNOWLEDGEKnowledge of how to change
A - ABILITYAbility to demonstrate skills and behaviour
R - REINFORCEMENTReinforcement to make the change stick

 

16. What do you feel is most important for business: IT enablement or innovation?

What is a good answer?

  • Rocognises that probably a combination of both is important
  • Depending on the industry, and the specific business, the exact mix will differ
    • Enablement: helping organizations do their core business better
    • Innovation: helping organization lead with their technology

 

17. What are some best practices when it comes to managing information security?

What is a good answer?

  • Recognises that an organization’s data is among it’s most critical assets
  • Understands that employees are the weakest link, so a successful information security program has to including on-going security training and developing a security-friendly culture
  • Has a good understanding of common threats and security technologies
  • Good understanding og specific compliance requirements in your industry, for example HIPAA for the health industry and PCI-DSS for credit card merchants

 

18. What is your experience with four 9’s (99.99%) uptime systems

What is a good answer?

  • Discuss key components to four 9’s systems
  • Understands that high-availability systems comes at a cost
  • Identify situations and use cases when this level of availability is important and when it is not

 

19. What is important to you when choosing a new job

What is a good answer?

  • It shouldn’t be all about money
  • There has to be a fit for culture and values
  • A clearly defined career path shouldn’t be a requirement, flexibility is am important quality, but there should be some recognition that the job must align with high-level career goals

 

20. Tell me about yourself

What is a good answer?

  • This is a chance for you to get to know the interviewee, and see what is important to them. Some ideas for things to look out for:
    • Are they personable and well-rounded?
    • Do they have an genuine interest and curiosity in IT?
    • Are they a good fit for corporate culture?
    • How well does their interests align with the company? It’s important for employee retention for them to have a good cultural fit with your mission.
    • Will you get on well with them?

 

Conclusion

Hope you found these questions insightful and useful. Interviewing should not be taken lightly. Your employees are your most valuable asset, and IT is critical to any modern organization’s success, and so the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Mindfield has helped many organizations find the right IT leadership. If you think your recruitment process would benefit from our input, to help plan your IT department, develop job descriptions, carry out 3rd party interviews, or anything else, then please fill out the contact form and we’ll be in touch. Otherwise, good luck with your recruitment!

 

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