Interviewing for a managerial position can be a stressful experience. Even if you’ve been in manager roles before, IT management can be particularly complex to interview for because there are many systems and subsystems to understand and maintain.
While you shouldn’t have a canned response for every interview question, you should still prepare and familiarize yourself with questions an interviewer might ask you. Managers are senior-level positions, meaning companies will be looking for candidates with a wealth of knowledge and experience.
If you want to have a high chance of getting a call-back, here are some of the most commonly asked questions you should prepare for in an IT manager interview.
What is your technical background?
This question is one of the most common for managerial positions in IT because it’s critical that you have the relevant experience to perform well in the role. If you have a technical background, it will be handy to prepare a list of your previous technical roles to relay. It’s best to list the experience from most to least recent, as relevance is significant here.
Sometimes, the interviewer will pose this question in a way that relates to working with specific systems. Don’t be afraid to ask them what systems they are running, so you can mention whether you have worked with those systems before or would be willing to do so.
An example response: “I’ve worked with many technical systems since starting in the IT industry. I haven’t yet been able to work with the system this company uses, but with the knowledge I possess from working with other programs, I am willing to learn and can do so quickly.”
Are you hands-on with technical issues?
Usually, the role of an IT manager involves overseeing programs, implementing strategy, and making sure everything is running smoothly. However, some managerial positions prefer their ideal candidate to be hands-on with technical issues and understand how to promptly solve them. With this in mind, there might be a high chance that this question may arise during your interview, and it’s best to prepare for it by explaining how your specific technical skills can bring value to the IT department and team.
An example response: “Strategic thinking skills have helped me manage projects efficiently and solve any problems within a selected timeframe. I work well under pressure, helping keep my previous team under control during crises. And being attentive to detail made sure the same mistake never happened twice.”
What value would you bring to the IT department?
IT departments work better when there is staff morale and ethical management involved. It’s critical to highlight your past achievements and how you may have improved staff morale, budgeting, and strategy. Having a manager who is capable of achieving these functionalities is a real asset to any team or company.
An example response: “I feel that I would bring immense value to this department in the role of IT manager, as I have a wealth of technical skills under my belt. In my most recent role, I used my various project management skills to help my team focus on what matters and provide leadership to finish the project by the deadline.”
What do you consider the most crucial duties for an IT manager?
This question is common because the interviewer will want to know how well-researched you are. If you can’t answer this question appropriately, this will show them that you may not understand the importance of the role you are interviewing for in the first place.
Before answering this question, think of some of your most recent experiences and establish the most crucial duties you performed. Think about the essence of a manager and how significant it is to oversee projects, plan strategically, innovate, and be a leader.
An example response: “I believe building effective teams, overseeing projects, and planning strategies are crucial to performing successfully as an IT manager. Without real leadership, it becomes difficult for things to run smoothly, so I make sure I’m always planning and reflecting for ultimate performance.”
Do you have any project management experience?
Although project management experience is not a prerequisite to landing an IT manager position, it is preferable to have some to help you stand out from the crowd. Even if you don’t have any direct project management experience, you should think about some of the projects you have worked on in the past and what roles you played.
As an IT manager, you will need to take a multifaceted approach to directing a team. Having project management experience can sometimes be the capability that separates you from another candidate and progresses your interview to the next stage.
An example response: “In the past, I have worked on multiple projects and had the pleasure of overseeing and determining the timeframe and planning for them.”
What’s the most challenging project you’ve managed so far?
This question will come in handy for those candidates who have a wealth of project management experience.
Explaining your most challenging projects is imperative for the interviewer to see how well you work under pressure and what you constitute as challenging. It’s helpful to mention in your response not only why it was challenging but how you overcame these difficulties.
An example response: “One of the most challenging projects I’ve managed involved updating an entire system with a team of four. The old system was outdated, but the updated version had a lot of underlying components that I needed to double-check. With my attention to detail and comprehensive planning, my team and I updated the system and did a smooth run-through with no errors.”
How do you allocate a budget for projects?
Allocating budgets is a common duty for IT managers and is especially vital to the success of larger projects. Interviewers will usually ask this question so they can figure out whether you can complete diverse projects without overspending and wasting valuable resources.
In your response to this question, you should highlight how you can budget appropriately without wasting time or money.
An example response: “During my last project, I made sure to sit down with my client and discuss their budget. We then worked together and broke it down into subsections, covering all tasks and how much each task will cost.”
How do you negotiate for new hardware or software?
An IT manager will need to understand the technological needs of a company and how to negotiate these needs effectively to improve systems and processes. Most IT companies need to change their hardware or software at some point, and IT managers are responsible for doing so. This question will give you the chance to expand on negotiation techniques and showcase how well you understand the company’s needs.
Before answering this question, you should lead with why negotiation within the IT department is important and then flow into the how.
An example response: “Negotiating on behalf of the IT department can improve how the business operates, especially when it comes to the chance to improve outdated hardware or software. Initially, I would spend some time assessing the current systems and tracking what is and isn’t working. Next, I would identify different services that align with the company, and finally, I would report my findings and make my recommendation.”
How do you track technical performance in your department?
As an IT manager, tracking the performance of your employees is paramount for improving practices by making them more sustainable—helping your department run smoothly. However, there are many excellent tools you can use to measure performance in an IT department, and you should highlight the specifics in your answer.
Think about some of the favorite ways you have reported metrics, and don’t be shy when it comes to listing achievements, such as improving productivity and reducing downtime.
An example response: “At my previous employer, I worked with specific time-tracking tools and reduced the downtime by 5% across the department. I’m also experienced in building SQL reports and custom pivot tables, which helped track key performance indicators.
How do you handle mistakes in the workplace?
Mistakes happen, and as an IT manager, you will be responsible for ethically handling these situations. Not only is this question looking for how you handle the mistakes of employees in the workplace, but how you handle the mistakes you make. Managers need to take accountability for their actions because mistakes will have consequences.
A manager who deals with mistakes in a prompt manner while maintaining staff morale will run a happy IT department. If you don’t know how to answer this question, think about how you would like to be treated by a manager in the event of a mistake, and apply this to your strategy.
An example response: “As a manager, I value taking responsibility for my actions and will do so after any kind of mistake in the workplace. However, when it comes to handling mistakes from an employee, I would take the one-on-one approach and allow them to explain themselves before discussing how to solve the issue together.”
How would you describe your management style?
This question is common for managerial positions, and you should have a prepared response because there are three diverse management style categories that you may align with.
Autocratic Management Styles
If you follow an autocratic management style, you’re probably familiar with one-way communication from the boss to the employee. This style is more controlling, and it’s difficult to build staff morale because leaders who follow this style don’t seek input from others and strictly control a group or organization. Some of the subtypes include authoritative, persuasive, and paternalistic management styles.
Democratic Management Styles
Democratic managers are usually more encouraging and enjoy working with their employees, allowing them to give input during the decision-making process. However, as the manager, you will always make the final decision. Some of the subtypes include consultative, participative, collaborative, transformational, and coaching management styles.
Laissez-faire Management Styles
When it comes to the laissez-faire style, managers generally take a hands-off approach and trust their employees to work without supervision. Management is present at the beginning of projects, but this style allows employees to have free reign over most decisions and structures. Some of the subtypes include delegating and visionary management styles.
However, management styles can coexist, and you can use them differently in various situations.
An example response: “I would say my management style closely follows democratic and laissez-faire. I enjoy giving my team free rein over projects, but I prefer to use my expertise to make the final decision.”
How do you manage disaster recovery?
Disaster recovery (DR) is a critical procedure that most IT managers oversee. When it comes to DR, your technical know-how and confidence are the two elements that will help you regain functionality during a disaster. By asking this question, the interviewer is looking for how you have managed disasters in the past and how you would take what you have learned and put it into practice within your new role.
The main thing you should communicate to the interviewer is how necessary the DR process is and that you are willing to implement an effective strategy for urgent matters if it has not already been specified within the company.
An example response: “Having a solid disaster recovery plan is important for the success of regaining functionality and access to IT infrastructure. My disaster recovery plan involves a risk assessment, the evaluation of critical needs, recovery objectives, and the strategy to test and revise the disaster.”
How do you keep up-to-date with technology trends?
If you want to become an IT manager or simply work in an IT department, it’s essential that you keep up-to-date with technology trends. If you know what’s trending, you can apply these elements to your projects and stay relevant.
Here are some of the most common ways to stay up-to-date:
- Join tech forums
- Follow industry leaders on social media
- Subscribe to newsletters
- Attend seminars
An example response: “I’ve been subscribed to a local tech publication for the past year, so I receive most of the current tech news from there. However, I also follow a few tech giants on Twitter, and I also love to do my own research into what’s trending in the industry.”