In last week’s post I discussed specific jobs that might benefit from ITIL foundation-level knowledge, as well as why that type of knowledge is important for that job. In this post, I’ll get into more detail about specific interview questions that might be asked in a service management job interview for jobs requiring foundation-level knowledge.
Examples of Questions Interviewers Might Ask as this Level
Sometimes job interviewers misunderstand their role. Often times they structure interviews in such a way as to demonstrate their superiority to the person being interviewed. This is wrong and ineffective and is not actually the purpose of an interview. Rather than structuring an interview to cause candidates to express weakness, what a good interview does is construct the interview in a way that the best candidate clearly stands out by demonstrating how past success can be applied to create future results. Thus, interviews for various levels of service management jobs should take this into account, and should be structured accordingly.
If I interviewed someone for a job that required ITIL Foundation level knowledge, in addition to other questions about the specific technical responsibilities of the job, I might ask the following questions:
Question: Describe a situation when you were able to make use of an organizational process to accomplish a business result.
What this identifies: I’d ask this question because I want to know if the candidate understands the difference between processes and functions, how processes are used to enable communication between functions, in turn resulting in something that the business wants.
What a good answer looks like: A good answer would describe a specific process and how that process involved two or more groups to accomplish something of value. I would expect a candidate to be able to explain how this situation is better than a chaotic situation where processes are lacking or not present.
What gets bonus points: While this question doesn’t require it, if the job requires ITIL Foundation level knowledge and the candidate is able to explain a specific ITIL process (e.g., incident management) and how that process spanned specific organizational functions, they would likely get bonus points. Also, if a candidate is able to clearly identify what was the final output that the business wanted, then I would likely think more positively of them.
Question: Tell me about a time when you identified and helped make an improvement to help the business.
What this identifies: I’d ask this question because I want to work with people who understand that continual service improvement is important and they have a role to play in continual service improvement.
What a good answer looks like: A good answer would describe a specific situation where something in the past wasn’t as good as it could have been, how it was identified, how it was raised, and how they helped to clearly define and implement the improvement.
What gets bonus points: For a job requiring ITIL Foundation level knowledge, an answer that gets bonus points will clearly describe an ITIL-based continual service improvement activity. The candidate might use a term such as “service improvement plan” to identify the improvement, and they will be able to describe how it was raised, how it was tracked, how it was implemented, and ultimately how it helped the business.
Question: Tell me about a time when you were faced with numerous work requests that the people making the requests thought were equally important.
What this identifies: I’d ask this question because I want to know that the candidate understands prioritization and how that affects many service management roles, specifically service desk roles and any role involved in incident management or request fulfillment.
What a good answer looks like: A good answer would describe some method of assessing the relative priority of requests and then making a determination about the order in which requests are addressed based on some defined rules.
What gets bonus points: An answer that gets bonus points will not only describe some type of prioritization scheme, it will likely describe it in the context of ITIL’s recommendation that determines the impact and urgency as a means of identifying priority. Bonus points will also be awarded to a candidate that’s able to describe how they communicate this prioritization in a way that customers understand and accept it. After all, even though we might have rules for prioritization in place, this does not mean that everyone is happy with those rules. Bonus points would also be awarded to a candidate that’s able to explain why prioritization is important to an organization.
I’ve covered some interview questions that job seekers might expect for jobs requiring ITIL Foundation level knowledge. I have also presented a sample of three interview questions, along with what the question identifies, what a good answer might include, and what types of answers one might expect from a high performing candidate. In the next post, I will discuss the types of jobs that might require ITIL intermediate-level knowledge.