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Common IT service management (ITSM) interview questions and how to answer them

Interviewing for an IT service management (ITSM) role can be a daunting prospect. In a sector where roles are so vast and varied, it is hard to pre-empt exactly what is going to come up during the interview process. You could be asked anything from defining the service desk, right through to an example of a time you handled change management.

Being prepared is key, so you have come to the right place!

ITSM job application process

The application process for most ITSM positions is similar to that of many other jobs. First, you will need to submit your CV and cover letter to any relevant advertised roles. The employer or recruiter will then screen these applications, before inviting a shortlist of candidates for a face-to-face interview. In addition to this, some roles may require you to complete a test or exercise to assess your technical abilities. References may then be contacted and, if successful, you will receive a job offer detailing the terms and conditions of employment.

ITSM interview questions and answers

As well as generic interview questions, such as tell me about yourself or why do you want this job, an IT service management interview is likely to delve into the nitty gritty of the role.

ITIL® 4 (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) is a standardised set of practices within ITSM, and chances are these practices will form part of an ITSM interview.

Learn more about the difference between ITIL and ITSM.

The following are some common ITIL and ITSM interview questions that you may be asked (complete with our recommended answers):

What are some of the benefits of ITIL?

ITIL helps with the alignment of IT services and business needs. It establishes consistency and gives businesses a competitive advantage. ITIL also betters customer relationships through improved customer satisfaction with service delivery. Other notable benefits include improved cost-effective use of resources, better management of risk, and better handling of change.

Discover more of the benefits of ITIL 4.

What is the difference between a project and a process?

A project tends to have a fixed time span whereas a process is continuous with no end date.

What does SLA stand for? And what are the three main types of SLAs?

SLA stands for Service Level Agreement. An SLA refers to the commitment which exists between a service provider and the end user. They can be:

  • Internal – between you and an internal customer such as another department
  • A customer or external SLA – between you and an external customer
  • A multilevel or hierarchical SLA – between everybody or, at least, multiple departments of an organisation

What is a freeze period?

This refers to a time period when changes to the source code are no longer allowed.

What is an OLA?

OLA stands for Operation Level Agreement and is a contract between IT groups within a company defining how they will support the SLA.

Is the end user the same as the customer?

Within ITSM, the end user tends to refer to the direct recipient of a service or product, whereas a customer refers to someone who can choose from various products, suppliers, and services.

Define an incident

An incident in ITSM is an interruption to an IT service which is unplanned.

Note: you may be asked to give an example from your own personal experience.

What is a PDCA cycle?

Plan, Do, Check, Act.

This cycle is used in various industries as a way of improving output. The ‘plan’ stage refers to identifying and mapping out improvements. ‘Do’ is the implementation stage. ‘Check’ refers to monitoring and measuring, and ‘act’ refers to the actions taken for continual improvement.

How do you ensure that the ITSM system you develop is secure and compliant with industry standards?

To ensure the ITSM system you develop is secure and compliant with industry standards, you must conduct a thorough risk assessment and continue undergoing regular audits to identify and address any weaknesses.

Make sure you implement secure coding practices and use encryption techniques to protect sensitive data. Additionally, maintain strict access controls and authentication measures to control who has access to the system.

What experience do you have with integrating ITSM systems with other enterprise systems?

Explain a time when you integrated an ITSM system with another enterprise system, detailing how you:

  • Defined the integration goals
  • Standardised interfaces to facilitate communication between the two systems
  • Ensured the data exchange between systems was mapped correctly
  • Implemented real-time data synchronization to enable timely updates between systems
  • Established a secure authentication and authorisation mechanism to control access
  • Defined event triggers and workflows to automate processes seamlessly
  • Implemented monitoring tools to track performance
  • Documented the integration process
  • Conducted thorough testing
  • Considered scalability

Setting yourself up for success in IT service management

To quote Benjamin Franklin: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. In the build up to an interview, preparation is essential. Have some real-life examples up your sleeve, as knowing your stuff in theory is great, but equally important is how you apply it.

It is worth knowing who is going to be interviewing you. Will someone from the IT team be present, or is the interview with HR and general managers? This may influence the questions you are asked. That said, never assume their knowledge or level of understanding.

Finally, consider gaining an ITIL 4 qualification. Not only will you learn more in depth answers to the common questions we have asked above, but an ITIL certification is the top way to evidence your abilities and proficiencies in ITSM. The ITIL 4 framework is aligned with a range of international quality standards and is recognised by organisations worldwide.