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Common ITSM Interview questions and how to answer them

Interviewing for an IT Service Management role can be a daunting prospect. In a role so vast and varied, it is hard to preempt exactly what is going to come up during the interview process. You could be asked to define the service desk, right through to giving an example of a time you handled change management. Being prepared is key, and so you have come to the right place.

ITSM interview questions

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 (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) is a standardised set of practices within ITSM, and chances are these practices will form part of an ITSM interview. The following are some common interview questions you may be asked (complete with 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.
  • 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? Service Level Agreement. And what are the three main types of SLAs? An SLA refers to the commitment which exists between a service provider and the end user. They can be:

    1. Internal – between you and an internal customer such as another department.

    2. A customer or external SLA – between you and an external customer.

    3. 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 IT service which is unplanned. Note: you may be asked to give an example from 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.

Note this list is far from exhaustive, and you may be asked about the responsibilities of a service desk, about portfolio management, to define the RACI model, or questions surrounding change management. Remember, the interviewer is not trying to catch you out, or necessarily looking for a textbook answer. They are trying to gain a picture of your understanding, and judge whether you have relevant knowledge for the role.

Set yourself up for success

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 have an effect on the questions you are asked. That said, never assume their knowledge or level of understanding.

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