Topics for Incident Manager Interviews

This is a follow-up to my earlier Interviewing post – I said at the end of that I would suggest some topics that an interviewer could use. If you are going to use any of these, please keep in mind all my do’s and don’t from the earlier post.

If you imagine that you are interviewing for an Incident Manager to take over a team of (say) 6, in an organisation where IT Service Management is developing and not yet totally mature - I'm hoping these questions/topics will help.

Also note that how you describe the job is important – for instance, you might have said ‘experience of IT Service Management techniques, and their practical application’ for an organisation of your size. What you must do is signpost the fact that ITSM is part of what you are looking for - it's not nice to suprise people at interview.

Topic: As I’m your supervisor, what might you include on a management report to me?

I might start by asking this, and discuss some of the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that he might include (if you are asked ‘what do you want?’ reply you are looking for suggestions). All I would be looking for here are some ideas that show the candidate has thought about this, and prepared (or read) such a report previously. If the only suggestion offered was ‘SLA resolutions on time’ I might be a little disappointed – there are many other measures that tell you a lot more.

Topic: What would you expect to have responsibility for as Incident Manager?

This is potentially a little controversial, so explain you are simply looking for sensible suggestions and have nothing fixed in your mind. What you are looking for here is for the candidate to show they have a good grasp of such a role, and to suggest things such as the Incident Management process, production of reports, day-to-day Incident team supervision, taking a lead in Major Incident handling and so on.

Topic: What strategies might you adopt for specialist Incident teams?

There are lots of ways to phrase this, such as ‘we have teams organised into technical specialities, and some of them are hopeless’ or ‘Our second line support teams has a record currently of poor customer service’. Regardless of the way you phrase this, what you are getting at is how the Incident Manager will work to ensure an acceptable level of quality and service that he or she may not control directly (of course, your candidate might have suggested a supervisory role of such team in an earlier response).

Topic: You find out that Incidents are marked as resolved when they are not. What do you do?

Again, you should be looking for practical suggestions (see my earlier post on Incident Resolution and Quality) that show a methodical and pragmatic candidate.

There are many, many more you can use. Note that all of the above are open-ended with no absolutely right or wrong answer – they simply allow candidates to express themselves, and to show a little bit of creativity and interest in the subject.

One of the things that I’ve found somewhat off putting in the past is direct quotation from the written ITIL sources as a holy text –it’s usually the less confident candidate who does this. What I have found works best is to find someone with ideas and an interest in what they do.