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3 Must Ask IT Operations Manager Interview Questions

Updated on January 19, 2014

Mindfulness & Awareness

IT Operations is an often overlooked role until your business is having outages and downtime so often it begins to impact the bottom-line.

That’s why finding an IT operations manager who is mindful, and not just technical, is vital. (Mindful in the sense of big picture.)

  • First, they need soft skills such as budgeting, customer services, and vendor relations.
  • Then, people skills such as counseling, mentoring, and leading,
  • And third, any important skill-sets required to fill in gaps such as: technical project manager or release manager experience.

In the traditional role the IT Ops Manager handles all the day to day management of IT which includes build, support, and escalations. However, with the introduction of cloud computing and virtualization, IT Ops managers can now find themselves on the front line of major projects as a TPM.

This doesn't mean the other responsibilities are less important, but it does means the Ops manager role has become boarder and thus finding someone who can fill all the requirements has gotten more difficult.

Meaningful Ops Manager Interview Questions

These IT Operations Manager interview questions will help identify interviewees with seemingly the right experience and mindfulness depending on your expectations of the Ops manager job description.

Question #1 – Soft Skills

Provide an example of the last time you had to resolve a customer problem related to a service your team was supporting?

For example an application was slow and impacting business users or the end user customer due to infrastructure problems.

Explanation for interviewer:

Service issues are common problems that happen in IT environments. Often these issues get escalated up to the Ops manager because there is an unresolved technical issue impacting performance, or there is a lack of resources available to properly address the problem. Or there is a capacity management problem. Maybe even all of the examples given are going on.

Try to determine if the interviewee is only reacting to the problem, or if they are aware of the bigger picture causing it. Are they interested I solving the problem long term or only for the interim?

Interviewees who consider the customer impact and will lead efforts to improve service delivery should be considered key candidates.

Questions #2 – People Skills

Provide an example of a time when you had to deal with a person on your team who was frustrated with you for correcting them?

This person may have done something that caused an outage or customer impact and now they are gossiping and causing other members to be frustrated. Or maybe they are rogues who just do what they want without talking to anyone.

Explanation for interviewer:

Technology problem are much easier to fix than people problems. But it’s people, not technology, who will lead an operations team to greatness. And managers who can handle situations with employees who cause problems for the team are needed.

Reigning in rogue admins or engineers is likely the biggest task in the first 90 days of the job. Finding interviewees who are experienced and can use tact should be considered key candidates.

Question #3 – Adaptability

Provide an example of a time when you were assigned a task or project outside your normal job role?

For example maybe it was to introduce a new way of service delivery using DevOps or ITIL? How did you handle it and what were the results?

Explanation for interviewer:

Many companies are moving towards agile and adapting to these changes isn't easy for people used to legacy IT ways of doing things. Finding a candidate who can be excited about applying new ways of service delivery is important.

IT Operations Managers will often be tasked with leading culture changes and they will need to show a willingness to succeed, versus - just try.

Anyone with examples of successfully implementing new processes should be considered.


Obviously every IT department has their own flavor of technology and there are 100’s of interview questions available online to choose from. But the goal of these three questions is to identify interview candidates who can:

  • See the bigger picture.
  • Quickly and tactfully handle people issues.
  • And adapt to a changing role.

Finding an IT Operation Manager with mindfulness of people, technology, and one’s own ideas is crucial. Good Luck!

Read more hubs by Joe: Get Virtualized, Start a Career in Virtualization VMware Interview Questions


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    • itmanager profile image

      Joe Sanchez 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Absolutely, a lot relies on the interviewers having a good sense of people and being prepared. Thus, the need for good questions to trigger responses and bring out the real person behind the suite.

      Thanks for the comment!

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 3 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      During interviews we have to ascertain the person's knowledge and skills. Likewise, we have to learn his/her previous behaviors and possibly future ones that will affect the company. These are important info in just a few minutes. the interviewer must really know what he/she is doing.