Interviews

A few months back, one evening a friend called me asking for help. He was to conduct the technical interview for a few people who have applied for the post of the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for a large business group. The interview was scheduled for the next day. My friend was an HR professional with no technical background. So he wanted me to prepare some questions so that he can conduct the interview with those. He e-mailed me the resumes of the candidates. I had only a few hours to prepare the questions.

I spent nearly 4 hours and prepared a set of questions. I divided the questions into three groups—common questions (first part), specific questions for each individual (based on the candidates’ educational qualifications and experience) and common questions (last part). By around 11.45PM, I e-mailed the questions and answer hints back to my friend. The interviews went well and my friend was able to select a candidate who was acceptable for the company management.

I am providing links to the questions. If you are preparing for the interview for middle / top management technical positions, then you might find these questions useful:

  1. Common Questions – Part I & II
  2. Candidate Specific Questions

Common Questions – Part I

  1. Are you familiar with XYZ Group?
  2. In your opinion what is the role of the CTO and what is his most important contribution to the organization?
  3. Why do you think you are the right person for this job?
  4. In your opinion what is the single most technological advancement that has the most significant impact? Why do you think so?
  5. What kind of an organizational structure you prefer for your team?
  6. You must have read the job description? Do you think something is missing from it or something should be removed from it? Why?
  7. If given the job what will be your immediate are of priority? Why?
  8. What are your plans for the next 1 year, 3 years, 5 years? How do you plan to implement them?
  9. We are a big group and there are many divisions? As the CTO one of your responsibilities is to understand the IT requirements of the various divisions of the Group. How will you do this?
  10. There might be many instances where a division’s requirement is conflicting with another division or with that of the Group. How do you plan to resolve the conflicts and develop an IT Plan that is in line with the corporate plan of the organization?
  11. What are the new technologies that you plan to introduce to improve the level of automation and productivity? Why?
  12. What is your concept of enterprise information integration? What are the technologies (in your opinion) will play a vital role in information integration?
  13. How will you keep yourself abreast with the latest technological developments so that you can always spot an opportunity and capitalize on it?
  14. How will you keep the organization always at the forefront of the technological revolution?
  15. Do you think that we need to constantly upgrade and use the latest technological innovations to stay ahead of competition? If yes, why and how do you plan to do that? If no, why?
  16. How will you find out the feasibility of a technology? How will you conduct a feasibility study?
  17. Do you agree with the statement “In this highly competitive business environment success depends of selecting and embracing the right technology at the right time?” If yes, how do you plan to do that?
  18. In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge in switching to a new technology? (Is it money, other resources, or employee resistance to change?) Have you faced any similar challenges in your previous jobs? How did you handle it?
  19. Are you familiar with any process improvement models? (like CMM, CMMI, ISO SPICE, Trillium, BOOTSTRAP), If yes, can you tell me something about each? If you were to choose one of them which one would you chose for our company and why?
  20. Are you familiar with ERP? We are implementing an Oracle based system. Do you think it is a right decision?
  21. If you are asked to select an ERP solution for a new project (say an Airport) which one will you suggest? (SAP, PeopleSoft, BaaN, etc.)
  22. How do you go about selecting an ERP system for a company? What are the major steps involved?
  23. Are you familiar with CRM, SCM, etc? Please tell me what CRM (or SCM) so that a 12th standard student can understand.
  24. Do you think we will benefit from GIS (Geographical Information System)? How? How will you integrate a GIS solution with the existing technological solutions? What will be the benefits?
  25. How do you define a very large project? (Very large comes after small, medium and large)? Are you familiar with project management of very large groups and projects? How is it different from small, medium and large projects?
  26. Have you ever managed a very large project? Tell me some problems that you encountered and how did you solve them?
  27. Are you familiar with management reporting? In your opinion when do an MIS become a strategic weapon for the organization?
  28. What is your opinion about paperless office? Is it possible? What are the technological solutions available for creating a paperless office? Is Lotus Notes a solution for implementing paperless office?
  29. Are you familiar with DMC (Document Management and control)? Can you tell me the typical life cycle of a document?
  30. Are you familiar with workflow automation and workflow modeling? How do you introduce a workflow automation system? What are the major problems that you see in the implementation and effective use of an efficient workflow automation system?
  31. Are you familiar with PDM (Product data management) and CM (Configuration management)? Do you think we should implement these? If Yes, why? If no, why?
  32. Are you familiar with the various stages involved in the selection and implementation of a technology or product (from request for proposal, initial screening, vendor presentation, vendor evaluation, selection, contracts, consultants, implementation, employee trg, operation, use, maintenance, etc.)
  33. Do you think you can effectively present highly technological topics and solutions to non-technical people? Please give a non-technical presentation of 5 minutes about a technical topic.
  34. On a scale of 1 to 10, how do you rate yourself as a negotiator? Why? Explain. In your opinion what are the 3 most important traits required for a good negotiator?
  35. What is your opinion about metrics? Do you think to metrics are important for assessing performance? Give five metrics that you will measure to assess the performance of our company.

Common Questions – Part II

  1. What is an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed? Can you think on some applications of RSS for our company?
  2. How will you ensure that the information resources of our company are secure?
  3. We have offices in different parts of the country? We have an existing network? Are you familiar with our network? In your opinion is there a better and secure way to network the offices? Explain. (If he does not know about the current networking infrastructure, you can either tell him or ask him to tell the ideal network configuration if he were to design it)
  4. What is the most challenging project that you have done so far? Why and how?
  5. How will you develop a scalable, secure, fault-tolerant, efficient and cost-effective telecommunications infrastructure for an Airport? Explain the various steps.

Candidate Specific Questions

Candidate 1 (M. Tech. (Electronics) with 12 years experience in the Networking field)

  1. Will the lack of MBA affect your performance? Why?
  2. What is SIP (Session Initiation Protocol)? What are it applications and what are the benefits?v
  3. Can you briefly explain the following: SDP (Session Description Protocol), RTP (Real-time Transport Protocol), RTP Audio Video Profiles, PSTN Protocols,
  4. SIP Telephony (SIP-T), Universal Plug and Play Protocol (UPnP)
  5. Explain how GPS works?
  6. What do you mean by Cyclostationary Signal Processing?
  7. What are the various Single Site Location Techniques?
  8. What is Kalman filter?
  9. What are the different types of Jamming? What is Jamming-to-Signal Ratio? What is Burn-Through? What do you mean by cover jamming, range deceptive jamming, inverse gain jamming, AGC jamming, etc.
  10. What do you mean by VoIP (Voice over IP)? What are its applications?
  11. What do you mean by XML? What is the future of XML?

Candidate No. 2 (B. Tech. (Mechanical Engineering) with 14 years experience in Manufacturing and ERP Implementation)

  1. Will the lack of MBA affect your performance? Why?
  2. What is value engineering and what is its role in TQM?
  3. Give me a brief overview of how you will go about the automation of an Airport? What areas will you start automating first? What will be the major technological solutions used?
  4. In your opinion when does true supply chain integration happens? Why? Explain with an example—you can use one of the projects that you have done, say Company XYZ.
  5. How do you perform a risk analysis? Explain with a real life example?
  6. What is GAP Analysis and why is it used?
  7. What is software configuration management and what are its benefits?
  8. How is configuration management done in web engineering?
  9. Are you aware of the major international standards on software configuration management, software quality, internet security, software testing, etc.
  10. What is the difference between operational data and historical data? How is an operational database different from a data warehouse?
  11. What is the difference between date warehousing and data mining? How will you implement data mining for our company so that we get an edge over our competitors? What are data marts?
  12. What is the difference between situational and adaptive leadership? Your resume shows that you have attended the 7 Habits training? Recently Covey has come out with an 8th Habit? What is it? How is e-business different from e-commerce?
  13. What internal control systems and procedures within the Technology function will you introduce? How?
  14. You do not have a very strong background in telecommunications. Do you feel that as a handicap for the job? If yes, what do you plan to do about it? If no, why?
  15. How do you prepare the employees to switch from the systems they were using for years to a new system?

Candidate No. 3 (M.Sc. (Mathematics and Computer Applications) with 16 years experience in the Software field)

  1. You have your masters in Mathematic and MBA specialization in finance? How come you want the job of CTO?
  2. Can you tell me in layman’s words what Fermat’s last theorem is?
  3. Are you familiar with ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library)? What is it?
  4. What is the most crucial phase of software development? Which is the most expensive phase of the SDLC (software development life cycle)?
  5. Are you familiar with the latest programming methodologies like XP (Extreme programming), Agile development, SCRUM, etc. Explain each and what is your opinion about them?
  6. Do you think software configuration management is important? Why? Explain with real life examples.
  7. What is JIT and Kanban? How does it improves productivity and reduces errors?
  8. What are Lean and Six Sigma? What is the difference between lean and six sigma? Have you implemented it in any of the organizations that you worked for?
  9. Do you think it is the job of CTO to implement Six Sigma?
  10. How will you evaluate and select an ERP package for your organization?
  11. What is ERP II? How is it different from ERP? What is intelligent ERP? What is extensible ERP?
  12. What do you mean by internet security, VPN (Virtual Private Networks), SSL and SET?
  13. Does automation always improve productivity? Give some examples where it does not?
  14. What is TQM? What is the difference between QC (quality control) and QA (quality assurance)?
  15. What do you mean by Groupware?
  16. What do you mean by resource leveling?

Candidate No. 4 (M.Sc (Physics) with 16 years Managerial and IT experience)

  1. Will the lack of MBA affect your performance? Why?
  2. What is regelation?
  3. Are you familiar with all aspects of the software development? Which phase of the SDLC is the most important in your opinion? Which is the most difficult and expensive phase?
  4. What is software configuration management (SCM)? Do you think it is necessary to have an SCM system for the software development? If yes, why? If no, why? (if no is the answer he has no clue about SCM)
  5. How will you evaluate and select an ERP package for your organization?
  6. What is ERP II? How is it different from ERP? What is intelligent ERP? What is extensible ERP?
  7. Explain the concept and benefits and working of Groupware to me as if I am a 12th standard student.
  8. In your opinion what will be the future of networking, more specifically wireless networking—tell me about the promising technologies and how you plan to align the organization to make the most out of it.
  9. Who is the inventor of Lotus Notes?
  10. What is TQM?
  11. How will you conduct a quality audit? What are the international quality standards that you are familiar with?
  12. What is ITIL? Do you think our company will benefit by implementing it? If yes, why and will you be able to do it? If no, why?
  13. In your opinion when does true supply chain integration happens? Why? Explain with an example—you can use one of the projects that you have done.
  14. What are the different ways of cutting costs without reducing the manpower?
  15. Give me a marketing presentation on the advantages of switching to a Lotus Domino based web site for our company.

Candidate No.5 (B. Tech. (Electrical & Electronics) with 18 years Techno-management experience)

  1. Do you think the lack of an MBA will hinder your performance? Why?
  2. What is CMMI (CMM Integration)? How is it different from CMM?
  3. Explain the concept of data normalization to me. Assume that I do not have any RDBMS background?
  4. What is SIP (Session Initiation Protocol)? What are it applications and what are the benefits?
  5. Can you briefly explain the following: SDP (Session Description Protocol), RTP (Real-time Transport Protocol), RTP Audio Video Profiles, PSTN Protocols, SIP Telephony (SIP-T), Universal Plug and Play Protocol (UPnP)
  6. How will you evaluate and select an ERP package for your organization?
  7. What is ERP II? How is it different from ERP? What is intelligent ERP? What is extensible ERP?
  8. What is the most crucial phase of software development? Which is the most expensive phase of the SDLC (software development life cycle)?
  9. Are you familiar with the latest programming methodologies like XP (Extreme programming), Agile development, SCRUM, etc. Explain each and what is your opinion about them?
  10. Do you think software configuration management is important? Why? Explain with real life examples.
  11. What are Lean and Six Sigma? What is the difference between lean and six sigma? Have you implemented it in any of the organizations that you worked for?
  12. Do you think it is the job of CTO to implement Six Sigma?
  13. You do not have a very strong background in telecommunications. Do you feel that as a handicap for the job? If yes, what do you plan to do about it? If no, why?
  14. How do you prepare the employees to switch from the systems they were using for years to a new system?
  15. What are the challenges faced by a multi-location software development effort? How do you overcome these challenges? What technologies will you use? How will you monitor performance and progress?
  16. How do you rate yourself as a leader? Why? Give me three most important qualities for a good leader.

Candidate No. 6 (B. Sc. With 18 years IT experience)

  1. Since 1979 how did you continued your learning?
  2. In your opinion what are the major IT security threats? How do we combat them?
  3. What is social engineering (it is technique used by hackers to get password by socializing with employees)
  4. Give me a brief overview of how you will go about the automation of an Airport? What areas will you start automating first? What will be the major technological solutions used?
  5. In your opinion when does true supply chain integration happens? Why? Explain with an example—you can use one of the projects that you have done.
  6. In your opinion what will be the future of networking, more specifically wireless networking—tell me about the promising technologies and how you plan to align the organization to make the most out of it.
  7. What is ITIL? Do you think our company will benefit by implementing it? If yes, why and will you be able to do it? If no, why?
  8. Are you familiar with all aspects of the software development? Which phase of the SDLC is the most important in your opinion? Which is the most difficult and expensive phase?
  9. What is software configuration management (SCM)? Do you think it is necessary to have an SCM system for the software development? If yes, why? If no, why? (if no is the answer he has no clue about SCM)
  10. How will you evaluate and select an ERP package for your organization?
  11. What is ERP II? How is it different from ERP? What is intelligent ERP? What is extensible ERP?
  12. How do you perform a risk analysis? Explain with a real life example?
  13. What is GAP Analysis and why is it used?
  14. What is the difference between date warehousing and data mining? How will you implement data mining for our company so that we get an edge over our competitors? What are data marts?
  15. You do not have a very strong background in telecommunications. Do you feel that as a handicap for the job? If yes, what do you plan to do about it? If no, why?
  16. How do you prepare the employees to switch from the systems they were using for years to a new system?

1 Comment

  1. madan Said,

    July 15, 2005 @ 4:12 pm

    Good Compilation for a middle management person. For a CTO I feel emphasis is to be given more on IT Strategy, CMMi, Reliability & Quality, Technology valuation, Technology Forecasting, IEEE Standards, Investment and Technology Financing.

RSS feed for comments on this post