IT Consultant Interview Questions
An IT consultant is hired by a company to evaluate, test, and advise on IT systems and their viability. IT consultants analyze the efficiency of current systems and provide recommendations on ways to improve and update their IT infrastructure to meet the specific needs of the company.
IT consultants are responsible for not only formulating technical solutions but implementing them as well. IT consultants typically work closely with a team, including security analysts, to ensure efficient and secure systems.
An IT consultant’s responsibilities include:
- Evaluating and testing the current IT infrastructure
- Working with security analysts to secure systems
- Designing and implementing new IT systems
- Monitoring the progress of new systems and overseeing their implementation
An IT consultant’s skills include:
- Advanced IT skills
- Fluency in multiple coding languages
- Good managerial and communication skills
- A keen eye for detail to spot deviations within IT infrastructure
- Multitasking effectively between multiple departments and team members
- The ability to work under pressure and strict deadlines
The role of an IT consultant requires at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, but a master’s in computer science or business administration will give job seekers an advantage over other applicants. Previous experience working in the field of IT is often also required.
Salaries for IT consultants range between $98K and $112K with the median being $136K.
Factors impacting the salary you receive as a IT consultant include:
- Degrees (associate's, technical certificate, bachelor's, master's)
- Size and Type of the Organization
- Reporting Structure (seniority of the manager or supervisor you report to)
- Type of Services Offered and Size of Projects Previously Worked On
- Level of Performance - exceeding expectations, etc.
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IT Consultant Interview Questions
Question: In your opinion, why do companies like ours seek help from outside consultants?
Explanation: This is a general question interviewers will ask early in the interview to start the conversation, learn more about your background, and collect information they can use later in the interview. This type of question allows you to set the stage and take some control of the interview. Your answer can move the interview in a specific direction and encourage the interviewer to ask you questions you are familiar with and can easily answer.
Example: “There are several reasons a company like yours will seek help from an external consultant. People like me bring a new perspective to the situation, may offer expertise your internal staff doesn’t have, and have the freedom to operate without any consideration of bias or company politics. We also bring a wealth of experience gained from other companies as well as the most up-to-date IT technologies, methodologies, and processes your internal staff may not be aware of.”
Question: What kinds of IT consulting projects have you worked on, and which of these are similar to our situation?
Explanation: This is another general question seeking to gain a better understanding of your background. Typically, the client already knows this information before inviting you in for an interview. What they are looking to do is confirm their findings and have you present your experience in your own words. Again, you can use this question and your answer to drive the interview toward topics you would like to discuss.
Example: “I’ve worked on a wide variety of IT consulting projects. My specialty is optimizing networks, but these projects also involve working on software and hardware solutions. A recent project similar to yours involved migrating a data center from on-premise to the cloud. This required making sure the network was optimized so there was no loss in performance. I also had to ensure the data was secure and data transmissions between the company and the cloud could not be compromised.”
Question: Do you feel it is necessary to adapt to a company's culture when working on a project? If so, why?
Explanation: The duration of an IT consulting project could be as short as a few weeks or last for many years. In each of these cases, the more an IT consultant can adapt their style to the culture of the company, the more successful they are likely to be. This requires the consultant to understand the company’s hierarchy, priorities, communications style, and other characteristics. Your answer should reflect your understanding of this and may include a few ways you accomplish it.
Example: “Every organization has a unique style and culture. This defines how members of the organization collaborate, its communication styles, and how it prioritizes the work they do. Adapting to the organization’s style helps the IT consultant fit into their culture quickly and be perceived as one of their team. I do this by interviewing multiple people within the company to get a clear understanding of the culture and then adapt my style to meet theirs.”
Question: What information do you include when drafting a computer system analyst document?
Explanation: This is your first operational question. Operational questions seek to understand how you go about doing your job. When responding to an operational question, you should keep your answer brief and to the point. The interviewer will ask you a follow-up question if they need more information or want to explore the topic in more detail.
Example: “When preparing an IT system analyst document, I seek to detail the operational specifications of the entire information system environment. I start by describing the organization’s functional activities, processes, and procedures. I then analyze the data flows, business scenarios, and how the employees, partners, and customers interface with the IT systems. I finish up with a comprehensive list of the company’s IT assets, including hardware, software, and data.”
Question: Can you explain the process of sub-netting and what the benefits would be?
Explanation: This is a technical question that is meant to test your expertise in this area. As an IT consultant, you can anticipate that most of the questions you will be asked will be operational or technical. Technical questions require you to define a concept or process and then describe how it is used in your profession. You may be asked to give an example of the topic about which you are asked.
Example: “Sub-netting is the process of splitting up a single TCP/IP network into several unique network segments. The advantage of this is that it makes the network infrastructure easier to manage and improves performance. It also prevents errors or problems in one of the subnets from impacting the entire network. I often recommend that clients sub-net their network if it is large or involves communicating between multiple locations.”
Question: How would you engage with a client who wants you to implement a new system recommended by a third party?
Explanation: This is an interesting operational question because it asks you about working with information or resources which are outside of your immediate control. Many IT consultants take great pride in what they do and become possessive of their work. They are reluctant to work with information or inputs from other consultants or outside organizations. When answering this question, keep in mind the client selected and probably compensated the third-party organization. You need to both acknowledge the value they obtained from the third party and discuss how you would integrate it into your proposed solution.
Example: “When asked to implement a system that was recommended by a third party, I would first make inquiries as to why the client didn’t engage the third party for the implementation. Once I understand this, I would ask the client what they like about a third-party’s recommendation and what they don’t like. I would then engage them in a conversation that would discuss the feasibility of implementing the solution, making suggestions as to how they can improve it. Finally, I would develop a specific plan for the implementation with contingencies if the third-party recommendation did not perform as anticipated.”
Question: We use Salesforce for our CRM system. Do you have experience working with this?
Explanation: IT organizations will always have legacy applications, systems, and other components within their network. As an IT consultant, you need to at least be familiar with them, even if you’re proposing an alternative solution. If you’re not familiar with the hardware or software they ask about, you should admit this, noting how you can quickly learn about new technologies so you can integrate them into the solution you are suggesting.
Example: “I have worked with many different CRM systems. Since Salesforce is the leader in this category, I have a great deal of familiarity and experience working with it. I am happy to integrate this into the solution I am proposing for you, but I also have some alternative recommendations that you may want to consider.”
Question: What is your strategy for staying up to date with developments in the IT industry?
Explanation: The information technology industry changes quickly with new technologies constantly being introduced. Keeping up with these is a challenging task. As an IT consultant, you must be familiar with the very latest products available on the market. You should have a defined strategy for updating your knowledge and be able to clearly communicate this to the client.
Example: “The pace of innovation in the IT industry is very rapid, and staying informed about new technologies and developments is challenging. I do this by subscribing to several industry news services, blogs, and newsletters. I also attend several industry events each year where I meet with some of the leading technology providers. I am a member of a few local user groups, and I take time to meet with other consultants frequently to share information. This has helped me stay abreast of developments in the industry, and I feel confident that I am up to date on current technology.”
Question: What is your knowledge of popular programming languages, such as Java/C++/Python/etc.?
Explanation: As an IT consultant, you are not expected to know how to program or create software, even though it is a definite benefit if you’re able to do this. However, you should at least have some familiarity with popular programming languages and be able to discuss their benefits and applications.
Example: “While I did some programming in college, I don’t currently create code. However, I am familiar with most of the popular programming languages, including the ones you mentioned. This provides me the ability to talk to programmers and understand how their code interacts with the operating systems, applications, and hardware that I work with. This helps me integrate their software solutions with the systems I help you develop for your organization.”
Question: Do you have experience implementing a network infrastructure, and if so, what challenges do you typically encounter?
Explanation: This is another operational question which seeks to understand the type of situations you encounter in your role as an IT consultant. IT projects by nature are extraordinarily complex and likely to present challenges as they are being implemented. Since this is an operational question, you should remember to keep your answer brief and to the point. This allows the interviewer to ask a follow-up question if they want to.
Example: “Even after a great deal of planning, we always encounter challenges when implementing a network infrastructure. These involve the lack of resources, a conflict between the various systems we are implementing, having to maintain an organization’s productivity during the implementation, tight budgets, and/or short timelines. All of these challenges are anticipated and can be addressed when they occur, often by implementing solutions I have used on previous projects.”
Additional IT Consultant Interview Questions
What is the first aspect you notice when evaluating IT infrastructure?
If a company wishes to streamline its information systems, how do you advise them to proceed?
How do you ensure a client’s needs are met? How do you communicate effectively with the client about their needs and your plans?
How do you handle mistakes or setbacks in a project?
Do you work well under deadlines?
How do you approach explaining technical matters to clients, particularly ones who are not as tech-savvy as computer professionals?
How do you handle confidentiality when working with other people’s data?
How do you manage time when working on multiple projects?
How do you manage a team of consultants?
What project have you worked on that you are proudest of?
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