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New to IT management

By cedrics ·
I have an interview on Fri or Monday in a company that I already work for for the help desk manager position of the desk ( 6 people) that I started working at a year ago. After 5 months I was allowed a lateral move +.50cents to System Operations ( admin for those across the pond, or PFY for everyone) on overnights. Ive been doing that for 7 months. The above position is salaried, exempt, and is under a Customer service/Field tech manager who is a former EE and an all around great guy to work with. We support hardware/software( proprietary) for a state Lottery contract and the help desk is mostly either basic fixes or dispatch-our hardware is pretty bullet proof. I am getting my BS in Info Sys Mgt in August, so im not 'papered' if you will, and Ive worked with, been trained by, or trained everyone on the help desk currently ( 2, 2, and 2 respectively). The selection process is all internal and I know all 3 others that Im interviewing against-all of them helped train me, but had only been with this company 8 months or so before me, so there isnt a lot of longevity advantage. Operations is over hotline in the hierarchy of things, though I don't presume to be 'over' anyone. I am prior service, and have managed a security (physical) site for a production facility where my team had 7 employees and each security site was mostly autonomous. *BREATH*

My question/concern-promotion to management of a team that you have already worked with, been trained by, and trained. Its a small company and I know most of the Mangement-they go drink together sometimes and have had get togethers at their houses. Average age of middle managers is 25-40. What possible interview questions to watch out for that require 'management' answers instead of worker Bee answers-or should I just go with no BS? Prior service me is very team oriented, mission focused, and kill for my people-are those traits to bring into the interview?

Thanks to all that have gone before me! Answer bomb away-and now back to our regularly scheduled career Q/A.

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Don't try and be someone else

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to New to IT management

they are going to know.
Ask them if they have concerns given what they already 'know' about you. A lot of the time it's a perception problem and you can adress it. An us and them where they are them, might be a problem for instance.

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by cedrics In reply to Don't try and be someone ...


Thanks to all for the advice!

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Definitely the Management

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Thanks!

Team want you to be a team player as much as your current team now.

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Good IT managers are hard to find.

by DC Guy In reply to New to IT management

You should always be yourself in an interview. That's who you will be after they hire you, so you might as well let them know who that is now so they don't make a decision that will be bad for both of you.

As for types of questions... I make up a "people" problem and ask you how you would solve it. There's no right solution, I just want to see how you approach it so I get some exposure to your people skills.

I want my managers to manage so I'd be disappointed in a person who gives clues that they want to remain hands-on. I think the successful companies have proven that my way is right but that doesn't mean that everyone who interviews you will agree with me.

You need good communication skills and the ability to make difficult decisions when none of the choices are all that great. Thinking "outside the box" is always a treasured skill but you have to be content to spend most of your time inside the box.

Team-oriented: works for me. You can't be a loner or a selfish person and manage a team. Mission-focused: another "duh." What else are you going to focus on? Kill for your people: this will be fine as long as you make the transition to considering the whole company (or organizational unit) as "your people."

As for managing your former peers... That can go either way and it will be your first test of your managerial skills. With some people (hopefully many of them) you can remain friends while both grasp that the friendship is changing slightly. Others will give you a hard time; a good manager will figure out why and be able to fix or mitigate the ill effects.

As for whether you should apply for the position... I have followed this maxim throughout my life: If I don't take the job, I'll end up working for the jerk who does. To live is to grow and change. The only reason not to make an upward move is that you honestly don't want to grow and change in that particular direction.

It's a good time to practice risk management. Assuming you apply for the job, decide now what you will do if somebody you like gets it and you don't.

Bottom line: This profession self-selects for people with poor people skills, that's why we like working with computers. If you have good people skills and aren't shy about displaying them you'll get one of those management jobs before too long. If it turns out that you don't have them, you're still young enough to change in that direction if you want to.

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by noyoki In reply to New to IT management

A friend of mine (yes, he is a 'head-hunter' - I worked as a receptionist for awhile in a temp/perm placement agency) gave me this advice when I applied for my position as IT Manager of a small firm (no underlings)...

Come prepared with at least 1-2 questions of your own. This shows interest. This can be about the company, the position, the duties, whatever.

Ask what they think your responsibilities will be in the first 3 months...
First year...
Where they think the company will be in the next 2-3 years? - this shows you are thinking about staying in this position for awhile. That you aren't treating this as a fly-by-night, here-two-weeks-and-split kind of job. That you want to work for them in this capacity and give the job your full 110% effort.

The most important thing he had pressed upon me, however, was this question:
At the end of an interview, ask "Are there any concerns with hiring me for this position?"
This lets you address anything they might bring up. Be it: "Well, half your team is twice as old as you are, how do you think you will be able to deal with this?" or "You are young, we are worried about you leaving in a year." Whatever they may be thinking. Just be prepared for their answers!

When I interviewed, I think these (among a few other things that I just can't remember off-hand) helped me land it. The partners all went to Columbia University. And I beat out someone they thought was more qualified (he went to Columbia as well) with a BA in a non-ivy league school with the Partners having been burned once before in hiring a "friend" of an employee. (The IT Manager that was leaving and I had gone to HS together and were friends, this was actually a strike AGAINST me, though! Because something happened with one of the other employees bringing a friend in, they were more wary of me than most companies would have been.)

Also, going in with the attitude of "I want this job" and/or "I've got this job" will help project confidence. I needed to do this because I am basically a shy person. It COULD come off as arrogance, so I'll leave that to your judgement.

There was one person he (my friend) had lined up for a perm job at another company while I had worked there, all the guy needed to do was say in the final interview (and the company HR person even TOLD my friend this!) "I want the job." And he would have had it. They liked him that much, and he couldn't do it. Sometimes, something as simple as showing that you are eager to do this is another key.

Oh, and ending the interview with "So when can I start?" is another tip. It can be rolled off as a small joke, especially with your youth, but in keeping with the above, it says: "I'm interested and I want this more than the other person/people."

Let us know how it turns out. But above all, the absolute most important bit... is to be yourself. If you truely want it, that will show and these can things can help guide the enthusiasm. If you don't want it, no advice in the world can help you pretend. (Though it really does sound like that isn't a problem from your posts! lol.)

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Are there any concerns ?

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Advice

Used that one at my last interview for the first time.
Got the job as well, definitely held in reserve should I have to find another opportunity. These guys answered it with a No, but that's it's own reward.

I want this job is a very useful attitude, though don't let it blind you. Make sure the job you want is the one they're offering.

I'm surprised at your lack of enthusiasm for the position Mr Hopkinson, well now you've explained it I don't have any. Telephone interviews first can save everyone time and money.

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I have some advice: work on your writing skills

by f-626541 In reply to New to IT management

As a manager, you will have to write all kinds of documents. You will write budgets, contracts, letters, performance reviews, explanations of why things screwed up, plans, directives to your reports, process documentation, and similar papers. You have to be clear, concise, entertaining (sorry, but if your stuff is boring, it won't get read), and you have to write it reasonably quickly.

Look at what you wrote to us - it's horrible, just awful. It's okay to use contractions, but if you do use one, be sure to use the apostrophe. Know when to Capitalize A Word. Every time you write something, you should take care to write it well, because we all need to practice.

When I hire somebody, I always ask them to bring with them an essay they have written. Sometimes, I plunk them in front of a computer and ask them to write a 1-2 page essay on some topic they know about, whatever they feel like. I tell them to use whatever word processor they prefer (vi, emacs, kate, OpenOffice, koffice, abiword). I tell them to take as much time as they like. If they use vi, emacs, or kate, I check the history log to see if they used one of the UNIX spell checkers (extra points if they do - everybody makes mistakes). Of course, sum thyme a world well get through the spell czech program, so I still look for spelling airs.

I wish you all the best.


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Well said

by mannyacevedo In reply to I have some advice: work ...

Communication or the lack of it will make or break your career. While I understand that this is just a post asking for advice, you should have made the effort to make it legible. I'm currently interviewing people for an IT manager position within my firm. If your post was used as an example of their communication skills, I would pass on them.

How you do anything, is how you do everything. If you can't be bothered to represent yourself in the best possible light here, why should we expect that you would be able to do it in a professional setting? Good IT managers are hard to find. You want to be a Chief? Stop thinking and acting like an Indian. Expect more from yourself. Conduct everything you do with integrity and remember to use spell check.

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Some sample interview questions

by daryl In reply to New to IT management

Here are some questions you may like to prepare for:

1. At the completion of your first month, what will you have achieved?

2. If we then spoke to the IT Services staff, what would they say about you?

3. If you found morale within IT Services to be low and projects were behind schedule, how would you resolve the situation?

4. In this position, demands from clients may exceed the capacity of your staff. How will you manage this situation?

5. You have the opportunity to apply for a grant of up to $100,000 of ICT equipment. How would you approach this grant application?

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always remember

by djsauer In reply to New to IT management

Always remember that interviewing is a 2 way street, they are interviewing you and you them. The fact that this is an internal interview gives you the insight on how things work - so what changes need to be made ? Ask yourself, are there any personality conflicts with the current team members, if so how are you going to overcome them (normally if current personalities clash other peopel know and will ask the question, having a prepared answer on how you can improve the relation is good). As others have said - be yourself, ensure to clarify responsibilities, and expectations of the new position. Something else you might note, since IT compliancy is a big deal and you outlined it above (State Lottery) you might go down this tangent for their strategdy for Sarbanes-Oxley, and FISMA (yes states have to abide by this as well)

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