Guide: How to prepare for a CIO job interview

Leadership, technology, strategy, finance and operations - here are 49 tough interview questions for CIOs

By Tina Nunno
June 24, 2016

Preparing for a CIO job interview? Prepare answers for these 49 tough CIO interview questions covering leadership, technical expertise, IT strategy, finance, operations. Whether choosing your successor or planning your next move. Here's how to prepare for a CIO job interview, with 49 tough interview questions for CIOs. 

Executives who are hiring a CIO have limited opportunities to assess candidates to find the best fit for their organisation. The interview is a critical step in understanding the ­capabilities of each CIO candidate and in ­assessing their individual strengths.The following sets include questions intended to help hiring exec­utives assess the capabilities of CIO candidates in the critical categories of leadership, strategy and planning, technical expertise, fin­ancial management, and operational excellence. Use them as a starting point to plan your interview process.

CIO interview questions - Leadership

Leadership is about understanding how to move people and the business forward. The most effective CIOs view themselves as business leaders first and IT leaders second.

These questions focus on helping the interviewer assess a candidate's leadership views, accomplishments, and likelihood of leadership success from then onward. Interviewers should focus on the candidate's ability to communicate in business terms, articulate measurable business outcomes, motivate people and handle leadership challenges.


  • Can you explain how you saw a business problem and applied technology to solve it? What was the outcome?
  • What significant contribution did you make at your last company? How did you achieve it?
  • What is your understanding of return on investment and how it applies to IT?Can you articulate your understanding of risk and how it applies to IT? Provide an example of how you applied this knowledge to mitigate risk.
  • Can you give an example of when you improved a business process? What was the outcome? What role did you play?What is your view of your leadership style? Give an example that illustrates it.
  • What is the most difficult decision you had to make as a leader? Why was it difficult? What was the outcome?
  • How would you define the role of CIO?
  • What determines whether a CIO succeeds or fails?
  • Describe a situation in which you succeeded. What did you do specifically to make it successful?
  • Describe a situation in which you failed. What did you do specifically that had an impact on failure, and what did you learn or do as a result?
  • How do you lead your direct reports? Give an example of when you ­resolved a conflict among team members or improved their performance as a team.

CIO interview questions - Strategy and planning

A core challenge for any executive is balancing long-term versus short-term plan­ning and execution. Many executives are strong in strategic vision but have difficulty gaining support in accomplishing that vision.

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