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IT support pros share their most recent interview questions

No two IT interviews are the same. Some employers focus on technical knowledge, while others are more concerned with communication skills and the ability to work well as a team. This article can help you prepare for both possibilities.


In my article "Help others prepare for a support interview," I asked TechRepublic members to share the questions they were asked during their most recent job interview. From the flood of e-mail and discussion postings, I have chosen the questions I feel will be most beneficial when preparing for a support interview. Don’t let a difficult question derail your career; use these questions to help you prepare for your next IT interview.
In Response offers a weekly roundup of feedback from TechRepublic members to help inform you and your peers about critical issues in the world of IT. This week, TechRepublic members share questions they have been asked during an IT interview.
Methodical or hardworking?
Greg L. reminded us to think before answering a tricky question. During a recent interview for a DBA position, Greg was asked whether he would describe himself as methodical or hardworking. The interviewer instructed him to choose only one answer. “I suspect that without thinking, one might answer ’hardworking,’" Greg said. The interviewer, however, as Greg later found out, was looking for methodical. “You can work as hard as you like,” Greg said, “but without method, you won't achieve much.”

Covering all the bases
After going on approximately 40 interviews for four positions over three months, TechRepublic member Jerdine was able to offer these 11 questions that an interviewer might ask:
  1. What do you know about our company?
  2. Why are you leaving your present company?
  3. What is the ideal position for you now, and where do you see yourself in the next five years?
  4. Using work-related experiences as examples, what are your strengths and weaknesses?
  5. What special skills can you add to our company?
  6. Can you explain your current day-to-day activities (include the number of users you support)?
  7. Name three things you've accomplished over the last few years that you are proud of.
  8. What are your salary requirements?
  9. When would you be available to start?
  10. What is your motivation?
  11. Describe your troubleshooting process.

Jerdine also emphasized the importance of making sure that you have at least two pertinent questions to ask the interviewer.

Be honest
Honesty is always the best policy when it comes to a job interview. Ged J., a Solaris System Administrator, was once asked in an interview if he had ever made any mistakes. “Well of course," Ged replied. He was then asked what mistakes he had made recently and what he had done about them. Ged told the interviewers about his last two mistakes and how he recovered from them. “I believe my explanation of the recovery processes showed my technical ability, and my candidness showed my honesty,” Ged said. “I got the job.”

How do you stay informed?
Peggy F. likes to ask candidates how they stay current in their area of IT. “I look for a response that includes several different sources,” said Peggy, “like coworkers, online resources (like TechRepublic), trade journals, classes, testing, and experimenting.” Peggy believes a good answer shows that the candidate is not just focused on the day-to-day grind.

How would you…?
Interviewers often use scenarios to determine how prospective techs will handle various support situations. Member Hawkinsgp recently helped conduct several interviews for two support positions. Candidates were asked what precautions they would take before replacing a keyboard, hard drive, or network card. “We were looking for the obvious, such as TURN OFF the machine,” Hawkinsgp said, “plus the somewhat less obvious, such as record the network settings and save the user's data.”

Managers add their two cents
Our next In Response column will take our examination of interview questions to the next level. We have asked IT managers to submit the questions that they ask during an interview. You’ll be surprised by what they said. Stay tuned.
What was your last IT interview like? What types of questions were you asked, and how did you answer them? Post a comment and help aspiring techs further or start their careers.

About Bill Detwiler

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

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