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What do you ask in an interview?

By jc2it ·
Ok this question is for everyone.

I have always fell into my jobs in the past, usually because of networking. So I have never paid much attention to the interview process.

We are looking for an "IT HELP DESK TECHNICIAN" at my place of business. This would basically be someone that I could train to do most of my time consuming helpdesk support tasks. We are not looking for a lot of experience, in fact those that submitted resumes that had more than about four years of experience were immediately rejected (as overqualified and requiring to much compensation for this job).

Since I have never interviewed anyone in particular, I would like to go to the experts. Meaning You!

If you have interviewed prospective employees in the past. What do you look for? What do you ask them?

If you have been interviewed for a job like this recently. What questions did you answer that you felt made a differance? What did you think was stupid? If you were conducting the interview would you have do something differently?

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Ask about real-life experience...

by godlessheathen In reply to What do you ask in an int ...

Many people have years and years of real-life experience. For example, they may have begun taking computers apart before they graduated high school and then, through necessity, took jobs doing whatever they had to do to make a living. In the background, they could have went to night school to get their degree [sometimes just a piece of paper telling the world they went to school for something they already KNEW how to do through experience].

Though they might not have had an "IT" job title, it doesn't mean they don't know A LOT about how to troubleshoot, upgrade, or repair PCs.

Angell French

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Just did this yesterday...

by mckinnej In reply to What do you ask in an int ...

or last night, depending on how you look at it. :)The level of technical skill needed depends on the type of Service Desk, but generally it isn't very high. As a starting point, let's say you're looking for a Level 1 Service Desk person who pretty much just records the calls and follows the troubleshooting scripts.

Obviously, there is no need to ask a bunch of technical questions for those positions. These are your front line troops who will have first contact with your customers, so that is where you should focus. You need to ask questions that will generate discussion so that you can evaluate their people skills. Give them some difficult situations and see how they respond. If you're not good at reading body language and other non-verbal signals, make sure someone who is sits on the interview panel. Of course, if you have a specific tool that you use, then you may want to throw some questions in about it to get an idea of how much training they will need, but this should be secondary to their soft skills. There is no worse situation in a Service Desk than having an already upset customer run into a unhelpful and/or rude Service Desk person. Those encounters go nuclear very quickly and the fallout has about the same halflife. The more smooth talking folks you can get answering the phones the better.

Now if you're looking for Level 2 people, then plan on longer interviews because you're sill going to be asking the soft skills questiongs and you'll ratchet up the technical questions a notch or two.

Just as a point of reference, our pay scale for Service Desk runs from $30K to just over $40K. The folks at the top of the scale have 5-10 years of experience, at least.

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Test problem solving skills

by Daniel.Muzrall In reply to What do you ask in an int ...

Since you're interviewing for a help desk position (assuming level 1 support), the person you hire is going to need to be able to solve problems, not just run through decision trees. Take a common problem (like a user cannot access any network resources, e-mail, or the internet) and ask how the candidate would tackle it. Even if they don't have the best technical answers, if they have a problem solving method/process that is going to be a good indicator of how they'll handle the job. They can always learn the technical details later.

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Name that gadget! (sort of)

by theamazingsteve In reply to Test problem solving skil ...

One of my first interviewing experiences was for a term student (co-op) position to program a video SBus card on a Sun workstation. It was an ugly 3 slot wide beast with (not so common at the time) S-video connectors. We had it and the API manual handy to see if interviewees were frightened of the beast or the code manual.

The successful candidate picked it up the card with keen interest, figured out the ports, pondered the role of individual chips and eagerly pawed through the manual with phrases like "Oh! I see what there trying to do here..." and even "what the heck are those parameters for??

The point is that we could tell the lights were on at the top floor.

In subsequent administrator interviews I have had an old computing artefact on hand. The more curious would ask about it, otherwise I would ask if they knew what it was. A beautiful wooden box with brass hinges and switches, a leather handle and a DB-25 connector. Inside had two mesh covered circles with large rubber rings.

The point was not to see if they could identify an old acoustic coupling modem (as that is hardly a marketable skill), but to judge the ability to look at something unfamiliar and reason it out. Did they ask intelligent questions? Did they recognize that it would likely be attached to using the DB25 port?

One HR person gave me grief for using this as an interviewing tool, but I contend that it is an excellent problem-solving exercise.

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Great idea

by phil In reply to Test problem solving skil ...

In the old days of NT3.51 we used to get new hires to install a CD drive into a PC. We gave them a screwdriver, CD Drive and a floppy. We did not hire the ones that just did it but the ones who read the README1ST.TXT on the floppy disk first and asked questions like :-"what drive letter should i use?" i.e. People who stopped and checked before rushing in.

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by yemi1980 In reply to Test problem solving skil ...

Can you give me more Helpdesk interview questions because i have a interview for friday..

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Ask if they have a computer at home and...

by fafafooey In reply to What do you ask in an int ...

what they do with it. IMHO, if you want to keep up to date with technology, it can't just be done in a 8 to 5 job. I like to see that the person is genuinely interested in computers and learning and keeping up to date.

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And now the hard part!

by pcbrown In reply to What do you ask in an int ...

I have found that the interview portion (although it is not easy) is not the hardest part of the Interviewing process. In my opinion the hardest part is distinguishing the first from the last. Someone?s impression of themselves may sway your decision and you may let the best candidate out the door without even knowing it. Therefore I use an evaluation sheet with a weighted points system (More on that in a minute) that helps me decide who is the best candidate for the position. This gives me an objective look at how each candidate did in the interview. At the end of this sheet I put my comments, like he dressed appropriately for the interview, or he was very technical, or easy to speak with.
On the evaluation sheet, I decide what qualities I am looking for in a candidate. I am a very team oriented Manager and feel that the new employee needs to be able to fit in with the team. Therefore I rate things like attitude, communications, and personality before the technical (with the right person, you can teach the technical).
Here is a sample:
Description Weight Raw (1-100) Weighted
Attitude for customer service 10 X 90 = 900
Verbal Communications 9 X 75 = 675
Personality 8 X 90 = 720
Technical Expertise OS 8 X 70 = 560
Technical Expertise PC 7 X 80 = 560
Cope with conflict and stress 6 X 80 = 480
Team work 6 X 90 = 540
Technical Expertise Network 5 X 70 = 350
Appearance 4 X 80 = 320
Self Evaluation 3 X 90 = 270
Totals 815 5375
As you can see I rate the highest quality to lowest qualities. One candidate can have a higher Raw score but not be the best candidate for the job.
Also you should also check with your HR department. THERE ARE SOME QUESTIONS YOU CAN NOT ASK.
Best of luck!
One other thing, if the candidate is promising, make one other person interview the same person using the same grading scale and see how they fair with that person. If the numbers are within 100 points of each other then you both seen the same person.

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Usually, regardless of the job title, we want some of the same traits

by joan_durso In reply to What do you ask in an int ...

We try to ascertain whether the person has a good work ethic, is a team player and is willing to learn. We try to gear our questions and our reference checks toward this. For entry level jobs, we sometimes hire interns from the local two year college. After observing them as interns, we determine who we want as permanent employees and encourage them to apply for our jobs.

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Different Q's for different positions

by JustLJ In reply to What do you ask in an int ...

There would be different questions for different positions, and I won't go there, but offer my two pennies worth on your current situation...
I would think that one of the skills would be the soft skills of communication, i.e. not just reading from the standard script, but listening to the reply. Therefore, I would engage the candidate in conversation - find out what they are passionate about and allow their 'real self' to come through and offer up some questions about that where you are confused/unknowledgeable. A) This will help you find out if they are natural listerners and helpers; b) This will help you find out how they deal with people who aren't as 'smart' as they are.

The second thing is the simple statement/question "I've interviewed tweanty good people for this position - why should I choose you?". Notice I didn't ask how they would help the orgization or whatever, just the Why You? This allows you to find out if they've listened to what you've described as YOUR needs for the position and not just some canned answer they have been practicing about how they can help the organization and the bottom line, etc. that they read in the interview books.

Good luck!

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