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25 Questions and Answers by William Swansen

Published February 13th, 2020 | William Swansen is an author, job search strategist and career advisor who assists individuals from all over the world.
Question 1 of 25
What percentage of your time do you spend on the following: Network Architecture, Software and Hardware selection, Network Optimization (including upgrades,) User Support, and Administrative Tasks? How would you change this to better use your time?
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How to Answer
This is an operational question in which the interviewer is seeking to understand your work habits and patterns. They may have some preconceived notion of how your time should be spent. A good way to respond to this question is directly and honestly. You should also be prepared for follow-up questions which will clarify what you're doing when performing each of the functions the interviewer has asked about.
25 ICT Interview Questions
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  1. What percentage of your time do you spend on the following: Network Architecture, Software and Hardware selection, Network Optimization (including upgrades,) User Support, and Administrative Tasks? How would you change this to better use your time?
  2. What source control tools have you used when managing an ICT network and why did you select these?
  3. What is clustering? Describe its use in an ICT environment.
  4. What is the role of continuous integration systems in the automated-build process?
  5. What is the role of the DMZ in network architecture? How do you enforce relational integrity in database design?
  6. When is the last time you downloaded an ICT utility from the internet to make your work more productive, and what was it?
  7. What is the difference between OLAP and OLTP? When is each used?
  8. What is a cross-site scripting attack, and how do you defend against it?
  9. What do you do to ensure consistency across ICT development, quality, and production environments?
  10. What are the most important communications network performance metrics, and how do you monitor them?
  11. In network security, what is a honey pot, and how is it used?
  12. How often are you able to reuse code that you develop, and can you provide me an example of when you have done this?
  13. What criteria do you use to determine when to sunset an older technology?
  14. Describe a time when you were able to improve upon a network design that existed before you began working for the organization.
  15. Describe the elements of an N-tier architecture and their appropriate use.
  16. Describe the difference between optimistic and pessimistic locking.
  17. Define 'authentication,' and 'authorization,' and the tools that are used to support them in enterprise deployments.
  18. Do you prefer to manage people or technology, and why?
  19. You have created a piece of code that didn't work in production. You found the bug during testing, and nobody else is aware of it. What would you do next?
  20. You have been asked to research a new business application. You find two solutions, an on-premise solution, and a cloud-based one. Assuming they are functionally equivalent, which would you recommend?
  21. The CTO wants to know how much it would cost to bring in five more people on your team. They give you very vague requirements for the job they are looking for you to do. How would you react?
  22. What is the biggest ICT challenge you have faced, and how did you handle it?
  23. Tell me about the project you are most proud of and what your contribution was.
  24. Given the problem of increasing latency on the network, what solution would you recommend? Explain your thought process.
  25. Describe the most innovative network upgrade that you initiated and what you did to convince the organization to implement this change.
15 ICT Answer Examples
1.
What percentage of your time do you spend on the following: Network Architecture, Software and Hardware selection, Network Optimization (including upgrades,) User Support, and Administrative Tasks? How would you change this to better use your time?
This is an operational question in which the interviewer is seeking to understand your work habits and patterns. They may have some preconceived notion of how your time should be spent. A good way to respond to this question is directly and honestly. You should also be prepared for follow-up questions which will clarify what you're doing when performing each of the functions the interviewer has asked about.

William's Answer #1
"This is an interesting question, which I don't often think about. My best estimate is the following: I spend the majority of my time defining the network architecture and optimizing the network performance. Combined, these probably occupied 50% of my day. The next biggest component is user support which takes about 25% of my time. Administrative tasks probably represent about 15%, and the remaining 10% is spent on hardware and software selection."
William's Answer #2
"No two days for an ICT Administrator are identical, but were I to average things out, my time is probably spent in the following manner: I spend a great deal of time optimizing the network and reviewing the network architecture. These both directly impact the network performance and are the most important tasks I can perform. User support requires at least 25% of my time and often occurs adhoc when issues arise. The balance of my time is spent on administrative tasks and selecting hardware and software. Addressing network performance takes about 60% of the time, administrative tasks about 15% and hardware and software selection about 10%."
2.
What source control tools have you used when managing an ICT network and why did you select these?
This is a strictly operational question which asks you not to define the tools, but only name them and describe how you use them to manage an ICT Network. Rather than list every tool you use, only identify the top three, providing the name and a brief explanation of the tool and its functions. The danger here is providing too much rather than too little information.

William's Answer #1
"I use several different control tools to manage ICT networks. The one I use the most and which has become the standard in the ICT industry is CVS. While this is easy to use, it is not as feature-rich as some other solutions. Another tool I use is SVM or Subversion as is sometimes called. It helps to monitor and control the versions of software across the network. It is also incorporated into some of the development languages. Occasionally I will use GIT because, unlike CVS or SVN, it is a distributed product."
William's Answer #2
"Like most ICT Administrators, I use several source control tools. These include SVN, GIT, and CVS. Each has unique features that make it useful in specific situations. While CVS is my default tool, I do use SVN because of its inclusion in many of the software development languages our team employs. GIT is more powerful and applicable in distributed environments. However, you need to be very experienced in order to use it."
3.
What is clustering? Describe its use in an ICT environment.
It was mentioned earlier that you should expect the majority of questions you asked during an interview as an ICT Administrator to be either operational or technical. This is another example of a hybrid question that incorporates both of these features. Straightforwardly answer the question, with little embellishment. Anticipate follow-up questions from the interviewer.

William's Answer #1
"Clustering is connecting two or more computers in a manner that enables them to behave as a single data processor. The purpose of this is to create a parallel processing environment, perform a load balancing and establish fault tolerance."
William's Answer #2
"Clustering is the act of connecting two or more computers to make them appear and function as a single computer. This can be done with software such as Microsoft Cluster Server. The purpose of clustering is to increase performance, such as in the case of high-performance computing, provide failover and increased availability, or to create a parallel processing environment."
4.
What is the role of continuous integration systems in the automated-build process?
Yet another hybrid operational and technical question. By now, you should be starting to recognize these. As a reminder, the best way to answer these questions is to define the term and then provide an example of how it is used in your day to day work.

William's Answer #1
"Continuous Integration, or CI, is a development practice which helps to reduce errors and bugs while developing a new software feature or application. The CI and automated build server will recognize when a new piece of code has been developed. It will then run a test that will determine if the build was successful or whether it needs attention from the development team. This is an integral part of our software development process."
William's Answer #2
"Continuous integration, or CI, is a practice used by developers to ensure that the code they've built is correct before it is integrated into the software application on which they are working. The way we use CI is to require our developers to deposit their code into a shared repository several times a day. We then run build tests on the code to ensure that it was built correctly. This has been very effective at maintaining the integrity of our applications."
5.
What is the role of the DMZ in network architecture? How do you enforce relational integrity in database design?
Another example of a hybrid operational and technical question. You are first being asked to define an ICT term, followed by an explanation of how it is used in the work you perform. The best way to address questions like this is to provide the definition and then give an example of how you would use the technology. Anticipate follow-up questions from the interviewer since this is very specific and topical.

William's Answer #1
"DMZ, which is short for DeMilitarized Zone, are buffer zones set up between public and private networks. The purpose of a DMZ is to maintain the security of the network and filter out any unwanted traffic. The traffic is screened using a firewall or another security appliance before it is allowed into the private network."
William's Answer #2
"A DMZ is a security strategy that helps keep unwanted traffic out if the client's private network. It is analogous to creating a small isolated network positioned between the Internet and the private network. While it is not 100% effective, it does provide the ICT administrators with one more line of defense, and additional time to detect malicious traffic trying to penetrate the network."
6.
When is the last time you downloaded an ICT utility from the internet to make your work more productive, and what was it?
This question is a hybrid between operational and technical. The interviewer will ask this type of question to confirm that you understand the importance of ICT Utilities, know where to get them, and to gain some information on the programs you prefer to use. As a seasoned ICT professional, you should be able to answer this question easily and give some examples of recent software utilities you've downloaded.

William's Answer #1
"As an ICT administrator, I'm constantly looking for new tools and utilities to use to maintain the integrity and performance of the networks I manage. I have a few go-to software programs that I use. These include the McAfee suite of antivirus programs, WinZip for file compression, Paragon Partition Manager for disk management, and Razer Cortex for disk cleanup. I usually obtain these directly from the manufacturer's website."
William's Answer #2
"System utility software as a key component when administrating and managing ICT network environments. I'm careful about the tools I use because I want them to be effective and affordable. In addition to the traditional tools from Microsoft, McAfee, and other providers, I use some very specific tools, especially for managing the network. These include SolarWinds Remote Monitoring and Management, Kaseya VSA, LogicMonitor, and Sensu. I have longstanding relationships with most of these vendors and even get the suit some of the products in their beta or pre-release form."
7.
What is the difference between OLAP and OLTP? When is each used?
This technical question is requesting that you define the difference between two similar terms commonly encountered in an ICT environment. This type of question is used to separate senior ICT Administrators from individuals with less experience and expertise in the field. You may want to start by defining each term and then stating the differences between them as well as how the technology is used.

William's Answer #1
"OLTP stands for online transaction processing. It is a common data processing system used in an ICT environment. Examples of this include retail sales and financial transactions. OLAP stands for online analytical process. The key difference between these two types of technology it is OLTP consists of large volumes of short transactions. OLAP is characterized by smaller numbers of more complex and larger transactions."
William's Answer #2
"OLTP and OLAP or similar in that they both define online processes. OLTP stands firm online transaction processing. Examples of this include retail transactions as well as transactions related to finance, such as stock trading. OLAP stands for online analytical process. These are processes used to analyze large sets of data for decision-making and other functions. An example of an OLAP is Netflix analyzing your viewing habits and then making recommendations for other content."
8.
What is a cross-site scripting attack, and how do you defend against it?
An interviewer will ask this question, which, of course, is technical in nature to both test your knowledge and to ensure that you know how to combat this type of attack. As a seasoned ICT administrator, you should be able to answer this question easily with both the definition of the term and a description of how you would defend against it. Since you won't know the technical expertise of the interviewer, keep your answer at a high level. They will ask follow-up questions if they need more information from you.

William's Answer #1
"Cross-site scripting or XSS is a type of security vulnerability that is most commonly found in web applications. It enables attackers to inject a malicious script into the web pages. This allows attackers to bypass common security measures. The best way to combat XSS attacks is to sanitize any input from the users."
William's Answer #2
"A cross-site scripting attack or XSS is a type of injection, in which malicious scripts are injected into the otherwise benign and trusted website. It is typically in the form of a message sent to a legitimate user of the site. Inside the message is a malicious script which then infects the system and provides access to the hacker. These types of attacks can be addressed using techniques including escaping, validating the input, and sanitizing anything a user inputs into the system."
9.
What do you do to ensure consistency across ICT development, quality, and production environments?
One of the most important aspects of an ICT environment is consistency. Any inconsistencies create problems that are difficult to resolve. The result of this is higher costs or less reliable telephony and information networks. The interviewer will ask this operational question to ensure that you are aware of the importance of consistency and have methods that you use to ensure it.

William's Answer #1
"Consistency in an ICT environment is critical, and it's one of the items I am constantly addressing. The best way to ensure this is to document everything. Having a standard set of procedures, technology standards, up to date documentation, and accurate and current training all contribute to a consistent and stable environment."
William's Answer #2
"One of the first things I learned during my training was that the easiest way to manage a complex ICT environment is to maintain consistency. The best way to achieve this is to create standards and document everything. I've always insisted on creating procedural manuals that describe the company's standard technologies and the processes utilized to manage these. I also incorporate this philosophy into the periodic training new operators and staff are required to attend."
10.
What are the most important communications network performance metrics, and how do you monitor them?
As an ICT Professional, it is important that you understand how network performance is monitored and optimized. The interviewer knows this and is attempting to see how you accomplish maximizing the speed and performance of a communications network. This is why they are hiring you, so this may be one of the more important questions you will be asked. Again, it should be easy for you to respond to this question if you keep this in mind and rely on your experience in this field.

William's Answer #1
"I believe the most important network performance metric is bandwidth, which is the maximum data transmission rate possible on a network. Other metrics I use to determine how the network is performing include throughput, latency, packet loss, retransmission, and availability. I monitor these through a consolidated dashboard which provides me and my team with the performance data on a real-time basis."
William's Answer #2
"The majority of my time as a network administration manager is spent monitoring the performance of the network. The key metric I focus on is bandwidth since this dictates the data transmission rates and the amount of network traffic the system can accommodate. Other metrics include latency, packet loss, throughput, and connectivity. There are a number of network management tools available, but the one key characteristic I look for is that the tool has a consolidated dashboard that enables my team to view the complete network and all these metrics on a single screen."
11.
In network security, what is a honey pot, and how is it used?
This is another technical question which the interviewer is seeking to understand whether you have used advanced network security techniques. If you are a seasoned ICT professional, you should have no trouble answering this question. However, it illustrates that you should be prepared for just about any technical questions you may be asked. You can do this by researching the organization and trying to gain an understanding of the technology they already use.

For exampl: "A honeypot is a system within an organization's network that is a decoy. Its purpose is to lure in cyber attackers and to detect, deflect or characterize their hacking attempts. This enables the network administration team to create defenses and counter-measures to hackers."
William's Answer #1
"A honeypot is a system within an organization's network that is a decoy. Its purpose is to lure in cyber attackers and to detect, deflect or characterize their hacking attempts. This enables the network administration team to create defenses and counter-measures to hackers."
William's Answer #2
"A honeypot is a computer which is inserted into the network with the intention to mimic a target of cyberattacks. It can be used to detect attacks or deflect them from other systems which are legitimate targets. It can also be used to gain information about how cyber attackers operate. A honeypot works by being an intentionally vulnerable hole in security. Usually, these devices will take the form of a virtual machine that has been deliberately weakened and placed in an accessible area of the network outside of the firewall and other defenses set up to prevent hacking."
12.
How often are you able to reuse code that you develop, and can you provide me an example of when you have done this?
What the interviewer is seeking to learn by asking this question is your level of coding skills. ICT professionals should be intimately familiar with coding, even if they don't develop software themselves. Being able to reuse code makes programmers much more efficient. This is because they don't have to write new code and the code they reuse as already been validated.

William's Answer #1
"Most of the code I use for the applications I manage is written a either Java or Ruby. The benefit of both of these languages is that there are large libraries of code either written by our organization or from other developers which has been tested and validated. I encourage my team to regularly reuse as much code as possible to make their programming activities more efficient and effective. I'd estimate that 25% of the code we use has been recycled."
William's Answer #2
"The longer work in the ICT industry, the more I realize that many applications are similar in nature. This characteristic has enabled me to reuse much of the code I've written or obtained from the libraries for the languages in which I program. An example of this is a network management tool I recently developed. The application is proprietary to my organization, so I was able to reuse about 25% of the code I had developed for a similar application used to manage security across the network. A side benefit of this is that the ICT administrators were already familiar with the security application, so their learning curve was reduced for the new one."
13.
What criteria do you use to determine when to sunset an older technology?
This is an interesting operational question. Not only does it seek to understand how you manage technology in an ICT environment, but it also will help the interviewer gain some insight into how you balance cost and productivity. Many technology professionals chase the latest developments in their field and are willing to spend the organization's budget doing this. Others are overly budget conscious and don't upgrade products even when doing so may increase the organization's productivity. The key is finding a balance between these two strategies.

William's Answer #1
"There are several criteria I use when deciding when to sunset an older technology. The first is the cost of supporting the technology vs. the cost of upgrading it. Second, I consider the logistics of implementing a new technology including retraining the users. The final criteria I use is the impact on the organization, including downtime and any loss of productivity due to the transition."
William's Answer #2
"Deciding when to sunset older technology requires a careful analysis of the impact it would have on the organization. Criteria I use include the cost of continuing to support the older products and whether the manufacturers are providing regular upgrades and patches. The next thing I look at is whether the technology is still productive within the organization and if sunsetting it would impact the productivity in either a negative or positive way. The final criteria is the cost to upgrade the technology and if there are more effective ways to allocate the funds."
14.
Describe a time when you were able to improve upon a network design that existed before you began working for the organization.
An interviewer will ask this type of operational question for two reasons. The first is to gain an understanding of your skills in designing complex communication networks. The second reason is to get some insight into your interpersonal communication style. This is important because, in addition to your technical skills, you'll need to be able to work with other people and the organization and be compatible with the company's culture. The mistake some people make after taking on a new job is to begin making recommendations for improvements before they have learned the details of the existing operation. Make sure that you clarify that you were on board for some time before you recommended an upgrade to the company's network design.

William's Answer #1
"In my previous organization I took the time to gain a complete understanding of their network topology, how it was performing, what upgrades they already had planned. Once I fully understood the existing network design, I made some recommendations that would reduce the latency, consolidate some of the hardware, and add some tools which would make it easier to manage the network. Most of my recommendations were approved and implemented and resulted in the improvements I had forecast."
William's Answer #2
"Communication Network Technology is constantly evolving and changing. This provides opportunities for upgrades, which often claim to be able to improve the performance, lower the cost, or make it easier to manage the network. However, as with anything, there are tradeoffs. When evaluating and ICT Network or possible improvement, I always seek to understand the existing topology as well as the business objectives of the organization. I can then make recommendations that will both improve performance and meet the business objectives while not extending the budget or creating additional complexity."
15.
Describe the elements of an N-tier architecture and their appropriate use.
Yet another example of a technical question in which the interviewer is requesting you to define the term and then explain its use. When working on the field of Information and Communication Technology, you should expect a lot of technical questions during an interview. The best way to prepare is to study up on the terms you typically encounter in this job.

William's Answer #1
"N-tier architecture which, is also called multi-tier architecture, separates the three components of software functions. These three components are the processing, data management, and presentation functions. They're separated from each other both physically and logically. The benefit of this is that the technology can be delivered in as fast a manner as possible and easily managed due to the distinct functions being segregated from each other."
William's Answer #2
"An N-tier architecture is one in which the three components of a software function are segregated into different layers. This improves the performance of the individual functions as well as the ability for the administrators to manage each of the functions. The top tier function is the presentation layer, the next layer is the logic tier, and the final layer is the data function. Structuring the functions in this manner also provides the shortest path for the data to get to the user after it has been queried or manipulated."
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