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IT Support Interview

25 Questions and Answers by William Swansen
Updated November 4th, 2020 | William Swansen is an author, job search strategist and career advisor who assists individuals from all over the world.
Job Interviews     Careers     Computer Science    

Question 1 of 25

What are 'A' and 'MX' records, and how are they different?

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What are 'A' and 'MX' records, and how are they different?

As you may have already realized, this is a very complex technical question. Entry-level IT support professionals and the general public are likely not to understand the question or know the answer. In addition to reviewing the material you already know, it is advisable to review advanced material to be familiar with the concepts. If you don't know the answer to a question, you should admit this, followed by a statement describing how you would go about finding the information.

William's Answer

"I will be honest with you, this is not information I've come across in my previous positions. However, when presented with an issue that I'm not familiar with, I immediately researched the concept. This usually provides me with enough information to begin to resolve the issue. If this doesn't work, then I consult one of the more senior members of our team who usually knows the answer or can direct me where to find it."


What have you learned from one of your mistakes while working as an IT support specialist?

Everyone makes mistakes. Denying this will indicate that you are either unaware or dishonest. When asked about mistakes, it is always best to acknowledge that you have made some and then describe the lessons you have learned from your mistakes. Good managers recognize that there are no failures, only learning opportunities.

William's Answer

"I am very careful and try to avoid mistakes; however, they do occur. When I do make a mistake, the first thing I do is resolve it. I then look back on my actions and try to figure out what I could have done better. I always try to turn a mistake into an opportunity to learn and improve my performance. The greatest lesson I learned from my mistakes while functioning as an IT support specialist is to actively listen to the end-users when they describe their problems. Many of the mistakes I've made were because I assumed I knew the answer before hearing the full description of the problem."


Which operating systems are you comfortable working with?

While there are a limited number of operating systems you need to be familiar with, this question is best answered after researching the organization's technology infrastructure. Discussing operating systems that the company doesn't use can be a waste of time. Your answer should focus on the operating systems they use, your familiarity with them, and your experience supporting them in your past positions. The information you need can come from the company's web site, conversations with the vendors they use, or informational interviews with past and present employees.

William's Answer

"I have experience with and am capable of supporting virtually every operating system currently in the market. However, the bulk of my experience has been with Unix and Microsoft OS. I believe these are the operating systems you currently use in your organization, correct?"


How long does it typically take you to resolve a common IT support ticket?

One of the key metrics used to evaluate an IT support specialist's performance is the average time it takes to resolve a trouble ticket. This indicates the support specialist's efficiency and can be used to measure the average downtime users experience when they encounter an issue with their computer system. Both of these are important measurements of the organization's productivity. Since this is how you were evaluated in your previous positions, you should have an accurate time available and be able to comment about what impacts the time needed to resolve IT support issues.

William's Answer

"My average time to resolve trouble tickets in my last organization was 12 minutes. The minimum time was three minutes, while some issues required well over an hour. In that organization, if we determined that an issue was going to take a great deal of time and outside resources, we would escalate it to second or third-tier support specialists who could fully own the issue and take unlimited time to resolve it."


What is something unique that you can contribute to this job that someone else may not be able to?

People, in general, are hesitant to brag about themselves. We have been conditioned to be humble and to credit our entire team for the success we achieve. However, this does not apply during an interview. This is the time for you to brag about your achievements, skills, and experience. The interviewer expects this. That is why they will ask a question like this to give you the chance to describe your unique qualifications.

William's Answer

"I believe a unique quality I can bring to your organization is the breadth of my experience working with a variety of different systems. These include different types of hardware, operating systems, and software applications. This will enable me to address all of the IT support issues your organization is likely to encounter. It also provides you the flexibility to move me to any part of the organization that needs additional help or the type of expertise I provide."


What are the common hardware components of a desktop or laptop computer?

This is a technical question meant to test your knowledge of computers and your qualifications for this job. As an IT support specialist, you can anticipate that most of the questions you will be asked will be either technical or operational. The best way to prepare for these questions is to review the technology you use, including the terms, components, and processes. Practicing questions like these also helps you to prepare for the interview.

William's Answer

"The components common to all computer systems include the CPU, RAM, ROM, expandable storage, a power supply, and a bus. There is also a graphical interface and display as well as an input device, typically a keyboard and mouse. Many other components can be used to expand the functionality, connectivity, and interaction with the computer. These include network interfaces, audio devices, additional memory, and various input and storage devices."


What are device drivers, and why are they important?

This technical question is general in nature. While it asks about a specific item, all it is requesting is a broad definition of device drivers and their importance. The interviewer could ask follow-up questions regarding where you get device drivers, when they need to be updated, and other specifics about them. When answering technical questions, you should always be prepared for follow-up questions that dig into the details of the topic you are discussing.

William's Answer

"Device drivers are pieces of software that enable the computer to interface with various components, both within and attached to the system. The manufacturer of each component typically develops device drivers. Occasionally, the manufacturer will update the device driver to correct an issue or provide better connectivity to the device. Without device drivers, the system cannot function properly nor connect to external devices such as printers and remote storage."


What are hard-disk partitions, and why would you partition a disk?

This is a technical question that any IT support professional should be able to answer. When interviewing as an IT support specialist, the questions will range from very simple to very complex. Regardless of the complexity of the question, you should provide an answer that is brief and to the point. The interviewer will ask you follow-up questions if they need more information, want to explore the topic in more depth, or seek to test your knowledge of the topic. If you are asked a question and you don't know the answer, then admit this and describe how you would find the answer or resolve the issue.

William's Answer

"Hard disk partitions allow you to divide the disk into smaller logical units. This enables you to better manage the amount of data you can store on a disk and accelerates retrieval of the data. By partitioning the disk, you are, in effect, creating several smaller disks which the system can recognize and access faster. This also facilitates the recovery of the data if part of the desk is damaged."


What does USB stand for, and what are some common USB components?

This question has two parts. It first asks for a definition, followed by examples of the concept. During an interview, you should pay strict attention to the questions you are asked. This will enable you to provide a correct answer and to answer the question completely. Many candidates will begin to formulate the answer in their mind even before the interviewer is finished asking the question. This can be dangerous in that you may miss parts of the question and possibly answer incorrectly. Another good practice is to pause 2 to 3 seconds after the interviewer has finished asking the question before you begin to answer it. This will ensure that you do not 'step on' the interviewer's questioning and that you have taken the time to understand the question thoroughly.

William's Answer

"USB stands for Universal Serial Bus. The current USB version is 3.0. Some common USB components include memory sticks, external disk drives, audio peripherals, and any other device you need to connect to the computer externally."


What is meant by a 32-bit or 64-bit processor? Which is more common in today's CPUs?

This is a very basic technical question. Interviewers may begin the interview by asking very basic questions just to set the stage and begin the conversation. As the interview progresses, the questions will become more complicated. Additionally, interviewers may start with a basic question and then ask follow-up questions that are more complex and detailed. In addition to reviewing the material before the interview, practicing questions like these will help you prepare and perform better during the interview.

William's Answer

"32- and 64-bits describe the amount of data each of these types of processors can manage per CPU cycle. 64-bit processors can handle four billion times the amount of physical memory than a 32-bit processor is capable of handling. This makes the applications run faster and smoother. The most typical CPU in today's computers is 64-bit."


When working with device managers, what does a '?' sign indicate?

This is an example of a technical question. Technical questions about ask you about concepts, processes, and topics relevant to the role for which you are interviewing. As the interview progresses, technical questions will become more complex and difficult. This indicates that the interviewer is confident about your qualifications and wants to test you further. The best way to prepare for technical questions is to review the terms, concepts, and processes used in your profession before the interview.

William's Answer

"When the question mark appears in the device manager title, it indicates that the device manager is not functioning properly. When I come across this, the first thing I do is to reload the device driver. If this doesn't resolve the issue, then I upgraded the device driver. The next steps are to troubleshoot the specific device to ensure that it is connected, powered up, and communicating with the CPU. One of these steps typically resolves the issue."


What problem-solving tools do you feel are mandatory for your work as an IT support specialist?

This operational question may be a bit confusing. When tools are mentioned, people normally think about physical tools such as screwdrivers, wire cutters, probes, and electronic equipment, including meters and oscilloscopes. However, this question addresses the virtual tools you use. When a question is ambiguous, it is okay to ask the interviewer a clarifying question or begin your answer with a statement about your understanding of the question.

William's Answer

"I assume you're talking about the virtual tools I use when diagnosing and resolving an end-user IT issue. These include my experience, knowledge, technical manuals, online resources, and my fellow technology support specialists. If I am still unable to resolve an issue after employing each of these resources, I escalate the issue to a more senior support specialist."


What lights are common to most modems, and what do each one of them indicate?

This is a very basic technical question that every IT support specialist should be able to answer. The complexity of the questions asked during an interview will depend on the level of IT support you are expected to provide in this role. This type of question would qualify as an entry-level inquiry. If you are interviewing for more complex roles, you may be presented with scenarios involving complex issues that are difficult to diagnose and resolve. The best way to prepare for an interview is to review your knowledge, the issues you are likely to encounter, the terms and processes involved with this job, and any other information you may be asked about during the interview. Practicing these types of questions also helps you be prepared and remain calm during the interview.

William's Answer

"Modems can have several different lights, depending on the type of modem and its use. The basic lights include power, receive, send, online status, and linkage. When each of these lights is green, the modem is functioning properly. If any of the lights are yellow or red, there is an issue that needs to be addressed."


Can you describe your typical workday as an IT support specialist?

The interviewer will ask this type of question to understand what you think an IT support specialist does and what a typical day looks like. They want to assure that your vision of this role aligns with that of the organization. They are also interested in how much time you dedicate to each task required by this job. This is a question that is best answered after researching the organization, its IT support department, and the type of technology it employs. You can also learn more about this by conducting informational interviews with current or former employees who did this job.

William's Answer

"While there is no typical day as an IT support specialist, the day generally begins with a team meeting to discuss any outstanding issues, review our performance during the previous day or week, and obtain our assignments for the type of issues we will be working on or the departments we will be supporting. I then spend most of the day interacting with end-users by helping them resolve IT issues. Occasionally, I set aside time for research or education to update my knowledge about the systems we support and the issues we are likely to encounter. The last hour of the day is spent compiling reports which describe the issues I resolved, the end-users I've worked with, the average time to resolve an issue, and any unresolved issues which need to be addressed during the following day."


Can you name the latest computer processors you encounter in your client's equipment?

This is a hybrid of technical and operational questions. While it asks about something you encounter while doing your job, it also inquires about a technical topic. An interviewer will ask this type of question to confirm that you're familiar with the type of equipment and systems they use in their organization. Your answer should mention their technology based on the research you did before coming to the interview.

William's Answer

"I am familiar with a wide range of computer processors, both old and new, and can support all of these. The ones I most commonly encounter are the Intel I3, I5, and I7 processors, which I believe are in most of the systems that your organization use. I am also beginning to encounter some Intel Pentium quad-core in the systems I support."

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