How to Answer IT Interview Questions – With Sample Answers
- Which Skills Are Employers Looking for in IT Candidates?
- Top 10 IT Interview Questions With Answers
- Top Tips for Your IT Interview
- Final Thoughts
More and more jobs in today’s world require a minimum level of IT knowledge.
If you enjoy computing, you might apply for roles within the IT industry that make the most of your specialist skills.
IT is one of the fastest-growing industries, a trend that looks likely to continue as more and more of our daily activities use computers.
It is also one of the highest paying career fields, with an average annual salary of $90,000. Even entry-level positions offer highly competitive salaries.
If you are considering a career within the IT industry, you might be wondering what type of skills you will need.
Some will be abilities that come naturally to you. Others, you will need to work at and continually improve as you progress through your career.
These are skills that aren’t directly related to your chosen career but will help you when it comes to progressing along your career path and working with others. Soft skills are often not measurable and can be developed without specific training.
Communication is a useful skill in almost any career path. For those working in IT, it is important to be able to communicate clearly and accurately with others.
There will be times when you will need to update others on the progress of a project or perhaps inform colleagues about how a problem should be approached.
Because of the jargon-based nature of IT language, those working within IT may need to adapt what they are saying so that it can be understood by those with less technical knowledge.
You will need to know how to adapt your message so that it is appropriate for your audience.
Many people in IT work independently. They need to manage their own time effectively to hit targets and deliver results in a timely manner.
Many people will ask IT specialists to solve computing problems. Some of these will be simple, others will be complex and will require a deep understanding of the systems involved.
People who work in IT will use their natural problem-solving skills to resolve issues as they occur. They may also be able to predict problems that could happen within a system or project, saving time by resolving the issue before it takes place.
Hard skills are measurable skills that you will need to learn to progress through your career. These are often directly related to your chosen career path and usually require some kind of study.
Most companies work on a secure network. This is an internal system that allows employees to access resources and secure information not available elsewhere.
Individuals who work within IT are often responsible for maintaining this network, ensuring the security of it and resolving any issues that can occur.
Computers speak a different language. Coding works as a translation system, turning words into instructions that a computer understands.
Essentially, someone who can code is fluent in 'computer language'. They use their knowledge of this to tell computers what they need to do.
Coding is involved in almost every aspect of computing and, for most people working in IT, it will be a vital part of their job.
There are many different types of coding language – such as Python, Java and C++ – and it is not unusual for individuals in the IT industry to use more than one type of code.
If you are working in IT, it is vital to understand the various security systems that can be put into place.
The smooth running of these systems keeps a company’s information secure and can protect against cyber attacks.
Many people working within IT are responsible for installing and maintaining these systems. They also need to ensure that others know how the systems work and what to do when a problem occurs.
This question is looking for information regarding your previous experience. They want to know that you are up to date with the latest IT processes and that you are suitably qualified for the role.
They also want to know any specific skills you have used in previous roles that could be relevant to the job you are applying for.
You should include information regarding your college or university education, any degrees you have and your most recent qualifications. You should also mention any recent training courses or relevant personal study you have done.
After finishing my bachelor’s degree in computer and software programming, I went on to complete a master’s degree.
Since then, I have completed a number of courses to keep my knowledge up to date, the most recent being a one-week course that I completed last summer.
I also like to discuss new and upcoming trends with others online via various social media platforms. I find that this helps me to bounce ideas and quickly get to grips with the latest concepts.
Different companies have a preference for different operating systems and coding languages.
Some companies choose to use just one system or language, others require their employees to have a broader range of knowledge. By asking this question, the interviewer is wanting to ensure that you can work with the systems they have in place.
Essentially, you can answer this by listing all the different coding languages and operating systems you can use. It is a good idea to specify how fluent you are in each system.
Primarily, I use Linux and Windows, although I am able to use Mac systems and can adapt to use whichever system is available to me. In my previous role, I used a variety of systems and learnt to quickly switch between them.
I am able to code fluently using Python, HTML and Java. I have some experience with other forms of coding, but am less fluent in them and would potentially need to spend time brushing up on my skills.
Troubleshooting is another way of asking how you solve problems.
Employers want to know that you are able to follow processes and think outside the box. There will be times when you can find a solution and solve a problem for yourself and other times when you need to ask for help or advice from others.
This question is designed to find out what your process is when you come across a problem.
It is a good idea to talk about the steps you would take to try and tackle a problem. What would you do first? What would you do if you couldn’t resolve the problem by yourself?
When I have issues with programs that I have written, my first step is to go back through and see if I can spot any obvious mistakes. I tend to break the code down into smaller sections to make it easier to check for coding errors.
If I still can’t see where I have gone wrong, I will ask colleagues for help. Sometimes, a fresh pair of eyes is all that it takes to spot where an issue is. I can then usually find a solution. Often, this is as simple as correcting a piece of mis-written code.
This question is looking to find out which tools you use to make your life easier. Tools and resources are there to help you and can be vital in ensuring that a project is completed on time, within budget and to an acceptable standard.
When deciding how to approach a new project or an issue within an existing one, you will need a strategy in place. Employers want to know you have the skills and knowledge available to decide which tools, resources and strategies are the best ones to help you in any situation.
Talk about the specific tools and resources that you have used in the past to help you with projects. You may also want to talk briefly about strategies you have in place to help you solve issues when they occur.
As I tend to work more remotely than my colleagues, it is important to stay connected as much as possible. This has become especially important since the pandemic, with more people working from home.
I find that apps such as Basecamp are a really useful way of communicating with others, keeping track of tasks and allocating new projects as required.
I also use tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams to keep in regular contact with my colleagues, using the screen-sharing options wherever possible to visually talk through a problem.
The IT world is continually changing. Employers want to know that you are willing to do whatever is needed to stay up to date with the latest processes, trends and technologies.
This could mean taking additional courses, reading books by IT experts or studying in your own time.
This is your opportunity to show how passionate you are about the changes that are constantly happening in the world of IT.
Use this question to talk about relevant books you have read or courses you have taken, as well as anything you are looking forward to studying or learning in the future.
Since finishing college, I have been keen to make sure that my skills are kept as up to date as possible.
In the last year, I have read numerous books by IT leaders as well as using my spare time to take courses relating to the fields that I predominantly work in. I enjoy doing this, as it not only means I am aware of the latest changes, I'm also constantly adding to my skills and able to offer more services.
It’s all well and good understanding problem-solving theories, but employers want to know that you can put this theoretical knowledge into action.
They want to hear about a time when you have faced a complex problem and how you resolved it.
Ideally, there will have been an issue to which you found a solution. You don’t need to have found the answer by yourself, and it is often a good idea to include how you asked for advice from others or worked as a team.
The employer doesn’t necessarily want to know the specifics of what you did to resolve the problem, but giving a general idea of what you did and the processes you took will give the interviewer the information they need.
When I joined my first company as a junior IT technician, there was a situation where the computer system would keep shutting down unexpectedly.
It didn’t seem to be related to a specific individual or action and was relatively intermittent.
Along with a team of other IT specialists, I worked to find a solution to the problem. Eventually, we were able to solve the issue. It turned out that a system was overheating and a new cooling system needed to be introduced.
This type of question is most likely to come up for roles related to customer service, for example, an IT help desk.
Employers will want to know what approach you are likely to take when it comes to helping customers or colleagues with their issues. They will want to know that you can prioritise customer satisfaction and ensure a high level of service.
It is a good idea to speak about previous experience that you may have in this area, for example, tech support for another employer.
If possible, talk about a time when you have used your IT skills and knowledge to troubleshoot a problem with a customer to find a solution.
If a customer comes to me with an issue, I will do everything I possibly can to find a solution that leaves them happy.
I will always start by following whatever troubleshooting process is set out by the company I am working for. Usually this involves answering some simple questions to narrow down what could be causing the issue.
I will then combine these results with my own knowledge to narrow down the most likely causes for their problem before working through possible solutions.
For this question, you will sometimes be given a specific IT concept to explain. Other times, the question will be more general, which gives you a little more flexibility in how you answer.
The idea is for an interviewer to see that you really understand what the concept means on a deeper level.
They will often ask this to weed out the candidates who don’t have a deep enough level of knowledge. It’s easy for people to seem as though they understand something without really knowing what it means.
Employers also ask this style of question when they want to know that you are able to explain IT concepts and issues to coworkers who might not have the same level of expertise.
This is important, as you are likely to need to communicate with a wide variety of people and they will not all know the same things you do.
Ideally, you will need to give an example of when you have explained something in simple terms.
This doesn’t have to be a work-related example and can be a time when you have used your IT skills to explain a concept to someone at home who doesn’t have the same skills as you.
When I was studying for my degree, my sister asked me to set up her emails so that she had an automated signature and out-of-office messages.
Because I was away at college, I couldn’t help her in person and she didn’t understand the instructions she'd found when she researched it.
I was able to explain this process to her over the phone and talk her through it step by step.
By the end of the call, she had automated everything that she wanted and had organised things exactly how she needed them.
Since the call, she has been able to go back and adjust the settings when she needed to, which suggests to me that she understood what I had told her on the phone and could put the instructions into action again without my help.
The employer will have an idea of the type of person they are looking for. They are also likely to have a list of skills that they want their ideal candidate to possess.
By asking this type of question, they are looking to see whether your thoughts align with their own and how many of their essential skills you possess.
This is an opportunity to talk about how well you think you would be able to fulfill the expectations of the role you are applying for.
It is important to talk not only about the skills you feel are important to this role, but also how well you feel that you fulfill the expectations of the job description.
You could, for example, talk about how similar work in the past has taught you that certain skills are useful.
Having worked within troubleshooting and technical support for more than 10 years, I have learnt that there are a number of useful skills. Not only is it vital to have technical knowledge and comprehensive IT skills, but there are a number of other key skills.
I've found that being understanding, taking the time to actively listen and being willing to go above and beyond expectation are all vital in ensuring that the customer receives the best possible service.
These things have helped to boost customer satisfaction levels and have meant that complaints are less likely, even when an immediate solution to their problem can’t be found.
This is your chance to sing your own praises. Employers want to hear what you are particularly proud of. It should ideally be related to IT, but this really is a chance for you to shine as a potential employee.
You should always answer using a real example. This could be from any project that you have been part of, although ideally it should be work-related.
If you don’t have work experience, you can use examples from your home life or studies.
When I was at college, some friends and I decided to design a computer game. It was just a hobby and none of us had done it before, but it was a dream for all of us.
We worked as a team to storyboard and design the game concept before beginning to create the code. Through the whole process, we used the skills we had gained from our college course, alongside self-taught programming abilities.
When we had finished, we sent the game to another friend to try it out. Seeing our primitive game come to life was one of the proudest moments of my life, and it made me realise that I am capable of doing whatever I put my mind to as long as I am willing to put in the hours to learn the skills I need.
Top Tips for Your IT Interview
When attending an IT interview, there are a few steps you can take to ensure that you are as prepared as possible. Taking the time to prepare can boost your confidence and reduce stress or anxiety.
You should do this no matter what job you are applying for or who the employer is. By spending some time researching the company, you can find out about their policies, ethical viewpoints and standards. It is important to make sure that these align with your own values.
You will also be able to gain some insight into the type of work you will likely be required to do and what the expectations are for staff working within the company.
If you don’t know something, it's best to admit it. It might be tempting to try and bluff your way through, but it is likely to get spotted.
Even if it doesn’t get noticed, there is always the risk that you could be asked a more technical follow-up question which will highlight the fact that you made up your previous answer.
Admitting that you don’t know something isn’t a weakness. You can use it as an opportunity to show that you are willing to continue learning by admitting that you are unsure and will need to study or research the answer.
Your most important selling point in an interview situation is that you are unique. Only you will have your exact combination of experience and skills. Others might have done similar things or taken the same courses, but they will never be quite the same as you.
Use this viewpoint to focus on your strengths during an interview.
What is it that you do best? What do you do better than anybody else? What is it about your experience that sets you apart from others? All of these things are your unique selling points.
Most of the time, employers aren’t looking for generic answers when they ask a question. They are wanting to hear your opinion and how you would do things. They want to know what makes you unique and why they should employ you rather than one of the other applicants.
Taking the time to think about how you will fit into a specific role or a company can help you tailor your answers so that they highlight your personality and unique traits.
Although every company will have its own interview process and every interview will be slightly different, preparing for some of the most common questions can help to boost your confidence.
You can do this by understanding the types of questions that you are likely to be asked and the qualities that a potential employer is looking for. You can then prepare to be the best possible version of yourself on the day.
Above all, when attending an interview it is vital to be honest. If you are unsure about something, admit that you would need to do a little more research. If you don’t understand a question, ask the interviewer to clarify what they mean.
Employers value honesty and integrity. If you are dishonest during the interview, they will find out one way or another and it can lead to bigger problems down the line.