Interviews today are about much more than what is on your resume. Most hiring managers seek a well-rounded candidate equipped with the necessary technical qualifications in addition to soft skills and initiative. To understand a candidate in this way, an interview must be conducted. Interviews are a great tool to get to know a person in seeing how they behave around others and conduct themselves.
Interviews can be a source of stress for both hiring managers and prospective employees, so it is important to prepare in advance. Hiring managers should have thoughtfully planned interview questions to ask their top candidates, and interviewees should have some answers prepared as well. Many of the common interview questions that you may run into often don't provide much information for either party. Questions that are too vague or only present "yes-or-no" answers won't help determine if a candidate is a good fit for a position. Instead, it is better to ask a mix of technical and situational questions. Hiring managers should listen to both candidates’ answers and how they answer, which will reveal how they may perform in the role. Whether you are a hiring manager or preparing to be interviewed yourself, here are 10 IT interview questions to prepare you.
1. How do you keep your technical skills current?
As a professional in the IT industry, keeping your technical skills up to date is crucial. It is no surprise that technological tools and platforms are constantly changing and developing. As someone who works with these tools on a daily basis, and your work performance likely relies on your ability to use them, you must keep your IT skills current.
Many tech professionals keep their knowledge base current by reading relevant blogs and forums, taking online courses, or engaging in personal IT projects. This question allows candidates to demonstrate their skills in addition to their enthusiasm for their profession. If someone spends their personal time engaging with IT content, it is likely a passion of theirs, and they hold a lot of knowledge on the subject. Additionally, this may open up the conversation to professional development and how they choose to advance their skills further.
2. Can you explain X in simple terms?
IT plays a critical role in most companies, so it is necessary that those in your IT department can communicate with non-technical personnel, whether that be a team member or a customer. This question helps assess a candidate's communication skills. Ask them to pretend that you are not a tech person, and explain a technical term to you, and then determine how they do so. Do they avoid using jargon? Do they break down a complex process in a way that makes sense? Not only will this reveal their communication skills, but also their knowledge of jargon terms that they will need to use in the role.
3. What strengths do you feel are most important in this IT role?
A question such as this provides candidates an opportunity to talk about their skills and what they bring to the role. Some candidates may focus on their technical abilities and certifications, while others may talk about problem-solving and other soft skills. An ideal candidate will provide a well-balanced answer, demonstrating both technical and soft skills.
4. What are your favorite and least favorite technology products?
As an IT professional, each candidate will likely have a preference over the tools they use for a given task. This question will help you evaluate whether prospective employees like the hardware, software, and operating systems that your organization uses, in addition to their enthusiasm for IT. As a candidate, this is the time to show interest when discussing the advantages and disadvantages of specific tools. Show your personality while you answer by speaking openly about your preferences. Do you prefer an intuitive user experience or sleek design? Let the interviewer know – this will show that you are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the tools that you use.
5. Tell me about a time you have had to overcome a challenge or failure.
Every professional has dealt with a challenge or setback in their career. It's important for hiring managers to understand how you dealt with these challenges and what you learned from them. The best possible way to handle this question is to demonstrate how you showed resilience after a challenge. Using setbacks as a springboard for improvement is crucial to any role, so describe a story where you learned a lesson and used it to be more successful afterward. As a hiring manager, listen to what the problem was and how they worked to overcome it and avoid it in the future.
6. What words would your colleagues use to describe you?
This is where personality comes into the interview. A candidate's answer to this question can demonstrate personality traits that aren't readily apparent through traditional interview questions or their resume. This can also clue you into how an individual perceives themselves and the role they are applying for. For example, if a candidate focuses on their creative attributes, but the role is very analytical, this could signify that the job is not a good fit.
7. What characteristics make someone an effective remote worker?
You may not have been exposed to this question before, but today it is of extreme importance. Even if you are interviewing for a non-remote position, it is likely that you will still be working with others who are remote or have the potential to be remote. Regardless, it is vital that you understand the challenges of remote work and what makes an effective remote worker. As remote workers have little supervision, they must be self-starters with self-discipline and time-management skills. Additionally, communication skills are especially important while remote as colleagues are no longer sitting beside you. Not every professional has these qualities, so it is important to understand that a candidate does.
8. What qualities do you look for in a successful team leader?
As a hiring manager, you should always be on the lookout for future leaders. Even if the position you are hiring for is not a management position, leaders often develop from within, so you should be able to see some potential. IT work often involves individuals needing to take responsibility for delivering projects, which involves many leadership skills such as organization, motivation, delegation, and communication. As an interviewee, keep them in mind while answering interview questions.
9. What do you hope to achieve within six months of being hired?
The answer to this question will depend on the specific role in question. For some, this may be to develop a small project, while others may expect to have analyzed internal processes. Whatever their response may be, it is essential to assess a candidate's understanding of the position and what they hope to accomplish. A candidate's goals must match the job description to ensure that they are a good fit for themselves and the company. Additionally, this will let hiring managers know if a candidate has any goals for the role or simply looking to do the minimum.
10. Why do you want to work for us?
This question is typically saved for the end of the interview and often stumps candidates. Individuals who are genuinely interested in the job will have done their research and be able to talk about the company's values and products. This is their time to demonstrate why your company is a good match for their skills and ambitions and how their relationship will be mutually beneficial. If a candidate has a good answer to this, it will demonstrate how interested they are in the position. The more a candidate wants to work for your company, the more likely that they will take their role seriously and strive for success for both themselves and your organization.