30+ Common IT Interview Questions (and How to Answer Them) was originally published on Forage.
Information technology (IT) is a broad field covering various roles, from data analyst to DevOps engineer. While each role can vary significantly in qualifications and responsibilities, there are many common IT interview questions you can prepare for — so you’re ready to crush the interview.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
- What Are Employers Looking for in an IT Interview?
- IT Technical Interview Questions
- Behavioral IT Interview Questions
- General IT Interview Questions
What Are Employers Looking for in an IT Interview?
Unsurprisingly, employers seek candidates with the right technical skills in IT interviews. But to land a role in IT, especially when you’re entry-level (and not necessarily expected to have high-level technical skills), employers are also looking for candidates who can work well on a team, adapt to the fast-paced industry, and learn quickly.
“As an entry-level candidate, you won’t be able to differentiate much when it comes to technical skills, but your unique soft skills, especially if you come from a different industry, can help you stand out,” says Kevin Li, former technical recruiter and head of marketing at NextWork, a startup that helps career switchers land their first role in IT.
You’ll be able to show off your soft skills in the interview during behavioral interview questions. Be sure to describe how you’ve collaborated with teammates, how you prioritize your work, and how you problem-solve to overcome challenges.
You may not have as much experience as an entry-level candidate — which is OK and to be expected! — so employers are less focused on what you’ve done and more on what you want to do.
“In 2023, I’m looking for candidates who are clear on their career goals,” Li says, “In the past, entry-level IT candidates typically switch between many companies in a short span of time as they figure out their career goals, but I want someone who is clear on their goals and can commit to my company.”
Interviewers might ask you questions about your future career, like where you see yourself in five years or how the company will help you with your career. While you don’t need to have your whole career planned out, you should prepare to answer how this specific role will be a jumping point for your career.
>>MORE: Learn what career planning is and how to plan your career.
As with many entry-level interviews, employers want to know you can learn skills quickly.
“I am looking for candidates with the right attitude, good communication skills, and a sharp mind,” says Boris Jabes, CEO and co-founder of Census, a data integration platform. “They should understand current technology trends and be comfortable working with legacy systems and modern technologies. I’m not expecting them to be experts in all areas, but they should have a basic understanding of the fundamentals and be eager to learn.”
In the interview, you’ll need to demonstrate your growth mindset and share examples of when you’ve had to learn and implement new technologies or skills to get results.
“Any real world experience the candidate can offer that demonstrates those traits are significantly helpful for us as employers in our selection process,” Josh Bopp, CEO and president at focusIT, says. “We are able to teach the candidate our tech stack so long as they are comfortable with tech and have a proficiency to learn.”
IT is a rapidly evolving field, so IT professionals must constantly keep up with new technology and trends.
“The field is everchanging and the best IT professionals are those who stay on top of new developments in the industry,” Darren Shafae, founder of ResumeBlaze, says. “When hiring entry-level IT candidates in 2023, we look for those who have a strong knowledge of current technology trends and are open to learning new concepts. Experience may vary depending on the role, but we place great emphasis on candidates who demonstrate a willingness to learn and stay competitive in the ever-evolving field of IT.”
Be sure to research the industry’s current state and how that might affect the company you’re applying for. For example, what’s the latest in the field? Who are the key players? What skills might be relevant in the next six months?
Finally, employers are looking for resilience from their entry-level IT candidates. They want you to learn quickly and adapt to industry trends, but doing so comes with challenges and even failures. Employers don’t expect you to get everything right on the first try but want to see that you know how to push through difficulties at work.
“We are looking for candidates who are not only not afraid to make mistakes in their work, but can draw conclusions from their mistakes and can prevent them in the future,” Vitalii Slutyi, technical recruiter at Jooble, says. “Candidates must be open to feedback and ready to learn new things, and not be afraid to ask questions if they don’t understand some things or can’t complete some tasks.”
IT Technical Interview Questions
Recruiters and hiring managers ask technical IT interview questions to ensure you know the essential technical concepts you might use in your role. Unlike a coding interview, where you show your knowledge of programming concepts with a live coding test, an IT interview will likely consist of questions about these concepts.
What concepts should you expect to answer questions about?
“It’s important that entry-level candidates are familiar with both databases and programming languages, as entry-level roles often require you to work with both,” Li says. “It also opens you up for more opportunities for internal progression at the company.”
Yet because there are many different IT careers — from support specialist to quality assurance tester — these technical interview questions may vary based on the exact role you’re applying to. To determine what your specific technical recruiter might ask you, review the job description to see if the company lists any technical concepts within the role description, responsibilities, or requirements.
“Read information about a company before the interview,” Slutyi advises. “Investigate different projects and products the company has. In my experience, a few candidates sent their CVs and attached the bug they found on the company website. And it’s fantastic because [we knew] these candidates researched the company before applying for the role.”
IT Technical Interview Questions Examples
- What programming languages do you know?
- What is your experience with software development methodologies such as agile or waterfall?
- How do you handle remote support?
- What is the difference between a router and a switch?
- What is the difference between HTTP and HTTPS?
- What is the difference between a web server and an application server?
- What is virtualization, and how does it work?
- What is cloud computing, and how does it differ from traditional hosting?
- What is the difference between a firewall and a proxy server?
- What is the difference between symmetric and asymmetric encryption?
- What is the difference between a vulnerability and an exploit?
- What is a SQL injection attack, and how can it be prevented?
- What is the difference between a web application and a desktop application?
- What is the difference between a static and a dynamic website?
- What is version control, and how does it work?
How to Answer
First, brush up on your knowledge, whether that’s practicing using the technology with an online tutorial or course. Then, practice explaining each concept or technology clearly and succinctly (try talking to a non-technical friend or family member!). If you have experience using any of the tools, you can also provide a brief example in your response.
“What we’re really looking for in entry-level interviews is a high comfort level with tech in general, and the ability to learn,” Bopp says. “If you’re interviewing for your first position in IT, my advice is to highlight your unique tech-related skills. Team members who show a proficiency to perform tasks such as rebuilding computers, installing operating systems and PC gaming are all great things to share, as it demonstrates the candidate’s aptitude and comfort level.”
>>MORE: Build the technical skills you need to be job-ready and crush the interview with Forage technology job simulations.
Behavioral IT Interview Questions
IT professionals work to help clients and businesses function better, so employers are looking for people who are collaborative problem-solvers. They want to see that you can overcome obstacles and find solutions that work for everyone at a company, even in non-technical positions.
Because employers are looking for this type of professional, they’ll likely ask you behavioral interview questions to understand how you approach problems and interact with others at work.
Behavioral IT Interview Questions Examples
- Explain a time when you had to overcome an obstacle when solving a technical problem.
- How do you go about communicating a technical concept to a non-technical person?
- Describe a time when you had to collaborate with others to complete a technical project.
- Have you ever had to learn a new skill or technology to solve a problem? Please explain when and how.
- How do you handle difficult clients or customers?
- Describe how you prioritize when working against a deadline on a new project.
- Have you ever made a mistake or failed while working on a technical project? What did you do to remedy the situation?
- Can you walk me through your troubleshooting process when dealing with technical issues?
How to Answer
“Candidates should practice describing their problem-solving process, including identifying the problem, gathering information, analyzing options, and implementing a solution,” says Brad Cummins, insurance technology expert. “Candidates can also provide examples of times when they successfully solved technical problems and how they approached those challenges.”
Yet what kinds of experiences can you talk about, especially if you don’t have traditional work experience? Other types of experience count, whether that’s a part-time job, internship, volunteer experience, or academic project. It’s all about your transferable skills and how you talk about them.
“In terms of experiences and projects, candidates should come prepared to discuss any IT-related project they have completed in the past,” Shafae says. “It could be anything from developing a website or app, to troubleshooting hardware or software, to managing a network. If you have a specific experience that relates to the role, detail it in the interview from the role you played and how you used your technical know-how to complete it successfully.”
Greg Hatcher, CEO of White Knight Labs, a cybersecurity consultancy, emphasizes the importance of pulling from any life experience relevant to the industry.
“Be prepared to discuss life events that prepared you for this career field,” Hatcher says. “There are certain aspects of other professions that teach skills that translate directly into being a solid IT professional. For example, being a culinary chef requires a high attention to detail, which might translate into being a good developer. However, it’s up to the candidate whether they’re able to translate their life experiences into something meaningful that the interviewer can understand. Being able to tell your story is critical.”
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General IT Interview Questions
Finally, you might answer some general IT interview questions that focus on why you’re interested in IT as a career path. Employers ask these questions to understand your career goals and your industry knowledge.
General IT Interview Questions Examples
- How do you stay current with the latest developments in IT?
- What recent trends in IT do you think will be important for our organization?
- What are some of the latest trends or technologies in IT that you are most excited about?
- How do you keep your IT skills up to date?
- Are you working on any IT certifications?
- Why are you interested in IT?
- What inspired you to pursue a career in IT?
- How do you see new AI technology, like ChatGPT, impacting the industry?
- Are there any areas of IT that you would like to learn more about?
- Who do you look to for advice or guidance regarding IT-related issues?
How to Answer
To answer general IT interview questions, you’ll need to focus on your career path and IT trends.
“Candidates should consider why they are interested in IT and what aspects of the field they find most rewarding,” Cummins says. “Candidates can discuss their passion for technology, problem-solving, and their desire to make a positive impact on society.”
Before the interview, take some time to reflect on your career path and how the role at this company can help you take the next step in your career. However, don’t just focus on how the company can help you — remember, the interview is also about showing the company the value you can bring to the team. If the employer hires you, how will you impact the organization, and how will that help you reach the next step of your career goals?
You can also tie your career goals to IT industry trends. Be sure to be up to date with industry news, especially if the company you’re applying for has been in the news recently. Are there new technologies that would help the company achieve its goals? Recent trends you could capitalize on that might help them problem-solve? Employers are looking for forward-thinking, innovative IT professionals, so prove that you’re not just up to date on trends but actively thinking about the industry’s future.
Looking for more interview advice? Check out other interview question guides for tech careers:
- 10 Common Interview Questions for Product Managers
- 20 Common Data Science Interview Questions
- Entry-Level DevOps Interview Questions (With Answers)
- Entry-Level Software Engineer Interview Questions (With Answers)
- 8 Common Data Analyst Interview Questions
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The post 30+ Common IT Interview Questions (and How to Answer Them) appeared first on Forage.