What to expect in a job interview for desktop support technician (specialist) position?

 
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Interview in a nice setting of a small office. We can see a job candidate in white shirt and red tie, and two interviewers - one man and one womanWe will ask you a variety of personal, behavioral and technical questions, trying to assess your readiness for the job, and understand your personality and attitude to work.

You will compete with just a few other job applicants (typically less than five people) in your interview.

We may ask you to complete a practical task–for example troubleshooting a computer in an interview. And sometimes you will have to deal with a personality test (many big corporations ask every job applicant to complete the personality test, regardless of the job they interview for).

This website specializes in desktop support interviews, and we will have a look at the questions, analyze them, and show you some sample answers. My name is Matthew Chulaw, I have been working in recruitment since 2008, and today I will try to help you to succeed.

 

Personal questions – the “easy” start

Three interviewers listen carefully to a job candidate. They hold their pens close to their mouth, and they are ready to ask the next question. Typical interview process for desktop support job starts with screening (personal) questions. We can interview you online, over the phone, or in-person.

Our goal is to assess your communication skills (very important for desktop support workers, since they have to explain technical things in a simple language), your motivation to work for us, and to get a basic understanding of your education and experience.

Typically we will screen out fifty percent of applicants in this stage, or more (unless we received only a handful of applications), so you should definitely not underestimate the screening questions. Some of the questions we commonly use (click a question to see sample answers and longer analysis of a particular questions):

Why do you want to be a desktop support technician (specialist)?

Try to convince us that you really want the job, that you did not apply just because you graduated from IT. Speak about your passion for troubleshooting computers, tell us that you enjoy doing things that desktop support workers usually do.

Try to avoid talking about money. You will get a good salary, if we hire you for desktop support position. But you should not sound like someone who goes to work only because they get a nice paycheck each month. You should sound like someone who enjoys their time in job…

 

Tell me a little about your experience.

Your answer to this simple question helps us to understand a lot of things. Do you talk nicely, or badly about your former jobs, colleagues, and bosses?  Can you talk in a simple way, explaining technical things in a language anyone will understand? What matters the most for you in job?

What is more, we test also your listening skills with the question. We ask you to tell us a little about your experience. And we will watch whether you talk about most relevant jobs only (if you have any previous experience), or talk for ten minutes about everything you have done in your life, including completely irrelevant things…

 

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

An woman in her fifties try to get an IT position. The interviewer examines her resume, and inquires about the details of the roles she had before. A weakness that would jeopardize your chances in one interview, can be completely irrelevant in another one. And a strength that can win you a job contract in a managerial interview, will hardly impress the people who interview you for a desktop support job.

Said in another words, you should talk about strengths that matter for desktop support (technical skills, communication skills, ability to teach, ability to explain technical things in a simple way, etc), and you should pick a weakness that is not central to the job (bad management skills or leadership skills, impatience, weak physical condition, etc).

 

Where do you see yourself in five years time?

Try to connect your future with their company. Can you grow professionally with them? Can you become a senior consultant, specialist, technician in the same company? Many businesses run their own career websites. Visit the website of your future employer, and check the career possibilities they offer. This should help you to find a good answer.

If you apply for a job in a small company (with little or none career growth options), you should say that you’d be happy having the same job in five years time. In such a case I suggest you to mention one or two goals you have in your personal life (improving your education, starting a family, getting rid of bad habits, such as smoking, etc).

 

Other personal questions

  • Why do you want to work for us, and not somewhere else?
  • What motivates you in work?
  • How would your friends describe you?
  • Why did you leave your last job / Why do you want to leave your present job?

 

Man is staring at his computer screen in disbelief. We can see white shirt, wrist watch, and a nice gray laptopBehavioral questions

Once the screening stage ends, the interviews become more serious. We already know that you have decent communication skills, and meet the job requirements, in terms of your education and previous experience.

In this stage of the interviews, however, we try to understand your attitude to work, and how would you act in various situations that happen in the workplace.

Desktop support workers interact with many people in the office, and your attitude to colleagues, and to various situations that happen in a job, is very important to us. We will use some of the following questions (click a question to see sample answers, and a longer analysis of a particular question):

Describe a situation when you had to solve a difficult problem in a short time. What was the problem? How did you handle the situation?

We live in a fast-paced era. Businesses depend on each other, and when problem occurs, we have to address it quickly. You should always talk about the problem which you eventually managed to solve.

If you apply for your first job, talk about the problem you experienced in school, or in your personal life. It is your attitude that matters to us, not the particular situation you narrate….

 

Describe a time when you had a conflict with other person. What was the situation and how did solve the conflict?

Tell us that you do your best to avoid conflicts with your colleagues. Demonstrate, on a real situation from the past, that you are not afraid to admit your mistake, that you do not consider yourself perfect, that you approach the conflicts constructively.

Job candidate gesticulates with his hands, as he narrates the situation that happened in his past job. We can see only his hands on the picture.Conflicts belong to every workplace. But it is our attitude to conflicts, and to our colleagues, that determine whether they’d have positive, or negative impact on the people in the company, and on their results in work…

 

Describe a situation when you were unable to solve a problem on your own. What did you do?

I have interviewed many people who claimed that they had solved each issue independently. However, it isn’t a good answer to this question. We all have our limits. We all need help–at least sometimes we do need it.

Show us that you know what to do, once a difficult problem occurs, that you are not ashamed to consult your colleagues, to ask someone to help you…

 

Describe a time when you went above and beyond of what was expected of you.

You can approach your job (any job) in two ways. Either you just sit in the office, waiting for an order from your boss (or from a customer), or you proactively look for things to do.

Needless to say, we prefer to hire people who like to be busy in work, who look for opportunities to help, who enjoy going above and beyond for their colleagues, customers, friends.

You can always work on your knowledge (reading forum threads, learning how to troubleshoot certain issues), carry out an update or important install, or proceed with random desktop checks, just to ensure that everything works as it should work…

 

Other behavioral questions

  • Describe a stressful situation from work. How did it affect you?
  • Describe a difficult decision you had to make.
  • Describe a time when you experienced a conflict of your professional and personal interests.
  • Describe a time you struggled to communicate something to someone, and how did you proceed to get your message over.

 

Technical questions

Once we understand your communication skills and attitudes, we will proceed to technical questions.

This stage of an interview (typically a final stage) can be led by a senior IT specialist, or other skilled technician from the company.

If an HR generalist leads the technical part, they will often ask you to answer the technical questions in writing (or they ask you to complete a short test), basically becasue they do not have the skills to evaluate your answers (someone else–a tech guy–will evaluate your answers after the interview).

Let’s have a look at some questions you can expect:

Desktop support team in a company. we can see three faces, two women wear headphones with microphone. They are smiling.

  • Your goal is to update the OS in thirty computers in the same network. Describe the steps you would take to finish the task in the shortest possible time. It is possible to do this without interrupting the work of your colleagues?
  • One of the workers gives you a call and tells his computer is very slow for the last three days. Describe the process of troubleshooting.
  • What are the ways of resetting user passwords in Windows 10?
  • You know the business activities of our company. What software products would you recommend us, to improve the efficiency of our work?
  • One of the computers stops working and reports that the virus was detected. However, the virus scan shows no infections. What steps would you take? What could be the problem then?
  • How can we disable the firewall in Windows 8? In what cases should we disable it?
  • One of client’s PCs needs a reinstall. But you need to back up all received emails in Outlook. How would you do it?
  • What command prompts do you know?
  • What would you do to secure Windows server files in case of a need of an update?
  • How would you monitor desktops in our company? Do you know any tools that can handle it? Which one would you recommend?
  • Define the steps of installing a printer on users’ desktops.
  • Describe me a configuration of your own computer. All details.

 

Soft skills can often let you down

In my experience, most applicants for desktop support jobs have good technical skills. They answer the technical questions with ease.

But we still have to choose just one person who gets the job. Since most shortlisted applicants know the answers to technical questions, it is an ability to answer the behavioral questions, and to connect with the interviewers and “sell” their skills, that often decides the winner in this interview.

Matthew Chulaw, author of the website content

Matthew Chulaw

If you would like to learn how to do that, have a look at my I Will Get a Job! recording. I will show you how to win your interviewers over, and how to turn your weaknesses to strengths in an interview. Thank you!

P.S. Since 2018, I’ve added answers to thirty most common personal and behavioral questions as a free bonus to the recording. I thought you might find it handy in your interview preparation….

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