This is a guest post by Charles Eaton.
You’ve set your sights on a new career in IT. You’ve studied, trained and passed the necessary certifications. You’re excited and prepared to start this new career journey. All you need is your foot in the door – and that starts with acing the job interview.
For many, successfully navigating an interview is the most nerve-racking part of the job search. Knowing how to put your best foot forward can seem daunting. What to wear; what to say and how to relate your prior experience to a new field can be overwhelming.
Planning for potential interview questions is key to preparation. Below, the career services team at the CompTIA Tech Career Academy lists the top 10 most asked questions during IT interviews – and offers advice on how to best prepare your answers.
#1 Why do you want this job?
Recommended Response: This is an opportunity to share your passion for the industry and all you’ve done to prepare for a career in IT – the trainings you’ve taken, courses you’ve passed and certifications you’ve received. Talk about your desire to join the IT workforce and how you’ve worked hard to be the best candidate for the job.
#2 Discuss a time when you received negative feedback on the job.
Recommended Response: Describe a past situation in a clear and concise manner (example: I did not pass my certification test on the first attempt). Then, talk about what you did to better yourself so that future results were positive. In this answer, be sure not to blame anyone or anything else – instead, talk about the positive steps you took to change the outcome.
#3 What would you do if you were troubleshooting an issue and unable to resolve it?
Recommended Response: Note how you would exhaust all “internal” retargets available (solution banks, previous ticket logs, Googling the solution, etc.). Then, if you’re still not able to solve the problem, discuss how you would ask teammates and/or your supervisor for help.
#4 Tell me about a specific time you and a co-worker disagreed on an approach to solve a problem – how did you come to a solution?
Recommended Response: The key with any “behavioral based” question like this is to give a specific example from your background – don’t speak in generalities. Once you give the interviewer a personal example, follow through with how you and your co-worker compromised to find the best solution possible. And make sure to discuss what you learned through the process.
#5 Tell me about a time you disagreed with management or your leadership team on an issue that directly impacted you and your ability to do your work – how did you handle it?
Recommended Response: Here, it’s important to give a specific work example. Canned responses simply won’t cut it – provide details and how you were able to resolve the situation and move forward. If there were no such situations, then be clear in your response – no need to beat about the bush.
#6 What do you consider your greatest weakness?
Recommended Response: Everyone has a weakness, so this answer should focus on something work-related. Possible answers could be something like: “Time management is my greatest weakness, but because I know this, I work really hard to use my Outlook calendar to stay on task daily and build in enough time to finish projects. I also make use of checklists where I can celebrate my accomplishments as I complete them.”
#7 Talk about a time when a customer was upset with you – how did you handle it?
Recommended Response: It’s important to call out your soft skills – your ability to listen carefully to understand why the customer was truly upset. A sample response could be: “By actively listening and maintaining my professionalism, the customer was able to see that I was there to truly help.”
#8 Do you prefer working alone or as part of a team?
Recommended Response: Think of times you have done both and provide examples of how you were effective in each situation. There is no right way to answer this question. But it’s important to share that you can be trusted to work on your own for the good of a team because you know how to adapt – a key attribute in IT or any industry for that matter.
#9 How do you handle multiple priorities and stress on the job?
Recommended Response: Every job comes with its fair share of stress and the IT field is no exception. For questions such as these, remember that honesty is key – everyone has to deal with juggling priorities and stressful situations. Don’t focus on memorizing a canned response, be honest and share past examples.
#10 Talk a bit about your prior career experience and what led to where you are today.
Recommended Response: If candidates have a hard time talking about their professional backgrounds, it often gives the impression they either haven’t prepared for the interview or they’re concealing something. Be prepared to openly discuss your prior careers and work experience – and never blame or badmouth a former employer.
As with anything, preparation is the key to success for job interviews. Remember to have confidence in your abilities, be your authentic self and always put your best professional foot forward.
About the Guest Post Author:
As Executive Vice President, Social Innovation, CompTIA, and CEO for Creating IT Futures, Charles Eaton helps populations that are under-represented in IT and individuals who are lacking in opportunity to prepare for, secure and be successful in information technology careers. Creating IT Futures, a workforce charity founded by CompTIA, develops programs like CompTIA Tech Career Academy to expand the IT pipeline and create more on-ramps to tech careers and under Eaton’s direction, Creating IT Futures has expanded its scope to cultivate best practices in American workforce development and tech-related STEM education.