Interview Questions for Desktop Support Technician/Analyst

General Questions

Q. What desktop operating systems are you familiar with?
A. Before you answer this question, you should have some background information on what operating systems are used within the organization you are interviewing with. Undoubtedly, you will be asked to elaborate on your skill set with each of these operating systems so it’s best to tailor your elaboration to the operating systems that are relevant to the hiring manager. This being said, don’t leave out mentioning experience in other operating systems. You never know whether the company may be evaluating the migration to a different OS.

Q. Have you used imaging software before? How do you find these tools useful?
A. Automation tools are an important part of your job as a desktop support technician. Elaborate on the tools that you’ve used. Hiring managers want to assess your in-depth knowledge and experience with using these tools. This means talking about how you use their various feature sets. (If you have an opinion, you probably know the product pretty well.)

Q. What are the pitfalls of using imaging software?
A. This question is meant to assess how well you know these products. For example, discussing the importance of testing the image demonstrates that you use these tools on a regular basis.

Q. Have you used any software distribution tools? If so, which ones and how were they used?
A. Like imaging software, software distribution tools are an important part of your job. Hiring managers are looking for knowledge that these tools exist and how they can be used to support your organization.

Q. What do you like most about desktop support?
A. Hiring managers are looking for what motivates you. Hopefully your answer will match the characteristics of the job: being busy, working with different people, and the challenges of learning new operating systems and configurations.

Q. What do you like least about desktop support?
A. The hiring manager is testing whether you will fit in with the existing team. An appropriate answer here would be not being able to resolve a problem in a timely manner for reasons outside your control, such as hardware failure. Stick to things outside of your control for the best response.

Q. When solving a desktop problem, do you prefer to work with the end-user, your peers, or on your own?
A. This is another question to determine your fit within the organization. Hiring managers understand that to be successful as a support technician you will have to work in a team environment. This means working with other employees, vendors, and end-users on a constant basis.

Q. Can you describe a situation where you have had to deal with a difficult person? How did you handle it? Would you do anything differently?
A. Desktop support can be very demanding some days. End-users only see their own priority needs and often are not interested in other demands on your time. This question explores how you deal with a difficult end-user by understanding their problem, assessing priorities, and communicating a timeframe for resolution. Often good communication can help both sides come to an agreement. Make sure you have an example with a successful outcome.

Q. How would you say you are able to handle stress?
A. Hiring managers are looking to see what coping techniques you can draw on to deal with stress. Sometimes from the answer, they can also determine whether you are prone to stress. When responding, some techniques for handling stress that you may want to talk about include continually evaluating what’s on your plate and prioritizing, communicating with your manager on what your priorities are, and making sure that you take a break to reenergize, particularly at lunch time.

Q. What do you see yourself doing two or three years from now?
A. Hiring managers want you to stick around. They realize that you will not be in this position forever, and they want to make sure there’s a desire to move up within the organization as well as the right fit. They ask this question to see whether there’s a growth path for you possible within the organization. As a desktop technician, natural growth paths are team leads, quality assurance, engineering positions, and entry-level development. Be honest about where you want to be in two to three years, and ask the interviewer whether they see your career path as a possibility.

Q. How do you learn new technologies?
A. Learning is an inherent part of the job. Hiring managers are looking for someone who enjoys learning technology on their own and who has the foresight to look for training opportunities. Besides the traditional books and manuals, don’t forget to include user groups, eLearning subscriptions, and IT professional sites such as CramSession.

Q. How do you prioritize tasks and manage your time?
A. What hiring managers want to know is whether you have time-management skills. Everyone manages their time differently, but think about how you handle e-mail, when you check voice mail, how you respond to pages, when you research and document, and how you pick up new trouble tickets.

Q. Imagine the following situation: you receive three simultaneous calls from three vicepresidents who need assistance immediately. How do you manage these conflicting priorities?
A. Obviously this is a trick question. What the hiring manager is trying to assess is how you set expectations with each of the individuals, knowing very well that you won’t be able to assist all of them at the same time. They are also looking for how you will prioritize each of these incidents, including seeking assistance from peers and supervisors in order to meet user expectations. Don’t allow the “tyranny of the urgent” to divert you from managementestablished support priorities.

Q. How would you handle a user who continually misdiagnoses their PC issues?
A. By asking this question, the hiring manager is assessing your customer service skills. In this situation, you may want to discuss that the key is to not offend the user and turn them off to your support services. In handling this situation, you would pay particular attention to ways you can build trust with the user and lead them to the right resolution to their problem.
These components may include:

  • Acknowledging the user’s diagnosis
  • Asking the user to reproduce the problem
  • Finding a solution that works

Q. How do you handle setting up new employees?
A. This question is used by the hiring manager to assess your knowledge of common practices within the IT department, such as setting up new users. Obviously, the IT department plays a critical role in the productivity of the new employee. The role of the desktop technician is to help ease the new employee into the resources available to them and get them up to speed quickly. In responding to this question, you may want to talk about some of the tools you’ve used in
the past to help users acquaint themselves with their new environment. Some tools that help are:

  • A new-user welcome letter that is customized to the specific user with all their relevant information including telephone extension, how to access voice mail, and how to log in. It might also include a FAQ on getting help.
  • A “Getting to Know Your Helpdesk” document that provides an orientation to helpdesk service, such as how to contact the helpdesk, its hours of operation, what is and what is not supported by the helpdesk, and answers to common new-user questions.

Technical Questions

Q. What questions would you ask to help isolate a user’s problem?
A. This question is used by the hiring manger to assess your problem-solving abilities. The following represent some of the common questions that you would ask the end-user to help diagnose a situation:

  • When did the problem first start?
  • Has the system ever worked properly?
  • What was the last thing done to the system prior to the failure?
  • Is the issue intermittent or ongoing/constant?
  • Are there any error messages? If so, what are the specific error messages?
  • Has any new hardware been added to the system?
  • Has any new software been added to the system, including downloads from the Internet?
  • Has anything changed with the system (for example, has it been moved) since the issue presented itself?
  • Has anyone else had access to the system?
  • Are there any environmental factors that could be causing the issue?
  • Have you done any troubleshooting on the system on your own?
  • Have you checked all the cables/connections for a tight fit?

Q. What are the main differences between the following operating systems?
A. Unfortunately, most companies have not been able to standardize the operating systems used by users. It’s always critical that you know more than just the current version because there will always be a user who has a problem with an older version. By asking this question, the hiring manager is actually testing your knowledge of different operating systems that you may need to support. The following provides a concise summary of some of the major differences.

Windows 2000 and XP

Overall, XP is a minor update with Windows 2000 designed to get Windows 2000 technology into the hands of consumers. The major changes include the following:

  • Device driver rollback
  • Remote control (single-user terminal services)
  • New Start menu, control panel, and user interface elements
  • Fast user switching
  • Encrypted file system support for redirected folders
  • Better support for roaming wireless networking
  • Enhanced policies
  • Credential Manager
  • Personal firewall

Q. What are typical virus sources and how do you prevent virus attacks?
A. This is virus protection 101 just to ensure that you understand the basics of protecting against viruses. Possible virus sources include e-mail attachments, Internet downloads, and infected floppy disks. To prevent virus infections:

  • Use anti-virus software.
  • Perform regular updates to the virus software definition files and scan engines. Verify updates have succeeded.
  • Perform regularly scheduled virus checks.
  • Configure software to check all files, not just program files.
  • Educate users on virus attacks, their consequences, and how to prevent them.
  • Know where all software came from.
  • Do regular backups.
  • Develop reporting mechanisms to inform server administrators of observed desktop infections and how these could impact the server environment (such as deletions or corruption of files on public shares, hidden payload files that might have been uploaded to servers, and so on).

Q. What are some of the guidelines you would recommend for implementing security at the user level?

A. Security is a major part of the desktop technician’s day-to-day responsibilities. As the closest point of contact to the end-users, technicians need to be savvy on the different methods for enforcing security. Some of the top techniques are included below.

Anti-virus software:

  • Ensure that all users install and regularly use anti-virus software on their PCs.
  • Instruct users to immediately notify the helpdesk when they suspect they’ve contracted a virus.

Password security:

  • Instruct users not to give out their passwords.
  • Instruct users not to write down their passwords.
  • Instruct users to make sure their password cannot be easily guessed by using a combination of alphanumeric characters, including special characters (~ ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) + = [ ] { } / ? < > , ; : \ | ` ’ ” .).
  • Instruct users to change their password if they think there is even a slight chance someone knows it.
  • Instruct users to ensure their password is at least eight characters long.
  • Instruct users not to use a variation of their user ID.
  • Regularly change passwords on Administrator accounts on PCs (NT, Windows 2000 and XP)

Desktop security:

  • Instruct users not to leave their workstation logged in overnight.
  • Instruct users to enable screen savers that automatically lock their PC when there is no activity on it for more than five minutes.