If you're interviewing for a help desk role, it's helpful to have a sense of what to expect. That way, you can practice your responses to common help desk interview questions, so you'll feel poised and confident expressing yourself during the actual interview.
What Employers Want to Know
During a help desk interview, candidates are primarily evaluated based on their technical know-how, problem-solving abilities, and communication skills. Also, since help desk specialists get a wide variety of questions through email, chat programs, and the phone, interviewers will be looking for people who are flexible and prepared to take on a wide range of issues. A strong help desk employee is just as comfortable answering questions over the phone as in a chat program.
Finally, since help desk problems, questions, and requests from customers may range in tone from polite to rude and from calm to anxious, interviewers will be eager for candidates who are unflappable and can maintain their cool even during stressful situations. Therefore, expect interview questions that address (and even test) some of these important customer service skills.
Types of Interview Questions
Interviewers will ask various types of questions to learn whether or not you have the skills and experience for the job. Some will be common interview questions you might be asked for any job, including questions about your work history, your strengths and weaknesses, and your skills. Others will be personal questions about your qualities as they relate to the job. For example, you might be asked how you handle pressure, why you want to work at a help desk, and more.
Be prepared to be asked technical questions similar to the “trouble tickets” you might be asked to resolve on the job.
You will also likely be asked a number of behavioral interview questions. These are questions about how you’ve handled certain work situations in the past. Other questions will probably be situational interview questions. These are similar to behavioral interview questions, but they involve future situations rather than past experiences.
Tips for Preparing
When answering questions during your interview for a help desk position, it can be helpful to give examples of how you have managed similar situations in past jobs. For instance, if you are asked how you would handle callers who can't convey their technical issues, you can relate a story of how you dealt with a similar problem. These references to the past can help solidify your experience to an interviewer.
When answering a question using a specific example, use the STAR interview technique. Describe the situation you were in, explain the task you had to accomplish, and detail the action you took to accomplish that task (or solve that problem). Then, describe the results of your actions.
Common Help Desk Interview Questions
Practice answering these common help desk interview questions. When possible, give examples from your on-the-job experience.
- What does excellent customer service mean to you? Best answers
- What is your biggest strength? What is your biggest weakness? Best answers
- What do you find most rewarding about working at a help desk?
Tips for responding: It can be helpful to highlight that you enjoy helping people or solving problems. Avoid answers that might seem selfish or unprofessional, such as enjoying the long periods of downtime.
- In which IT areas do you consider yourself to be an expert? Best answers
Tips for responding: Be strategic! If you know the company's help desk gets a lot of questions around one area, make sure to include that in your response.
- How do you keep your IT knowledge and skills current?
Tips for responding: You can talk about online resources or social media accounts you follow, as well as any classes you have taken (or plan to take).
- What is ITIL? How can you apply ITIL to your position at a help desk?
- What programs have you used to log and date calls?
Tips for responding: List out specific programs. It can be helpful, as well, to emphasize your willingness and ability to pick up new software technologies easily.
- Tell me about a time when it was particularly difficult for a caller to explain a problem to you. How did you reach an understanding of the issue?
Tips for responding: Using the STAR technique can help you provide a succinct response.
- Give me an example of a time when you had to simplify complex information to explain it to a caller.
- Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a particularly hostile customer or caller. How did you handle the issue? Is there anything you would have done differently?
Tips for responding: Don't try to dodge the question by saying you've never dealt with a difficult customer. That'll seem disingenuous. Instead, focus on how you formed a connection or overcame hostility by solving the problem or explaining it.
- Tell me about a problem you had to solve that tested your analytical abilities. What resources did you use?
- How have you responded in the past when you received negative feedback from a customer or caller about you personally?
- Imagine someone calls with a technical issue with which you are completely unfamiliar. How would you handle the situation?
- Imagine a caller has trouble understanding what you are trying to explain to him. What do you do to help him understand you?
- If a customer calls saying his computer won't boot, how will you troubleshoot it?
- If someone finds that their Internet connectivity is down, how will you fix the problem?
In addition to job-specific interview questions, you will also be asked more general questions about your employment history, education, strengths, weaknesses, achievements, goals, and plans. Take the time to formulate and rehearse your answers to these questions. This will give you an added boost of self-confidence during the interview itself.
SHOWCASE YOUR TECH SKILLS: Be prepared to demonstrate your competency both in standard help desk communications tools and, if relevant, in the employer’s tech products.
CUSTOMER SERVICE COUNTS: Think of past experiences you’ve had in handling difficult customers. What strategies did you use to communicate with them and resolve their issues?
BE A STAR: Use the STAR interview response technique to describe a situation where you provided stellar service within a help desk capacity.