If you're interviewing for an IT job, be prepared to answer technical interview questions.
You can expect to be asked questions about your education, background, and certification. But during an interview for an IT role, you'll also be asked about how you'd approach IT-related situations. These queries will differ, depending on the role you're applying for.
As you structure answers to the most commonly asked questions, jot down anecdotes and specific examples from your previous work experiences so that you have plenty to elaborate upon.
You'll give the best responses during an IT job interview if you practice beforehand.
Take a look at the top technical interview questions that are most often asked by tech employers and recruiters. As you read through the list, think about why the employer might ask this question before coming up with a response.
What the Interviewer Wants to Know
Technical interview questions are designed to determine whether you possess the hard skills required to do the job well.
Interviewers for technical roles are often interested in your thought process. In some cases, they may be listening more for how you approach a situation than the particular solution you determine.
During the job interview, share examples of your skills as they apply to the job for which you're interviewing. Taking the time to match your qualifications to the job description will make it easier to respond. Depending on the job you're interviewing for, you may also be asked about your:
- Skills and experience
- Systems, Languages, and Tools
Interviewers will be checking to make sure your background is a match for the job requirements.
In addition to practicing your responses in these areas, be ready to take advanced skills tests to prove your level of aptitude in software programs, coding/programming, and web development (as applicable to the job).
Top 50 Technical Interview Questions
When interviewing in the tech industry, expect to be asked questions about your training and certifications, as well as behavioral questions, situational questions, questions about your knowledge of tech tools and design, and questions about your work habits and processes.
Interview Questions About Your Education
What They Want to Know: Although many tech professionals are self-trained, some have completed at least some secondary education at technical colleges or universities. Be sure to mention all technical certifications you have earned.
- What are your technical certifications?
- How did your education prepare you for this job?
- What do you do to maintain your technical certifications?
- How would you rate your key competencies for this job?
- What are your IT strengths and weaknesses?
How to Respond
Emphasize your academic achievements as you describe the relevant coursework you completed during your training. Did you earn scholarships? Conduct a well-received capstone project? Perform an internship with a tech company? Describe key projects in detail, including mention of the technologies you mastered in order to complete them.
Behavioral Interview Questions
What They Want to Know: Behavioral interview questions are designed to find out how you have performed in typical workplace situations. As you develop your answers, it’s important to provide a specific example of how you have addressed an issue in the past.
- Tell me about the most recent project you worked on. What were your responsibilities?
- Describe a time you were able to improve upon the design that was originally suggested.
- Tell me about the project you are most proud of, and what your contribution was.
- Describe your production deployment process.
- Give an example of where you have applied your technical knowledge in a practical way.
- How did you manage source code?
- What did you do to ensure quality in your deliverables?
- When was the last time you downloaded a utility from the internet to make your work more productive, and what was it?
How to Respond
Use the STAR interview response technique to describe a past situation, the technical task required, the action you took, and the result of your action.
Situational Interview Questions
What They Want to Know: Situational interviews evaluate your problem-solving skills by asking how you would respond to and resolve a hypothetical situation in the workplace. Employers want to know if you’ve anticipated the challenges you’ll face at their company, and whether you’ll be able to deal with them when they occur.
- From the description of this position, what do you think you will be doing on a day-to-day basis?
- What challenges do you think you might expect in this job if you were hired?
- What would you do to ensure consistency across the unit, quality, and production environments?
- You have been asked to research a new business tool. You have come across two solutions. One is an on-premises solution, the other is cloud-based. Assuming they are functionally equivalent, would you recommend one over the other, and why?
- What would you do to ensure you provided accurate project estimates?
- You have learned that a business unit is managing a major component of the business using Excel spreadsheets and Access databases. What risks does this present, and what would you recommend be done to mitigate those risks?
How To Respond
As with behavioral interview questions, you can use the STAR interview technique to explain how you’ve successfully handled a similar situation in the past. Provide concrete examples, and remember to describe the tech skills relevant to the position that would enable you to reach your solution to the problem.
Questions About Tech Tools, Systems, and Security
What They Want to Know: Most tech employers make it quite clear in their job listings which technologies you must be conversant with to be a viable candidate for employment. If you know ahead of time that they are looking for a technical competency you lack, your best strategy is to sign up for a training program so that you can honestly claim to be currently honing your command of the tech.
- What development tools have you used?
- What languages have you programmed in?
- What source control tools have you used?
- Describe the elements of an in-tier architecture and their appropriate use.
- Compare and contrast REST and SOAP web services.
- Define authentication and authorization and the tools that are used to support them in enterprise deployments.
- Have you used Visual Studio?
- Have you used Eclipse?
- What is a SAN, and how is it used?
- What is clustering, and describe its use?
- What is the role of the DMZ in network architecture?
- What is a cross-site scripting attack, and how do you defend against it?
- In network security, what is a honeypot, and why is it used?
How To Respond
Be prepared to delve deeply into the “nuts and bolts” of systems development, programming, and/or security in your answers. You can also emphasize your ability to learn new systems quickly, providing examples of when you have done so in the past.
Interview Questions About Database Design
What They Want to Know: Again, employers are interested in how much “hands-on” experience you have in computer design. Expect to be tested on your technical knowledge, just like you would be in a college exam.
- Tell me about some of the databases you have designed.
- How do you enforce relational integrity in database design?
- When is it appropriate to denormalize database design?
- What is the difference between OLAP and OLTP? When is each used?
- What automated-build tools or processes have you used?
- What is the role of continuous integration systems in the automated-build process?
- Describe the difference between optimistic and pessimistic locking.
- In databases, what is the difference between a delete statement and a truncate statement?
- What are transaction logs, and how are they used?
- What are the most important database performance metrics, and how do you monitor them?
- What is the role of SNMP?
How To Respond
Hopefully, you will know the correct answers to questions like these—so answer with confidence. If, however, you are asked a question you aren’t sure about, admit this and explain how you would go about finding the right answer.
Questions About Your Work Habits and Processes
What They Want to Know: IT specialists may be called upon to work both independently and as team contributors, so employers are interested in your teamwork and communications skills. They also want a sense of whether the processes you’ve used in the past align with those of their own teams.
- How important is it to work directly with your business users?
- What elements are necessary for a successful team and why?
- What percentage of your time do you spend unit testing?
- What do you expect in the solution documents you are provided?
- How much reuse do you get out of the code that you develop, and how?
- Which do you prefer; service-oriented or batch-oriented solutions?
- What technical websites do you follow?
How To Respond
Even as you express your opinion in your answers, try to also demonstrate your flexibility and your willingness to adapt to new processes. Research the company before your interview so that you’ll have a good idea of how they operate—ideally, your answers should reflect their own methods.
More Tech Interview Questions
- IT Job Interview Questions
- Computer Skills Interview Questions
- Help Desk Interview Questions
- Network Administrator Interview Questions
- Software Engineer Interview Questions
How to Prepare for Your Interview
Learn as much as you can about the company and the department to which you are applying before you walk into the interview. Candidates who are able to confidently answer questions about the company are far more likely to proceed to a second interview than those who’ve failed to do their homework.
Prepare answers to standard interview questions as well as for technical ones. Employers will be interested in how you’ve conquered challenges in the past, as well as whether you’ll fit into their corporate culture. They’ll also want a sense of your short- and long-term career plans to determine if you’re likely to remain with their company.
Anticipate some curveball questions. A few hiring managers will ask challenging questions to interviewees to ascertain whether they can think on their feet under pressure. You may also be asked a few questions with no right or wrong answers—here, your attitude and tone of voice will be as important as your answer.
Develop a few questions to ask your interviewer(s). Most interviews end with the hiring manager asking if you have questions for him or her. Arrive with a few questions prepared ahead of time—this will demonstrate your interest in and enthusiasm for their operations.
A few suggestions: ask about current projects in their pipeline, challenges facing their IT team, their development process, and/or their plans for future research and development.
Prepare to make a good impression. To impress your interviewer, you need to arrive at the interview ahead of time, and be well-groomed and dressed in professional interview attire. It's also important to maintain eye contact, listen to the interviewer without interruption, and be aware of your body language.
Don’t rush your answers. When technical questions arise during the interview, it’s fine to ask for clarification and to “think aloud” as you work through possible solutions for hypothetical problems. This will provide the interviewer a glimpse into your thought processes, and will also show your ability to communicate effectively and engage in a productive dialogue.
- Practice responses to technical interview questions in advance so that you won't feel flustered.
- Research the company and review the job ad closely so you can emphasize meaningful and relevant skills and experience.
- When appropriate, share details about how you've handled similar situations in previous roles.