The most common help desk interview questions with answers

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 3 January 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When applying for help desk jobs, an interviewer wants to see more than your technical skills. They also want to know how you can take customers who may feel frustrated or lack technical computer knowledge and solve their problems. You can learn how the help desk needs interpersonal skills besides technical ones and how an interviewer targets your strengths and weaknesses through their questions. In this article, we outline some common help desk interview questions that gauge both.

What help desk interview questions should you expect?

The questions below comprise some you can expect for help desk interview questions. These include general questions you may expect In any interview. Prepare yourself also to answer questions about your experience and background, academics, in-depth questions and specific questions about how to handle certain calls. Below are some examples of these types of questions:

General interview questions

Prepare answers to these general interview questions that commonly arise:

  • Tell me about yourself.

  • What feedback did you get on your last employee review?

  • What is your greatest strength?

  • What is your greatest weakness and how are you working to overcome it?

  • Are you good at solving problems over the phone?

  • Why did you choose computer support for a career?

  • How do you define excellent customer service?

  • How important are IT skills in a service desk role?

  • What motivates you in a help desk role?

  • Are you able to work weekend or night shifts?

  • Have you taken any continuing education classes? On what topic?

  • Do you keep up with any technology blogs or podcasts?

Questions relating to education, experience and background

Use these interview questions to prepare answers relating to your education, experience and background:

  • Describe how your academic training helped prepare you for this role.

  • How long have you been working in help desk roles?

  • Do you have any formal coding training?

  • What coding languages do you know best?

  • What were your duties at your previous job?

  • What was your most rewarding experience working at a help desk?

  • What has been your worst experience in help desk roles? How did you resolve the problem?

In-depth customer service and technical interview questions

Consider these more in-depth questions and your answers when preparing for your help desk interview:

  • Can you explain a time when you dealt with a frustrated customer?

  • If something dissatisfied the customer with your service, what are your usual next steps?

  • If a caller doesn't understand your suggestion, how do you simplify it and help them understand?

  • How would you describe a technical solution to someone with either little or no experience?

  • How do you respond if you're unsure of the answer?

  • What is the difference between SQL and NoSQL?

  • Can you explain a time when you exceeded expectations?

  • How do you stay up-to-date with your IT skills and knowledge?

  • If a customer calls in saying their sound isn't working, how would you address the problem?

  • If a customer calls in saying their PC is slow, how would you address the problem?

  • If a customer calls in saying they experienced a blue screen, what would you do?

  • If a customer calls in saying they currently don't have Internet access, how would you address the problem?

  • In what situation would you escalate a ticket?

  • Can you train new hires on help desk fundamentals?

  • Can you explain the difference between RAM and ROM?

  • Can you explain what a BIOS is?

  • Describe your typical technical support calls

  • How long do you believe a phone call should last?

  • Can you describe a typical day in your previous help desk position?

Related: Computer skills: Definitions and examples

Sample responses to interview questions

The sample answers below outline how to approach certain questions. You can adapt the specific answers to other questions similar to these. Using a methodical approach to different types of questions helps give a thoughtful and logical response:

Can you explain how you would use BIOS to help a customer?

When asked to define a specific technical term to test your knowledge, define it and tell how you use it to solve the problem.

Example: 'BIOS firmware troubleshoots hardware installation on a PC. Sometimes proprietary software conflicts with the booting process of a PC, and callers need to use the BIOS screen to pinpoint the error. By telling me what the BIOS screen says, I can find the problem and resolve it quickly.'

Describe your typical technical support calls

Narrow down broad questions into specific examples to show your expertise.

Example: 'I often get calls regarding log-in issues. Usually, someone used the incorrect password or misspelt it, but I remember a call where the customer had limited knowledge and needed help with enabling cookies and clearing history.'

If a customer calls in saying their sound isn't working, how would you address the problem?

Go through each step you would take to solve the problem and show your thought process. Start with what is the most common issue and how you fix that problem. What next steps would you take if the most common solution didn't work? Follow this formula when answering any question about addressing a specific problem.

Example: 'New software often causes sound issues. I instruct callers to reboot the computer to solve the problem. If sound still fails, I go through sound settings and make sure the caller has not muted devices such as headphones accidentally.'

How long should a call last?

Most organisations set the goal for call length, but interviewers want to gauge how efficiently you handle calls. If you have experience, you can cite the range for those previous employers, but also go into detail about your average call time and explain what is ideal for most situations.

Example: 'In my previous positions, the maximum ranged from five to seven minutes, but I believe that no call should last longer than five minutes for most issues. There may be exceptions for unusual issues, but I always strive to keep a call at five minutes.'

Describe a typical day at your last position

Describe your routine when you start and end your day so interviewers see how your previous experience relates to their job requirements.

Example: 'At my previous job, after I greeted everyone and settled into my desk, I'd log in to all of my necessary programmes, review any reports for outstanding issues and enter the caller queue. During weekday shifts, the queue stayed busy, but on weekends or nights I followed up on any pending issues company-wide or ran maintenance or programmes such as malware protection.'

Related: Interviewing techniques and tips to make a great impression

Where are help desk jobs?

Some companies provide external help desk technical support for multiple companies. You may choose this type of company for employment, but some organisations supply in-house technical support departments. Working within one company can mean getting to know your callers well, so you develop working relationships with employees.

For internal technical support jobs within a company, seek these job titles:

  • customer care specialist

  • customer service manager

  • technical support specialist

  • network administrator

  • technical support supervisor

  • virtual assistant

  • sales representative

  • software engineer

  • computer technician

  • IT analyst

What to expect from help desk jobs

Each job has requirements set by the individual company, but some situations may be common when working a help desk. The following comprise typical expectations of this career:

  • Work/life balance: Work hours usually run during the day during business hours, but may involve weekends, nights or on-call. Nights usually have a slower pace. If you prefer late hours, you may ask to work those hours regularly. Weekends often rotate among employees. In most positions, you may maintain a work/life balance without a problem.

  • Salary: For help desk operators, the national average salary is £20,708 per year.

  • Work conditions: Most often, you may work in an office environment or by phone with your own desk or assigned workstation. You may check equipment physically and set up workspaces for new employees if you work for an in-house help desk.

  • Job satisfaction: Helping someone without technical computer skills fix a problem and perhaps learn a little more can help turn a tough day around, creating great satisfaction for you as the computer expert who helped.

Related: The top 10 employability skills that will help you get the job you want

Salary figures reflect the data listed on Indeed. Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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