Robert Half International: 14 support interview questions to ask your best candidates

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Help desk and IT support professionals were stretched like never before when much of the workforce was forced to stay home following the COVID-19 pandemic. This talent was already hard to find, but once workers and employers had to rely on technology to maintain their livelihoods and incomes, support staff became indispensable. Now that companies need to hire to take advantage of growth opportunities, they face a job market where help desk professionals are in even greater demand.

The search, however, must continue, and a large part of your success depends on having extraordinary clarity in your job posting and interviews about the skills you need for these people. Otherwise, you will quickly lose the interest of top talent.

Tailor your description to the level of technical support the person in this position will provide. Help desk analysts typically fall into one of three tiers, and each of these tiers requires a different level of IT expertise:

  • Level 1 serves as the first point of contact for callers and provides basic technical support. Candidates for this position may have limited computer training.
  • Level 2 is less customer oriented, focusing more on resolving issues and closing tickets. Candidates at this level will need a good overall knowledge of common computer issues.
  • Level 3 includes senior technical executives who deal with complex issues, as well as strategy and reporting. They will need strong computer experience and excellent problem-solving skills.

Keep this in mind when planning your support interview questions. If you’re recruiting for a Tier 1 position, for example, you may choose to focus primarily on soft skills such as communication and being calm under pressure.

What are the best support interview questions to ask? Here are some examples that will help you sort out suitable candidates from the best.

Communications issues

Stellar communication is an essential skill needed in help desk roles. Support staff should work with callers to learn as much as possible about the problem and then guide those callers through step-by-step solutions. They may also have to complete detailed escalation reports so that senior support personnel understand the precise nature of the problem.

1. Tell me about a time you had to talk to someone who had no computer knowledge about a computer problem?

This can be one of the most challenging aspects of the help desk job, as IT staff can sometimes struggle to communicate with non-technical audiences. Ask the interviewee to explain their process for approaching this type of conversation. How did they break things down for the person they were helping? What kind of additional questions were raised and how did they handle them? How did he make sure the other person understood?

2. Tell me about a time when you had to deal with someone who was angry?

Computer issues can be particularly stressful for people who aren’t technically inclined, which means callers can be upset when they contact a support professional. Candidates must demonstrate to you that they understand the principles of active listening: listen without intervening; sympathize; confirm understanding of the problem; propose a suitable solution; ensure that the caller understands the solution. And they should never just read a script!

3. Do you prefer to communicate by phone or SMS? Why?

Most support positions involve a significant amount of written communication. This includes internal channels, such as ticket initiation and escalation, and external channels, such as email and chat support. Verbal communication is of course also essential if you are offering telephone support. Good candidates will use this question to talk about the pros and cons of different communication methods while ensuring they are comfortable with a range of channels.

Technology Matters

Although the job level determines the level of technical knowledge required, the following general help desk interview questions should be adequate in most cases.

4. What technology sites do you visit regularly?

Answers here can range from general, like Stack Overflow, The Verge, and IT-related Reddit communities (also known as sub-reddits), to tech-specific blogs and social media feeds. This information can provide insight into candidates’ levels of engagement with the world of technology.

5. What interests you in our product or service?

This help desk interview question tests a candidate’s interview readiness and gauges their enthusiasm for your company’s mission. You can follow up by asking candidates to describe your typical target customer and maybe even what they see as alternative use cases for your product.

6. How would you explain a concept like cybersecurity or cloud technology to a non-technical person?

A question like this can provide insight into the candidate’s technical knowledge. Are they just using buzzwords or do they have a broad enough understanding of the concept to be able to explain it thoroughly yet succinctly?

Remote Work Help Desk Interview Questions

Remote work is increasingly popular, and help desk professionals may be called upon to assist colleagues or customers working from home.

7. Tell me about your experience with remote support.

Much technical support requires remote access to the user’s device. Your candidate may have some experience working with remote access systems, such as RemotePC or Zoho Support.

8. What other tools have you used to support your colleagues remotely?

Ask candidates what ticketing systems and remote connection tools they have used. You can also ask them if they had to use system or network monitoring apps and which app tools they prefer.

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Problem Solving Questions

Your ideal candidates should have strong analytical skills and the ability to approach problems methodically and systematically, so be sure to focus some of your support interview questions on these areas.

9. How would you solve ______________?

Fill in the blank with the most common queries presented to your help desk and try to ask candidates one of them. You will be able to get an idea of ​​their problem-solving skills.

Customer Service Questions

Whether internal or external, customers expect prompt and courteous service. Include help desk interview questions that assess soft skills such as patience and empathy.

10. Tell me about a time you experienced good customer service from a company, not necessarily a tech company.

Everyone has a different idea of ​​what good service is. Some people value efficiency, while others are more interested in usability. This question will help you identify candidates whose approach aligns with your organizational culture and client expectations.

11. Tell me about a time you went the extra mile.

The best help desk analysts go above and beyond to ensure callers’ issues are fully resolved so tickets aren’t reopened. The tone and content of a candidate’s response to this question can tell you whether they are doing the bare minimum or providing thoughtful and thorough service.

Questions about teamwork and organizational culture

Help desk analysts must function as part of an extended team, in partnership with colleagues at all levels and in collaboration with members of other departments.

12. What qualities make you a good team player?

A suitable candidate will answer this question by listing relevant soft skills such as active listening and a collaborative mindset. A great candidate will give examples of when and how they’ve used these skills to solve real-world challenges, like meeting a tight deadline or resolving a conflict with a difficult colleague.

13. How do you handle reviews?

Analysts work in high-pressure environments and may have to respond to criticism and complaints from customers and colleagues, so you don’t want to hire someone with thin skin. Look for interviewees who demonstrate an ability to learn from peer reviews and customer complaints rather than taking them personally.

14. How flexible are you in terms of scheduling?

Many support positions require working nights and weekends, so you need to make sure the best candidates can meet your scheduling demands. Set expectations for working hours and confirm candidates are willing to work non-standard hours.

Providing top-notch support services has never been more critical. Internal users need support to do their jobs, and external customers expect great support from your service. By asking the right interview questions at the help desk, you can build a team that’s as effective as it is customer-centric.

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