42 help desk interview questions to ask candidates

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42 help desk interview questions to ask candidates

42 help desk interview questions to ask candidates

Does your business use a broad range of software tools and IT systems?

Ensuring that they run smoothly is critical, so you may need to hire a help desk professional.

The demand for help desk agents and managers is on the rise, but there is an easy way to ensure you hire an expert for your organization: Use skills tests to assess your applicants’ help desk skills and then ask them targeted help desk interview questions during an interview.

If you’ve been searching for the right questions for your hiring process, look no further. This article has 42 help desk interview questions you can ask candidates, along with sample answers to some of them to help you evaluate their skills.

Get inspiration for your list by looking at the questions below.

Table of contents



10 general help desk interview questions

Ask interviewees some of these 10 questions to assess their general knowledge and skill.

10 general help desk interview questions

  1. Why have you chosen a career in help desk and desktop support?
  2. Describe your help desk work experience so far.
  3. Which skills are required to work as a help desk support professional?
  4. What do Logical Drives do?
  5. Explain how VPNs work.
  6. Explain how routers work.
  7. Explain how DHCP functions.
  8. What does DNS mean? What does it do?
  9. Which soft skills are required to work as a help desk professional?
  10. Which technical skills would you like to improve?



5 general help desk interview questions and answers

Below you’ve got a selection of five of the general help desk interview questions plus sample responses to help you evaluate your interviewees’ answers.

1. Which skills are required to work as a help desk professional?

As well as technical skills, applicants should know that customer-service skills are essential for help desk professionals. For instance, help desk professionals should have virus and malware knowledge to solve user issues.

2. Which soft skills are required to work as a help desk professional?

Candidates may mention several soft skills when responding to this help desk interview question. For instance, interviewees may mention that communication and problem-solving skills are crucial for collaborating with end users and IT experts to solve complex challenges.

3. Describe your help desk work experience so far.

The main thing you should consider when evaluating applicants’ answers to this question is: Does their experience align with the responsibilities of your open role?

Your applicant may have limited help desk work experience. In that case, look for applicants who are motivated to grow and have some transferable skills from other roles, so that they can confidently transition into your open role and learn the required skills.

4. What do Logical Drives do?

Candidates should know that a Logical Drive’s purpose is to optimize the storage performance of a system. They work by making storage units and facilitating their interaction without unnecessary physical-unit intervention.

5. What does DNS mean? What does it do?

Applicants should know that a DNS is short for domain name system. It works by translating the domain name a user searches for into an IP address, which facilitates loading internet resources.



23 help desk interview questions related to terms and definitions

Ask your applicants some of these 23 help desk interview questions related to definitions and terms to further test their knowledge.

23 help desk interview questions related to terms and definitions

  1. Explain what safe mode is.
  2. Explain what an active directory is.
  3. Explain what Blue Screen of Death is.
  4. Explain what Pointer Record (PTR) is.
  5. Explain what a Logical Drive is.
  6. What is a virtual private network (VPN)?
  7. Explain what a router is.
  8. Explain what PST files are.
  9. Explain what DHCP is.
  10. Explain what SCSI is.
  11. Explain what an incremental backup is.
  12. Explain what a differential backup is.
  13. Explain the difference between differential backups and incremental backups.
  14. Explain what reverse DNS lookup is.
  15. Explain what forward DNS lookup is.
  16. What does FAT32 mean?
  17. What does NTFS mean?
  18. What is the difference between FAT32 and NTFS?
  19. Explain what IMAP is.
  20. Explain what a cross cable is.
  21. Explain what Cookies are.
  22. Explain what a serial port is.
  23. Explain what a parallel port is.



5 help desk interview questions and answers related to terms and definitions

Below, there are the answers to five of the help desk interview questions related to terms and definitions. Use them as a guide when evaluating your applicants’ responses.

1. Explain what an incremental backup is.

Your applicants should be able to explain that incremental backups will copy the files that have been modified since the previous (full or incremental backup) has taken place.

2. Explain what a differential backup is.

Interviewees should know that a differential backup only copies data that has been modified since the previous full backup has taken place.

3. Explain what Blue Screen of Death is.

Can your applicants explain that the Blue Screen of Death (abbreviated to BSoD) is a serious error? They may explain that a BSoD indicates that the operating system has crashed and stopped functioning due to drivers, hardware issues, or kernel problems.

4. Explain what Pointer Record (PTR) is.

Do your applicants know that a Pointer Record is a type of reverse DNS lookup tool that security experts use for outgoing email validation and to understand the origin of traffic? Can they explain that PTRs verify IP addresses by matching them to a domain name?

5. What is a virtual private network (VPN)?

Virtual private networks enable users to establish a private network, using a public network with encryption. Applicants may explain that VPN connections ensure the safe transmission of sensitive data and prevent unauthorized access to it.



9 situational help desk interview questions

Ask your interviewees some of these nine situational help desk interview questions to see how they handle complex situations and solve users’ problems.

9 situational help desk interview questions

  1. Describe a situation when you solved a complex IT issue in your past role.
  2. You encounter a situation in which a user’s monitor has stopped working. Which method would you use to understand the source of the problem?
  3. You receive a Blue Screen of Death error. How do you determine its cause?
  4. A user’s system is running slowly. Which approach would you use to understand the source of the problem?
  5. Have you ever had someone who wasn’t happy with the service you provided? How did you handle the situation?
  6. A user’s printer has not been configured properly. How would you solve this?
  7. Which method would you use to prevent system virus infections?
  8. A user’s computer clock keeps resetting with each PC restart. How would you handle this?
  9. How would you backup Outlook emails?



5 situational help desk interview questions and answers

Below are the answers to five of the situational help desk interview questions to help you gauge the depth of your candidates’ expertise.

1. You encounter a situation in which a user’s monitor has stopped working. Which method would you use to understand the source of the problem?

Your candidates may mention a few steps when resolving this problem. They may examine the VGA, DVI, and power cables that lead to the monitor and then look at the ports to determine whether there’s a hardware issue.

Applicants may then mention that they would troubleshoot the monitor by connecting a separate monitor to the computer to check if it works.

Your candidates may also mention that they would perform checks on the video card and the display drivers to cover all bases and use a process of elimination to understand the source of the problem and be able to fix it.

2. A user’s system is running slowly. Which approach would you use to understand the source of the problem?

Applicants should be able to deduce that a lack of memory is often the culprit of a slowly running system. They may begin by getting rid of temporary files and deleting files that are not used (after asking the user for their permission).

Your candidates may then use defragmentation tools for hard disk space optimization.

In many cases, users also experience a slow internet connection. In that case, your applicants may proceed to delete cached items from the browser.

3. A user’s computer clock keeps resetting with each PC restart. How would you handle this?

Interviewees should know that CMOS batteries can be the number one cause for clock resets after a PC restarts. They should know that replacing the CMOS battery often solves the issue with minimal effort.

4. Which method would you use to prevent system virus infections?

Knowledgeable applicants should know that anti-virus software is an ideal fix for virus prevention. They may explain that anti-virus software can scan computers for malware.

Applicants may also go a step further and run diagnostics by checking if the system is running slowly without a logical explanation or if there are any PUPs (potentially unwanted programs) installed. Using these methods will help prevent virus infections.

5. You receive a Blue Screen of Death error. How do you determine the cause?

Candidates may explain that they would first restart the computer and then update the drivers if the restart was successful.

They may then check if the problem still persists and run diagnostics by removing the hardware and ensuring it’s not the cause. 

Candidates may mention a few other options for determining the cause of a BSoD error, such as:

  • Assessing the cables of the hard disk
  • Installing any updates if there are any
  • Performing a system restore



5 skills to consider when hiring a help desk professional for your team

When hiring a help desk professional, before interviewing candidates, you can use skill testing to determine whether your applicants have the right skills for the role.

5 skills to consider when hiring a help desk professional for your team

Five essential skills for all help desk agents and managers are:  

1. Communication skills

Help desk agents not only need to speak with users but also often need to collaborate with different IT experts to solve user issues, so they must have excellent communication skills to discuss technical problems.

Do your interviewees have the right communication skills to ensure the efficient collaboration with both users and IT professionals?

2. Attention to detail

All help desk technicians need strong attention to detail skills when troubleshooting and investigating errors. Do your candidates have the attention to detail required to notice the smallest errors?

3. Customer-service skills

Are your applicants aware that end users should be their priority in a help desk role? Do they understand that users’ issues should be their main focus? 

Even when your applicants don’t think the issue is particularly important, they should ensure they focus on the problem and give it their full attention using customer-service skills.

4. Technical knowledge

Even though customer-service skills are critical for help desk professionals, this doesn’t mean that technical knowledge is not important. Your candidates should have skills and knowledge related to virus prevention, bug monitoring, and malware issues to solve any pressing issues.

5. Problem-solving skills

Problem-solving is a vital skill for help desk professionals.

Do your applicants understand how to troubleshoot issues by breaking them down into more manageable chunks? Can they resolve issues by combining their technical knowledge and problem-solving skills to assist users promptly? 



When should you use skills tests and help desk interview questions?

When hiring a help desk professional, use pre-employment skills assessments early into the hiring process, after you receive applications.

You can even replace the lengthy CV screening process with skills tests, because they give you a more accurate and unbiased overview of applicants’ skills. Then, you can invite your best candidates (based on test results) to an interview to get a deeper understanding of their qualities.

Use the help desk interview questions from this article to evaluate them. This approach greatly reduces the time to hire, simplifies the hiring process, and eliminates bias.

Find the right professional with skills testing and help desk interview questions

The help desk professional you need is waiting for you to find them!

With the right methods, you can hire them quickly and efficiently. Just integrate skills testing and the right selection of help desk interview questions into your hiring process to assess applicants’ skills and expertise thoroughly.

Then they’ll be able to troubleshoot and solve IT-related problems for users, ensure your IT systems run without malfunctions, and deliver a smooth experience for everyone at your company.

Hire the best talent with skills tests and the right selection of interview questions.

With TestGorilla, you’ll find the recruitment process to be simpler, faster, and much more effective. Get started for free today and start making better hiring decisions, faster and bias-free.

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