Careers advice

IT job interview questions and answers

Here’s what the interviewer is likely to ask.

While some questions you’ll face in your job interview will be from a common list and therefore won’t be industry specific, you should expect a good number that are.

So if you’re wondering how to prepare for an IT interview, it’s important that you have answers for questions that relate to the field, your technical competencies and the responsibilities of the role. Let’s take a look.

The most common IT job interview questions in NZ

1. Questions about your capabilities

We’ve grouped the following questions together because your answers will be based on your personal experiences and professional/academic experiences.

  • What certifications do you have? This could be university qualifications (for example, a computer science degree) or coding bootcamps you’ve attended that are streamlined towards your specific interests.
  • What coding languages are you familiar with? Again, answering this is straightforward – just name the language(s) you know. We recently interviewed an experienced IT professional who recommended getting fluent in a couple of the most common languages first to give yourself options.
  • What tools are you most familiar with? Ideally, you’ll be able to name tools that are similar to (or the same as) the ones the business uses. However, it’s far from a deal breaker if you don’t.

We recommend you become fluent in one or two of the most common coding languages.

2. How do you deal with a project involving tech or tools you’re not used to?

This question is not only designed to test how you approach unknowns in your job, but also how well you deal with additional stress.

As with all behavioural interview questions, the best way to answer is by using the STAR (situation, task,action, result) method. This allows you to demonstrate how you’ve dealt with similar situations in the past, and how you’d put these experiences to use in this scenario.

Remember, you can use the STAR method even if this is your first job application by drawing on experiences from school, university or projects you’ve undertaken on your own.

3. How do you stay on top of industry trends and developments?

IT is a sector constantly on the move, and bosses want to see you’re committed to staying up-to-date with the latest emerging tools and methodologies. After all, they’re looking to invest in someone to take their company forward, not sit in a holding pattern.

Good answers here will name drop podcasts, blogs or publications you regularly engage with. If you’ve got a great professional network, or make use of community websites like Stackoverflow.com or CodePen.io, these are fantastic resources to mention here too.

4. Tell me about a process you’ve improved

This is another time to crack out the STAR methodology to provide concrete examples of how your skills and knowledge have made a tangible difference to organisations in the past. Where possible, mention specific challenges you encountered, and how you overcame them.

Remember to include specific wins like this in your Trade Me Jobs Profile. Proven examples of your success really stand out to employers, and should be something you shout about at all possible opportunities.

The interviewer will want specific examples of work you've done in the past.

5. How do you work with people outside the IT/tech department?

This is crucial for employers. They need to know you have the right soft skills that will enable you to work well with others. You can be the best developer, engineer, architect or analyst going, but if you can’t work with people from other departments towards broader business goals, you’re of little use to the employer.

As always, examples are your friends here, as well as your natural charm and personality!

6. Do you work well under pressure?

The real question here is probing what strategies you have for coping with tight deadlines. Talk about:

  • Your time management skills: how do you prioritise tasks and create a logical workfl;ow to ensure everything is completed on time?
  • Your teamwork abilities: in most IT teams, you’ll be working with others, so explaining how you’ll coordinate with your team members is important when time pressure is involved.
  • Processes you’ve implemented before: wherever possible, back up statements with examples from your past. In this instance. This might include workflow management tools you’ve made use of in previous projects.

7. Tell me about a project that didn’t go to plan

Despite how it sounds, this one isn’t designed to trip you up. We all learn far more when things go badly than when they’re a walk in the park – and this is exactly what the interviewer wants to see. How did you respond to the problems you encountered, and what would you do differently next time?

8. Problem solving questions

It’s common for employers to present you with a verbal problem to solve in your interview (you might also expect a formal test, if you get further through the application process).

While you can’t predict what the interviewer will ask, it’s worth brainstorming some possibilities. You can do this by analysing the job listing and looking at the core roles and responsibilities your role will have.

Remember, even if you don’t reach the ‘right’ answer, it’s not the end of the world. The real point of these problem-solving questions is to show the employer how your brain works and how you tackle issues.