Computer technicians continue to be in demand. Between 2010 and 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates an 18 percent growth in new computer support specialists, about the same as the estimated growth for all occupations, but many of these professionals have clear opportunities for advancement as they earn certifications and degrees. As you develop specializations, such as skills in server operating systems or networking, your opportunity to advance to higher demand and pay positions increases. You can expect a host of technical and nontechnical questions to demonstrate your fit for the position during an interview.
Big Picture Questions
Interviewers typically break the ice with standard demographic and career questions. Expect for them to ask about your career goals, why you want to work for the company, why you left your previous job, and what your strengths and weaknesses are. Your interviewer may ask about "big picture" topics such as "What are some major computing trends that will make an impact in the next decade?" or "How do you keep current on new technologies?" If you are a recent graduate, your interviewer may ask about your special interests in college, any special projects or internships you completed and how college prepared you for this position.
Turning a Screwdriver
Computer technicians must have a solid understanding of computer and network architecture. Expect your interviewer to ask about computer basics such as motherboards, CPUs, video cards and hard drives if you have limited working experience. He may ask for tutorials, such as the steps to build a personal computer. Networking questions are common for a PC tech. Be able to explain what a network is, how to set one up and some basic troubleshooting concepts even if the firm has network administrators. You should know how to list the steps in the process of troubleshooting hardware failure.
Software issues dominate many computer technicians' workdays. Prepare to answer basic questions about operating systems, such as "Which operating systems are you familiar with?" and "What are the main differences between operating systems?" You should also understand process-oriented questions, such as "How do you install an operating system on a new hard drive? On a used computer?" Be ready to discuss computer security, including antivirus software preferences, how to remove a virus and how to prevent a virus infection, recommends the University of California Santa Cruz.
Rounding out the Interview
Certifications are critical in information technologies. Have your list of certifications handy at your interview and gather a list of workshops, continuing education and other training you have completed. Prepare to explain how you work with end users who have little or no tech savvy and with users who attempt to repair the computers themselves. Most computer technician interviews will also include some situational questions, such as "What do you do if a user spills a soda on her laptop?" or "What is the process to restore Internet access for a system that is offline?" Prepare to discuss servers, server operating systems and basic server access questions, such as "What are the steps to set up a limited user account with Windows Server 2008 R2?" Keep in mind the type of job for which you are applying and the products or services that your company offers when you try to prepare for the interview.
2016 Salary Information for Computer Support Specialists
Computer support specialists earned a median annual salary of $52,550 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, computer support specialists earned a 25th percentile salary of $40,120, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $68,210, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 835,400 people were employed in the U.S. as computer support specialists.