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59+ real-life interview questions and answers for IT roles

Finding the right IT pro for your team is a big deal, and step one is asking the right questions in the interview.

Alexandros Pantelakis
Alexandros Pantelakis

HR content specialist at Workable, delivering in-depth, data-driven articles to offer insights into industry and tech trends.

Interview questions - IT roles

Not sure which interview questions will really show if a candidate has the IT skills you need? Imagine having a bunch of real questions asked by real hiring managers.

In this guide, we’ve got a whole set of down-to-earth interview questions made just for different IT jobs. Whether you’re looking for a Network Engineer, Systems Engineer, DevOps Engineer, QA Engineer, IT Product Manager, Engineering Manager, or Analytics Manager, we’ve got you covered with questions that fit the bill.

Real-life network engineer interview questions

A Network Engineer designs, configures, and maintains an organization’s network infrastructure, ensuring it operates efficiently, securely, and reliably. They troubleshoot network issues, implement solutions, and manage network hardware and software.

Here are 15 interview questions from real hiring managers with sample answers for each:

  1. Can you explain the basic operation of OSPF (Open Shortest Path First)?

Assessing the candidate’s knowledge of OSPF, a routing protocol used in IP networks.

Sample answer: 

“OSPF is a link-state routing protocol that calculates the shortest path to route IP packets within a network. Routers exchange link-state advertisements (LSAs) to build a topological map and determine the best path to reach destinations.”

  1. Explain the difference between eBGP and iBGP.

Evaluating the candidate’s understanding of BGP (Border Gateway Protocol) and its internal and external variants.

Sample answer:

“eBGP (External BGP) is used for routing between different autonomous systems (ASes), while iBGP (Internal BGP) is used within the same AS. iBGP ensures BGP routes learned from external sources are propagated within the AS.”

  1. How does STP prevent loops in a bridged network?

Assessing the candidate’s knowledge of Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) and its role in network loop prevention.

Sample answer: 

“STP prevents loops by electing a root bridge and disabling redundant paths in a bridged network. It uses Bridge Protocol Data Units (BPDUs) to determine the best path to the root bridge.”

  1. How do you handle NAT (Network Address Translation) in a firewall?

Evaluating the candidate’s expertise in configuring NAT within a firewall for network address translation.

Sample answer: 

“NAT in a firewall translates private internal IP addresses to a public IP address when communicating with external networks. This hides internal network details, enhancing security and enabling multiple devices to share a single public IP.”

  1. Can you explain the significance of firewall logs and how they can aid in troubleshooting?

Assessing the candidate’s understanding of firewall logs and their role in troubleshooting network issues.

Sample answer: 

“Firewall logs record network traffic and security events. They are invaluable for troubleshooting, providing insights into connection attempts, rule violations, and potential threats. Analyzing logs helps identify and address network issues.”

  1. Can you discuss a complex network design you have implemented, focusing on the routing and switching aspects?

Encouraging the candidate to share their experience in designing and implementing intricate network solutions.

Sample answer: 

“In a previous role, I designed a multi-site network for a large corporation. I implemented OSPF for dynamic routing, ensuring efficient data transmission. Additionally, I used VLANs to segment traffic, and HSRP for high availability.”

  1. What is subnetting? Can you subnet without a calculator?

Testing the candidate’s knowledge of subnetting and their ability to perform subnet calculations manually.

Sample answer: 

“Subnetting is the practice of dividing an IP network into smaller, logical subnetworks. Yes, I can subnet without a calculator by applying binary and CIDR notation to determine subnet masks and address ranges.”

  1. What’s the value of every bit in each Octet?

Evaluating the candidate’s understanding of IP address octets and their values.

Sample answer:

“Each octet in an IPv4 address consists of 8 bits, ranging from 0 to 255. In binary, the values are 00000000 (0) to 11111111 (255)”

  1. What are sunset masks and what’s their slashed notation?

Assessing the candidate’s knowledge of subnet masks and their representation.

Sample answer:

“Subnet masks, also called netmasks, define the network portion of an IP address. Slash notation represents subnet masks using a forward slash followed by the subnet prefix length (e.g., /24).”

  1. What are the administrative distances of all routing protocols?

Testing the candidate’s knowledge of administrative distances in various routing protocols.

Sample answer: 

“Common administrative distances include OSPF (110), EIGRP (90), BGP (20 for eBGP, 200 for iBGP), and static routes (1). These values determine the trustworthiness of routing information.”

  1. What are 3-way handshakes in TCP?

Assessing the candidate’s understanding of the TCP/IP handshake process.

Sample answer: 

“The TCP 3-way handshake is a method for establishing a connection. It involves three steps: SYN (synchronize), SYN-ACK (synchronize-acknowledge), and ACK (acknowledge). This ensures both sender and receiver are ready to exchange data.”

  1. How do you set up HSRP and IP helpers?

Evaluating the candidate’s ability to configure HSRP (Hot Standby Router Protocol) and IP helpers.

Sample answer: 

“To set up HSRP, I configure virtual IPs and priority on routers in a group. IP helpers are configured on routers to forward broadcast requests, such as DHCP, to specific servers.”

  1. What’s a root bridge in a spanning tree?

Testing the candidate’s knowledge of Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) and the concept of a root bridge.

Sample answer: 

“In STP, a root bridge is the central switch elected as the root of the spanning tree. It serves as the reference point for path calculations and loop prevention.”

  1. What does a VTP do?

Assessing the candidate’s understanding of the VLAN Trunking Protocol (VTP) and its purpose.

Sample answer: 

“VTP manages VLAN configurations in a network. It ensures consistency by propagating VLAN information to all switches within a VTP domain.”

  1. What’s a VLAN?

Evaluating the candidate’s knowledge of Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs).

Sample answer: 

“A VLAN is a logical network segment that isolates traffic within a physical network. It enables network segmentation, improved security, and efficient traffic management.”

Real-life systems engineer interview questions

A Systems Engineer designs, configures, and maintains complex computer systems and networks. They integrate cloud services, troubleshoot programs in use, and collaborate on manufacturing processes, automation, and adherence to industry standards to ensure optimal system performance.

These 11 interview questions are among the most popular by real hiring managers: 

  1. How do you integrate cloud services when setting up system networks?

Assessing the candidate’s knowledge of integrating cloud services into system networks.

Sample answer: 

“Cloud integration involves configuring network access to cloud resources, such as cloud-based servers, storage, and applications, ensuring seamless communication between on-premises and cloud components.”

  1. Can you debug a program while someone is using it? How would you do this?

Evaluating the candidate’s debugging skills and ability to address program issues during active use.

Sample answer:

“Yes, I can debug a program in real-time. I would use debugging tools, log analysis, and monitoring to identify and resolve issues without disrupting the user’s experience.”

  1. What kind of experience do you have writing manufacturing work instructions?

Assessing the candidate’s experience in creating work instructions for manufacturing processes.

Sample answer: 

“I have extensive experience writing clear and detailed manufacturing work instructions that guide operators through assembly processes, ensuring product consistency and quality.”

  1. Do you have any experience working with automation?

Evaluating the candidate’s familiarity with automation technologies and their applications.

Sample answer: 

“Yes, I have experience implementing automation solutions, such as robotic process automation (RPA) and scripting, to streamline repetitive tasks and improve operational efficiency.”

  1. Are you able to read/interpret assembly drawings? Manufacturing specifications?

Assessing the candidate’s ability to interpret technical drawings and manufacturing specifications.

Sample answer:

“I am proficient in reading and interpreting assembly drawings, manufacturing blueprints, and specifications, ensuring accurate product assembly and adherence to design requirements.”

  1. Name a time you were able to successfully implement design for manufacturing (DFM) principles? Have you ever brought a new manufacturing process to production?

Encouraging the candidate to share their experience in applying DFM principles and introducing new manufacturing processes.

Sample answer: 

“I successfully applied DFM principles in a project, reducing manufacturing costs by optimizing product design. I also introduced a new manufacturing process that improved efficiency and product quality.”

  1. What is your familiarity with industry standards? MRP/ERP methodologies and systems? 

Engineering change management? Nonconformance/defect management?

Assessing the candidate’s knowledge of industry standards, MRP/ERP systems, engineering change management, and defect management.

Sample answer: 

“I am well-versed in industry standards, proficient in MRP/ERP methodologies, experienced in engineering change management, and skilled in managing nonconformance and defects to ensure product quality.”

  1. What kind of hands-on experience with specific manufacturing processes do you have? (soldering, epoxy bonding, welding, etc.)

Evaluating the candidate’s practical experience with various manufacturing processes.

Sample answer: 

“I have hands-on experience with soldering, epoxy bonding, welding, and other manufacturing processes, allowing me to troubleshoot and optimize production activities effectively.”

  1. Can you describe a situation where you were innovative?

Encouraging the candidate to share an example of their innovative problem-solving or process improvement.

Sample answer: 

“I introduced an innovative automation solution that reduced manual data entry by 50%, enhancing data accuracy and saving significant time for the team.”

  1. Can you describe a situation where you led the team in a different technical direction?

Assessing the candidate’s leadership and decision-making skills in guiding a team toward a new technical direction.

Sample answer: 

“I led the team to adopt a new programming framework that improved application performance and scalability, aligning our technical approach with industry best practices.”

  1. How often would you recommend updating a client’s network system?

Seeking the candidate’s perspective on the frequency of network system updates.

Sample answer: 

“Network system updates should be performed regularly, ideally following a quarterly schedule, to address security vulnerabilities, incorporate new features, and enhance overall performance.”

Real-life DevOps engineer interview questions

A DevOps Engineer focuses on automating and streamlining software development, testing, and deployment processes. They manage cloud infrastructure, implement continuous integration, and collaborate with development and operations teams to optimize application delivery.

Here are the first three interview questions chosen by real hiring managers. For more interview questions for this role click here

  1. What are the components of continuous integration and DevOps? How do you approach each of them?

Assessing the candidate’s understanding of continuous integration and DevOps components and their approach to each.

Sample answer: 

“Continuous integration involves source code management, automated testing, and build automation. In DevOps, collaboration, automation, and monitoring are key. I approach CI by setting up version control, automated testing, and build pipelines. In DevOps, I foster collaboration, automate deployments, and monitor system health.”

  1. Describe your ideal cloud infrastructure (compute instances, databases, load balancers, CDN, etc) and cloud logging setup.

Encouraging the candidate to outline their preferred cloud infrastructure and logging configuration.

Sample answer: 

“My ideal cloud infrastructure includes scalable compute instances, managed databases, load balancers for high availability, and a Content Delivery Network (CDN) for content distribution. For logging, I implement centralized logging with tools like Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana (ELK stack) to analyze and troubleshoot system issues effectively.”

  1. Describe your approach to code reviews. What do you think are the most important aspects to pay attention to when reviewing another team member’s code?

Exploring the candidate’s code review process and their understanding of critical review aspects.

Sample answer: 

“In code reviews, I focus on code quality, adherence to coding standards, security vulnerabilities, and performance optimizations. I ensure constructive feedback, encourage knowledge sharing, and prioritize collaboration to maintain high-quality code and foster team growth.”

Real-life QA engineer interview questions

A QA Engineer plays a crucial role in ensuring the quality of software products. They design test cases, conduct testing throughout the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC), identify and report bugs, and collaborate with development teams to deliver high-quality software.

Here are 8 interview questions from real hiring managers to help you identify the best candidate:

  1. Can you explain the Software Development Life Cycle, and how testing fits in?

Evaluating the candidate’s understanding of the SDLC and their knowledge of testing’s role within it.

Sample answer: 

“The SDLC encompasses stages like planning, design, development, testing, deployment, and maintenance. Testing is integrated throughout to identify defects early, ensuring a reliable and high-quality software product.”

  1. What is a good test case?

Assessing the candidate’s understanding of test case quality criteria.

Sample answer:

” A good test case is clear, specific, and focused on a single scenario. It includes preconditions, steps, expected results, and can be easily automated. It helps uncover defects effectively.”

  1. How do you have coverage in test cases?

Exploring the candidate’s approach to ensuring adequate test coverage.

Sample answer: 

“I achieve test coverage by defining test scenarios based on requirements, user stories, and risk analysis. These scenarios cover functional, non-functional, and edge cases to ensure comprehensive testing.”

  1. Describe how to conduct CRUD testing.

Checking the candidate’s knowledge of CRUD testing (Create, Read, Update, Delete) and their approach to it.

Sample answer: 

“CRUD testing verifies the system’s ability to perform basic database operations. I create test cases to validate creating, reading, updating, and deleting records, ensuring data integrity and functionality.”

  1. How do you conduct configuration management?

Inquiring about the candidate’s configuration management practices.

Sample answer: 

“I implement configuration management by maintaining version control of test scripts and test data, documenting changes, and ensuring a clear audit trail. Continuous integration tools help automate builds and deployments.”

  1. Describe ad hoc testing.

Assessing the candidate’s understanding of ad hoc testing and its importance.

Sample answer: 

“Ad hoc testing involves unplanned, exploratory testing without predefined test cases. Testers use their intuition and experience to uncover defects. It’s valuable for identifying unexpected issues and complementing structured testing.”

  1. What is a Bug triage process?

Evaluating the candidate’s knowledge of bug triage and its role in defect management.

Sample answer: 

“Bug triage is a process where a cross-functional team assesses and prioritizes reported bugs. We review their severity, impact, and assign them to developers for resolution based on their priority.”

  1. What were your responsibilities in your previous job?

Encouraging the candidate to share their past QA roles and responsibilities.

Sample answer: 

“In my previous role, I designed test cases, executed manual and automated testing, reported defects, collaborated with developers to resolve issues, and maintained test documentation. I also contributed to test automation efforts and conducted regression testing.”

Real-life IT product manager interview questions

IT Product Managers lead the development and management of technology products. They strategize, define success metrics, handle launches, resolve disputes, and improve existing products. Their role involves innovation, problem-solving, and adapting to technology trends.

Here 12 interview questions that hiring managers prefer to ask the candidates:

  1. How would you launch a new product? What success metrics would you track?

Assessing product launch strategy and success measurement.

Sample answer: 

“To launch a new product, I’d start by defining the target audience, creating a marketing plan, and coordinating with cross-functional teams. Success metrics would include user adoption rates, customer feedback, and revenue growth.”

  1. If you were to launch Google Maps in a certain developing nation, what is the minimum viable product? How would you get info for businesses? How would you market it? What would you do if there were disputes (e.g. with borders drawn on the map)?

Evaluating the minimum viable product, data collection, marketing, and dispute resolution strategy for a specific market.

Sample answer: 

“For a developing nation, the minimum viable product might include basic map data and essential features. To gather business info, I’d collaborate with local sources. Marketing would focus on accessibility and benefits. Disputes would be resolved through careful data verification and community engagement.”

  1. What metrics would you use to decide when to launch a product (versus improve it more)?

Identifying launch readiness and product improvement criteria.

Sample answer: 

“Launch decisions hinge on factors like user testing results, feature completeness, and market demand. Metrics include user satisfaction scores, bug reports, and competitive analysis.”

  1. Tell me about a time that you persuaded a group that was not under your direct control.

Demonstrating persuasion skills in a cross-functional context.

Sample answer: 

“In a previous role, I convinced a technical team to adopt a new project management tool by demonstrating its benefits, addressing their concerns, and offering training. This improved collaboration and efficiency.”

  1. How will you increase penetration in existing markets? How will you prioritize these initiatives? How will you determine their success?

Discussing market expansion, prioritization, and success measurement.

Sample answer: 

“To boost market penetration, I’d analyze user data, conduct market research, and collaborate with sales and marketing teams. Prioritization would be based on potential impact and resource availability. Success would be tracked through increased market share and revenue growth.”

  1. What’s a bad product? Why? How would you improve it?

Assessing product quality and proposing improvements.

Sample answer: 

“A bad product fails to meet user needs or lacks usability. To improve it, I’d conduct user research, gather feedback, and iterate on design and functionality to align with user expectations.”

  1. How would you design a product for <x> type of user to do <y>? E.g. how would you design a phone for kids?

Creating a product design strategy for a specific user and purpose.

Sample answer: 

“Designing a phone for kids would involve simplified user interfaces, parental controls, and durability. Safety features and educational apps would be prioritized.”

  1. What’s your favorite product? Why? How would you improve it?

Discussing a preferred product and suggesting enhancements.

Sample answer: 

“My favorite product is XYZ app for its user-friendly interface. To improve it, I’d add personalized recommendations based on user behavior and enhance its offline functionality.”

  1. A particular metric (maybe the number of tweets) has dropped significantly, how would you troubleshoot it and what would you do?

Addressing a drop in a specific metric and troubleshooting steps.

Sample answer: 

“I’d first analyze the data to pinpoint the cause. If it’s a drop in tweet volume, I’d investigate factors like content relevance, posting frequency, and engagement. Based on findings, I’d adjust the content strategy and engage with users to gather feedback.”

  1. How would you explain cloud computing to your grandmother?

Simplifying a complex concept for a non-technical audience.

Sample answer: 

“I’d describe cloud computing as a way to store and access information and applications on the internet, like storing photos in an online album rather than on a physical photo album at home.”

  1. Design a fire alarm for the deaf.

Creating an innovative solution for a specific user group.

Sample answer: 

“I’d design a fire alarm that combines bright, flashing lights with vibration patterns to alert deaf individuals. It would also connect to their smartphones for additional notifications.”

  1. What are the top 3 technology trends that will change the landscape in the next decade?

Identifying and discussing upcoming technology trends.

Sample answer:

“The top three trends include AI and machine learning advancements, the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), and the increasing focus on cybersecurity due to the expanding digital landscape.”

Real-life engineering manager interview questions

Engineering Managers lead technical teams, oversee project development, and ensure software quality. They facilitate communication, manage resources, and make critical technical decisions to deliver successful software projects.

The following are the top three interview questions to ask according to real hiring managers. Please check the full list of questions in this dedicated page for real-life engineering manager interview questions

  1. Please submit a project where you built an Android application from scratch (e.g., displaying top movies). How did you approach it, and what technical decisions did you make during development?

Requesting details on an Android app development project and technical decisions.

Sample answer: 

“I developed an Android app to display top movies. I followed a modular architecture, used MVVM design, and integrated RESTful APIs. User-friendly UI/UX and efficient data caching were priorities.”

  1. What is the value of one-on-ones with your reports?

Discussing the significance of one-on-one meetings with team members.

Sample answer: 

“One-on-ones build trust, foster open communication, and provide a platform for feedback. They help identify career goals, address concerns, and enhance team performance.”

  1. Design a typeahead box for a search engine.

Requesting a design for a typeahead search feature.

Sample answer:

“I’d design a typeahead box with real-time suggestions based on user input. It would prioritize relevancy, display images and descriptions, and offer keyboard and mouse navigation for seamless user experience.”

Real-life analytics manager interview questions

Analytics Managers oversee data analysis teams, ensuring the translation of data into actionable insights. They handle unexpected results, lead technical decisions, and thrive on projects that align with their intrinsic motivation.

Eager to find out 7 interview questions that will assist you in choosing the right candidate?

  1. Can you describe a situation where you led the team in a different technical direction?

Inquiring about a leadership instance involving a change in technical direction.

Sample answer: 

“While analyzing customer data, I proposed shifting from traditional regression models to machine learning algorithms, improving predictive accuracy and enhancing customer segmentation.”

  1. What is one time an analysis project went “off the rails” – what went wrong? What did you do to get it back on track?

Seeking insights into a project that faced challenges and how they were resolved.

Sample answer: 

“A project encountered data quality issues, causing inaccuracies. To rectify it, I initiated data cleansing processes, collaborated with data engineers, and revised the analysis approach, ensuring project success.”

  1. What analysis project yielded results that you weren’t expecting? How did you manage those surprises?

Inquiring about handling unexpected results in an analysis project.

Sample answer: 

“In a market analysis, we discovered a unique customer segment contrary to our assumptions. We recalibrated strategies to cater to this segment, highlighting the flexibility and adaptability of our team.”

  1. How do you typically manage change and ambiguity in your role?

Exploring the candidate’s approach to handling change and uncertainty.

Sample answer: 

“I embrace change as an opportunity for growth, ensuring clear communication with the team, setting realistic expectations, and fostering an adaptable mindset among team members.”

  1. Could you describe your strategy for establishing and maintaining professional relationships in your analytics role?

Inquiring about strategies for building and sustaining professional relationships.

Sample answer: 

“I prioritize active listening, collaboration, and knowledge sharing. Regular check-ins, cross-functional meetings, and mentoring help in establishing and nurturing valuable relationships.”

  1. How do you handle conflicts within your analytics team or with stakeholders?

Discussing conflict resolution approaches.

Sample answer:

“I address conflicts through open dialogue, understanding concerns, and finding mutually beneficial solutions. When necessary, I involve higher management or escalate to ensure a fair resolution.”

  1. What is your approach to prioritizing analytics projects and tasks?

Exploring the candidate’s methodology for prioritizing analytical work.

Sample answer: 

“I assess projects based on impact, alignment with business goals, and resource availability. Prioritization involves collaborating with stakeholders to ensure projects with the highest ROI take precedence.”

When you use these questions, you can walk into interviews with confidence, armed with the tools to make smart hiring choices.

This resource is gold when it comes to spotting the best talent for your team. Take that next step in your hiring journey with a mix of confidence and precision.

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