Experts share the IT job interview questions you will face in 2021 and advice on how to answer them. Hint: Recruiters and hiring managers say that remote work will be a hot topic.
Source: The Enterprisers Project – If you’re interviewing for a new IT position in 2021, you can expect to be asked questions about 2020.
Sure, IT talent will get technical questions as usual. You can usually get a sense of what’s coming in that regard from a job title and description, as well as shop talk with your peers. Depending on the role, you can probably also anticipate questions related to process and culture – think topics like agile or DevOps.
In 2021, you should also anticipate a new category of questions. Recruiters and hiring managers say that remote work and other aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic will be a hot topic in IT job interviews. And that will remain true even when the pandemic ends since its effects will be long-lasting.
1. Are you willing to work on-site again at some point in the year ahead?
What once would have likely seemed like a thoroughly strange interview question – are you willing to come into the office to work? – could become commonplace for the foreseeable future. And it’s number one on our list for a reason. “The most important question we are hearing during interviews has become: ‘How much work from home will you need post-COVID-19?’ and ‘how many times [per week or month] are you willing to come into the office?’” says Patrick Gareau, an IT staffing expert at Robert Half Technology. “It’s something we’ve never heard or dealt with [on this scale] before. Basically, every firm is now competing with the 100 percent remote roles, so it is typically being addressed in the first interview for a new job.”
This could be a delicate topic for both the interviewer and candidate for various reasons; the employer’s future plans in terms of at least a partial reopening of their on-site locations may still be TBD, for starters. For job seekers, the potential awkwardness stems from a different source: “There is no correct answer to that question – it all depends on the situation,” Gareau says. His advice is pretty straightforward: Just be honest about what you are willing or able to do in terms of on-site versus remote work. There’s no upside in signaling that you would be willing to return to the traditional office if you have no interest in doing so, for example.
This is also an opportunity to ask your own questions: What are the employer’s future plans in terms of on-site work? Gareau anticipates some companies are going to want people to come in at least part of the time. If you’re willing to do that, it could be an advantage. On the other hand, this aspect of the employment relationship is negotiable, at least until the point that the hiring manager says it isn’t. If you’re in the running for a particularly in-demand technical role, you likely have plenty of leverage to negotiate for a fully (or mostly) remote role. That’s especially true given what Gareau already noted: Companies hiring with the intent to eventually return to the office are directly competing for talent with companies that will continue to offer remote work indefinitely.
Gareau currently sees software developers and cloud or DevOps engineers asking for remote positions most frequently.
“Combine the fact that those jobs can be done from home, and those candidates are in huge demand, [that means] there is the ability to negotiate it easier than other skill sets,” Gareau says
2. How did your company adapt to COVID and a remote workforce? How did you help your company adapt?
Expect some form of these questions to also be regulars at the interview table – or interview Zoom room – in 2021. That’s because the pandemic’s impacts will likely last for a long time after it is declared “over.” But it’s also a more specific way for hiring managers to gauge a person’s flexibility and resilience, and their ability to adapt to changing conditions.
It’s also a big opportunity for IT pros to showcase their skills in a meaningful way: WFH would simply not be possible without people like you.
“Most companies would not have been able to move their workforce overnight to working fully remote without the help of talented technologists,” says Jenna Spathis, unit manager, technology services at LaSalle Network.
This could apply to many technical roles, but Spathis notes that it is especially relevant to core infrastructure and operations roles: Think sysadmins and systems engineers, network administrators and engineers, security pros, help desk personnel, and so on.
“These professionals likely had a hand in rolling out processes, procedures, and new technologies to a workforce that may not have been used to working remotely,” Spathis says. “New technologies may include collaboration tools or security tools to protect against phishing [because of] increased phishing attempts this year.”