The CompTIA A+ is an entry-level PC computer service technician certification. This is often the first certification one earns in their IT career and can help land you a job that will be a springboard into the wide-open world of IT job positions. However, before one can use a job as a springboard, you first have to land that first job.
This article will detail what questions you can expect during an A+ job interview, with interview questions categorized according to their difficulty level: Entry-Level, Intermediate Level and Advanced Level. Job interviews can be stressful, but don’t worry – use this article as a refresher before your interview and you will be in a good spot to ace the interview.
Level 1 – Entry-Level
This first level of A+ interview questions covers the most basic, yet some of the most necessary, interview questions for related positions (since A+ is just a certification that can be applied to many different types of computer service technician jobs). It goes without saying that computer fundamentals are required for these positions, and this first level of questioning will be one of the most important measuring sticks for the apparent value that an interviewee will bring to their organization.
1. What Operating Systems Do You Have Experience Working With and How Long Have You Been Working With Them?
OK, so there it is: an icebreaker question that also serves as a basic gauging of a computer technician’s experience level. Organizations will want to know that you have a significant amount of experience working with the operating system used at the organization, but they also want someone well-rounded in their experience set. With that said, use this time to elaborate on your experiences and show your prowess around computers.
2. For the Record, and to Satisfy Our Interest, Do You Know Any Coding Languages?
This may seem like a curveball, or possibly a red herring question given the job description, and you are right to think so. Positions relying on A+ as their certification benchmark for candidates will not likely require you to use much coding, or any at all, on the job. Organizations sometimes just like to ask a question that will establish a candidate’s familiarity (and possibly mastery) of quasi-related topics; for a “coding” question to come up on an interview like this would be a bit out of left field but should be totally expected at the same time.
3. What Is a Motherboard?
You will definitely face some questions that may seem basic for A+ positions, but there is a reason for questions like this. They let the interviewers better see if you are at the competency level to excel at the position. Yes, a motherboard is a basic component to a PC and you should answer back that it is the main board of a PC. Throw in a bit about your specific experience level, such as “I am very confident around motherboards and have installed/changed out many in my previous position(s)”.
4. How Do You View the Notion of Being a Team Player With Regard to This Position?
As in many other, if not all, positions in IT and information security, being a team player will be crucial to your success. This definitely extends to A+ computer technicians, as they can often be seen as the “front line” of the IT squad when interfacing with other employees within the organization that encounter computer issues.
Moreover, if you are using your A+ certification for a Tier 1 support position (such as with an MSP) being a team player is vital because you will be the first contact point for support within the organization. This does not mean you have to be the most outgoing person of the bunch, but you definitely have to be approachable, friendly and a good listener.
5. Let’s Assume That a Printer Is Printing Dirty Pages. What Would Be the Best Way to Test to See If the Issue Is Resolved?
As a CompTIA A+ certified technician, you will probably spend a good portion of your day solving issues related to printers and other peripheral devices for organization employees. When a problem such as this arises, you test to see if the issue is resolved by running several blank pages through the printer. If they come out dirty, then you will know that the issue has not been resolved and other means must be used to solve it. True, this is a bit of a softball question, but it uses the basic logic and reasoning required to be good at this position, so it should be in your roster of questions to expect.
6. How Comfortable Are You With End-User Communication?
One of the most important functions of an A+ certified computer technician is to communicate with end users to solve their day-to-day computer and other work-related technology issues. Common issues to expect may be replacing a computer mouse, fixing an office shared printer and, if you have administrator rights, even changing a user’s network ID password. All of these tasks should be expected of your position, so you should indeed be quite comfortable with this.
7. Have You Ever Been Granted Permission to Use an Administrator Password?
This question is related to the last one, and how you will answer it should just be an honest answer of whether you have been granted custodianship of an organization administrator password. As you most likely know, often A+-certified computer technicians will need access to this password in order to make changes to end user computers and/or user profiles. This position would actually be quite limited to only basic tasks without the use of an administrator password, so if you have practical work experience in this area you probably have used this password before.
8. Give Me an Example of a Common Task Requested of You by an End User at a Previous Job
Another way for interviewers to gauge your experience level is to ask about common tasks you were responsible performing in a previous job. When you are asked this question, the interviewers are not trying to find out the outlier tasks you have performed, such as the one time a previous manager asked you to image a drive. Give them a general idea of the tasks you were responsible for performing on a daily basis and you will be conveying the right information to make the right decision in hiring. Remember, although you may need a job, if you are not the right fit for the position you will not be the right fit for the organization.
9. Tell Me About a Time When You Had to Solve an Issue for an End User by Thinking on the Spot, and How Was it Resolved?
As important as your ability to communicate is your ability to think well on your feet, with as much creativity as the occasion calls for, when you are not sure how to resolve an issue. Problem-solving is paramount for an A+ certified computer technician and the interviewers know this. Bring up a time when your problem-solving skills saved the day, such as when you googled the issue and found an appropriate solution from a (hopefully reputable) source online.
10. Do You Have Any Other Certifications That Will Help You In This Role?
While this question is not necessarily required for you to excel in this role, answering in the affirmative may help you better secure the job. If you have any other information-related certifications (which you may not, since the A+ is an entry-level certification), bring them up. Besides just information-related certifications, other professional certifications such as management can be applied to this role as well. For example, if you have a management-related certification, it may help you secure a future role of team lead or manager of other A+-certified computer technicians.
Level 2 – Intermediate Level
The next level of A+ certified computer technician interview questions is, drumroll please … Intermediate Level! This level of interview questions will be more difficult than the last, but not anything that even an inexperienced candidate could not swing.
11. How Do You Expect to Apply Your A+ Certification to This Position?
This type of question is trying to see if you have internalized just how the CompTIA A+ certification will impact your desired position at the organization. Before the interview, take time to map out the skills that A+ certifies you are competent in. To do this, match up the different responsibilities and tasks to the skills covered by the A+ certification to show that you have done your homework on the position and ready to put A+ to real-world use.
12. Why Is Staying on Top of Current Technologies Important for This Position?
When you are faced with this kind of question, the interviewers are trying to gauge how you will be as an evolving technician. Staying on top of current technologies is important because technological changes impact the workplace. As new technology emerges, the business world modifies its approach and adapts what they can use from what is new. Staying on top of these changes will make you a better technician.
13. Do You Have a Troubleshooting Procedure That You Follow? If So, Please Describe It.
As a technician, you had better have a good troubleshooting procedure established! This is the bread and butter of a lot of the responsibilities of an A+-certified computer technician, so they will be expected to have at least some plan established.
For example: When issues arise, you can say that you first ask the end user the following questions.
- When did the issue start?
- When was the last time it worked?
- Are you the only user experiencing this issue?
Then follow this up with your following steps, such as research, testing the solution and then ultimately resolution.
14. If You Could Change Anything About This Position, What Would You Change and Why?
This is a common question in job interviews generally, and A+-certified computer technician jobs are no different. When you encounter this question, please note that interviewers are also trying to measure your pet peeves; if they are related to basic job functions, then the interviewer’s job is made easy because it shows the candidate is not a good match. For this answer, use something that is secondary to the position, such as filing paperwork, and then differentiate yourself from candidates that would be disqualified by this question.
15. What Are Some of Your Sources of Information to Keep Your Skills Sharp On The Job?
Let’s be honest, everyone has “cheat sheets” that they go to when things get tough at work. CompTIA A+ computer technicians have (as you know) a vast wealth of knowledge at their fingertips with the Internet and I know that you personally have some favorite sites or forums that you visit for tips. Simply name a short list of some places that you go to, such as InfoSec Institute, SpiceWorks, EServiceInfo.com or Stack Overflow, and you will be golden.
16. This Position Can Be Demanding at Times. How Well Do You Handle Stressful Situations?
It goes without saying that A+-certified computer technician positions can feel like stress-laden, thankless jobs. You are the first line of support for end users and these positions are often the ones that will be asked to work longer hours at times, and even some weekends. You will definitely want to convey not only your comfort level but also your approach. Make sure to indicate that you have a high ability to work well under pressure, that you have 5-star prioritization skills and that you are efficient when troubleshooting.
17. Let’s Say a Test Server We Use Needs Servicing. How Comfortable Would You Be Working on It?
Servicing servers is sometimes required by A+-certified computer technicians. The one caveat here is that some technicians are a bit wary when working on servers. Part of this may be caused by the importance of servers in organizations. You should be comfortable working on servers and should definitely convince the interviewer that you have the skills to at least diagnose the issue – often times, new parts are needed, and many times organizations have service contracts that will send a technician from the manufacturer to service the device. However, if you are a true dynamo at this, then insist that you can handle all service and repairs of servers as long as you have the required parts/materials.
18. We Have a Production Server That Is Still Online But an Existing Issue Requires a Reboot to Resolve Itself. What Do You Do?
This is one of the best questions to measure the ability of a computer technician to think on their feet with appropriate focus on the business. If the server can still be accessed and used by users, then say that you will just wait to reboot when all the users go home at night because of the server’s importance to the organization. If the server cannot be used by users, then it does not matter when the reboot occurs – and frankly, the sooner the better in this case. The key is that you can discern when it would be acceptable to reboot a heavily-used production server, given its importance to the organization’s daily business.
19. What Are Some Different CPU Technologies Used Today?
There are different CPU technologies in use today and they have different uses. Some examples include multicore, hyperthreading, overclocking and throttling. Make sure to convey that you are knowledgeable in this area and that you know when the different technologies are used.
20. What Are Some Different Examples of Hard Disk Drive Connectors Used Today?
Again, this question will gauge your experience and knowledgeability as an A+-certified computer technician. Although this information can easily be learned on the job, it is also covered by A+, so you should know this even if the interview is for your first job in IT. Different connector types include SATA, IDE/EIDE/PATA and SCSI.
Level 3 – Advanced Level
We have finally reached the third and last level of A+-certified computer technician interview questions – Advanced Level! As you can guess by now, this level is more difficult than the last. By my estimation, the most difficult questions will stem from actual practice of the skills covered by the CompTIA A+ certification. Buckle in and prepare for the last level of interview questions but do not worry, this is nothing that you can’t handle!
21. What Has Been the Most Difficult/Advanced Task You Have Had to Perform From a Computer Technician Perspective?
Simply put, organizations want to hire somebody who is knowledgeable, confident and can be trusted with even the most difficult technician situation if it pops up. To this end, think back on your experience and be truthful here – no one wants to hire somebody who says they can do something that they cannot. Aim high, provide detail and the interviewer is going to be impressed.
22. What Are Some Examples of Common System Files?
While just examples were asked for, make sure to inject a bit of your knowledge about when they are used – which is basically in the background and for various boot tasks for computers. Some examples include SYS, Registry Data Files, INI, NTLDR and others. Also make sure to include a little about what they do. For example, INI files allow you to choose boot options as well as which OS to use if more than one is installed.
23. What Are Some Different Methods of Installing Operating Systems?
What this question comes down to is essentially how you would deliver this installation. There are multiple methods available, such as installation from boot media such as a CD, alternative boot media including USB flash drives, imaging and network installation. As long as you provide examples here, you should have all your bases covered.
24. Most of Our Computers Are From Dell. Do You Know How You Would Install an Operating System on a Dell Computer With How They Currently Do It?
Different companies may use preferred methods to install operating systems and Dell is no exception here. Currently, Dell requires users to download a media creation file that will allow you to create media, such as a USB flash drive, that will be the installer for the operating system. This extends to upgrades as well, such as when you upgrade from Windows 8 to Windows 10 on a Dell computer.
25. Do You Have Experience Working With Antivirus Systems? To What Extent Have You Managed AV Solutions?
Sometimes, as a computer technician, you will be responsible for managing AV for an organization. This generally happens when there is no information security department, or when they are too busy with other tasks and delegate it to the technicians. Regardless, you will probably be asked to perform at least some AV solution tasks. If you have, think of some situations where you had to install AV or respond to an AV issue and that you brought it to a favorable resolution.
26. If You Were Asked to Estimate How Long It Would Take You to Expand a PC’s RAM, How Quickly Could You Perform This Task?
Alert! Another quick-thinking, real-world-practice technician question emerges! This is one of the easier hardware/software tasks that a technician will have to perform, which essentially requires you to pop the PC case off and carefully insert a RAM stick into an available RAM slot. Make sure to include that unplugging the system will be vital to your safety and to not jeopardize the PC as well.
27. Let’s Say Our CEO Needs Support on Their Work Office PC. How Comfortable Would You Be Helping Them?
A+-certified computer technicians have to be comfortable helping everyone in the organization, not just lower-level end users that need their passwords changed. C-level executives are not always the most tech-savvy, and they often require support or assistance quickly because of their importance in the organization. Convey that you are very comfortable with helping the CEO and the interviewers will be satisfied.
28. During a Boot Process, Where Do Systems First Count Memory From?
This is one of the most difficult questions, because it will require you to think a few levels deep to where a system first processes memory. The answer is that memory is first counted from the system board before anywhere else.
29. Speaking of Boot Operations, What Does BIOS Mean?
BIOS is an important part of computing and can be thought of as the most primitive level to interface with a computer on. The acronym BIOS stands for Basic Input Output System, and it is where you can change boot order and perform other basic, yet vital, system tasks.
30. We Have an Older (and We Do Mean Older) PC That We Keep for Historical Purposes. What Is the Purpose of the 34-Pin Connection on Its I/O Card?
While these questions are for 2019 A+ computer technician position roles, once in a blue moon you may be asked to work on an old PC. The 34-pin connection on its I/O card connects to the floppy drive. Yes, this is a brutal trick question and possibly the hardest in the interview; you may see this question, though, so you should have it in your repertoire of answers.
The CompTIA A+ certification is a solid first certification for those entering the IT industry. After you earn the certification, perhaps get some experience (somehow) and start applying for your first technician jobs, use this article as a guide before your interview. Between reviewing these questions and your resume (for an experience refresher), you will perform well at the interview and will be on your way toward a bright career!