After the upheaval of 2020, are you cultivating employee loyalty? Baking security in from the start? CIOs leading digital transformation in 2021 face new risks and opportunities.
IT careers: Top IT job interview questions for 2021
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
5. How does a more remote workforce impact your strategy as a [insert job title here]?
Here’s a good interview prep prompt that may be both a direct question but also a good way to think about how you’ll respond to other questions on this list: How does the shift to a remote workforce – which many expect to last forever in some capacity – change how you approach your specific role?
You can literally add any IT position into the question, from CIO to security analyst to site reliability engineer. Cam Roberson, channel director at Beachhead Solutions, uses the traditional IT administrator or system administrator role as an example and notes that anyone in that role has had to adapt how they approach issues like user productivity and endpoint security. (More on security below.)
Even if your personal experience of a sudden shift to WFH was relatively seamless, this is an opportunity to think about how a [insert job title here] succeeds as a part of a distributed team.
[ Want more advice? Read also: How to get a job during COVID-19: 9 smart tips. ]
6. What have you learned about security in 2020?
If you’re on the market for a security role, then you’re obviously going to expect questions about security. But Michael Nelson, president of TLC Tech, thinks it’s an important topic for any IT pro – all the more so in the remote-work paradigm.
“Outside the obvious desktop security, what other forms are there? What about at the user level? What’s most important?” Nelson says. “In their responses, I look for an understanding that security isn’t one or two pieces of software but a whole approach. This means helping end-users understand their role in keeping their data secure and that it is all levels – machine, user, 2FA, and server.”
Roberson says this is an important topic because many organizations have not yet fully reckoned with the security implications of a remote workforce.
“Security practices need to catch up to the realities of remote work in 2021,” Roberson says. “The massive pandemic-fueled work-from-home spike caught everyone by surprise and the priority was ensuring employee productivity could be maintained. But remote-work policies will outlast the pandemic and must do a better job of accounting for the increased risk that dispersed workforces entail.”
Being able to discuss threats like phishing and ransomware, or the importance of approaches like 2FA/MFA and Zero Trust models, will help make clear that you take security seriously. It’s also a good idea to be able to discuss security controls and approaches for particular platforms or tools you’ll use in the job. If you’re working with Kubernetes, for example, you should be able to talk about Kubernetes security. Likewise, a developer should be able to talk about the importance of baking security into CI/CD pipelines.
7. What have you been doing to keep your skills fresh?
This question could apply to any IT pro, but Spathis from Lasalle Network thinks it will be particularly important in 2021 for candidates who were laid off from a previous position as a result of COVID-related disruption.
“[It is] more applicable for job seekers that were impacted by company layoffs or for recent graduates who entered a COVID-affected job market upon graduation,” Spathis says.
Essentially, you want to be able to describe how you’ve continued to develop as a technology professional. Spathis points to a range of things that you can highlight as relevant, including coursework, professional development, self-study/training, networking/collaboration groups, and the pursuit of IT certifications.
8. How have you contributed to a company's digital transformation initiative?
You might be thinking: Finally, a question that doesn’t have anything to do with the pandemic.
Sure, on some level that’s true: Nelson from TLC Tech points to it as a good big-picture question, presuming the hiring company is on the hunt for technologists who can help drive strategic changes to the business and how it operates.
But, yeah, it’s also a pandemic question. That’s because COVID-19 and the WFH shift actually accelerated digital transformation initiatives in many organizations rather than stunt them. (You can hear directly from Lincoln Financial CIO Ken Solon in this article about how the firm sped up its digital transformation this year.)
For IT pros with relevant experience – especially if your own initiatives were accelerated by the pandemic – it’s another chance to impress and showcase valuable skills that you’ll be bringing to a potential employer in the new year.
[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]