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Answering Technical Interview Questions

Introduction to Technical Questions

Technical questions are an essential part of the interviewing process.  These questions are designed to test a candidate's abilities as they pertain to the position they're applying for.  They can be used to test general knowledge within that industry or to determine a candidate's "hard" skills. Overall, technical questions will let the interviewer know if the candidate is able to perform the day-to-day operations associated with that position. 

When answering technical questions, candidates may be expected to apply their knowledge to real-world scenarios and are often assessed on the logical process they utilize to solve a problem. 

Why Do Interviewers Ask Technical Questions?

Interviewers ask technical questions because it helps them separate qualified candidates from unqualified ones.  It's estimated that it costs 10-20% of a new employee's salary to train them, so interviewers want to make sure they select the right hire to invest in. 

These questions can range from a broad understanding of the industry to inquiries about specific problems you will see on the job. 

What Do Interviewers Expect When Asking Technical Questions?

When interviewers ask technical questions, they expect candidates to show them that they are technically qualified for that position. Therefore, when you are answering technical questions, you should:

Give a detailed account of your thought process

The interviewer wants to know how you will react to certain obstacles that may come up in the workplace.  Give a detailed account of what steps you would take and why you would take those steps.  This will give the interviewer insight about what they can expect from working with you.

Communicate clearly

Technical questions aren't just about what you know; they're also about how you communicate that knowledge.  If you know all of the material but aren't able to communicate that information to the management team in a way they can understand, this may signal a red flag to the interviewer.

Show your enthusiasm

Not only do you want to show the interviewer that you are qualified for the job, but you also want to show them you're enthusiastic about the industry you're in.  Displaying knowledge of emerging trends, growth, and recent news within our industry shows the interviewer that you are self-motivated and driven.

How to Prepare for Technical Questions

“When done properly, the questions you get in a technical interview are ones that you won’t have heard before.” - Gayle McDowell, “Cracking the Code’

While there are some common technical questions that you can expect to be asked, the interviewer will also have done their best to come up with questions you haven’t heard before. 

Technical questions are meant to test your analytical skills, so they are often more difficult than other types of questions you might be asked in an interview.  This means that you need to be diligent about your preparation.

Think of the technical questions in an interview like an exam.  You've been going to class and have a general idea of the subject matter from your day-to-day job responsibilities.  Now it's time to brush up on your knowledge and review the specifics.

Follow these easy steps to make sure you’re ready:

Make sure your foundation is steady

Go back to the basics.  Most technical questions will require you to build off of the basic groundwork of your knowledge, so it's important that these concepts are fresh in your mind.  Taking a couple of hours to go over your foundational knowledge will also help you feel more confident going into the interview.

Do your research

Go back to the original job post and review the requirements and day-to-day responsibilities since this is what the interviewer will test your knowledge on.  If a technical interview is an exam, think of the job post as the syllabus that outlines the key topics.  It also helps to look at employee reviews on websites such as  Glassdoor or Monster.  People often give insight into the hiring process which can help you prepare.


The best way to improve your interviewing skills is to take practice mock interviews. Follow the steps outlined in the Assignment section to take a technical practice interview in our online Interview Simulator tool. The simulator will give you meaningful technical questions tailored to your position.

Common Technical Questions Across Every Industry

Within every industry, there are certain technical questions that interviewers love to ask, regardless of the position you’re applying for.

Here  are three sample technical skills categorized by discipline. In the premium version of our training program we have an extensive list of skills that will help you be ready for any type of question:


Accounts Payable / Accounts Receivable

  • "What is deferred revenue, and how does it differ from accounts receivable?" 


  • "How can you detect and prevent fraudulent ledger entries?"


  • "What is the difference between zero-based budgeting and value-based budgeting?" 

Cost Control

  • "What are some disadvantages to using outsourcing to control costs?"

Business Analytics

Business Intelligence (BI) Tools & Applications

  • "What are the goals and benefits of Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) software?"

Data Modeling

  • "Explain the difference between the three types of data models: conceptual, logical, and physical." 

Microsoft Office Suite

  • "What specific features of Microsoft Office can assist in data analysis?" 

Customer Relations

Client Relations

  • "What are the advantages of long-term client relationships for Business 2 Business (B2B) companies?

Customer Engagement

  • "What are some tools that help evaluate customer satisfaction?" 

Customer Service

  • "What customer service tools are you familiar with?" 

Issue Resolution

  • "What are the main steps to effective issue resolution in customer service?" 


Current Treatment Services & Alternatives

  • "What is the difference between complementary, alternative, and integrative healthcare?"

Health Insurance Processing

  • "What are the three principal medical coding code sets?" 

HIPAA/Electronic Health Records

  • "How do you protect patient privacy and follow HIPAA regulations when handling Electronic Health Records (EHR)?"

Medical & Pharmaceutical Terminology

  • "What is hypercapnia?" 

Patient Care Techniques

  • "How often should vital signs be monitored?"

Information Technology

Database Administration

  • "What are the advantages of using an offline backup method?" 

Help Desk/Technical Support

  • "How do you set up a remote connection to another computer?" 

Information Security

  • "What methods do you use to secure data that is being moved to cloud services?" 


  • "How do you upgrade a workgroup to a domain?" 


  • "What languages are you most comfortable programming in?" 

Systems Administration

  • "Which ports do different types of email servers use?"


Digital Marketing

  • "Name a few components of a successful digital marketing strategy." 

Channel Strategy

  • "What types of marketing channels integrate well, in your opinion?" 


  • "As an outsider, what is one way you think our business can improve the customer experience in order to drive value?" 

Email Marketing

  • "How do you develop an effective email marketing strategy?" 

Loyalty Marketing

  • "What are some tactics you use to increase customer retention?" 

Market Research

  • "What is the difference between correlation and causation in regards to marketing activity and results?" 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

  • "What is your knowledge of search engine optimization?" 

Social Media Marketing (SMM)

  • "What metrics do you use to measure social media success?"

Other Interview Question Types

Technical questions aren’t the only kind of questions that get asked frequently. Here are three more common question types you can expect to be asked during an interview and what you can do to prepare for them!

We go into more detail about the other types in the premium version:

Case Study

Key Skills Involved 

  • Similar to logic questions, case studies require you to perform in-depth analyzations to solve a hypothetical business problem or scenario.

Example Question

  • “Do you think we should enter a new market? If so, what strategy should we utilize?”

Pro Tip

  • These kinds of questions are usually complicated and specific. It’s not unreasonable to take a bit of time to work out an answer, so don’t rush yourself.

Company Knowledge

Key Skills Involved 

  • An interviewer may use these questions to evaluate how much you have researched about the company. This is a good way to express your interest in the company.

Example Question

  • "Why are you interested in working here?"

Pro Tip

  • Show that you have done your homework and understand the company's mission and future. Think about how your goals correlate, and explain what excites you most about the company.


    Key Skills Involved 

    • Used by interviewers to evaluate your background, experience questions give insight into a candidate’s skills and abilities. Interviewers will often ask questions about past projects or situations.

    Example Question

    • “What were your day-to-day responsibilities at your last job?”

      Pro Tip

      • It’s a good idea to have a few specific situations in mind for different scenarios. That way, you can choose one quickly and already be prepared to talk about it.

      Illegal and Inappropriate Questions

      • “How old are you?” 
      • “Are you married?” 
      • “Do you plan on having children anytime soon?” 

      While these questions may seem innocent, they are actually illegal to ask during an interview. 

      Although it may seem like the interviewer is just trying to get to know you, answering questions about these topics can actually hurt your chances of getting the job. Interviewers can develop biases about you that may not be true or have anything to do with your work ethic.

      For instance, an interviewer may develop a bias against a candidate after learning they have children. This knowledge may lead them to believe they won’t be able to devote as much time and energy to the job as someone without children — something that is not necessarily true.

      If an interviewer is asking you questions that make you uncomfortable but you’re not sure if they are illegal, consider this: does the question they’re asking you have anything to do with your skills or job experience as they pertain to the position you’re applying for?

      If not, there are a few ways you can respond to illegal questions.

      How to Respond to Illegal Questions

      Illegal or inappropriate questions can cause you to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed, and you are absolutely not required to answer them.  If an inappropriate question comes up, there are a few ways you can reply that won't reveal personal information about yourself. You can:

      Redirect the question to the interviewer

      One of the most effective ways to handle an illegal question is redirecting it back to the interviewer. Not only does it draw their focus off of you and onto themselves, but it also gives you more information about the person interviewing you. This helps to distract the interviewer from their original question.


      Illegal Question: "When did you first start working?"
      Response: "I have a wealth of knowledge and experience in this field and am happy to answer questions about any of the jobs listed on my resume."

      Avoid answering the question

      It can be hard to think of a way to redirect the interviewer on the spot, especially if you know nothing about them.  In that case, avoiding answering the question in a graceful manner could be your best bet when handling an inappropriate question.  

      Keep your answers broad

      Sometimes there's just no way to avoid the question - when this happens, just keep your answers broad and vague.  You want to reveal as little information about yourself as possible while still seeming agreeable.

      Be direct

      Sometimes, a situation calls for a direct approach. You are completely within your rights to tell the interviewer that you don’t think a question is appropriate.

      Address the

      Consider what the interviewer may really be asking.  A question about health or medical issues might really be about physical abilities.  

      Keep in mind that sometimes an interviewer may be inexperienced or unaware that the questions they are asking are inappropriate. It’s best to be diplomatic in your answers and attempt to keep the interview moving. 

      Additional examples of illegal questions and details about how to respond to them are provided in the premium version of the training program.

      What’s Next?

      This is just a preview of the actual Technical Questions Guide. We’ve outlined some necessary information here but go into much more detail in the real thing. Here is the information we cover in more detail:

      • Understanding what technical questions are and why they’re important
      • Researching industry standards and best practices. 
      • Using our Interview Simulator to practice answering technical questions!