I had an interview with a company for a tech support position and they asked strange technical questions. e.g. "what are practical differences between OS X and Windows" and "someone calls and says the network isn't working. what do you do?" and no other context was given. (these are strange questions as 1. people usually interact with apps, not the OS itself 2. this is the initial interview and I know nothing of their network so I can't answer a general question like "how do you fix it when something is wrong?")

I just heard back from the recruiter I wasn't given the job because I don't have enough technical experience. This really is ridiculous, they didn't ask any other questions and can't know my technical experience by "what's the difference between OS X and Windows?"

I don't mean to brag but I've worked for fortune 500 companies before with enterprise level applications (e.g. vSphere, BlueMix etc) and I find it a bit incorrect saying I don't have enough technical background.

Should I say anything to the recruiter or not use the recruiter?

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    Avoiding misunderstandings like this is probably why some interviewers just go with the generic "we decided not to move forward with your application." Use the fact that they said something specific (even if it is wrong) as a learning experience for your own benefit. Being right this time is not important; think about the next interviews. – Brandin Jan 31 '17 at 7:22
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    The point of questions like "someone calls and says the network isn't working. what do you do?" is to see your process for extracting information from the user reporting the problem - it is not about actually fixing the problem. – HorusKol Jan 31 '17 at 9:26
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    The second question that you give as an example was trying to find out how you deal with people as much as anything else; and judging by the tone you use here, the answer is "poorly". – Jonathon Cowley-Thom Jan 31 '17 at 10:54
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    Maybe they were just trying to be nice and provide a general answer for declining you. – WorkerDrone Jan 31 '17 at 13:32
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    Technical background is about more than just which products or computer languages you've used. There's a whole layer of meta-stuff too (e.g. problem solving, communicating with others). Interviewers can ask vague or annoying seeming questions to find out more about your personality, problem solving and reasoning skills. "Not enough technical experience" could just an easy out for them; it's nicer than saying "You're not good at problem solving" or "We don't like your attitude" or something else. – J Bramble Jan 31 '17 at 17:03

Well, given your answers, I probably wouldn't take you on, either. If you could not - or would not - explain the difference between OS X (more correctly, macOS these days) and Windows, then you might not get asked anything more tricky because the interview is effectively over.

It's quite possible that you're technically overqualified for the position you applied for, but it sounds like you have little experience with working as a support engineer. Enterprise level work is completely different than working with non-technical users who just want the network to work; there are many soft skills involved, such as fact-finding and explaining things in their language.

You should certainly discuss this with the recruiter, to make sure that they're putting you forward for suitable positions.

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    You should certainly discuss this with the recruiter, to make sure that they're putting you forward for suitable positions +1. – LeLetter Jan 31 '17 at 2:46
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    I was tempted to upvote the answers saying that they had an idea what they were looking for and it's not you, seeing your subject - however, seeing your full description, I tend to agree with the present response. Their questions were perhaps simplistic, but not actually having taken them at face value and simply answered them, or - in the network case - having given an idea how you would approach it (which you seem have to be able to), they had not much of a choice than to work with what they knew from you. You may be far more capable than you showed, but they have to work from evidence. – Captain Emacs Jan 31 '17 at 6:49
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    Yeah, you failed basics, no point digging deeper. – Kilisi Jan 31 '17 at 10:13

You weren't what they were looking for, no matter how they phrased it. You can't argue the decision. Look elsewhere, and if it helps you can gloat about how they missed hiring a good employee.

But it sounds to me as if you might have missed a key point: the "odd questions" were probing how you approach problem-solving and underspecified situations. What they were probably hoping to see you do was respond with questions about the context and draw directions from that.

"The network isn't working" -- find out what they mean by "not working", find out what problem determination they have already done, start ruling out categories of problem (it may just be the classic one loose nut behind the keyboard...). If you can't start that triage without knowing their network in detail, you may indeed not have the insight and initiative they are seeking for that position.


I would move on from this - by “not enough technical experience” they really mean 'not the technical experience we're looking for' . . . but it could also mean they had an internal candidate they wanted to hire and were just interviewing you so that they could say they looked at other candidates.

The other thing to consider is that tech support positions require a certain type of personality - Tech support personal have to be able to juggle challenging conversations and remain personable and relaxed, while the people they help tend to get more and more frazzled and frustrated.

The people who do best in those jobs balance their technical skills with the ability to patiently draw out information from people over the phone, without being able to see their machines. So the correct response to someone calling in and asking about the network would be to first check if the network is, indeed, up and working, and then ask the person to check and see if they really can't get on the network, try turning it off and on again, etc. And while a person might be complaining that the network is down, it could very well be that they downloaded a virus,or have some other issue going on with their computer, and they need you to know how to resolve that, which can be different depending on the OS.


"Someone calls and says the network isn't working. what do you do?"

In tech support, that's a question you will encounter every day. I'm quite sure that the tech support guy where I work knows what to do and can answer the question. I'm not a tech support guy, so I would be flapping around in the interview, and the interviewer would notice. As I said, I'm not a tech support guy.

I would probably ask "are you using Ethernet or WiFi" and the person calling would have no idea what either is - a good tech support guy would have better ways of asking, and that's what they wanted to find out.

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