What Computer Programs Are You Familiar With?

Job Interview Question & Answer: What Kinds of Software Do You Know?

Why Interviewers Ask This Question

Hiring managers ask, “What computer programs are you familiar with?” to see if the interviewee has the technical skills relevant to the position. While entry-level job seekers don’t need to know everything before training, some positions prefer experience. This question helps interviewers gauge whether job candidates are already qualified or able to learn something new.

How to Answer “What Kinds of Software Do You Know?”

Applicants should think of the programs they can use before the interview process. For instance, many desk jobs and corporate careers ask for experience with Windows, Microsoft Office, or macOS. On the other hand, retail stores and restaurants may want workers to use a point-of-sale (POS) system. The important steps to answering this interview question include:

  • Checking the job listing: Most job descriptions list the necessary software skills, so check ahead of time and be ready to highlight either your experience or ability to learn. Even if you don’t know all of the required programs, researching what types of software you might need to learn can show your proactivity and dedication to the job.
  • Listing relevant and related skills: Job seekers must reply to this question honestly based on their knowledge. Note any programs the company might use and spend most of your response talking about them. Listing a few related software skills that aren’t directly relevant can show a wide range of experience, or it might seem off-topic. Use your best judgment.
  • Emphasizing learning ability: Candidates who don’t have much familiarity with computers should speak about their capacity to pick up new skills. Mention past work that required adapting to a new situation. Certain jobs could need specific knowledge, but a willingness to take on a challenge is a plus for any employee.

Answers to Avoid

It will become clear when employees start work if they don’t know how to use the software. Lying during the interview process will only waste time for you and your employer if you lose the job later. Another poor response to “What kinds of software do you know?” is “None.” Even if you don’t have much practice with computers, you can use the question to illustrate your ability to learn quickly.

Example Replies

Below are a few example responses to give applicants an idea of how to answer this common interview question. It is always best to be truthful in a job interview, so do not memorize the responses. Instead, create a reply that fits your experience and situation.

Sample Answer 1 – Hotel Desk Agent Job

“In my last job as an administrative assistant, I did a lot of computer work on Excel and scheduling apps that could be relevant to working at a hotel. I’ve reserved rooms for meetings and conferences, so understanding what clients need would feel natural to me. I would also be adept at finding information online to help guests locate an attraction or navigate to a highway.”

“Although I haven’t worked with a point of sale system before, I’m confident in my ability to learn new computer skills. When I first started using Excel in my previous position, I was only familiar with basic functions. Through training and teaching myself over the last year, I’m now able to handle advanced tasks like mail merges, formulas, and power queries.”

Sample Answer 2 – Restaurant Server Work

“At my old job, I became familiar with a POS system to input orders. I used this program so often that it was second nature to me. While some systems are different, I will adapt quickly since I am a fast learner. I felt comfortable using the POS system at my last job by the end of my training week, and the technology was brand new to me when I started.”

Sample Answer 3 – Computer Store Sales Associate Position

“I frequently used computers in my previous job as a phone store clerk and when working on my school newspaper. I am adaptable and willing to train on any software, and I develop most new skills easily.”

“For example, I ended up becoming the unofficial tech support person for the newspaper staff last year, even though I knew nothing about their software at first. I simply looked up troubleshooting info, gained a good grasp of how the programs worked, and fixed their issues. I have a positive attitude toward learning, so I don’t get discouraged if faced with a challenge.”

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