I look for work in IT Support. One of interview questions is: what would you first say if user call You and tell my Internet is not working?

I think about it a lot and still don't know what is correct answerer nor what answer my future employer expects.

My choice would be something like: What part of Internet? (but more polite). For example I could ask for opening web page that works on my PC.

Please give only serious answers. If You want BOFH or "The website is down" style answers I can create separate question for that.

closed as off-topic by DavidPostill Jul 4 '18 at 5:25

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    !!!!! OH NOES !!!!! – Joe Internet Mar 8 '10 at 2:26
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    Are you looking for English speaking IT Support work? Because improving your language skills is going to be way more important than having a scripted opening question. Speaking of scripted, most places are going to give you a script to work through when troubleshooting anyway. – micmcg Mar 8 '10 at 3:31
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    I 'm working on my English :). But lucky it would be in my native language. – Maciek Sawicki Mar 8 '10 at 3:34

I've been doing Internet tech support for a decade. Proper answer is, "I can help you with that. Can you clarify something for me? Do you mean you cannot get any web pages or email, or that are you having trouble with a particular item?"

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    Second best answer: "What error message are you getting?" – goblinbox Mar 8 '10 at 2:08
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    @goblinbox you can edit your own answer to add more information. – Michael B. Mar 8 '10 at 2:15
  • @Michael B. Ah, yes. I shall endeavor to be more concise. :-) – goblinbox Mar 8 '10 at 2:50
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    Exactly. The hardest part of phone tech support is understanding the problem the customer is having because they never describe it in the precise way the technician usually expects. Once you do that, it's just a matter of walking them through what is usually just basic troubleshooting. – Stephen Jennings Mar 8 '10 at 4:13
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    Third best answer: Is the computer turned on? – goblinbox Mar 9 '10 at 2:36
  1. Verify that they are using the internet properly. Typing "http://www.google.com" into Notepad is not the internet.
  2. Check the physical connection, if there is none make sure they have the right wireless network selected.
  3. Restart everything, router, computer, modem.
  4. Make sure all options are properly configured (DNS, Static / generated IP, etc) under network connections.
  5. Have them check any applications that might be blocking it, firewalls or security programs.
  6. Ask them their IP address and attempt a ping / traceroute.
  7. On an internal network try to ping the nearest router.
  8. External networks (someone at home for example) have them contact their ISP.
  • "Check the physical connection" I know that I probably have to ask this question, but I hate when some one ask it to me and It make me very angry when some one ask me about it. It is a must but it definitely shouldn't be first question. I read all steps again and I think this is "Website is down style" answer. – Maciek Sawicki Mar 8 '10 at 2:18
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    I'm sorry you feel that way but it's not. Honestly I can't tell you how often someone comes to me and says my internet isn't working and you find out they moved the computer two inches and the cable popped out of the back. – Josh K Mar 8 '10 at 2:56
  • O.K. asking about physical connection could have sens, but what about point 2. Maybe I can agree about, but asking to reboot router before making sure if "Internet" is truly broken sounds not bad for me. – Maciek Sawicki Mar 8 '10 at 3:03
  • "my Internet is not working" does not actually mean that the internet is not working. Of the things you listed, only #4 is something you should be doing first. Having them check the physical connection when the actual problem is that they can't load funnycatpictures.com will just waste everyones time. – user23307 Mar 8 '10 at 3:30
  • on "the website is down" video IT guy destroyed half of corporate network because he hadn't asked about page address. I'm talking about opposite situation where fore example corporate website is indeed broken and IT guy is asking costumer to reboot router instead of colling webmaster/admin – Maciek Sawicki Mar 8 '10 at 3:39

"Have you tried rebooting" tends to be a popular one at my work. It resolves the issue a large portion of the time.

  • I think is BOFH answer ore BOFH candidate/trainee. – Maciek Sawicki Mar 8 '10 at 2:27
  • Erm, okay, as long as it's not a Dell "trained" technician saying: "Sir have you tri-ehd seestim reestoreh?" What are they trained in, using a potty? Seriously, good answer, but it reminded me of the system restore chorus resounding out of the tech support departments overseas. – Moshe Mar 8 '10 at 3:29
  • BOFH answer? The BOFH answer is "You are having a problem with magnetic fields. You need to put your computer in the degausser." – Josh K Mar 8 '10 at 3:50
  • its more IT crowd than BOFH ;p – Journeyman Geek Mar 8 '10 at 5:34

hmm. First an overview - how many systems are connected (router?) and how many of them have issues If its windows

  1. ask them to open cmd and type in ipconfig - this should help check if there's a working connection at all without obviously asking them to check their physical connections. If that seems to be the issue, well, check the physical connections

  2. get them to flush their DNS - ipconfig /flushdns, or try an alternate DNS


The single most important question that is not asked enough is:

When did this problem start?

Followed closely by:

Did anything happen right before it stopped working?

I guess they wouldn't be question #1, but probably they should be #2 and #3.

Why is this important to ask? when the answers are

  • "a few minutes ago", and "the power went out (but my computer is a laptop so it is ok!)"
  • "last week", and "every since I moved my cube to the other side of the office"
  • "Never", and "I just got a new computer"

you can already guess what the problem might be in each of these cases.


Microsoft's page here is pretty good for sending to people (assumes they can get this page, maybe print it?)



"Why do you think it's not working" or "What makes you believe it's not working", because 99% of the time it's a particular program that's broke or the way the user is try to work the program.

Asking "why" will usually get you a response like "when I click the blue 'e' it says 'error messages xxxxxxxx'"; which of course has nothing to do with the Internet connection.

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