Interviewing for IT Positions: What to do & What NOT to do

While every company under the sun may be recruiting IT professionals, it’s still vital to remember to stand out. Often, the interview is what seals the deal for your dream position, higher pay, or whatever form of career advancement you pursue. IT is more than just technical skills– an effective professional will take as much care in their personal interactions as they do in their problem-solving abilities. Below, we’ll examine a few musts (and must-nots!) for ensuring you walk out of the interview knowing an offer is right around the corner.

Do: Emphasize Communication Skills

As the IT field grows, it is increasingly likely to encounter a competitive pool of candidates for most positions. Fortunately, few IT professionals remember that interpersonal ability is often as important as working knowledge– by promoting your “softer” skills, interviewers can rest easy knowing they have an applicant who will fit in with a team and company culture. Mention previous teams you’ve worked on, conflicts you’ve resolved, or even extracurricular pursuits showing you know how to be an enjoyable person to work with. Be friendly, fun, and try to put yourself at ease during the interview– most interviewers will expect you to be nervous, but letting your personality show in your answers will do wonders for your candidacy. Don’t try to fit in to what you think the interviewer wants, let them decide based on who you are not who you think they want you to be.

Don’t: Embellish Your Skills

If you’ve followed our advice on drafting your resume, cover letter, or other application materials, your interviewer should have a good idea of your professional ability. Don’t negatively impact this by over-stating your experience or abilities during questions. Interviewers don’t expect you to know the answer to every problem, and if you find yourself at a loss with a technical question, it is perfectly acceptable to admit you may not have the solution flawlessly.

A better way to tackle a question you don’t know is to promote your ability to find answers– discuss what ways you would potentially learn more about tackling a problem in practice and how you are comfortable seeking additional information, counsel, or strategies.

This is far more preferable to “faking” your way through an answer– interviewers want candidates with keen problem solving abilities. Owning up to your ability to collaborate and solve problems shows much more promise than trying to cover a potential shortcoming.

Do: Focus on Strengths

Unless your interviewer is just reading from a list of rote questions (which is unlikely), remember your interview is more of a conversation than an interrogation. This lets you steer the discussion towards your best attributes.

When explaining a potential gap in knowledge or issue in your work history, for example, answer honestly– then, be sure to include relevant information or experiences to show how you’ve addressed the issue in the past, or would be equipped to do so in the future. It is fine to answer in the manner of “while my experience in this area was limited in my previous position, I encountered similar experiences while doing x, y, and z.”

Interviewers like IT candidates with a variety of strengths– show how varied your experiences have been, and gaps in knowledge are quickly forgotten as they see the promise of a flexible, multi-talented candidate.

Don’t: Be Dull

If you’ve interviewed other people before, you know it can often become a tedious experience after many interviews. Stifling your nerves and projecting enthusiasm will enhance the experience for the interviewer. This not only means you’ll stand out in their memory, but is also likely to encourage your interviewer to engage you more, allowing you to explore as many strengths as possible in the discussion.

Make sure your interviewer knows you’ll be happy in the position– nobody wins when a new hire is unhappy at their job, and mentioning attributes that convey eagerness to receive the job will help show you are a promising candidate.

Do: Be Respectful and Close to Win

Never, ever take a call or answer a text message during an interview. Be sure to silence or turn off your phone before the interview begins.

At the end of the interview, if the opportunity is something you want to persue, say so. Let the interviewer know you want the job and feel it is a great match for you and the company.

As we’ve seen above, technical ability is only one aspect of ensuring your promise as a candidate. You likely already have the education, training, and experience to succeed as an IT professional– round out the package by remembering and developing the above skills, and you’ll ensure your interviewer will have a difficult time forgetting you when they make the final call. If you’d like to know more about developing an impressive professional portfolio, contact us at PARC Consulting.

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