You landed an interview for your dream job. That’s the good news. But as the big day nears, the reality sets in: You’ll likely be sitting in front of a panel of strangers who will be firing (not lobbing) questions at you… That’s the bad news.
Let’s face it, not all of us enjoy going through the interview process. In fact, we feel pretty safe in saying that most people dread participating in interviews.
Quick self-assessment test: What makes you sweat more — a first date or an interview?
Trick question. They’re basically the same thing.
Never fear, though. We’re here to help you shine, from start to finish, during the interview process.
Here’s a list of key considerations to keep in mind during every stage of the IT interview process.
Do your research.
Working in IT can be quite different than most corporate environments, especially in terms of culture. Make sure you get a feel for the company where you’re interviewing.
If you know someone that works there, pick his/her brain. Read reviews on Glassdoor (at your own risk, of course). If you’re working with a recruiter, you also may be able to garner information that way.
Why is doing legwork in advance so important? First off, if the shop is laid back, you don’t want to overdo it and show up in three-piece suit. (Unless you’re Vint Cerf, then you do what you want.) Or vice versa. Secondly, you don’t want to be caught off guard by questions that could’ve easily been answered if you spent 30 minutes scouring the company’s website.
Determine how your skill set fits.
Sometimes, during interviews candidates are asked to demonstrate their skills and knowledge, whether it’s taking a quick exam or drawing a diagram.
It’s a little trickier to do that when it comes to an IT interview. However, certifications are a great way to highlight your knowledge of the nuts and bolts of IT concepts and technologies.
Instead, identify how your expertise can benefit the company that you’re applying to — better yet, highlight projects that you worked on that help the company achieve a goal.
Practice makes perfect.
This might sound corny, but if you’re anxious about your interview, it never hurts to rehearse what you might say, whether it’s statements about yourself and your abilities, or a response to a question. At the very least, practicing can help you determine how to best present yourself. Here’s a list of common interview questions to help you prepare.
Day of Interview
Practice proper hygiene.
We really shouldn’t have to address this, but it also can’t be overstated. First impressions can be everything, especially when you’re competing with others for a job. So, don’t let simple things such as combing your hair, brushing your pearly whites, ironing the wrinkles out of your pants, etc., get in the way of creating a good impression.
And what to do about that always-looming question of what to wear? We’ve got you covered with this IT dress code. A good rule of thumb, just look nice. It’s not that hard to do.
Give yourself plenty of time.
As they say, early is on time. On time is late. Late is unacceptable.
That needs to be your mantra when it comes to waking up on the big day. In fact, try to be 10 minutes early. Just to be safe. The bottom line is to give yourself plenty of time to get ready and travel to the interview site. Better to be safe than sorry. Plus, you never know when something like a traffic jam will pop up.
Don’t pretend to know everything.
It’s okay to admit you don’t know an answer or aren’t familiar with a technology. For example, if you are asked about VMware and it’s not part of your IT skill set, don’t try to feign things and act like it’s one of your areas of expertise.
Ask any IT manager and they’ll tell you this happens way too often. They can spot a fake a mile away. So, just be honest.
That said, make sure you convey your enthusiasm and willingness to learn new skills and technologies. Remember, to be successful in IT you always have to be learning in order to keep up with the dizzying pace of technology.
Show a little initiative.
It’s perfectly normal to be nervous and even a little intimidated. But don’t let a little table fright (see what we did there) deter you from being an active participant in your own interview. Absolutely ask questions. Asking questions can help you get a better sense for the company and your potential role, and it shows that you have a desire to work there and be an asset for the company.
Don’t be a rambler.
With the previous advice in mind, be cautious of how much you speak during your interview. Nobody likes a rambler, even the most patient and accommodating of intervewers. If you notice people turning over their cellphones, it’s a sign that you’ve lost the room, no matter how strong your answers are. This is where being able to pace yourself comes in handy.
This is another no-brainer, but don’t try to be someone you aren’t. Even if you have all the knowledge and skills (which you won’t), what could make or break your chances is how well your personality stands out. Rest assured that the panel in front of you will be gauging how well you fit their company’s culture. Don’t give them any reason to think you are a phony.
Send a thank you note.
Don’t underestimate the power of thank you notes. Even if you don’t land the job, they can create a strong, lasting impression. For example, you might be considered for another position in the company, or asked to interview for a position at a later time. You just never know. Pro tip: If possible, send personalized notes to each person who was part of your interview.
Reflect on the experience.
There’s no such thing as too much interview experience. After all, each one is different. Regardless of whether or not you rocked the interview, take the time to look back at what you could’ve done better, as well as what went well. You get what you put into interviews, so make sure you take time to learn from each interview experience.
Keep applying until you get the job.
It might be a few days or weeks before you find out if you got the job. In the meantime, celebrate surviving another interview by sending out a few more cover letters and resumes.
That’s the thing about interviews. Even if you’re feeling really good, you never know what can happen, as you can read in our latest blog post, Why You Didn’t Get the Job. Life has its curve balls.
When you land your job, you can hang up your resume, and treat yourself. It doesn’t have to be crazy, but treat yourself to a nice happy hour or dinner. Go see a movie, grab some ice cream… you get the picture. Celebrate your successes in life, small and big.
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