Top tips for IT job interviews

The past 25 years have seen huge leaps in technological advancement with the birth of the internet, mobile phones, social media and connected devices. Because of the speed of progression made, the IT industry now faces a digital skills shortage, which makes recruitment particularly fierce within fields like cyber security, software development and cloud computing.

Whilst this may put you and your desirable skill sets at an advantage (employers have less people to choose from), you still need to give yourself the best chances at interview stage. Your first impression may even help you negotiate a higher pay rate.

First impressions are vital when it comes to face-to-face interviews and there are some simple ways to make sure you are fully prepped.

Do your research

Read up on the company so that you can confidently express what the company does, how it is structured and what market(s) it operates in. Going to an interview without knowing the basics could make you look disinterested or even lazy.

If you do your research and show a keen interest in the company or project you’re interviewing for and find out the challenges they face and how they compare to their competitors, you will really impress the interviewer.

Dress to impress

Unless you’re told otherwise, dress smart for your interview. While some companies might opt for a more relaxed approach when it comes to working attire, wearing traditional smart clothing will do no harm and will show you are serious about the job. A smart shirt and tie combination, paired with suit trousers and clean shoes is a winner for men. For women, smart, low-key dresses will never tire, but a trouser suit or skirt with a blouse also works well.

Prepare in advance

To avoid unnecessary interview-day stress, make sure your bag/briefcase is ready the evening before. Make sure you have a pen, notepad and a copy of your CV, plus anything else that may have been specifically requested.

If you’re a software developer, some organisations will use practical tests, especially in the case of more junior roles where job applicants have less experience to rely on. These can be in a variety of forms including binary sort tree, string manipulation problems or possibly even algorithms and Big O notation. So find example tests of these online or have your code reviewed on websites such as Stack Exchange and bring along your feedback to the interview.

Practise answering competency based questions

If you are expecting certain questions, it’s good practice to use the “STAR” technique to keep your answers both engaging and concise.

  • Situation — briefly describe the background to the situation
  • Task — specifically describe your responsibility
  • Action — explain what you did
  • Result — describe the outcome of your actions.

Consider what questions you might ask

Often you will get the chance to ask a few questions towards the end of an interview and it can be a good opportunity to express your interest in the job and the company. Questions like ‘why has the position become available?’ and ‘what are the main objectives of the role?’ are always a good start, as long as they haven’t naturally been answered during the flow of the interview. Preparing around five questions should make sure you have something to ask should you get a chance.

Plan your journey

Knowing how you’re getting to your interview, how long it takes to get there and where to park if you’re driving will help you feel more prepared on the day.  If you don’t factor in for potential traffic or delays it could be detrimental to the interview. Turning up late isn’t a good first impression; turning up early or on time will give an indication of your time-keeping ability should you be offered the role.

On the day

Greet the interviewer(s) with a smile and a handshake. Throughout the interview try and mimic their style – if they’re formal, be formal, if they’re informal, be informal.  Maintaining a good amount of eye contact will help you come across as engaged and avoiding negative body language like crossing your arms will send positive messages to the interviewer.

You can find more advice on our career advice pages.

To view our current technology job opportunities, click here.

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