You’ve done it. You’ve perfected your portfolio, filled out numerous applications, perhaps emailed HR back and forth, and now you have an interview scheduled.
If this is a career you’ve been longing for, preparation beyond looking up common interview questions can calm your nerves and help you make an outstanding first impression.
Read on for our ultimate guide on how to ace your IT interview!
IT Interview Tips
These are all the tips and strategies you can utilize before the interview. Although it may seem excessive, if you work on some of these tips a few days before your interview, you’ll feel far calmer and in control when that day comes.
During your interview, you want to be in the present and focus on your interviewer’s questions with a clear head - you don’t want nerves to affect your answers!
1. Do Your Research
If this is a company you’d like to be a part of for the foreseeable future, it helps to know more about them. When you have a larger idea of the company’s services, core values, and aesthetic, you can better judge what kind of candidate they’re looking for in terms of personality, soft skills, and technical know-how.
Here are some places that will ease your search:
- Website - The first stop should be the company’s website. Check out their About and Services/Products sections. These sections will typically give you a better idea of how they differentiate themselves from competitors, the unique services or products they offer, and sometimes their mission statement.
- Blog - A company’s blog is a great way to learn their overall personality. Would you describe the articles as laid back and casual? Or are they more professional and polished in tone?
- Glassdoor - This is a great website to learn what previous employees think of a company.
- Social Media - You can use the information you learn on Twitter as conversation starters. This will usually be the place where you’ll learn about current or upcoming events, product launches, or achievements. If they’re not big Twitter users, you may find this information on Facebook.
After you’ve done your research, hone in on what the company is offering. Become as familiar with their product or service as possible - this will show your interviewers that you have a genuine interest in the company.
2. Anticipate Questions
After you have a good idea of the company’s personality and offerings, you can start thinking about what kinds of questions they’ll ask you and the answers that will resonate most with them. For instance, does this seem like a highly creative company? Think about or write examples of your creativity.
Does the company pride themselves on efficiency and quick turnaround times? Then think about how your skills make you an efficient worker. Depending on where you interview, your answers will change.
However, there are common interview questions that are sure to come up. Some of these include:
“What’s your biggest weakness?”
Think about something you struggle with currently, and the concrete steps you’ve taken to work on it.
“Tell me about yourself.”
This is probably one of the most difficult interview questions because it’s so open-ended. To keep on track, focus on the position you’re applying for and your journey to getting where you are today.
This is a great way to show your genuine enthusiasm in the position and the work. And by thinking about the chronology of your professional life, you’ll be better prepared to answer questions that require examples of your previous experience.
“What interests you about this job?”
This is when your research about the company comes into play. The interviewer wants to make sure that your understanding of the job fits with what the company is looking for.
The best way to answer this is to be specific about how the role suits your skills, experience, and interests. Cite the language from the job posting and speak about how excited you were to find your skills matched up with what the job listing required.
Technical and Behavioral Questions
The best way to prepare for these questions is to become very familiar with the job listing and what they’re looking for and to utilize the STAR technique.
These questions can include:
- “Give me an example of where you applied your technical knowledge in a practical way.”
- “What challenges do you think you’ll expect with the job when you’re hired?”
- “What would you do to ensure consistency across the unit, quality, and production environments?
STAR stands for situation, task, action, and result. Think about similar situations you’ve been in, what you were tasked with, the actions you took to complete that task, and the result of those actions.
3. Prepare Questions
Interviews are a two-way street - you’re also looking to see if the company is a good fit for you. Moreover, by asking at least one question, you’re showing the interviewer that you’ve done your research on the company and are enthusiastic about the position.
Here are some ideas for questions you can ask near the end of your interview:
- “What are some of the big challenges facing your IT team?”
- “What’s your development process?”
- “What project are you most proud of completing?”
- “What’s the biggest project you’re working on now?”
- “If I’m hired, what will my responsibilities be day-to-day?”
The bonus of asking questions is that they can lead to memorable conversations. Not only does this loosen up the environment, but it also makes you more memorable to your interviewer at the end of the day.
If conquering your nerves is one half of the battle, differentiating yourself from other candidates is the other. You’ll never know how many other candidates they’re interviewing, but forming a natural connection with your interviewer through the simple act of conversation will help place you above the rest.
4. Dress and Pack Accordingly
Preparing what you’ll wear ahead of time and even pampering yourself, such as getting a facial, a shave, or a haircut is a great way to boost your confidence. If you’re not sure if the company is business or business casual, keep your look professional, basic, and conservative.
Print out five copies of your resume - you won’t know who you’ll be meeting with, and you want to have one ready to go in case you’re asked. In this digital age, hard copy resumes are still requested!
Prepare a reference list with names, titles, organizations, telephone numbers, and email addresses. For each reference, write a short sentence describing the significance of your relationship.
5. The Right Headspace
On the day of the interview it’s easy to forget your preparation as your nerves grow. There’s no shame in creating an interview cheat sheet in order to help jumpstart your thoughts and remind you of the points you want to make.
Here are some items you can include on your cheat sheet:
- The company’s mission statement/core values
- Elevator pitch
- Important accomplishments and skills
- Why this position excites me
- Questions to ask the interviewer
If it helps, think of the interview as more of a conversation. Remember that you’re in an environment full of people interested in IT as well. Think about things happening in the industry that excites you.
Last but not least, make sure you get enough sleep the night before! It’s been studied that your cognitive ability drastically lowers when you’re sleep-deprived. You want to be at your best during your interview.
A Successful IT Interview
By following some or all of these IT interview tips, you’re well on your way to a successful interview. With the technical questions aside, an IT interview is much like any other job interview.
You need to be able to show genuine enthusiasm in your work, knowledge of the job position and technical requirements, knowledge of the company and their culture, and the ability to reference some past experiences to prove your experience.
Most importantly, you need to remember to be your authentic self. Remember that this is a position you see yourself in for the foreseeable future. False pretenses won’t help you in the long run!
Ready to apply to more IT positions in your area? Check out them Myticas Consulting job board, where we provide the latest and greatest IT career opportunities in your area.