Develop problem and opportunity stories
You’ll probably be asked “problem” questions about how you’ve handled challenging situations, and “opportunity” questions about how you contributed to successful initiatives. Tee up a few of your best stories before the interview—and make sure to practice saying them aloud. Great stories are compelling to hiring managers because they’re easy to understand and to ask questions about. Including details also adds credibility to your achievements.
Practice your answers to these common interview questions
- Tell me about yourself. This one should be easy to answer but many interviewees actually fare poorly with this question. What your interviewer wants is an articulate response about one minute long that reveals something about your personality and work style. Are you passionate about Agile processes, always up on the latest coding language or someone who enjoys the abstract details of QA automation?
- What do you like about your current job? Develop a thoughtful answer, and make sure what you like about your current job also applies to the job you’re seeking.
- What is your most recent professional accomplishment? Again, this answer is more forward-looking than it sounds. Pick an accomplishment that demonstrates you can shine in the position you’re interviewing for.
Understand how to answer technical questions
Some IT interviews contain portions in which you’ll be asked to solve technical problems. It should help to know that not getting the exact answer the interviewer has in mind doesn’t necessarily mean you’re failing the interview. Interviewers report that they prefer candidates who reveal how they approach the given problem, which helps them learn more about thought processes. Some interviewers will even steer you in a better direction if your initial approach won’t take you to the right solution.
Prepare great questions
You’ll want to come with two types of questions.
- Questions that show intellectual curiosity and an interest in the company: Read the company blog or newsroom to see what initiatives they’re rolling out, and ask a question that demonstrates that you understand how your role or team might impact (or be impacted by) it. Flatter them with your interest.
- Questions that help you understand whether a job is right for you: You’re interviewing a company and manager as much as they’re interviewing you, and this is a good time to see if the company and role are the right fit. Hiring managers will respect you more for knowing your own worth, and these questions also help show you don’t take a job change lightly.
Avoid these topics during the interview
While you want to learn if the position is a good fit for you, certain topics are considered taboo during an interview. These include salary and benefits conversations, and whether you can take leave for that long summer vacation you planned. You’ll have time to figure those issues out once you have an offer in hand.
IT interview dress etiquette
Take your cue from the company culture—but dress at least one step up. If you’re not familiar with the company or industry, try asking friends who are. Scour the company’s website and LinkedIn profiles for employee pictures, which can also provide important clues.
Generally, women can’t go wrong in a stylish dress (worn to the knee or lower) and a tailored jacket, or a neat pants suit. Men generally should wear a jacket, but whether or not to wear a tie or matching suit might depend on the company culture and position you’re interested in. Hint: The further up the leadership chain you go, the more formal your attire should be.
Tap your recruiter or network for knowledge of the hiring manager
One of the best reasons to work with an IT recruiter is the pre-interview coaching and post-interview feedback they offer. Your recruiter or account manager uses their relationship with the hiring manager to prepare you with insights about what they like and don’t like. He or she also gets feedback and can share that with you to help you improve your interview skills. If you’re not confident about the interview, don’t hesitate to let your recruiter know so they can spend some extra time preparing you.
More IT interviewing tips:
Common mistakes to avoid in your next IT job interview (part 1)
Common mistakes to avoid in your next IT job interview (part 2)
Unlock the mystery of the most dreaded interview question: What is your greatest weakness?
5 common IT interview questions decoded