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3 surprising tips for your next IT job interview

February 25, 2014

As the IT jobs market continues to improve, it is likely that many professionals working today will look for new career opportunities in IT before the year's end. These workers are in high demand, and it is therefore not surprising that IT experts will look to leverage their experience and skills for the greatest possible compensation.

This means that if you are an IT professional, you need to prepare for new rounds of job interviews. As highly in demand as your skills may be, these interviews will still play a key role in determining whether a job offer is forthcoming.

With that in mind, here are three somewhat surprising tips that you should keep in mind while getting ready for your next interview. Following these guidelines can help you to stand out from the competition—in a good way.

1. Don't be afraid to ask for clarification
One of the most commonly repeated pieces of advice offered to anyone preparing for a job interview is to be confident. Employers want to hire professionals who know what they are doing and will respond well under pressure, and an air of confidence is a strong indicator that the candidate can meet these expectations.

But there can be a fine line between confidence and overconfidence, and the latter attribute is far less desirable. It may suggest an inflexibility that can compromise performance.

One good way to strike the right balance during a job interview, as Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs, recently told BusinessNewsDaily, is by asking clarifying questions. She noted that many candidates are unwilling to take this step, as they are afraid it will be interpreted as a sign that they were not paying attention. But barging ahead without fully understanding the question may make the candidate appear foolish or overbearing.

Asking for clarification is not only essential for delivering a thoughtful response, but it also demonstrates confidence, as you're willing to speak up when necessary.

2. Think out loud
Almost inevitably, you will eventually face questions during your interview which you don't immediately know how to answer. This is especially true because, as MarketWatch recently highlighted, job interviewers are increasingly deploying unorthodox approaches. Most job candidates will feel compelled to fill in the silence following a question, but if they have no good answer, this may take the form of stuttering.

Speaking to the news source, Shon Burton, CEO of HiringSolved, suggested that job candidates facing this issue should try thinking out loud. He said that, as with asking for clarification, this tactic can demonstrate a level of confidence, among other benefits.

"Repeat the interviewer's question, and work through your thought process out loud," he recommended, the news source reported. "The interviewer may give you a hint if you're actively thinking instead of stalling."

3. Keep your answers short
It may be tempting to respond to some questions with extensive, eloquent answers. However, long-form replies may strike the interviewer as borderline rambling. That is why Dana Manciagli, writing for The Business Journals, asserted that candidates should always abide by "the Law of 3s: For every question, you are allowed no more than three short, concise answers."

"This rule will prevent you from babbling on and on, which we do when we are nervous," Manciagli elaborated. "For the interviewer, you will come across more confident, self-aware and prepared."

Of course, there will inevitably be exceptions to this rule. But by using it as a guideline, you can demonstrate a level of directness that most hiring managers will appreciate and remember.

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