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5 tips for IT job interview success

March 03, 2014

If you are like countless other IT professionals, you are likely considering new career opportunities in IT. After all, your skills are in high demand, with firms in every industry eager to hire more IT employees who can help them make the most of their technological investments. Talented, experienced IT workers are essential for these efforts.

With that in mind, now may be the ideal time to brush up on your interview skills. Interviews inevitably play a deciding role in the job application process, and even seasoned IT professionals are often intimidated when heading into these meetings.

Here are five tips that you should embrace in order to improve your chances of impressing your interviewer and landing your dream job.

1. Be cognizant of your value
One key strategy for anyone with an upcoming interview is actively considering your most valuable attributes in advance, as Rita B. Allen recently highlighted for The Boston Globe.

"[T]ake the time to reflect on all your skills, knowledge, abilities, competencies, values, interests, experiences and aspirations; know yourself very well and be prepared to discuss all that you have to offer, your value and your contributions," Allen wrote.

This is important because, without having considered these factors in advance, you may find yourself somewhat at a loss for words when asked to identify your greatest strengths and relevant experiences, which in turn can be misinterpreted as a lack of confidence or abilities. You don't need a definitive list of your best attributes, but you should be ready to discuss your value comfortably.

2. Illustrate your abilities
Furthermore, Allen recommended that interviewees come prepared with examples and stories to illustrate their abilities.

"[B]ehavioral, situational or skills-based type interview questions where you describe specific situations and examples from your past experiences are very common and are based on the premise that the single best predictor of a candidate's future job performance is past performance," she wrote.

By sharing relevant anecdotes, you'll be able to lend far greater authority and believability to any claims about your experience and abilities, while also displaying impressive confidence and social skills.

3.Strike the right balance
Allen emphasized the need for job applicants to be willing to talk about themselves at length. This makes sense, as you are your own best advocate for any given position (unless you're lucky enough to work with a recruiter, who can knowledgeably make a case for why you're the best candidate). Too often, candidates for IT jobs refrain from singing their own praises, largely "due to a fear of appearing too aggressive, conceited, not-humble," as Allen noted. By holding back, you may inadvertently hurt your chances of making a positive impression.

However, that being said, it is also very possible for interviewees to go too far in the other direction and come across exactly as Allen described. Extreme confidence can easily cross the line into overconfidence, which will likely not sit well with the hiring manager. It is therefore critical to strike the right balance between advocacy and restraint. Feel comfortable discussing your achievements, but do not belabor the point and don't exaggerate your experiences.

4. Stay positive
Attitude matters a lot when it comes to job interviews. That is why Aimee Hosler, writing for Online Colleges, emphasized the importance of maintaining a positive demeanor.

"Enthusiasm is infectious, and employers … know how valuable positivity is in the workplace," explained Hosler. "Try to remain upbeat during your interview and impart a sense of optimism whenever you can."

Job interviewers will often need to interact with whoever they hire on a regular basis, and most would much rather engage with an upbeat employee than a dour one. If you seem unduly serious during the interview, you may make yourself a less appealing candidate.

5. Stay focused
One final key strategy for achieving interview success, according to Hosler, is remaining focused at all times. Due to nerves, many applicants may struggle to listen intently to their interviewer, as they will be too concerned with maintaining the right demeanor and avoiding verbal missteps. But as Hosler noted, your interviewer will want to feel like he or she is being heard. You can achieve this goal by nodding at the right times and even asking relevant questions, which effectively demonstrates your engagement.

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