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IT pros need to prepare for increasingly unorthodox job interviews

February 13, 2014

Interviews are unavoidable as you search for new and exciting career opportunities in IT. If you are an IT professional and eager to land a new position, you must take these events seriously. Preparation for your IT interview is key, especially because, as MarketWatch recently highlighted, job interviews are becoming progressively more unorthodox. Consequently, IT professionals should be ready for anything.

Unusual interview tactics
Speaking to the news source, Piera Palazzolo, senior vice president for marketing at Dale Carnegie Training, said that the tasks interviewers are putting to their applicants have become increasingly bizarre in recent years. For example, she cited recent examples of candidates being asked to sing jingles during their interviews. Interviewer employ this seemingly random challenge not to test the candidates' singing ability or jingle knowledge, but rather to see how they react to unexpected pressure.

Dan Schawbel, founder of management and consulting firm Millennial Branding, told the news source that a growing trend among job interviews is gamification. He noted that many hiring managers will ask their candidates to solve computer puzzles or games that can help evaluate the user's skills and personality. Schawbel noted that a recent report from Gartner predicted that 70 percent of the 1,000 biggest companies in the world will likely require applicants to play an electronic game of some kind this year

These games are extremely sophisticated, as Bob Schafer, founder and CEO of Prophecy Sciences, explained.

"We apply the most recent research in neuroscience," said Schafer, the news source reported. "We assess how well you will fit into a role and team."

In addition to these unusual tasks and games, the questions asked during job interviews are also becoming more unusual, particularly when it comes to tech companies, according to MarketWatch. For example, Glassdoor's annual list of oddest interview questions revealed that one Apple candidate was asked, "If you were a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors?"

Preparing for IT interview success
Obviously, these questions and tasks can make IT jobs interviews perilous for even high-qualified, well-experienced candidates. These challenges are specifically designed to trip up interviewees and see how well or poorly they respond to unexpected challenges.

Due to their unpredictable nature, there is a limit to how well you can prepare yourself for such unorthodox interviews. However, there are steps that are worth taking. For example, you may consider spending some time solving riddles, completing Sudoku puzzles or engaging with any other brain-strengthening activities. Familiarity with such games can help you to keep your mind loose, and will make similar challenges presented during an interview less intimidating.

Additionally, you should consider working with a third-party IT staffing firm, which can not only guide your job search, but also provide insight and advice to help you succeed in interviews.

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