How to prepare yourself for an IT job interview?

07 Aug, 2019 | 6 minutes read

You are very interested in a certain job in an IT company. You prepared your CV and sent an application. The employer reviewed your CV and invited you for an interview. What is next? You are one key step away from obtaining the desired job and your potential employment depends on how well you will present yourself at the job interview.

What do you need to know before attending the interview?

HR vs. Technical interview

An IT job interview usually includes two steps: an interview with the HR manager and a technical interview with an expert from the area where the applied job belongs. Both are equally important for the final outcome. As much as the technical interview is important in order to demonstrate your expertise and knowledge in the area, the HR interview is important as well where you present your personality and communication skills. The IT companies recently, besides the technical expertise, place the focus on the “soft skills”, especially the communication skills of their employees, because working on a specific project inevitably involves teamwork. Your future employer wants to make sure that he/she can trust you to interact well with peers, suppliers and, most importantly, clients. Moreover, if the hiring manager assesses that you have a serious lack of communication skills, it may be the end of the interviewing process and it is very probable that you will not even get a chance to attend the technical interview. Employers are becoming more willing to hire less experienced staff who can be trained, rather than an IT expert who does not communicate well.

Tips for a successful IT job interview

Read carefully the job description

The job description is the place where the main tasks, responsibilities, required skills, and knowledge for the job are explained, thus read it very carefully, as many times as you need before the interview itself. Most probably, during the interview, you will be asked ‘Why do you consider yourself to be the right person for this position?’ or ‘Explain how you will cope with the requirements of the position?’. In that case, you are recommended to use the words, phrases and the vocabulary from the job description in the announcement to make sure you are on the same line with the interviewer. It is unserious to attend an interview for a job for which you have not even read the job description.

Before the interview, go once again through your CV

While preparing for the job interview read once again your CV and recall your most important achievements, projects, and experience, relevant for the job you are applying for. Consider your toughest life and/or professional challenges you have been faced with and how you overcame them.

Be positive, confident, stay natural and show your personality

Many candidates, when faced with the interviewers, are anxious, which is understandable and due to that assume more rigid, even defensive behavior. Do not. You have your own personality – demonstrate it! Keep in mind – if hiring managers are taking the time to meet you, they saw a potential in your CV, and are interested in hearing from you. Let them know you. Remember – one of the criteria by which you will be assessed are the interpersonal and communication skills, so be friendly and outgoing.

Be enthusiastic about the job

Interviewers like enthusiastic candidates. If you are confident and positive, it is more likely that the interviewer will want to engage you. Apart from your technical skills and good personality, the interviewer also wants to be sure that you will be happy performing the job if you are offered the position.

Inform yourself regarding the company where you are applying

The most common question at any job interview is ‘Why did you choose our company?’ or ‘What do you know about the company?’. You must be prepared and do not try to improvise or guess. Instead, before the interview happens, get as much information as you can regarding the company, starting from its official web page, social media pages (Facebook, LinkedIn), even try to get an insight from people that are already working there. The hiring managers are taking time to meet you, so you are also expected to know at least the basic information about the company where you wish to work. It demonstrates your commitment, dedication and that you are a serious candidate for the job. Researching the company is mostly in your interest, because, if hired, that is the place where you will spend most of your time. Also, this research will help you to assess if there are opportunities for your further professional growth and development.

Consider your willingness to travel and work abroad

Usually, working as a technical consultant, especially at a higher level, implies working on-site, assisting the clients at their premises for a certain amount of time. Thus, it is a must to be able to travel and work abroad. Be direct and honest on this issue during the interview, because if hired it would not seem professional to cancel a business trip because of your ‘fear of flying’, for example.

Consider your strengths and weaknesses

Before the interview think about your strengths, what you are good at, but also your weaknesses. At the interview, try to steer the conversation around your strengths and even go a step further – for example, if you are applying for a system administrator, mention also your other coding skills and referent projects and maybe it will give a start to a new direction of the interview. IT companies are always looking for multiskilled talents who can be versatile and contribute to different areas of the company’s activity. Remember that the IT companies do not want to let go of the multitalented candidates unless the candidate has a really irritating personality. If you are asked about your weaknesses it is ok to be honest about this – recognizing that no one is perfect will be better seen than praising that you are flawless.

Be honest about your knowledge

One step between applying for an IT job and being hired is the technical interview. This normally includes specific questions that need a specific answer. You either know the answer or you don’t, so be honest if you don’t. Do not make the interviewer feel uncomfortable while listening to you making guesses when trying to answer the questions. In that way, you will sound and feel insecure, and that will be detected and felt immediately. Be honest and say that you don’t know the answer, but also mention how would you proceed in order to find the right answer. Therefore, you will demonstrate your problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Maybe, the interviewer does not look for the right answer; but rather asks the question with a purpose to check your ability for logic and flexibility. It is better to acknowledge when you don’t know something, but emphasize that you are willing and open to learning new things. Feel free to ask about training programs and professional IT certification as proof of your intention to constantly improve and enhance your knowledge.

Ask questions

At the end of the interview, most probably, you will be given an opportunity to ask questions to the interviewer. Use it! It is not well seen if you don’t have even one single question – it could be interpreted either you are not interested in the job or you presume you know everything. Asking questions regarding the working ambient, the organizational culture, rules, etc. are a good starting point. Remember – when hired, you will have to cope with the organizational life and the way of functioning, so this is your opportunity to find out if you are suitable for the company and vice versa. Ideas on potential questions you could ask are: How it looks like one working day at this position?, What are the opportunities for further career and professional growth from this position?, Which are the main challenges that this position implies? Who are the persons/titles that I will be directly working with?, How would you describe the employee that successfully performs this job? etc. Also, it is totally legit to ask regarding some practical issues such as the working hours, locations, terms of work, etc.

Be open to new opportunities

Very often, during the interview, it can be determined that you are suitable for some other position within the company instead of the one that you have applied for and it is totally ok. Don’t panic. Don’t be closed and say no beforehand. Listen to the offer of the employer and consider it carefully. Remember that the interviewer is very experienced and trust in his/her criteria for placing you in the right position.

There are three key factors for the successful job interview: preparation… preparation and… preparation. We hope that the article was useful and we wish you a successful and pleasant job interview.