How to Prepare for an IT Job Interview

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A job interview simply put is selling oneself to a company in exchange for a dollar amount. While salesmen do it for a product or a service, an interviewee puts himself to the test. A common factor between the two is preparation, and it is everything. It plays a significant role between probability of success and failure.

I have hired several individuals in the organizations I have worked for, and have conducted multiple interviews to those hired. Here, I hope to share a small piece of my mind and try to tell you sitting in the interviewer's chair, what kind of preparation we look for in people coming into an IT interview.

In this article we'll go over the key factors to consider when preparing your resume, how to appropriately present yourself at an interview and how to be ready for some of the most common interview questions.

How to Prepare for an IT Interview

Preparing Your IT Resume

Your resume or curriculum vitae (CV) is one of the vital pieces of the jigsaw puzzle which you need to crack to get a shot at the position you are aiming for.

Get your resume or CV in place, and you can safely expect that the interviewer is familiar with your work experience. I won't delve into the contents and sections of your resume as there are many different styles that work, but I will focus on a couple of things that you just can't miss while preparing your IT resume.

Presentation

Your resume should be presentable, and easily readable. It's much like a website you visit, and the harder it is to navigate, the quicker you want to get off of it. Ensure that your resume provides the information the interviewer is looking for in the initial pages rather than making him dig through it.

How to Prepare for an IT InterviewCarry a copy of your resume with you, printed on milky white paper and on single side, as opposed to back to back prints. You can alternatively leverage on professional resume services who are quite adept at creating presentable and informative resumes.

Accuracy

Your integrity depends on the accuracy of information you have put on your resume. Include only the activities which you have performed and nothing more. Interviewers are smart chaps and have ways to catch frauds, and even blacklist them throughout their consortium.

Typos

Typographic errors tick me off more than anything else. This is a good indicator which we managers use to judge the discipline of a candidate, and we would be strongly favored to reject those who carry resumes with typos.

Take a look at these 10 tips to writing an IT resume that sells for more detailed instructions on how you can make your resume really shine.

How to Prepare for an IT Interview

Looking Your Best:

The Right Job Interview Attire

Although it seems superficial to mention a person's attire, what you wear can mean a lot in a job interview. The right clothes can make you look professional and help you feel more confident.

Choose Formal, Conservative Clothing

They say first impression is everything, and it's true in IT, especially the way you present yourself. Try to wear a light colored shirt, preferably a plain white shirt. At the very least, do not wear bright colors, bold patterns or anything which will attract the attention more than the words that come from your mouth.

Clean and Pressed

Should I explicitly mention that your clothes should be clean and pressed? I think it should go without saying.

Suits and Ties are Optional -- But Not Always

IT was strictly associated with suits and ties a decade ago, and much of it has changed. We see it as a burden these days but don't mind if a candidate wears it to his/her interview. Read your interview instructions carefully, there are some old school organizations which demand interviewees to come in wearing certain clothing.

I would strongly suggest researching the company you're applying to to see what type of an organization it is. Many tech companies are much more casual, but some remain very formal. The key thing to keep in mind is that you never want to look under-dressed.

Here are a few more tips on how you can look more professional; check out tip #4 professionalism is key for some more input on what to wear and how to present yourself.

IT Interview Questions You Need to Be Ready For

For the most part, interviewers are predictable. They talk to hundreds of candidates and it is highly impossible for them to come up with one hundred sets of unique questions. They have a standard set of questions and unleash them religiously upon every candidate.

Interviews are subjective and so are the possible questions. But, within this realm, there are some generic questions which weigh in as much as the others. Let's take a look at some of the most common ones.

Why do you want to leave your present company?

In my book, this is the make or break question after the mandatory technical clearance. It is like lifting frogs with hands smeared with butter. The trick here is to show your loyalty to your present company and at the same time, give sufficient evidence that change is inevitable. If I am being interviewed, I would say something like "I enjoy my present line of work, but I think could do much more with sufficient opportunities. Unfortunately, my company does not offer any. I know that your company has plenty to offer and I would like to be part of it."

Remember to never to put down your present company. It leaves a bad taste in your interviewer's mouth. Other reasons such as switching for hike, or just need a change rarely work, unless there is a good reason for you to do so.

What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?

This is a classic question, especially for the ones who are down on the ladder. We ask this question to understand how best the candidate is able to assess himself. And, to find out if there are any weaknesses that will not make him/her eligible for the job in question.

There are some who answer this question too truthfully choosing to reveal weaknesses that can hurt their image. But some are smart and know how to make their weakness look like strengths. I prefer the latter. The trick here is to project your weakness and follow it with a mitigation plan to counter it. This will definitely have a positive impact on the interviewer.

For example, if your biggest weakness is time management you might say "I know that my biggest weakness is time management, that's why I follow strict rules that I have set for myself that help me overcome this. In fact, I stay on top of my work so much that it has almost turned into a game of how much I can accomplish each day."

Make sure to check out this list of the top 77 questions you need to be ready for when preparing for your next IT job interview.

Research the Company

Do you know what we are into? Do you know what we do? Do you know where we are placed in the industry?- These questions are common but don't really threaten the result of an interview. But, that being said, if answered with some level of preparedness, it provides an assurance to the interviewer that you know the kind of stinking hole you are getting into. It also sets the interview in motion, and brings in a positive mood to the environment.

People who work in the company you are interested in can provide an honest feedback and information relevant to your job profile. In this age, it is easy to find them on social networking websites such as LinkedIn. Company websites rarely gives you the information you need. They talk at a higher management level and rarely the common employees have anything to do with it.

Last Minute Tips for Your IT Interview

There are quite a few things you need to do before going in for an IT interview. I will run through some of the basics.

Rest Well

Make sure your're well rested before you attend your interview and that you're not hungry. And ask for a slot in the morning if you're given a preference.

Refresh Your Basic IT Knowledge

This is quite a common phenomenon. People working on technologies would know the grammar and etiquettes, but will forget the individual alphabets and the order or placement. People who interview like to start from the basics and move up the ladder. If we feel that your foundation is not strong enough, we may not be keen in moving forward. Beware!

Here's a nice quick list that you can review your basic IT terminology before going in for your interview.

Envisioning

This is my specialty and it works like a charm every time I harp onto assignments that I manage. The night before your interview, envision yourself sitting in front of an interviewer, and cracking it with great ease. Sink this feeling into your subconsciousness. This action will lift your spirits and as a result -- your confidence. If your subconsciousness is convinced that the interview is already in the bag, going through an interview will just be a routine course of action.

Questions?

I like to help. If you have any questions relating to IT interview preparation or a different perspective, leave me a comment

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Contributor

Abhinav Kaiser

is a veteran in service and in project managements. He advises businesses, organizations and enterprises on how to build service management framework and deliver value. He is currently penning a book on communication in organizations, specifically aimed at IT departments. He holds PMP, ITIL© V3 Expert and Cobit 5.0 certifications and is an accredited ITIL© trainer.