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How to prepare for an interview in the IT world

Preparation is the key to a good interview. But what do you need to do to be ready to secure that job?

Research your target

The IT world is highly competitive and the best jobs are snapped up by top candidates. This means you need to demonstrate the edge you bring to your interviewer. Show that you really want this particular role by carefully researching the employer. Read their annual report, carry out news items searches, visit their website and competitors and make sure you are aware of the key issues and opportunities facing their sector. Be ready to explain their business succinctly and clearly.

Research the company and the sector in which it operates. Speak with friends in the industry to get additional insight. With little experience it’s important you can offer the right attitude - Symatrix

When you are in your interview, make sure you pepper your answers with facts and insights that show you really understand the company and their products and markets. Ask questions that show this understanding - perhaps expressing your view on a particular industry issue and then asking the interviewer for the organisation’s view or treatment of the issue. This will demonstrate your strategic awareness and position you as a very strong candidate.

Do your homework

Prepare your answers

Most interviews follow a fairly standard format. Discussing your relevant career experience and qualifications, and running through a series of competency based questions before you ask questions  of your own. Be aware of this and prepare good answers accordingly. Speak to your recruiter for advice as necessary and ensure that you have a broad range of on-target examples.

At the very minimum, inform yourself on the company (website, linkedin, ...) and review technical matters if relevant-  eProseed

Aim to quantify answers as far as possible using hard facts and data, rather than subjective measures. An example could relate to an IT implementation achieved on time and to budget, achieving sales or ROI of a certain percentage. Always explain the role that you played in delivering goals, rather than referring more loosely to 'we'. Interviewers will always pick up on this! Similarly, always have a prepared answer for any career gaps or omissions in your CV. Again, your recruiter can help you with this. Here’s a link to the 50 most asked interview questions (source: Glassdoor) to get you started.

It’s a good idea to do an online search of yourself and see what results are returned. Chances are the interviewer will have done the same and you could be asked about what they found, so it’s best to be prepared.

Make sure you have 3-5 questions of your own to ask at the end of the interview. Focus questions that will confirm your suitability for the position, show your interest in the company or give you additional insight into the role/employer to assess whether it will be a good fit for you. The one question you should always ask is what is the next step in the process? Assuming you still want the position.

Social profiles

For the day

Basic perhaps, but essential: make sure you know where you are going for your interview, have your transport lined up, your suit ready, and everything that you need for the day. Have a plan B in case anything goes awry. Have a contact number in your phone and a copy of your CV and any supporting documentation. Pay attention to the details and make sure your shoes are polished!

“I once helped a friend of mine prepare for a big interview by giving him a manicure. He found it hilarious, but I pointed out that a person’s hair, hands and feet can tell their own story in an interview.  He got the job and was stunned when his boss later revealed that what made them decide to offer him the job over another candidate was how presentable he had been - and making reference to his immaculate fingernails!” Brigit Wells, UK Oracle User Group

On the day itself, take time to prepare slowly, rather than rushing. Get up early and eat a good breakfast with plenty of protein and slow release carbs. This will balance your blood sugar and improve your performance. Don't overdo your caffeine consumption - you don't want to appear jittery and on edge in the interview. Treat yourself to a good coffee before you go in for that boost - and remember a breath mint beforehand! When inside, introduce yourself with a smile and a good handshake.

After the day

Smart candidates will always follow up after interview. Make sure you speak to your recruiter to discuss how you felt the interview went, and for any direct hire roles, email the interviewer to thank them for their time, reiterate your enthusiasm and suitability for the role, and explain that you will be available as needed for any further questions.

Jittery man

Everyone has some areas of weakness in their knowledge when it comes to applying for a new role. Make sure you have a couple of examples prepared to show the interviewer a previous situation where you didn’t have all the required skills, and you took the initiative to either learn what you needed to know, or you found a way around the situation. Most people are looking for people who can get things done and solve problems, not people who know everything about everything. Your practicality and pragmatism can often go a lot further than your existing knowledge base. Alison Mulligan Head of BI & Key Accounts, Maximus

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