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How to Prepare for Today’s IT Interview

How to Prepare for Today’s IT Interview

An IT Hiring Manager's Insight

By Joe Issid
Monster Tech Jobs Expert

IT recruiting has evolved tremendously over the last decade so it is incredibly important for job seekers to be aware of the paradigm shift that is occurring within this sector. As organisations have become much more IT-friendly, clients are expecting the same in return. No longer a black box, IT structures are invaluable providers that rely heavily on providing quality service so they need to be staffed to accommodate these evolving - and demanding - needs. To prepare for an upcoming IT interview, be sure to keep these IT tips in your mind.

Be an IT Softie

Soft skills are valued in today's workforce, regardless of the role that you may hold within an organisation. Your future boss wants to make sure she can trust you to interact with peers, suppliers and, most importantly, her clients. Employers are becoming more willing to invest in a well-spoken junior resource that they can train rather than a guru who does not communicate well. The IT dinosaur is rapidly becoming extinct.

To wit:  be friendly, stay natural and show them how awesome you are. Many candidates are understandably nervous and assume more rigid ‘interview’ personas. Don’t. You have a personality: use it! Always remember, if they are taking the time to meet with you, they want to like you. It is in their interest to like you. Let them.

Be Honest About Your Knowledge

A necessary evil of applying for an IT job is the technical interview. Yes, technical interviews can be harrowing affairs. There is often a very defined answer to a question and you either know it or you don't so be honest if you don't. Nothing makes an interview more uncomfortable than listening to a candidate take wild guesses at answering questions. It will make you sound and feel insecure and will surely impact the tone of the meeting.

Be honest and say that you do not know while offering up suggestions on how you would go about finding the answer. This will demonstrate your ability to solve problems and to think critically. If you are caught in a 50-50 proposition, argue both sides of the equation to illustrate the merit of each. Your interviewer is not necessarily looking for the right answer; he is looking to see how you would go about arriving at an answer. This helps keep the momentum on your side and will keep the interview on stronger ground.

Steer the Conversation

This is a universal interview tactic: try and keep the conversation focused on your strengths. In fact, go one step further. If you are applying for UNIX sys admin position and you have, say, experience managing Active Directory, it does not hurt to discuss it.

An IT-oriented organisation is always looking for multi-skilled resources that can fill in knowledge gaps. Stating your cross-platform skills can put you in the running for other career opportunities you don’t know about at that company.

Keep in mind that companies hate turning away multi-talented candidates, unless of course they have irritating personalities.

Be Enthusiastic with Your Enthusiasm!

Interviewers love enthusiastic candidates. If you demonstrate a confident, positive attitude, an interviewer will feel far more at ease and far more likely to want to engage you. In addition to your technical aptitude and personality, an interviewer wants to make sure that you will be happy if you are awarded the position. Feel free to ask about training programs and professional IT certification as a means of showing a passion for learning and advancement.

Also, find some positive non-work-related attributes that you can mention that will assure the interviewer that you will want to join her team. For instance, if you live close to the office, mention what a pleasure the commute will be for you; if you are a coffee drinker, mention how happy you are to have a Starbucks across the street.Interviewing candidates costs an organisation time and money so they want to make sure that they get it right. Graduating from candidate to employee has as much to do with enthusiasm as aptitude and experience.

Get Your Geek On

When in the throes of a technical discussion, feel free to open the doors to your personal interests and opinions on the topics at hand. You’re in a room with like-minded people so they will naturally be interested in discussing mutually interesting topics. Take advantage! This probably doesn’t happen nearly as often as you’d like, right?

If you are being asked about the merits of MySQL partitioning, feel free to discuss your experiences with, say, MongoDB sharding and why that did or did not succeed. This will help you to connect to the interviewer and form a rapport quickly.
Interviews do not need to be uncomfortable nerve-wracking episodes in your career. If you’re still feeling nervous, just remember that the interviewer wants the meeting to succeed as much as you do. Do your best to be positive and engaging so that the interviewer can get a good sense of who you are and how you’ll fit into the job and the company. 
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