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September 16, 2019

8 Tips to Ace Your Next IT Job Interview

The Secrets Behind Acing Every IT Job Interview Ever

Very few IT professionals truly enjoy the interview process, yet it comes with the territory. If you want to move up in this industry and forge a successful career, a willingness to interview for various positions with different employers is a necessity. It also helps to be a skilled interviewee. And believe it or not, this is a talent you can acquire.

IT Job Interviews: 8 Powerful Tips for Success

Why do most people find job interviews intimidating and scary? In most cases, it has nothing to do with the employer, the position, or the people conducting the interview. Typically, it has to do with feelings of inadequacy.

If you think back to your last few job interviews and rank them from least intimidating to most intimidating, you’ll discover that you were most intimidated by the ones that you felt least prepared for. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you were most at ease when you felt fully prepared. Thus, the formula for acing a job interview – in the IT field or any other industry – is to better prepare for the experience.

Below, you’ll find some of the top tips and suggestions for acing your next job interview with ease. Take a look:

1. Research the Company

Naturally, this is the first place to start. If you’re interviewing for another position with your current employer, this is pretty easy. You already know the ins and outs of the organization, what the culture is like, and what sorts of traits and skills are being sought. If you’re interviewing with another company, you’ll have to do some extra digging to uncover their core values, strategies, and plans.

Likewise, it’s wise to research the interviewers. Assuming you know who will be conducting the interview, snoop around online to find out more. LinkedIn (News - Alert) profiles, company “about us” pages, social media posts, and press releases are all helpful resources. If you have a mutual connection, tap them for potentially valuable insights.

2. Prepare for the Low Hanging Fruit

You can’t practice every single interview question that could be thrown at you, but you can get comfortable with the low hanging fruit. Based on your past interview experiences and general understanding of the position you’re interviewing for, there are probably three to five questions you know will be asked. Preparing answers for these ahead of time will give you some much-needed confidence.

3. Practice Live Interview Questions

Most people practice their responses to interview questions on their own. But there’s a discernable difference between answering questions in your head and actually looking a person in the eye as you talk. That’s why you should always practice live interview questions with a friend, coworker, or spouse.

4. Hone Your Soft Skills

“Often, those working in the tech industry are assumed to be socially awkward. While this works in movies and television shows, employers have found that many IT professionals possess as many interpersonal skills as anyone else,” job search expert Alison Doyle writes.

Soft skills like communication, leadership, creativity, flexibility, poise, and high emotional intelligence are all important. In addition to clearly conveying your technical competencies, make your soft skills stand out too. If you’re up against another candidate with the same tech skills, it’s these soft skills that could win you the job.

5. Plan Your Outfit Ahead of Time

Don’t make the mistake of waking up on the morning of your job interview and picking out your attire. This is an underrated aspect of the job interview and you should plan your outfit in advance.

As a rule of thumb, it’s always better to be overdressed than undressed. Having said that, you don’t want to show up in a three-piece suit if everyone in the company wears t-shirts and jeans. For casual workplaces, think dressy-casual attire (dark jeans, t-shirt, and blazer for guys / a neutral-colored dress or a blouse with dress pants or a knee-length skirt). For more professional workplaces, business suits are the way to go.

6. Get a Great Night of Sleep

Cramming for a job interview the night before won’t do you any favors. You’re much better off getting a good night of sleep. In fact, you should make a habit of getting good, consistent sleep for a week or two leading up to the interview.

“Going to bed at the same time each day can help set your circadian rhythm, which refers to a selection of behavioral, physical, and mental changes that follow a 24-hour cycle,” Perfect Cloud explains. “When you have a consistent bedtime, it helps your internal clock predict when it's time to induce sleep.”

A well-optimized sleep schedule will help you wake up feeling refreshed. You’ll also find that it’s easier to think clearly and make wise decisions. If your job interview is in the morning, the quality of your sleep will have a direct impact on the quality of your interview.

7. Come Prepared

Show up to your job interview 15 minutes early and treat everyone you encounter with respect. From the janitor and secretary to the individuals conducting the interview, you’re making a first impression with each conversation and smile. These small details don’t go unnoticed. (Many interviewers will actually ask for feedback from secretaries and other individuals within the company.)

It’s also important to come with the right items on hand. Bring multiple copies of your resume. (There’s nothing worse than only having three copies when there are four interviewers. Print 10 copies if you have to!) Carrying a notebook and pen also makes you look more prepared. Jot down notes during the interview to show that you’re engaged.

8. Send Thank You Notes

Whether you think you nailed the interview or flopped, it’s a good idea to send hand-written thank you notes to each of the interviewers (and anyone else you interacted with). For best results, put them in the mail the same day.

Learn From the Experience

Even if you ace a job interview, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get the job. The interview is typically just one component of the process. Employers are also looking at your resume, references, and technical competency. But regardless of whether you get an offer or not, it’s important that you learn from the experience.

As a general rule of thumb, take meticulous notes after any job interview. Whether it’s physically jotting down a recap in a journal, typing up notes in a Word document, or turning on your phone’s voice recording app on the drive home, there’s something to be said for recapping what happened as soon as possible. The mind is a fickle thing – so don’t let too much time go by without recording what happened.

The best method of documenting an interview is to write down the questions you were asked, the areas of the interview where you believe you excelled, and the areas of the interview where you shot yourself in the foot. If anything caught you off guard, make a note of it also.

You’ll likely be part of dozens of IT job interviews over your career. Recording notes from one interview may not seem very helpful. However, over time, you’ll be able to look back at notes from 10, 15, or 20 different job interviews and gather insights in preparation for the next one. If nothing else, it’ll give you the confidence to embrace the experience and succeed.

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