We’ve put together a few tips to help I.T. experts make a great first impression during an interview.
RESEARCH THE ORGANIZATION.
Knowing more about your potential employer can help you feel more confident, answer questions more directly, and stand out from other candidates. As a minimum, read about the fundamentals of what the organization does, when it was established, the size, and what market they serve. Read the company’s Career Page on their website to learn about the attributes they look for, and what they offer. Look up any bios you can find about key personnel and anything you can learn about the person interviewing you. Caution on memorizing the material verbatim, as you may sound scripted. The goal isn’t to ‘showcase’ what you’ve learned, it’s to present it naturally if you’re asked, or incorporate what you know into a reply.
MATCH YOUR EXPERIENCE TO A ROLE.
Reflect on how your skills, experience and interests fit with the job description. This is an area that candidates are often ill prepared for—even though it’s what should be top of mind! Read each line of the job description one by one, and consider what you have done that is the same or similar as the description. If you have no experience in a part of the role, think of what you’ve done that is similar (in your community, volunteering, or at school).
PREPARE ANSWERS TO THE MOST COMMON QUESTIONS.
You can guess at the top five questions any interviewer will ask—so be sure you have a strong reply that is clear, brief, positive and memorable. Review sample interview questions.
DRESS THE PART.
We used to say ‘dress for success’ but the truth today is that dress codes are extremely variable. You want to dress slightly better than the role to which you’ve applied, but not significantly higher. You want to be approachable to the interviewer and the team you may join. If it’s a casual environment (jeans and t-shirts), wear dress pants and a collared shirt. For women, business attire is highly variable. Attempt to mimic the work setting to which you are interviewing. Look at the website for clues, and ask us about the environment.
Sometimes the pressure of the interview takes over, and your mind focuses on your next reply. When you miss the chance to hear a clue, your dialogue with the interviewer may be stunted. Actively listen for tips about the job itself, about what they are looking for, and about the interviewer. To test memory and listening skills, some interviewers may ask you at the end to enumerate what you remember about them or what they told you during the interview.
WATCH YOUR BODY LANGUAGE, AND YOUR TONE.
To gain control over your nerves, sit forward and sit straight. Put one hand in the other, or put your hands on your thighs—and don’t move around incessantly. Remember to smile when you can, as smiling creates a positive dialogue. Some interviewers will intentionally put you on the spot to make you feel defensive; this is normally to see how you may react to feedback or instruction. Don’t allow yourself to get defensive. Say “thank you for asking me that,” then collect your thoughts and offer your input.
EXUDE INTEREST AND POSITIVITY.
Companies are looking to hire candidates that will positively contribute to their projects and teams. When the interviewer raises an element of the job, say “Yes, I’d be interested in that.” Don’t leave them guessing.
LEAVE SALARY, VACATION AND BENEFITS TO THE OFFER STAGE.
Be prepared to discuss compensation, but don’t be the one to raise it. If the interviewer raises salary, refrain from saying “I’ll take anything” but also avoid suddenly shooting up your salary expectations. If you must state a salary, offer a range that makes sense based on the labour market and what the job advertisement has indicated about the company’s suggested salary. You could say “I’m currently earning $XX,000. Based on my experience, I’d like to earn $XX,000 (more). However, I’m keenly interested in this organization, and I’d accept a reasonable offer.” Let them make an offer and then you can decide.
PREPARE A FEW QUESTIONS TO ASK DURING THE INTERVIEW.
You may be asked if you have any questions. This is a polite invitation by the interviewer to give you a chance to clear up any concerns you may have. This is not the time to take out a list of 15 questions you prepared and deluge the interviewer with them all.
FOLLOW UP AFTER THE INTERVIEW.
Before leaving the interview, ensure you have the proper contact information for each person you met. If appropriate, you can ask the interviewer(s) for their business card. If not, ask the Receptionist for their email addresses on the way out so that you can send them a thank you note later that day. Your thank you note should be personalized. You should thank the interviewer(s) for his/her time and for considering your candidacy. This is also a good opportunity for you to reiterate your strengths – but remember to keep it brief!