If you’ve been thinking about a new tech job, 2019 might be a worthwhile year to dust off your resume and put yourself out there. A recent survey from Robert Half Technology found that 63 percent of IT hiring managers plan to expand their tech teams during the next six months.
Tech talent has been in high demand for a while now, but the Robert Half survey points to security, cloud, and business intelligence skills as the most desirable right now. “If IT professionals want to develop their career, now is a great time to get training in these areas or start looking for a new job,” says John Reed, executive vice president of Robert Half.
[ Arm yourself for IT job interviews with winning tactics and relevant data. Get our new eBook: IT job searching in 2019: A practical guide. ]
Of course, you have to get your foot in the door first. We’ve rounded up a list of ultimate IT job interview tips to help you stand out from the pack and make a good impression.
On preparing for IT job interviews...
Do your research:
“To prep for the interview, one important step is to research the employer. Be able to speak about their products and services, what challenges or competitors the company may have and any ideas you can add to the conversation. Come with good questions to ask the hiring manager about their current projects, the role, and the company culture – this will show how genuinely interested you are in the position,” says Reed. “Make sure you can speak well about your previous experience and technical skills, too. Practice any technical questions they may ask; rehearsing responses with a friend can often help.”
Don’t embellish on a resume:
“Whatever is on a resume will most likely get brought up in an interview, so if a job seeker says they have knowledge with a certain program, but it's minimal (or even nonexistent), it will come out in an interview, putting them back at square one,” says Brandon Parezo, team lead of technology services at LaSalle Network. “Many companies will incorporate a technical interview or tech screen into the interview process, so any inaccuracies or deficiencies in certain skills will come out during that process.”
Tap your network for referrals:
“Communicate and connect with your network. Regardless of their background, let them know you are actively seeking a new opportunity and ask who in their organization you should reach out to,” says Lauren Mowers, branch manager of the IT division at Addison Group. “Connecting directly with a hiring manager through a referral may yield a better response than applying directly."
Be specific about your fit for the role:
“Utilize the company’s job description when formulating responses to questions,” says Parezo. “When preparing for an interview, candidates should print out the job description for the role and highlight the areas they have experience in. Then, reflect on projects and tasks they’ve worked on that showcase that experience. Professionals should talk about the skills gained doing those projects and how they have prepared them for the role they’re interviewing for. It’s important they familiarize themselves with the job description and tailor their interview responses for the specific role.”
Prepare three questions to ask everyone:
“No doubt, each interviewer will ask you if you have any questions at the end of the interview. The most disappointing response I get at the end of an interview I conduct is when a candidate responds with, ‘No, all my questions have been answered,’” says Colleen Schlagel, chief talent officer at Sovos. “This is a missed opportunity. Prepare three questions that you ask everyone you interview with. Often, candidates will ask all their questions to the first person they speak with, and they are out of questions by the time they talk with the key leader on the team. Choose three questions that are important to you, ask everyone those same questions, and then you can judge how consistent and aligned their responses are to gauge the culture of the organization. If you get a bunch of scattered or negative answers, be wary!”
Schlagel suggests adding these questions to your list:
- How would you describe the culture of the company?
- What are the attributes to make someone here successful?
- Why are you passionate about working here?
On making a good impression at an IT job interview...
Don’t rush or be overly confident:
“While candidates may have the upper hand in the current job market, they shouldn’t overlook the hiring process. You still need to put time and effort into your resume and interview preparation. Let the hiring manager focus on your skills and experience, instead of a potentially sloppy resume or mistakes during the interview,” says Reed.
Find common ground:
“Do your research, because it is essential and will impress those that you interview with,” says Schlagel. “Ask who you will be meeting with and research that person on LinkedIn. Find any common interests or different backgrounds you can bring up or ask about in the interview.”
Treat virtual interviews the same as in-person meetings:
“While Skype interviews are becoming increasingly common, professionals can still struggle with them,” says Parezo. “The key is to prepare for and treat a Skype interview the same way as an in-person interview. Be early and make sure your Internet connection, Skype, and your webcam are all working properly at least 10 minutes before the scheduled interview time. Make sure to be in a quiet, well-lit place. This is the first impression candidates make, and because it’s virtual, it’s easy for someone to become too casual. While the interview may take place from home, it's important to still dress nicely and put on a suit or blazer. This shows a hiring manager that the candidate is taking it seriously.”
On standing out at IT job interviews….
Go beyond obvious questions:
“Employers want to know a potential employee is truly interested in their company and/or the role. A great way to showcase genuine interest is through the questions a candidate asks throughout the interview,” says Parezo. “For example, asking who the top performer on the team is and why, instead of asking what the vacation plan is like, will set a candidate apart. When a candidate asks about top performers, it shows the candidate is interested in getting to know what makes the team work well together and the qualities that make someone a good employee.”
Don’t neglect the social niceties:
“When you show up for the interview, demonstrate your interpersonal skills with a firm handshake and attentiveness throughout the conversation. And always send a thank-you note after an interview,” says Reed. “Little things like these can make a lasting, positive impression with hiring managers.”
On sticking with IT job interviews…
Invest in continued learning:
“If a technology professional has been on the job hunt for a while, they might want to consider continuing their education to show they want to keep learning and staying up-to-date on changing technologies. This could mean earning a certification, taking an online course or enrolling in a bootcamp. The key is for job seekers to show that they are investing in their career and don’t want to stay stagnant,” says Parezo.
Examine whether you're being authentic:
“I have seen too many candidates who aren’t authentic during interviews or hiring managers who believe they can change a candidate once they are hired. This is not sustainable, and the real person will always come through,” says Schlagel. “Just be you. There is a great match, culture, and work environment out there for who you are. As much as looking for a new job can be scary, just know that you have vital talents, and you and your prospective company just need to find the right match to help those talents prosper.”
[ What skills are hot? What certifications pay off? Read also: 5 IT job trends to watch in 2019. ]
Subscribe to our newsletter.
Keep up with the latest advice and insights from CIOs and IT leaders.
Excellent article, Carla!