Any way you view it, job interviews are challenging for candidates, and particularly arduous for those in the technology industry. IT candidates are expected to exemplify all of the typical traits of strong interviewees in any other industry, like confidence, professionalism, and demonstration of cultural fit, and they must also have extensive knowledge of a wide range of technological applications. Then, while dazzling the interviewer with their skills and qualifications, candidates also have to manage jittery nerves, awkward pauses, and difficult interview questions. Preparing for the questions you will be asked can be one of the hardest parts of IT job interview. You don’t know what they are in advance, and there aren’t any cheat sheets or Cliff’s Notes to reference. It’s up to you to spend plenty of time in advance to ensure you’re prepared for what may be asked when you sit down at the table. In the end, you can wear the nicest suit or dress and be a perfect fit for a role, but if you can’t articulately answer questions about your experience, you may not land the job.
IT Interview Prep 101: Anticipate Possible Questions and Answers
While it’s impossible to know exactly what an interviewer could ask you, there are some general employment questions, as well as tough behavioral and trick questions, that are routinely asked by organizations large and small in the technology industry. Knowing what some of these are, and having answers ready to go, can be a difference maker.
Why is there a gap in your work history?
This is a common question no matter what your industry, but can be a tricky one to answer. Stay confident and have a practical and honest explanation for your situation. When possible, demonstrate any new skills you learned during the gap or ways that you were proactive to keep abreast of the industry and trends.
Why is a manhole cover round?
Made famous by Google interviewers of years past, this type of question is asked to see your thought process and not necessarily asked to see if you can come up with the right answer. While the answer is “round,” as a square cover could be twisted and fall through diagonally, it’s more about how you end up at whatever answer you do and why. A quick Internet search of “brain teaser interview questions” can give you a sense of the types of questions that are out there, but also remember to rely on your instincts as you answer whatever may be thrown at you.
Describe a challenging boss/colleague you’ve worked with. How did you make the situation successful?… and other behavioral questions
Another category of questions that are asked to watch your mind at work, behavioral questions often focus on how you handled a specific issue, conflict or opportunity. While you can’t know specifically what the content of these types of questions may be, you can be well prepared by having scenarios ready in your mind of times you were a good leader, achieved a goal under pressure or even dealt with disappointment on the job.
Handling Tough Questions Under Pressure
In addition to preparing yourself for specific types of tough questions, there are a number of general tips to keep your cool and carry on with an interview. If you’re unprepared to answer a specific interview question, let the interviewer know that you don’t know the answer but would like to take some time to think about it and talk at a later date. While this may not always be appropriate if you’re truly at a loss at the moment, but know you are capable of answering the question well, it can help the interview move along smoothly. Sometimes when a recruiter calls you and puts you on the spot about an opening, it’s because you’ve applied for several different jobs or indicated you’re open to various jobs within a specific field. If you need some time to regroup and take a look at the job description, speak up and let the recruiter know. It’s better to be upfront rather than fumble through an interview! Whether you’re on the phone, or at an in-person interview, have your resume in front of you. You want to be able to reference your successes easily and quickly – as well as answer any resume-specific questions while having the conversation.
Do your homework!
This is not a new piece of advice, but one that believes it or not is often overlooked. If you can help it, never go into any kind of interview without at least doing a little research on the organization. A quick Internet search and exploration of a company’s web site are key to being an informed interviewee. Do a quick Google search to make sure you’re familiar with all of the technologies that are mentioned in a job posting, even if they are variations of what you’ve used in the past. It’s better to at least demonstrate that you’ve heard of the technology, or know its basic function, than drawing a blank during the interview. While interview prep is essential to being successful in landing a new role, there isn’t a silver bullet to job interviews, no matter what your field. Preparation is key to setting yourself up for success, but it’s important to remember that timing and luck also play a part. Above all, do your best, spend some time doing your homework and present yourself in the best possible light.
Reach out to one of our IT Recruiters to assist you in your search and preparation with one of our clients.