Today, the demand for IT professionals continues to strengthen as technology advances. But, as the market continues to grow, so do expectations for the professionals who are interviewing for these newly created positions. Companies are no longer only looking for candidates with foundational knowledge of common tech practices—they want people with expert-level knowledge of the processes being sought, as well as the soft skills needed to fit into the company’s culture.
“To assess whether a candidate has these skills and qualities, hiring managers are asking an entirely new set of questions,” says John Carey, a Senior Technical Recruiter in The Execu|Search Group’s Information Technology division. “While it’s impossible to know the exact questions you’ll be asked, there are a variety of ways you can prepare.”
Unsure of where to start? Here are four things to anticipate during an interview:
The situational question
As the tech space has shifted, so too have the types of questions an interviewer asks. For example, many of the questions asked during an IT interview are situational and require you to be able to discuss past processes you oversaw and/or participated in, and how they relate to the role at hand. “Employers are primarily concerned with how a potential employee will be able to apply their skills to a situation they may face at the company,” John explains. “Be sure you have an idea of how the skills you currently possess can support the operations of the company you’re hoping to work for.”
When responding to this type of question, be sure to explain the reasoning behind your decision or approach. This will help the interviewer see how you think on your feet, address challenges, and utilize your expertise.
The trick question
Many companies utilize systems and processes that are specifically tailored to their needs. Because of this, don’t be surprised if and when a hiring manager asks you whether or not you know these systems or technologies despite never having worked at the company before.
“During an interview, a hiring manager may try and bait you into talking about a process or skill you may not have used before,” John explains. “If you don’t have experience with the technology, it’s best to be honest. When doing so, let them know you are willing to go the extra mile to learn that skill—provide them with an example of a time where you have done this in the past.”
Whether this project was related to a project or your own personal development, this can prove that you make the effort to keep your skills up-to-date—a trait that most employers look out for in IT professionals, as this usually implies that they can push business forward in times of change.
The question about your skills
Before you go in for an interview, you’ll want to make sure you’re familiar with all of the skills listed on your resume. Since so much of your success as an IT professional relies on your ability to understand and utilize various coding structures and programs, being able to communicate that knowledge during the interview can either make or break your chances of landing the job. Before the interview, be sure to review your resume and be able to talk about relevant skills and projects at length.
The question about your communication skills
Regardless of the type of IT role you’re in, being able to discuss your work with people who don’t share the same knowledge as you is crucial to success. For a hiring manager, it’s important for them to know that, regardless of who you are talking to, you’ll be able to help them understand the specifics of what tasks you need to carry out. “To evaluate your ability to communicate with clients or company executives, you may be asked about a challenge you overcame or a project you oversaw,” says John. “That being said, how well you are able to articulate yourself is key.”