As the technology industry continues to thrive, IT professionals constantly need to find ways to stay competitive in today’s job market. While it is important to have strong technical knowledge of in-demand programming languages within the industry, possessing the right combination of soft skills and personality traits may be the best way to stand out against competition throughout the interview process.
Our Information Technology experts know just how important it is for IT job seekers to have strong interviewing skills to increase their odds of landing a job. For example, Erin Donovan, Director of The Execu|Search Group’s IT division in our Waltham, MA office, regularly speaks with IT hiring managers about what they want to see from candidates during interviews to make a good first impression. “Too often IT candidates rely solely on their technical knowledge to speak for the value they could bring to a position, but they should be more cognizant of other areas of their professional profile, like their adaptability or communication skills, that will show prospective employers they’re a well-rounded IT professional,” says Erin.
To ensure you’re putting your best foot forward during every interview, avoid these common interview blunders.
Know your resume from A to Z
This may come as a no brainer for most professionals, however, many IT job seekers tend to overlook certain parts of the job descriptions they’ve listed on their resume. “If you are like most job seekers, you should tailor your resume specifically for the role you are interested in, and be prepared to articulate how your past experiences have positioned you to be effective in the role you’re interviewing for,” recommends Erin. Remember, anything listed on your resume can be questioned by an interviewer, so, make sure you review the technologies, programs, and responsibilities that align with the role you want before your interview.
Strong communication skills are a must
In a highly specialized field like IT, the programming skills you possess are just the beginning of what can make you an attractive candidate. As a job seeker, while you should be able to confidently speak about your technical capabilities, how you present yourself during an interview through your communication skills and body language is just as important.
Good communication skills during an interview are also a reflection of your listening skills, which gives prospective employers an idea of how well you can take direction or work with others based on your responses. For example, focusing too much on yourself for certain answers could potentially be interpreted as arrogance if communicated improperly, which is usually seen as a red flag to prospective employers because it suggests that you aren’t a team player. “IT job seekers must find the balance between integrating their knowledge of technology with using effective communication to collaborate with others to accomplish business goals,” says Jen Bennett, an Account Executive within The Execu|Search Group’s Parsippany, NJ office who works within the IT space. The better you are able to showcase your technical skills with making critical business decisions will make you a more desirable candidate by prospective employers.
Research the company and your audience
Before every interview, it’s important to spend time thoroughly researching different aspects of the company as well as the interviewer(s) you’d be meeting with. These resources will bring you up to speed on current events the company is involved with, and will enable you to comfortably speak about the type of role you want to play in the company’s growth. “Prospective employers are more likely to move forward with an IT candidate that can reference current/recent company initiatives to emphasize how their technical skills and personality are best suited to serve the organization’s needs,” highlights Jen.
Ask job-specific questions
The type of questions you ask is another way that prospective employers can gauge your overall interest in the role. Therefore, prospective candidates should prepare a list of thoughtful questions that will not only give you insight into the company culture or team environment, but will also help you dig deeper into specific job functions/projects you’d be responsible for. For example, a question like “What’s the most pressing task for your team now?” shows your prospective employer you’re proactively thinking about ways to add value to current projects if hired. Posing such job-specific questions may give you a better idea of certain technologies and processes you’d be expected to use/learn and the demands you may have to meet.
A follow-up “Thank You” note is a must
After every interview, you should send a thank you note as a general courtesy to the interviewers for considering you for the position. A quick note to your prospective employer will not only let them know you are serious about the position, but it will also be a reminder of your communication skills and overall professionalism. Keep in mind, a well-written thank you note is your opportunity to be a bit more personable with a prospective employer and tie up any loose ends you may have about the position.