The hardest bit about landing a great IT job is getting the interview. By that stage you will probably have passed one or more certification exams, spent countless months studying and prepping and applied for anything from 10 to 100 jobs.
If you’ve got this far you are in a very strong position so don’t mess this up! I’ve interviewed a lot of people for IT roles, been interviewed and worked with senior hiring staff for many companies. I’m actually planning to write an entire book about getting hired but for now I just want to cover the job interview.
You will usually be called for the job interview after some sort of technical interview. This could be in person, via a time online test or a phone interview. For my Cisco job, I had to do all three before being called in for the ‘interview.’
I’ve seen so many people fall over at this step, often for the silliest reasons. Top of the list is a simple lack of preparation. Take my police entrance exams for example. It was 20 push-ups, 20 burpees, 20 sit-ups and a timed run. 90% of the people in the room (there were 50 of us) couldn’t get past 10 push-ups. Bear in mind that we had been given the requirements many months before the dates.
What’s mind-boggling is that they must have turned up knowing either they couldn’t do 20 push-ups or have never tried!
Back to IT
I don’t have the room to cover all the lead up to this point so I’ll just cover interview prep and actual interview technique.
First and foremost, you MUST research the company you are being interviewed by. What industry do they work in? Have there been any big announcements on their website, blog or social media? If it’s important to the company then you should know about it.
Research the company history, who is on the board and what are their backgrounds. What is their mission statement and company ethos? It should all be found on their website or any articles you can find.
Next, research the job role. What skills and qualities did they ask for in the job advert? Is there anybody you can ask who works there or do you know anybody who knows anybody? Check Linked-In or any other networking websites. Find out if you know anybody who used to work there. Websites Glassdoor.com is full of company reviews from former employees. Use it to gather intelligence.
There is a bank of questions you will typically be asked. You must be prepared for them with some sort of well researched and appropriate answer.
Here are the usual suspects:
- Why did you apply for this job?
- What do you understand about the role?
- What do you know about the company?
- What do you consider your greatest strengths?
- What do you consider your greatest weakness?
Then there are the trap questions. Not all jobs are good jobs. I fell foul of this and ended up being on all 24/7 for one company who said they wanted somebody who was ‘flexible’.
Beware veiled questions trying to establish if you are easily bullied into working overtime for free, on call for no extra money or prepared to get up at 3am to drive to a customers site 200 miles away with no notice. I’ve seen this happen to many friends and work colleagues.
Also, beware salaries which seem attractive until you find out you are working more than the national average working hours. At Cisco, many of us were expected to show up at 7am and work through our lunch until 6 or 7pm each night due to a heavy workload.
Please take some time to prepare intelligent questions to show you are keen and well informed about the company and role. Questions such as:
- Do you do any internal training or do I train myself?
- Do you encourage us to pass IT certification exams?
- What will my role involve?
- Will I be customer facing or support internal staff?
Some of my worst roles involved supporting the general public or internal staff who had no idea how to send an email or find a spell checker in MS Word. My best was ticket based only and all tickets went through a helpdesk who would call the customer if more information was required.
This is just a primer but it’s really important you are prepared for the final hurdle. My full IT career training courses can be found by clicking the image.