10 Empowerment Tips for Your Next I.T. Interview
A few years back, I had an interview lined up for Google (I’m talking big-time), that I wanted to work for. I usually stand out in interviews, because I’m great with people and I can break down I.T. concepts with ease. Someone in my circle asked me about preparing for the interview, and I just brushed them off.
My mindset was: I don’t need to prep, I got this!
Man, when I tell you how hard I bombed that interview!! It was straight embarrassing. I knew then, that no matter what your personality type or what you think you know, you should always prepare for interviews if you want the position.
That’s why I want to empower you with the tips below to help you navigate your interview process like a pro.
1. Read the entire job description-this is your roadmap!
Typically, the main components of the job are listed in the job description. Make sure you have a general knowledge of what is being asked of you for the role. If there is something you don’t know or understand, do an online search or reach out to a mentor or colleague, who may have some insight into it.
This might also be a prime item to discuss when it’s your turn to ask questions during the interview (we will discuss this further in tip #7).
2. Ask a mentor, manager, or someone who has previously interviewed you for feedback and tips.
A mentor or manager will usually have extensive experience in the interview process. They will likely give you some great tips to use during your interview that you did not think of yourself.
Having a conversation with someone who previously interviewed you, will help you better understand your interview weaknesses and strengths. Use that knowledge to keep doing what you do best, and to fix any weaknesses for the next interview.
Reach out to a mentor or manager, and schedule a 15–20-minute chat to discuss your upcoming interview. Have a list of questions ready, take plenty of notes, and do not waste their time.
3. Talk to someone in the company, department, or previously in the role.
Any insight that you receive from the inside is invaluable. If you don’t know someone in the company, someone you know might know someone in the company and can make an introduction.
It is a great advantage if you can talk to someone who knows specific details about the position, so you can have a better understanding before going into the interview. They might even know the person that is interviewing you and can give some wisdom into the person’s personality or interview style.
With the person’s permission, it is okay to mention that you spoke with them before the interview, because it shows that you take initiative and wanted to prepare for the interview.
Even if you speak with someone in the company unrelated to the role you are applying for, they can help you understand the overall culture of the company.
4. Conduct online research of typical questions for the position you are interviewing for.
Let’s say you are trying to move into a management position — be prepared to describe in detail how you will motivate your team, how you will deal with under-performing employees, etc.
If you are applying for something you have never done before, still have examples of how you overcame similar situations. Your thought process and approach to comparable scenarios are great examples to show your preparedness and ability to perform well in the position.
5. Use the STAR Interview Method.
To answer interview questions efficiently, structure your answers by describing the situation, what your task was, what action you took, and the result you received. This method helps you streamline your responses and give the interviewer the overall picture of your past work experiences.
6. Perform a mock interview.
How many times have you wished you said something differently or had more time to think of a better example to convey your skillset after an interview was over? Even though you cannot know exactly which questions will be asked of you in a particular interview, it’s always best to be prepared for a variety of questions.
Practice answering questions on your own, or have someone ask you questions. This will boost your confidence and reduce anxiety during the interview, which leads to you coming across as a more poised and professional candidate.
Make sure your responses are natural and don’t sound like a rehearsed answer.
7. Prepare a list of questions to ask the interviewer.
Always write or type out a list of prepared questions to ask during the interview. Never interview and not ask any questions, because asking questions shows your genuine interest in the position. Not asking questions always looks bad and can keep you from getting the job even if you are a top candidate.
Use your questions to show you are interested in knowing as much as you can about the position. Make sure you have a range of questions to gain more insight into the role itself, the department, the company, upcoming projects, or future changes this role may develop into. You want to use your questions to show the interviewer that you are thinking beyond receiving a paycheck and benefits from them.
This is your opportunity to ensure the role and/or company is the best fit for you as well.
8. Take notes during the interview.
Before the interview gets started, ask if it is okay to take notes. This can be a great tool as the interviewer usually explains certain aspects of the role in more detail. You may not be able to remember exactly what was said later, not want to interrupt them for a question at that moment, or simply need to jot something down to come back to later in the interview.
Taking notes also helps when you have follow-up interviews, so you have a reference to build upon the previous discussion when preparing for the next steps in the interview process.
9. Know the platform for virtual interviews.
Make sure you are familiar with the system being used for the interview. There is nothing worse than an I.T. candidate having technical issues during an interview. Log on to the system a day before to ensure your lighting and background look great, and you know how to navigate everything like a professional. You don’t want to add any distractions or give any reason to doubt your abilities.
10. Follow-up after the interview.
Before the end of the day, send a quick email thanking them for their time and consideration of you for the role. Briefly mention something from the interview that stood out to you, or something you forgot to mention that you feel would help you become the selected candidate.
Remember to keep it brief and very professional. You may or may not receive a response, but always send the thank you email anyway.
11. Bonus Tip — Dress to impress
Whether we like it or not, interviewing is a necessary means to move into a new position or career. Unless you want to stay at the same company and in the same position for your entire career, mastering the art of interviewing is a great addition to your professional development arsenal. As you continue to get your certifications, get empowered in interviewing too!
Don’t forget to #LabEveryday