IT Interview Do’s and Don’ts

Knowing the unspoken rules of job interviews is key to securing a graduate job with tech companies.
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Ivy
Ivy Simon
Editorial Writer
Knowing the unspoken rules of job interviews is key to securing a graduate job with tech companies.

You are more likely to succeed in a job interview if you are aware of what is and isn’t acceptable during one. That being said, don’t just focus on your answers to interview questions, as an interview is a two-way process between you and your potential employer. 

Remember that an interview is a chance for you to assess your recruiters as well! You should ask intelligent questions of your own that reflect on you as a candidate, and also help you decide whether the position and the company are a suitable fit for you.

Do:

Be proactive 

A job interview should be a decision-making process for both you and the hiring managers. Interviewers want to feel confident that you fully comprehend the position and believe it is a good fit for you. You should take every chance you get to find out more the position that you are applying, and to get a good understanding of the job. 

You can start by asking the specifics of the day-to-day responsibilities, training and development opportunities, what past/current employees have been working on, and your interviewers’ backgrounds (if they are working in the field you are applying for). 

Make use of your interpersonal skills

Since IT professionals often work on projects in teams, your interviewers will be trying to determine if you can communicate effectively with others.  

Be polite and respectful, speak as clearly and simply as possible, and clarify points when in doubt. Use language and terms that come more naturally to you, instead of trying to pretend to be someone you’re not. Your goal is to give your interviewers the impression of a responsible and mature applicant who knows how to communicate with others in a professional setting. 

Emphasise your skill set

What else can you bring to the table as a graduate in technology or computing? How do you intend to demonstrate the skills that you possess? These are some of the questions in your interviewers’ heads that you will have to address. 

Use the opportunity to emphasise the technical skills, programming languages, or capabilities that you are most confident in, while giving examples to show how you’ve applied them in real life. Don’t be shy about selling yourself by talking about your strengths – that is literally what interviews want you to do!

Don’t neglect your soft skills as well. Make sure you highlight examples showing how you used both technical and soft skills to achieve goals (e.g. working with a team of other interns to troubleshoot bugs in an app). That will make you stand out as a good candidate. 

Be transparent

As a fresh graduate, no one expects you to be experienced in your field or to know everything about it. So there is no shame in admitting to your weaknesses in specific areas. What is most important is that you are willing to learn and improve on your weak points. 

You can do this by highlighting to interviewers  how you used past activities to overcome previous weaknesses, such as taking online courses, joining extracurricular activities and so on. Likewise, you can also talk about the steps you would hypothetically take to solve an unfamiliar problem or fill a knowledge gap. 

Be eager

You should always demonstrate genuine enthusiasm for the job that you are applying for. You could have the right credentials and expertise, but without the drive and motivation for doing the job, employers will not think twice about turning you down. 

Most employers want to hire people who are motivated to make a difference in the company and the industry, and who genuinely want to be there with them. Make sure you can demonstrate to interviewers why you find the job you’re applying for interesting and engaging, and how it motivates you.  

Don’t:

Be passive

Interviewers usually have a set of questions that they follow when they are conducting interviews. While you shouldn’t disrupt the flow of the interview by asking non-related questions or interjecting with unrelated topics, this doesn’t mean that you should passively answer only what is asked of you either. You should work within the questions and try to sell your abilities and skills during that time, as you see fit. 

You must first determine the relevant skills and qualities required for the job in your pre-interview preparations, and be sure to mention them all throughout the interview. Even if recruiters do not specifically ask about them, you can still work them into your answers to other questions. For instance, if they ask you to identify the latest technical trends in the industry, you can slip in points about how you’ve tried to acquire the necessary skills to prepare yourself for those developments too. 

Also, keep in mind that your interviewers may not be the same people who reviewed your job application. They might not have had much time to study your application beforehand, so don’t assume they are already aware of your past experiences and accomplishments. Don’t be shy about highlighting points from your job application again if you must. 

At the end of the interview, recruiters will usually ask whether there is anything else you’d like to add. Make sure you take advantage of the opportunity to highlight any important topics you did not have the chance to discuss earlier, instead of giving a simple “No”. 

Be arrogant

Recruiters think highly of candidates who are honest about their knowledge and experience, and respond positively to difficult questions. It is okay to ask for clarification when necessary, and you can even ask for a little extra time to think through your answer if you are thrown a tough question. 

However, if you truly cannot come up with a satisfactory answer to a question, it is better to come clean about it. Don’t attempt to lie or bluff your way out of it, or argue with your interviewers about how you think their premise is wrong. You should always assume that your interviewers are probably far more knowledgeable about the subject than you are. If they call you out on your bluff, it will not be a good look for you. 

Presume all tech jobs are the same

Even if you have set your heart on a specific role in the IT industry, you should still be prepared to work in a variety of roles over the course of your tech career, from project management or data analytics, to programming and development. Even if you don’t make the cut for a certain tech job, the hiring manager might still be assessing your suitability for alternative/future roles and positions.

With that said, if you have been applying for a variety of IT roles, don’t go in to every interview assuming your experiences and skill set are equally relevant and in-demand for each one. Make sure you walk in with a thorough understanding of each role and what it requires, and tailor your responses to interviewers accordingly.