You are currently viewing The Ten Commandments of IT Job Interviews

The Ten Commandments of IT Job Interviews

A while ago, we put together our list of the top tips for writing resumes for professionals in the IT industry. However, putting together a great resume is only half the battle. The other half is acing the job interview. 

This part can always be a bit nerve-wracking, especially if you’re someone uncomfortable with talking about themselves. But by preparing thoroughly beforehand, doing your research, and trusting in your skills, you can walk in confidently for any job interview. Read up on our top ten commandments of IT job interviews to learn how.

IT Job Interview Commandment #1 - Thou Shalt Research the Company

One of the easiest ways you can make a positive impression on the interviewing panel is by showing that you did research on the company. Having some knowledge of the organization demonstrates that you take initiative and have genuine interest in the business and the work.

Having this knowledge also helps you ask more intelligent questions of the interviewers, for instance asking the business team about their products and customer segments and the technical team about their tools and services. 

IT Job Interview Commandment #2 - Thou Shalt Find Out What They’re Looking For

Early on in the job interview, it’s important to get context about the team and about the role – what need does this position fill? Is this a new role or filling a vacant position? What does their ideal candidate look like?

Once you learn these details, it’s easy to tailor your answers to highlight your skills and experience that best match what they’re looking for. For instance, if they say they’re looking for a candidate with strong leadership skills, you can mention project management workshops you’ve taken in the past or instances where you fostered a strong team atmosphere.

IT Job Interview Commandment #3 - Thou Shalt Know the Key Stakeholders

IT job interviews are often conducted by a panel of interviewers drawn from different teams in the organization with different perspectives and goals. For instance, an HR (or People & Culture) specialist will probably have more questions about your soft skills, while a member of the technical team will be more focused on gauging your technical skills and whether you have the software proficiencies they’re looking for. 

Before accepting an IT job interview, always ask who will be attending so you can understand the kinds of questions you will be asked. You can also look up the interviewers on LinkedIn to get a sense of their personality and experiences. If you’re lucky, you may even have contacts in common you can bring up to increase your credibility.  

IT Job Interview Commandment #4 - Thou Shalt Prepare for the Softball Questions

There are certain questions that pop up in every job interview, “Are you team-oriented?” “Do you prefer to work independently?” “Can you manage multiple deadlines?” etc. These standard HR and P&C questions are easy to prepare answers for beforehand, but the important thing is to think of concrete examples you can bring up to prove you have the attributes they’re looking for. 

On the flip side, the technical team will ask you for examples of previous projects you’ve worked on that are related to the role. Prepare beforehand with examples of your work as well as metrics you can share that show your impact on the project. For instance, think of something like “My suggested improvements to the website’s UX resulted in a 35% increase in conversions year-over-year.” 

IT Job Interview Commandment #5 - Thou Shalt Manage Your Time

Gauging the appropriate length of questions and answers in IT job interviews can be tricky. It’s easy to start rambling as you discuss a complex topic, or go on a tangent that doesn’t quite answer the interviewer’s question.

The best method is to answer the question at a high level first and then get more into the granular details. Don’t be afraid to ask the interviewers “does that answer your question?” or “do you need me to elaborate more?”

IT Job Interview Commandment #6 - Thou Shalt Think Positive

During job interviews, it’s only natural to be nervous. However, it’s important to go into the interview with a positive mindset. It will improve your mood and make you appear more confident and capable. 

Remember, the hiring process is time consuming and interferes with other projects. The sooner the interviewers are able to fill the role, the sooner they can get back to their daily work. Because of that, they generally want to believe that you are the right candidate for the role, and as such they’re already on your side. 

Go into the interview with a positive, confident mindset and you’re already halfway to proving them right.

IT Job Interview Commandment #7 - Thou Shalt Show Off Your Soft Skills

Even in a highly technical field like IT, making a good first impression is an important part of job interviews. The interviewers aren’t just evaluating your technical aptitude, but whether or not you’re a person they want to see every day for the foreseeable future. Usually when a hiring panel is stuck between two comparable candidates, they will go with the person who made a better impression. 

Whether or not you’re a social butterfly, the important thing is to be polite and sincere. As discussed above, go in with a positive attitude and relax. Whether you’re meeting online or in person, greet everyone with a smile and don’t forget to thank them for taking the time to see you.

Likewise, even if you are an extrovert, it can be a good idea to manage your more amicable side – especially if the interviewers themselves are more introverted. Being professional is just as important as being friendly. 

IT Job Interview Commandment #8 - Thou Shalt Listen Well

People often underestimate how important listening is during a job interview. It’s easy to get over-excited by the conversation or get caught up in thinking about your answers that you forget to listen attentively to what the interviewers are saying. 

Let them finish what they’re saying and don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions if you’re unsure what they’re asking. When the interview is going well, they will often share more themselves, giving you more information you can leverage. 

In a way, you’re also interviewing them to find out more about who you might be working with and whether this role is the right opportunity for you.

IT Job Interview Commandment #9 - Thou Shalt Thank the Interviewers

While first impressions are important, finishing the interview on the right note is critical. Always thank the interviewers for their time and inquire about next steps.

You may also wish to ask them for feedback then and there, just make sure you communicate that you don’t mind criticism and appreciate the opportunity to learn. Even if you don’t get the job, every interview is a chance to refine your skills and be ready for the interview when you do find the right role.

And if you reach the end and realize the job isn’t the right fit for your career, tell that so they can move forward with the interviewing process instead of leaving them hanging. Even if you turn down the job, there’s always a chance more opportunities will arise in the future that are a better fit for your skills, so you want to make sure the door remains open on your way out. 

IT Job Interview Commandment #10 - Thou Shalt Send a Thank You Email

This is a personal preference, but it never hurts to send a follow up email to each panel member and thank them for their time. It’s not only polite and shows that you’re invested in the role, but it can also be a great opportunity to expand on some of the answers you think you may have struggled with during the interview itself. 

For instance, if your answer about a previous project you worked on seems vague in retrospect, you can add in details about the resources required or what the impact of the project looked like (e.g. “we successfully migrated 30,000 users to Microsoft 365 and…”)

At the same time, your thank you email should be brief – no longer than three paragraphs. Don’t rehash every question again, but focus on one or two key points that you think strengthen your case as the right candidate for the job. 

Are you looking for your next opportunity in the IT field? View all our current job openings here. We have new postings every day from leading firms looking for full stack developers, UX designers, business intelligence analysts and more.