When your IT recruiters help you prepare for job interviews, they’ll usually go over what technologies you should brush up on and what the job requires. What your IT staffing companies probably assume (and hope) you already know about are soft skills necessary for interviewing for IT jobs. Probably one of the most important things you have to do (but your technical recruiters may not even think to tell you this) is be pleasant.
Why is this important? There are . Firstly, you need to make sure your interviewer can see that you’ll be pleasant to work with. Your IT recruiting firms will already have made a case for you as a strong candidate because of your technical skills and experience. When you go into the interview, your job is to build on that impression, then show that you’ve got the necessary soft skills for the job. On a very basic level, this means having great communication skills and a positive attitude. If you’re not pleasant at your interview, you’re failing on this very important part.
The second reason you need to be pleasant at your IT job interviews is because you want to make the interview process easier on your interviewer. Just as interviewing is hard for you, it may well be difficult for your interviewer. They may be taking time away from an already full plate to interview candidates. They may get nervous, just as you do. Bringing the right demeanor and attitude to your interview will make the process much better for your interviewer. The better you make this process for your interviewer, the more likely it is that your IT staffing agencies will hear that you’re moving on (or that you got the job!).
When you’re working with IT staffing companies to find new IT jobs, you might be intimidated by your interviewers and future employers. It’s worth knowing, though, that often they aren’t comparing you against the detailed checklist you might expect. While interviewers can always give your technical recruiters a good basic idea of who they need to hire, sometimes things are more up in the air than you’d think.
Why is this relevant to you? Because it can help you approach your job search with a more optimistic, energetic perspective. When your IT recruiters set you up for an interview, they are doing so because you have the basic requirements, experience, and technical proficiencies for the role. Sometimes, a hiring manager has a more open mind and doesn’t know for sure what their ideal candidate will be like. This means that you don’t have to live up to as many items on a hiring check list. If you (and your IT staffing agencies) put energy into selling yourself well, you have a good chance of showing an open-minded hiring manager that you are the candidate they’re looking for.
How do you use this to help you? Make sure to ask your IT recruiting companies for a detailed job description. Then ask them if they know anything else about the role or the company’s needs. When you’re in the interview, go beyond just pointing out that you’re qualified for the role. Take a little time to make sure the interviewer also hears about how you helped implement some unique projects or you’re certified in a rarer technology. Try to tie these back to the role or any other needs the company might have. When you make sure your interviewer knows about these special, unexpected points, you may just help them see you as the candidate they didn’t even know they wanted.
Try to remember that while hiring managers have given IT staffing firms a basic idea of what they want, you never know how set they are on who they want to hire. Especially in IT, with the constant flux of technology and its influence on companies, it’s possible the door is open much wider than you think.
Sometimes when you’re working with IT recruiters to find new IT jobs, you might encounter some surprises. Here are 3 parts of the job interview process that IT staffing agencies find surprise candidates – and how to deal with them.
- Coding tests: Your IT staffing firms will usually be able to at least warn you that you’ll have to take a coding test or some exercise similar to it. Technical recruiters find that candidates are often taken aback by it when they’re asked to take a test. It’s important to remain calm and flexible as you go through the process to find new IT roles. While it may not be your first choice to take a test, it is likely worth your time to do so. After all, what is 20 minutes’, or even an hours’ effort if you get a job you enjoy more and/or get paid more to do?
- Personality assessments: Again, many IT recruiting agencies find that candidates are often surprised when they’re asked to complete these tests. As with coding tests, the best way to approach these is to try to be patient and flexible because your efforts could be rewarded with a great IT job. It’s also noteworthy that these kinds of tests protect you as well. If you’re not a good fit for a job, it’s better to find this out ahead of time. You wouldn’t want to be hired for a job where your work style is too out of sync with the company. That’s not comfortable for you and it may even result in you losing your job later on.
- Video interviews: Lastly, IT staffing companies find that sometimes they must ask IT professionals to be ready to do a video interview. This kind of interview is slowly becoming more and more normal. However, many candidates express surprise, or even discomfort, when they are asked by their IT recruiting firms to do a video interview. The best way to be prepared for these kinds of interviews is to have your personal computer or laptop set up for Skype. Practice using it with friends and family so it becomes more natural. A video interview is ultimately the same as an in-person interview. It’s just a new medium to get used to.
Most IT recruiters have had at least one IT professional who bombs an interview unexpectedly. Perhaps they don’t know as much about certain technologies as they thought, or perhaps they don’t know as much about interview etiquette as they (and their technical recruiters) thought. There is one mistake that will instantly kill an interview and guarantee that your IT staffing agencies get bad feedback about you: taking a phone call or playing with your cell phone during the interview.
Why would answering a call immediately ruin interviews for IT jobs? The most obvious reason is that it’s rude. IT staffing companies can sell your technical skills and experience. However, when you go into an interview, it’s your job to really sell yourself as polite and easy to work with. When you answer a call or text in the middle of an interview you, definitely destroy that impression.
Here’s a second reason why this mistake really embarrasses you and your IT recruiting firms: it makes you look uninterested in the role itself. Your IT staffing agencies want you to go into interviews and show some passion for the work you’d be doing, the company, the team, or some combination of these. If you aren’t fully focused on the interview, you ruin this impression.
The best way to avoid this mistake? Turn off your phone and put it away once you’re at the interview. You’ve likely spent plenty of time preparing, both on your own and with your IT recruiting agencies. Don’t risk letting that preparation go to waste!
IT recruiters see a lot of good resumes, but they also see plenty of bad resumes. One mistake that technical recruiters see far too often is when IT professionals include references on their resumes. Here are a couple reasons why IT staffing firms and hiring managers don’t want to see your references on your IT resume.
- You’re wasting space. While IT resumes don’t necessarily have to be kept to a page or 2 pages, IT recruiting companies want to see that resumes are kept as concise and brief as possible. It won’t help you to represent yourself with an overly long resume. It may even turn off IT staffing agencies or hiring managers who were considering your candidacy. They may not have time to wade through a resume that takes too long to sell your candidacy. Keep your resume as brief as possible and just use the space on it to talk about your achievements, technologies you’re proficient with, and education or certifications.
- IT recruiting firms and hiring managers might assume from this mistake that you’re not aware of professional norms—and thus possibly not as professional as you could be. Including references on your resume means you’re exposing contact info for all these people unnecessarily. It also means you’re simply not aware of correct resume formatting. Either way, IT staffing companies or hiring managers might conclude from this resume mistake that you’re lacking in professionalism in other ways. Don’t take that risk.
Here’s one way to guarantee that your IT recruiters hear that you aren’t getting the role: badmouth any of your bosses, coworkers, or end-users/clients. While most technical recruiters mention this at some point to candidates, there are still a staggering number of IT professionals who forget this advice in interviews.
Why is this a terrible mistake to make? There are a few reasons why IT staffing firms would recommend you never, ever say negative things about your employers, cowokers, etc. It might seem like you’re making the people you badmouth look bad, but you’re really making yourself look bad. Your interviewers might wonder if you have hard time getting along with people. Particularly in a lot of IT jobs, being agreeable and easy to work with is important. Sometimes you might be supporting a wide range of coworkers, end-users, or bosses. Perhaps you have to work closely in a team; or even code with a partner. Whatever the case, you want to look like you’re very easy to work with. Another reason you should never badmouth coworkers, bosses, etc is that you want to look like a positive person overall. Sometimes jobs will be difficult. Whether it’s a difficult coworker or a tough program to debug, your hiring manager needs to know that you’ll be emotionally resilient and work hard.
How do you avoid doing this mistake in the future? Let’s say you genuinely want a new job because your boss is abusive or your coworkers are truly difficult to deal with. If you’re asked why you’re working with IT recruiting firms to find a new job, you can go with a different (but still valid) reason. Perhaps you can mention your IT staffing companies are helping you find a job with new challenges, or you want to gain experience working with a specific technology. If you’re not asked at all about this, simply don’t mention it. Your IT recruiting agencies and IT staffing firms set the stage to make you look great for the job— use your time with an interviewer to continue this work. Don’t waste it saying negative things about other people.
You might have done everything right as you prepared with your IT recruiters for your interviews. You might have done the research, practiced answering questions your technical recruiters suggested, and prepared some good questions to ask the interviewer. Maybe your IT staffing firms got some bad feedback anyways and you didn’t land the role. What went wrong? Unless your IT recruiting companies got very specific feedback (which they often don’t), you’ll have to guess what went wrong. Here’s one reason you may have messed up: You came across as too desperate.
How can it be bad for the interviewer to know that you really, really want the role? IT recruiting firms do want you to show interest in the role. But especially in IT, where the unemployment rate is so low, coming across as desperate might make it seem like you’re having a hard time landing IT jobs (in a great market). Another problem with wanting the job too much is that you probably miss expressing how much you can do for the company or team. A good match is one in which both the IT professional and the company think they’d benefit. A good hire is balanced– which it cannot be if you are too desperate for the role! Your IT staffing agencies will have a much easier time placing you in a job if you come across as interested in a role, but also confident that the company will be interested in you.
In interviews for IT jobs, IT recruiters can tell you a million ways to make sure you stand out to your interviewers. Here’s one way you can make a big impression and ensure that your IT recruiting firms get some good feedback about you as a candidate: Make sure to tell a story or two about how you do things beyond your team and/or job description.
Why is this necessary? Isn’t it enough to be able to talk about how you helped your team and succeeded at your job? Of course technical recruiters would advise you to be able to detail how you succeeded at your job and within your team. However, a hiring manager’s dream candidate, the kind that IT staffing agencies have a very easy time finding new roles for, stretches beyond their job description. IT recruiting agencies regularly hear rave reviews about candidates who are not only interested in succeeding in their role, but don’t mind thinking about what helps the whole company succeed, too. You don’t have to invest much time or effort in this kind of activity to impress somebody. Maybe you spent a few minutes on your lunch break to help somebody out from another team with a technical (or non-technical!) issue. Maybe you volunteered to be your team’s CPR-trained employee. What matters is that you show that you’re not the kind of employee who whines ‘that’s not my job’. This is exactly the kind of candidate that IT staffing firms never want to represent!
One question that IT recruiting firms will want you to be ready for in IT job interviews is something along the lines of ‘How would you describe yourself ?’ (A common variation on this is ‘How would your colleagues describe you?’). There are a lot of ways to answer this question, of course. It’s worth knowing, though, that there are a couple things you need to avoid saying so that your IT staffing agencies and IT recruiters don’t get bad feedback.
Firstly, IT staffing companies would advise that you don’t give an answer that is too subjective. It will be hard to say something completely objective. However, especially in IT, where things are constantly backed up with numbers, percentages, and hard data, the best answer will be something you can back up with a story, accomplishment, or example. For instance, don’t say that your coworkers think you’re funny. This doesn’t really advance your candidacy, nor is it something you can back up well. Instead you might say that you’ve got good communication or relationship-building skills. Then back it up by saying that you’ve made great relationships throughout your previous companies (which of course helped you succeed in these IT jobs).
Secondly, technical recruiters would advise you to avoid answering this question with things that will make you sound arrogant or difficult to work with. You do want to highlight skills and achievements that would make you a great candidate. But there are ways to describe yourself as competent without sounding full of yourself. For example, there’s certainly a difference between calling yourself brilliant and saying that you are confident in your abilities in particular technologies or programming languages. IT staffing firms have a much easier time placing people in jobs when they’re both competent and pleasant people to work with.
It’s very common for IT recruiters to hear that the candidates they work with get a little thrown off by questions in interviews. Sometimes even if you’ve prepared with your technical recruiters and on your own, you get asked a question you weren’t expecting. Here’s one question (and the answer) that IT staffing companies find often trips IT professionals up: Is there anything I should know that’s not on your resume?
It’s easy to see why this trips candidates up: you spend a lot of time polishing your resume with your technical recruiters and IT recruiting agencies—shouldn’t it encompass everything interviewers need to know? Sure, your IT staffing firms definitely will help you send out your best version of your resume. However, this question is meant to give you a chance to talk about things that are relevant to the job, but wouldn’t make the cut for your resume because they might be harder to quantify or are more related to your personal life.
What are some good ways to answer this question? One strategy that IT recruiting companies often recommend is that you take this opportunity to talk about hobbies that might be very relevant to the role or just your work style. Perhaps you run marathons, build intricate models, or are a Boy Scout leader. These probably don’t apply directly to IT jobs you’re interviewing for, but they probably help you hone soft skills that are necessary for the job. Does your running teach you endurance in difficult circumstances? Does building models help you practice patient tenacity in problem-solving? Does working with Boy Scouts give you great communication and leadership skills? Tell the interviewer about it now and strengthen your candidacy just a little more before you finish that interview!