Don’t Say This in Your Next Tech Job Interview

IT recruiters find there’s a lot of bad interview advice out there.  Here’s one piece that seems particularly popular—and particularly unhelpful: tell the interviewer you are the most qualified candidate for the job.

Why is this terrible advice?  It’s good to be confident and express interest in the job, isn’t it?  The truth is, this statement doesn’t really accomplish either task well.  Great candidates, especially in the tech space, are looking for a job that is a good fit on both ends.  This means they’ve got all the technical and personality/work style requirements.  It also means the work, the team, and the company fit their own requirements.  An interview is all about sussing out whether both these things are true.  Good candidates don’t know if they’re the ‘best candidate for the job’ for many reasons, including the fact that they don’t know if the job meets their own needs!

Another reason IT staffing companies suggest that you never say something like this in a job interview is that it can come across as arrogant and make you seem difficult to work with.  As a tech professional, these are the last things you want to convey to an interviewer.  These days, communicating and working well with teams is an imperative skill.  As companies are pressured to constantly innovate and improve their products or services, brainstorming and teamwork are becoming necessities.  (Plus, Scrum and Agile are really the trendiest development methods.  The day of the heads-down coder who excels in a Waterfall method have passed.)  Remember, nobody wants to work with somebody who is arrogant.  Arrogant coworkers aren’t open to collaboration, are hard to train, and are just plain unpleasant to deal with on a regular basis.  People wouldn’t hire them for open IT jobs if they can help it!

So what can you say instead of this phrase?  IT recruiting agencies suggest focusing on concrete ways to illustrate your value to the interviewer.  Did you reduce your previous employer’s server downtime significantly?  Did you increase web traffic to your company’s website by 25%?  Being able to share things like this will help potential employers see that you are the most qualified candidate for their open job.

When employers decide you’re the most qualified candidate for the job, it’s much more powerful than you, as the candidate, trying to lead them to this conclusion.  People often value the conclusions they come to themselves.  This is especially true in the hiring process. Technical recruiters find that employers need to feel like they have control of the hiring process, since it’s such a big risk to possibly hire somebody that can’t do the job.

So respect your interviewer and their hiring process.  You can’t decide for them that you’re the most qualified candidate.  You can only illustrate to them all the reasons why you’re a good catch as an employee.  Your patience and subtle confidence may just win you the job!


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IT Job Interview Tips
Don’t tell your interviewer you’re the best candidate for the job. It won’t help your candidacy! Photo credit: 3dman_eu


Tips for Second Job Interviews

When you’re working with IT staffing firms to find a new role, sometimes you’ll have to do a second in-person interview.  Since second job interviews aren’t as common, candidates often feel unsure about how to approach them.  Here are some tips from IT recruiting companies on handling second in-person job interviews.

How to dress: Dress in a suit or other business professional attire. Even though dress codes in many companies are becoming more relaxed, the suit is still king for interviews.  Sometimes, candidates will go to a first in-person interview and find that everyone is wearing jeans.  Don’t let this throw you off.  Technical recruiters find that candidates make a better impression when they dress professionally at all stages of the interview.  You want to show respect to the company and their hiring process.  Following the dress code is part of that.  If you get the job, you can dress down when you start the job.  

How to prepare: Do two things in particular this time.  Firstly, research the company a bit more deeply.  Secondly, prepare new questions.  Your second interview will likely differ from the first.  First interviews are often more about establishing your technical skills and experience.  You might do white-boarding or coding tests. The second in-person interview is much more about how well you fit into the team and/or company.  Start your preparation by doing a deeper dive into researching the company, product, and corporate culture.  Your IT recruiting firms might have some thoughts on web sites to visit, as you do this.  They may also be able to tell you who your interviewers will be.  If so, it’s a good idea to do a little research on your interviewers, too.  The more you know about the company, its products or services, and your interviewers, the more you can show an interest in them.  In the tech field, a deep passion for the work, the company, and the products or services will go far!

The second thing you should do in your preparations for your interview is to come up with new questions.  You can use some of your research about the company to come up with these questions.  You can also just come up with other questions about the role, management styles, etc.  It will be important for you to have different questions than you asked in your first interview.  For more ideas about interview questions to ask, check out this blog post. 

How to answer questions:  Focus on bringing something new to the table and really let your personality shine in this interview.  Even if you’re asked the same questions again, there are many ways you can tweak your answers to be different.  Be patient if you’re asked a question twice or asked something similar.  You may be meeting with a mix of new and old people who will unwittingly repeat each other.  You want to answer questions so people who have already interviewed you hear something new that strengthens your candidacy.  You also want to try to be understanding of this if they repeat questions or discussions.  If you are impatient about it, you won’t land the job.  Nobody wants to work with somebody who is rude or difficult.  IT staffing agencies advise you to remember that your personality and your ability to fit into the culture of the team and company are what hiring managers are focusing on in this second interview.  Make sure you present your best self here.

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Your second job interview is all about culture fit. Photo credit: miranijenish via Pixabay.



Don’t Make This Rookie Mistake in Your Job Interviews

If you’re a recent grad, you’re probably diving into the job market now and going on some of your first real job interviews.  Even if you’re not a recent grad and you’ve interviewed before, it’s still possible you’re making some of the same mistakes.  One of the worst mistakes that IT recruiters see too frequently is when candidates have no questions for their interviewer or ask bad ones.  Tech employers want candidates who are passionate about the technologies and the work they’re doing.  Asking good questions can help demonstrate that.  When you have no questions, it can seem like you’ll just take any IT jobs.  Asking good questions also helps demonstrate good social skills.  More and more, tech employers want candidates to have good communication skills, no matter where they are in the company.  The days of heads-down coders are fleeting, if not completely gone.  Here are some tips from IT staffing companies on how to have some good, solid questions ready for your next interview.

1. Practice some strong questions about the work or the role. Are you familiar with all the technologies they use?  Are you curious if they’ve ever used others?  Do they use a Scrum or Agile development methodologies?

2. Ask some good questions about the company, the team, or the corporate culture. How do people get feedback in this role?  How much does the team work together?  Did you notice any interesting news about the company as you did research for the interview?  Ask about it.  Show that you’re not just interested in this role, but this role for this company.

3. Don’t ask questions about things like the perks, pay, or the commute. Questions about these topics don’t let an employer know you’ve really thought hard about the role.  You could be asking these questions in any job interview.  They’re also very egocentric.  Yes, you want a job that’s good for you.  But you also want to be selling yourself, as well.  When a candidate comes across as ‘me, me, me’ then the company often tells their IT staffing firms they’ll pass.  They need candidates who will contribute, not just take a paycheck.  If you do have questions about the more basic items like compensation, commute, hours, etc. you can ask your technical recruiters.  This is what they’re there for!

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IT job interview mistakes
Don’t come to a job interview without preparing some questions! Photo credit: OpenClipart-Vectors via Pixabay.



3 Tips for Better Interviewing

There’s a lot of bad advice about how to interview candidates.  This has gotten even worse in the tech sector since Google’s unorthodox interview questions were leaked.   People have been rampantly speculating on (and misinterpreting) how the coveted employers in the IT field conduct interviews.  If you’re hiring for your open IT jobs, check out these 3 tips from IT recruiting companies on how to interview without scaring away your candidates.

Don’t use gimmicky formats or tests. Don’t make your candidates do trendy personality tests.  Don’t force them to answer every question in a very short time frame.  Don’t put them through any cut-throat group interviews/competitions.  The point of your interview is to get a sense of what kind of employee the candidate is.  When you make them uncomfortable with unexpected activities, you’re not going to get this information.  All you’re going to do is make the candidate uncomfortable….and maybe inspire them to tell their IT recruiters and everyone who visits Glassdoor all about the bizarre ordeal you put them through.

Don’t be a jerk. There are a lot of trendy techniques out there that center around purposely being rude to a candidate to see how they operate under stress.  Some say you should order a candidate’s lunch incorrectly to see how they handle potential conflict.  Some say to make an effort to be mean to the candidate to see how they handle working with difficult people.  There are likely many other variations of this.  The problem is that all of these scenarios will send good IT professionals running in the opposite direction.  Especially since the tech field is a job seeker’s market, IT staffing agencies strongly caution against disrespecting the candidate.  The US is still experiencing a real shortage of good, qualified IT professionals.  Keep in mind that candidates are using an interview to decide what working at your company will be like.  If you’re awful to them in an interview, they’ll decide to seek out other IT jobs where they will be treated well.  It’s important to note that you can always ask a candidate and their references how they handle difficult people or stressful situations.  Most people are very forthcoming about this because if they don’t handle it well, they won’t want a job where it’s prevalent!

Don’t ask trendy questions just to ask them. If you don’t know why you’re asking a candidate what animal they’d be at the zoo, don’t ask them.  Some employers do have answers or thought processes they’re looking for when they ask these questions.  Others just ask these questions because they think it will be be fun to ask or doing so might convey that the company culture is creative and fun.  If you want to convey that you have a fun, creative culture, IT staffing agencies suggest that you just say so.  Or point to your Glassdoor reviews.  Or introduce the candidate to happy members of your team.  There are many ways to do this.  Keep in mind that interviews are already stressful for candidates.  Don’t make them even more uncomfortable by forcing them to answer questions that confuse them or surprise them.

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Interview tips for hiring managers
Don’t make your candidates feel uncomfortable in job interviews– even if it’s trendy. Photo credit: Jarmoluk via Pixabay


Are You Ready for Your Technical Job Interview?

If you have some interviews for IT jobs coming up, try using this checklist to make sure that you’re ready.

1. Did you lay out, wash, and iron, a professional outfit? Even in the tech sphere, where many companies allow jeans and a t-shirt, IT recruiters still recommend wearing a suit to your interviews. Make things easy for yourself and make sure it’s ready to go right when you need it.

2. Did you talk to your technical recruiters about the commute? Did you look at your best routes on Google? Are you leaving yourself enough time for traffic, train trouble, bad weather, etc? Are you leaving early enough to meet your recruiter first (if they request it) or to do a security check if necessary? It’s also worth noting that if you’re unsure about doing this commute regularly, consider trying it out during a day and time with comparable traffic patterns. IT staffing firms see people quit jobs all the time because their commute is miserable.

3. Did you study up on relevant technologies? Sometimes IT recruiting firms find that candidates will just assume their ‘rusty’ skills are enough to get them through an interview. Be honest with yourself and study up on a technology if you need to before you go to your job interview.

4. Did you practice some basic interview questions? You’re going for a technical interview, but you’ll still be asked things like, ‘What’s your greatest weakness?’ Or ‘What’s your greatest strength?’ IT staffing companies suggest that you role play with a family member or friend just to be ready for these questions. If you put time into sharpening your technical skills, you should put time into sharpening your general interviewing skills, too! Don’t assume answering these questions is something you can do off the cuff.

5. Did you print out copies of your resume, or will your recruiters bring them for you? Figure this out so you can be prepared in case a hiring manager needs them. If you don’t have access to a printer before your interview, most IT recruiting agencies will bring you a few copies with no issue.

6. Did you prepare a few questions to ask the interviewer? IT staffing agencies find that the candidates who really impress interviewers are the ones who have a few great questions in their back pockets. If you don’t have any to ask, you’ll look disinterested or unprepared. Questions like ‘What would success look like in this role?’ aren’t just for you—they help the interviewer see what kind of employee you’re ready to be!

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Wear a suit to your interview, even if the daily dress code is casual. Photo credit: TeroVesalainen via Pixabay


Are You Missing this Key Quality as an IT Job Seeker?

When you’re applying for new IT jobs, your first consideration is making sure you have the right technical skills.  In addition to their technical skills, there’s something else that IT recruiters find is key to landing new roles: the ability to work in a team.  This soft skill might seem irrelevant, but it’s actually imperative because of 3 major trends in the tech field.

Constant innovation.  Since companies must now keep up with the ever-faster speed of technology, constant innovation is important. In an effort to consistently improve their products and processes, companies are now turning to large brainstorming sessions, hackathons, and other group activities.  IT recruiters find that this type of activity requires an increased emphasis on teamwork and the ability to work well with others.  If you’re not willing to jump into a team brainstorming session, your IT staffing firms may be less willing to submit you to jobs.

Scrum and Agile. Scrum and Agile are some of the more coveted project management methodologies out there. This means that technical recruiters are on the hunt for candidates that want to be a part of stand-up meetings.  If you prefer Waterfall because you like to work independently, your options will ultimately be limited. If you’re serious about your job search, tap into your extroverted side and let your IT recruiting agencies submit you to Scrum and Agile teams.

Open plan offices. Fun, collaborative team culture has been a staple in the tech field since the dot com boom.  But this trend has been amplified by the open plan offices that more and more companies are turning to.  This isn’t just about where your desk is.  Open plan offices are discouraging employees from simply putting their heads down and working straight through from 9-5.  Social interaction is considered part of the job.  Building relationships with coworkers has become an imperative skill.  So if your IT recruiting firms ask you to bring energy and a positive, upbeat, outgoing personality to your interview, you should do it.  It could be the difference between landing the job and losing it!


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The ability to work with a team is a crucial piece of the puzzle. Photo credit: wilhei via Pixabay.



Tips for Asking ‘Creative’ Questions in a Job Interview

‘Wacky’ questions have been a trend for a while in job interviews—especially in the tech field.  IT recruiting firms find that many candidates have had at least an interview or two where they’ve been asked what color crayon they would be, or how many light bulbs there are in Disney World.  While these questions can certainly be helpful to hiring managers, IT staffing companies find that there are more times when they hurt an interview than help it.  Here’s how to make sure you’re using these kinds of questions effectively when you interview candidates.

1. Don’t ask the question if you don’t know what you’re looking for or if there is no direct relevance to the role.  Technical recruiters find that candidates can tell pretty quickly when a manager is asking a question just because they think they should.  Don’t ask questions just because they showed up on a Googled list of interview questions.  It makes the candidate feel like you’re just making them uncomfortable with an unexpected question for no reason.  Think about what your ideal answers would be.  What should the candidate demonstrate when they answer this question? Take time to consider this before you ask.

2. Don’t ask these questions to purposefully make the candidate squirm or to throw them off.  IT staffing agencies find that some employers will give questions like this just to see how a candidate does under pressure or handles discomfort.  These kinds of questions certainly do, but they will also probably make the candidate want to turn down the job offer.  Good managers don’t intentionally make their employees uncomfortable.  In fact, their job is to support them as they handle difficulty.  If a candidate can tell you’re trying to purposefully throw them off, they’ll see it as a big red flag about your management style. Since it’s much more of a job seeker’s market in the tech field, keep in mind that you’re courting the candidate as much as (if not more than) they’re courting you. Asking them a lot of questions that feel silly or weird can leave a bad taste in their mouth.  If a candidate has the technical experience you need, you don’t want to lose them because you asked them what kind of animal they’d be at the zoo.

3. Don’t assume asking these questions makes you seem like a ‘cooler’ employer.  Many employers ask these kinds of questions because they think it will give candidates the impression that they’re cool, like Google, Uber, and other cool tech employers  who are known for asking some ‘wacky’ interview questions.  If you want to let candidates know you have a cool company culture, there are better ways to do it.  IT recruiting agencies suggest you take time to talk about why your company culture is great.  Share your Glassdoor reviews or have current employees meet with the candidate to share what it’s like working at your company.  These things are all much more enticing to a candidate than answering weird, unexpected interview questions.

4. Look for process, not a right or wrong answer.  The point of many of these questions isn’t to focus on whether the candidate answered exactly what you were expecting.  The point is to get a window into their thought process.  If they can think about solving problems in a way that’s advantageous, or can provide an interesting justification for their answer, take note.  Remember that these kinds of questions can be hard on candidates because they’re so unexpected.  Their answer may not be polished or perfect, but it could still tell you much about how they think.

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weird questions in IT job interviews
What color crayon would your candidate be? It may not matter! Photo credit: Stux via Pixabay.


What Does it Mean if My Interviewer Was Disengaged? 

When you go to interviews for IT jobs, you’re likely to be engaged in the process.  You may even be anxious and hyper-focused.  Sometimes IT recruiters find that hiring managers can actually be disengaged or appear completely disinterested in the process.  Does this mean you didn’t land the job? Not necessarily.

IT staffing firms find that there are a lot of reasons that hiring managers might be disengaged during an interview—and many of them don’t have anything to with your candidacy.  One of the main reasons that IT recruiting firms hear managers are disengaged is because they’re busy handling a major issue (possibly even a crisis) that just popped up.  This can especially be the case if you’re interviewing with a high-level manager.  If a crisis pops up at the very last-minute, or even if the hiring manager is really interested in the candidate, they’ll move forward with the job interview regardless.  If you’re feeling less confident in an interview because the hiring manager seems uninterested or keeps checking email, consider this: maybe a hiring manager wants to meet with you so badly he or she will do it even if they’re in the middle of a dealing with a big production issue, a looming release date, or a massive security breach of a their company’s data.

Besides major crises or work demands, a hiring manager could be less engaged in the interview process for another reason: perhaps they’re not a key decision-maker.  Sometimes IT recruiting companies find that an employer will require certain managers to be on the hiring committee, even if they don’t have much influence (or interest) with the decision.  They might seem checked-out during the interview because they actually are. And that means nothing about your candidacy.  A disengaged manager could be simply sitting in on the interview, allowing the rest of the hiring team to drive the process.

So what should you do if your interviewer spends your whole conversation looking at email, or asking very few questions?  Technical recruiters suggest you just let it go and do your best anyways.  Don’t give up on the interview or start doubting yourself.  Focus on the questions asked and building a rapport with the other interviewers (if any).

You might talk to your IT recruiters about it afterwards, and they may have an answer for you.  Perhaps not.  The hiring process can be unpredictable, so you can’t analyze things for signs.  Put your energy towards working with your IT staffing companies until you find the right role for you.  Who knows—you might just have won over that very disengaged interview.

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IT job interviews
There are a lot of reasons why your interviewer might be checking their phone. Photo credit: rawpixel via Pixabay.


Common Questions (and Answers) about References

IT staffing firms find that references can be one of the last things on a candidate’s mind.  Maybe it’s because they’re so far along in the job search process.  Or, maybe it’s because they seem to require the least amount of work.  References just need to be called.  Resumes need to be written and polished, and you need to do extensive prep and study up on relevant technologies for interviews.  Whatever the case, IT recruiting firms find that many candidates and hiring managers have a lot of questions and even misconceptions about references.  Here are some common ones that IT recruiters get:

Do ‘backdoor references’ really happen?   This phenomenon is even more prevalent in the last 5 years or so because of LinkedIn’s growing popularity.  If you’re not familiar with a backdoor reference, this is the basic premise: hiring managers will reach out to any personal contacts they have at your previous employers.  IT staffing agencies find that this can be a problem particularly when you may had a bad experience working at an employer.  Even if you choose not to give anybody there as a reference, backdoor references can reveal the skeletons in your closet.  Backdoor references can be especially common when you’re looking for IT jobs because most people in this field are on LinkedIn.  (In fact, it may say something negative about you as an IT professional if you’re not on LinkedIn or other social media!)

Can managers really be forbidden from acting as a references? Yes, but some will do so anyways. There are companies that have set policies that forbid managers from giving a reference.  The severity of these policies and how strictly they’re enforced varies.  Some managers feel like they have the ability do this without any real consequences, so it could be worth considering this if you’re leaving a company with such a policy.  You don’t want to push too aggressively, but it may be worth asking if the manager would feel comfortable acting as a reference—you never know if they’ll say yes.

Is giving a bad reference illegal?   IT recruiting companies find that some candidates assume that managers will never give them a bad reference.  This is absolutely not true, so it’s important to act with this in mind.  Give only references who will say positive things about you.  Don’t burn any bridges.  Work hard to build good working relationships with coworkers and bosses.  As mentioned before, you never know if hiring managers will reach out for a backdoor reference. The point of a reference is that for employers to get a complete, honest picture of somebody as an employee.  While technical recruiters find that many managers will refrain from outright trashing somebody (just out of basic human decency), they will be honest if they see red flags.

Can I just hand over my references when it’s time?   This is a mistake IT staffing agencies see far too often.  Contact your references and give them a heads-up you’re on the hunt for new IT jobs.  Ask them if they wouldn’t mind acting as a reference for you.  Let them know a bit about the kinds of roles you’re looking for.  You want to treat them with courtesy, respect, and remember to thank them.  Bad references can ruin your candidacy, just as good ones can strengthen it.

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References for jobs
Don’t forget to call your references before you start a job hunt. Photo credit: edar via Pixabay.


Is This the Reason You aren’t Landing Tech Jobs?

Have you ever not landed the tech jobs that you interviewed for?  Did you have all the relevant skills and experience, but your IT recruiters said the manager decided to pass on you? Here’s one big reason you might be missing out on jobs: You’re not showing enough passion.  IT staffing firms hear all the time that managers are passing on candidates because they don’t seem excited enough about the role, the company, etc.  Here are two ways you can avoid this in the future:

  1. Show your passion for the work and technologies the role will use. Do you take classes?  Do you go to conferences?  Do you have side projects?  Talk about them.  Technical recruiters find that if candidates can’t demonstrate a deep interest in the work or the relevant technologies, then hiring managers get concerned.  Hiring managers want to make sure they hire somebody who won’t leave in the middle of a project because they get an opportunity to work with a different technology.  They also want to hire somebody who will continue to improve and grow their knowledge so they can help the company continue to improve their products, platforms, work processes, etc.   If you want the IT jobs you’re interviewing for, make sure they know that’s you!
  2. Show your passion for the company. There are a few reasons this will help you land the job.  Firstly, because there is so much poaching in the tech field, managers want to know that you are interested in working for their company.  This is especially true if they have to train you for their environment and invest a time, effort, and money to onboard you.  Managers want to know that you’ll stay for a while.  Even if you’re a contractor, managers still want to know that you’ll stay for the duration of your contract or the project you’re hired to work on.  IT staffing agencies find that if you express a real interest in the company, this will give hiring managers some confidence that you’ll stick around for at least a reasonable amount of time.  That makes you a much more marketable candidate .


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IT job interview mistakes
Are you not showing enough passion in your job interviews? Photo credit: Maklay62 via Pixabay.