Interviewing Tips for IT and Technical Jobs

Great advice for interviewing for IT jobs and other technology related positions.

The best IT staffing firms in Dallas all have one common objective during the interview - exchange the most accurate and relevant information as possible in the time available.  

Because of the highly competitive nature of both IT candidates and recruiters, the most common mistake by either party during an interview is to consider it an adversarial relationship.  

A bad interviewer is convinced that almost every candidate is lying.  They will attempt to discover that lie and prove that the candidate is unworthy so they can reject them.  Each candidate is stealing time away from other tasks and is an imposition, not an answer to the company’s problem.

A bad candidate will prevaricate, misrepresent, or outright lie, predicated on the notion that once they are “in”, they can “fake it” until they “make it”.  They believe that it is easier to obtain forgiveness than permission.  When they are let go because the lie is discovered, they always seem surprised because they have already “proven their worth”, despite the fact that they’ve done just the opposite.

Every single career interview, the details, the results, and the interviewers' opinions, are all recorded for posterity. The minutiae of your claims are organized, collated, and sorted.  Every discrepancy, such as saying you worked at IBM from 1996 to 2005, and another résumé claims it was from 1995 to 2007, is noted. Companies combine data in The Cloud about you John Smith, and you Jane Jones, to spot inconsistencies.

Blundering Through

There are so many ways to be effective in your job search. There are some things you just don't want to do. If you're stuck in the sand, snow, or mud, the last thing you want to do is spin your tires. If it's sand or mud, it simply sprays, and if it is snow, it melts. In any case you're just digging yourself in deeper and getting nowhere.

How hard could it be?

More and more companies are turning to the telephone interview. What used to be a simple "Yes, this is Bob Smith. […] Certainly! I would be delighted to see you on Thursday at 2 p.m. […] Thanks for your call!" has turned into an integral part of the interview process.

Sometimes they call because you cannot attend the in-person interview; sometimes they call to see if you'll eliminate yourself by saying something stupid. But, in some cases, the entire interview process may be conducted by telephone, particularly if you're going to be a remote worker that never comes into the office.

You are so prepared it is just ridiculous!  You've got your answers prepared for the "Tell me about your biggest failure" question complete with your "What I learned" anecdote; you're ready for the "Tell me about a success where you exceeded your wildest expectations"; and the "Tell me about a time where you provided valuable leadership in a time of crisis" is a guaranteed #1 Best Seller.  So why do you feel like you're missing something crucial?

It’s no longer enough to be qualified. If you want a job in today’s business environment, you have to shine, and there’s no better way to show your excellence than by asking excellent questions

—John Kador, Monster Contributing Writer

Whereas someone is likely to ask you "What interests you about this position?" and the answer may be highly technical, I think we can safely disregard that because that question is asked in virtually every interview, irrespective of occupation.

More importantly, I can't give you the answers to most of the questions. The answers are going to be highly dependent on the situation and different for every single person. Some will be highly relevant and others, not so much. There are some guidelines however…

The Dallas IT job market is certainly a busy place, with plenty of competition. You may (for example) be a Hadoop-wizard comparable to Doug Cutting, but that doesn't necessarily place you in the driver's seat of your career.

As an interviewer, one of my questions to such a self-proclaimed expert is going to be "Why is Google File System better than Hadoop?" Bear in mind that I don't necessarily believe that—I'm just looking to put you on the spot to make you think. It's perfectly fine to disagree with me and extol the virtues of Hadoop. Just be prepared.

There are plenty of technical jobs in demand in Dallas so keep yourself aware, and remain active. A little bit of arrogance is fine if you're really good, but I'll tell you right now that I wouldn't hire Walter O'Brien if he walked in the door. He might be brilliant, but I already know that he just wouldn't fit with my team.

If you want to know how staffing agencies can help you get in the door of major employers, then it may be time to find to look for IT staffing companies in your area.  You see, it’s not the average recruiter who can help you with a big IT job; it is the technical recruiter who knows what it takes to stand out as an IT professional.  They know that your chances of getting past the gatekeeper greatly improve when you go beyond the typical resume and cover letter.

Let’s face it; all interviews are not created equal, and there are very few resources out there to help people ace a technical interview. That’s because tech interviews are very different than any other profession.  

A recent article on Berkeley’s web site offers insightful advice from an expert on preparing for interviews with technical recruiters. For example, on a typical interview for coding, applicants will be expected to reverse a string, design a program or troubleshoot code that is laden with glitches. While it is entirely possible to find a forum that will guide you through the process, it is much easier to be successful when one can know exactly what to expect.

It used to be that technical careers were reserved for those with engineering degrees or people with degrees from MIT, but not anymore. The products and services provided by information technology are now a part of our everyday lives; whether a network that automates financial transactions or the operating system on your mobile phone. As individuals and businesses rely more heavily on technology, technical careers are expected to grow significantly over the next decade.

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