Job Interview Tips

I had the chance to participate in a panel to help students at the local tech college get an IT job by providing the perspective of an employer – I thought I’d try to impart all of the pieces I remembered from all of the panel members (including myself).

Applying for a Job

  • Minimum skills lists are wish lists
    • Similar skills are close enough
    • A good employer will help quality candidates fill in gaps!
  • If you’re interested in the job – apply for it!
    • There are a ton of unfilled IT jobs nationwide!
  • Technical skills can be taught, soft-skills (or “power skills” if you’re pretentiously inclined) are much harder to come by
  • If you’ve got interests related to your profession, start a blog/YouTube channel/write about it on LinkedIn and point to it in your resume

Crafting a Resume

  • Spend a lot of time on your resume
    • This is your first impression
  • Keep your resume to a single page
    • A full CV is for full work/education history
  • Focus on making your resume easy to read
    • Use headings to break up text
    • Avoid creating giant blocks of text
    • Be concise
    • Don’t use technical jargon – the first person to read your resume will probably be HR
  • Have a lot of people read your resume
  • Focus on experience relevant to the job you’re applying for
  • List some hobbies/accomplishments outside of work/school
  • Try to imagine being the person reading your resume and write it accordingly

Submitting a Resume

  • If submitting a resume in person:
    • Be polite to the person you’re handing your resume to
    • Print your resume on heavier paper
    • A subtle off-white color will help stand out
  • If submitting a resume via a job site:
    • Preview an uploaded resume to verify formatting
    • Use common formats: PDF, doc/docx, rtf
  • If there’s a cover letter option:
    • Write a cover letter!
    • Pay attention to who it should be addressed to
    • Emphasize why you want to the job and what you can do for the company in the job

Preparing for an Interview

  • Do research on the company you’re applying to
    • Learn what they do some bits about the history of the company
    • If you know the name of the person interviewing you, look them up on LinkedIn!
    • How do they dress?
  • Prepare a list of questions about working for the company
  • Find out how many people will interviewing you and prepare extra copies of your resume accordingly
  • Be ready to provide a demo of your skills such as being able to write pseudo code or answer technical questions on the fly
  • If doing a virtual interview pay attention to the background
    • Do what you can to to keep background distractions from interfering
  • Do research on salary ranges for the same/similar job titles in the same area

Interviewing

  • If possible, take a power nap prior to the interview
  • Pay attention to grooming:
    • Shower
    • Clean face/shave
    • Wear deodorant/antiperspirant
    • Go EASY on cologne/perfume!
    • Brush your teeth!
    • If your eyes are red, use some eye drops to clear them up
  • Dress a cut above the dress code, if t-shirt and jeans is the norm, wear a collared shirt slacks, collared shirts, wear shirt a shirt and tie
  • Arrive 5-10 minutes early
  • Make sure your phone is set to silent or leave it in your car
  • Don’t chew gum!
  • Listen to something to put you in a good mood prior to the interview
  • When answering questions:
    • Breathe slowly to control your stress level
    • Pause for a moment and construct an answer
    • Avoid filler words like “uhhhh”, “ummmm”, and “like”
    • Focus on controlling your rate, pitch, and tone of voice – slow and low, with an authoritative but not aggressive tone
  • Have a portfolio/notepad on hand to take notes during the interview
    • Take down names and questions that come to mind
  • Ask your questions that you prepped/came up with
  • Ask about next steps in the process!
  • Let your passion for the job come through!

Post-Interview

  • If there were questions you didn’t ask/forgot to ask, call back or follow-up via email!
  • Using the notes you took, hand-write some thank you notes to those that interviewed you
    • If you can’t send a note, write a thank you email, or call back and thank the interviewer(s) for their time

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