Here are a few key ideas that helped me do well in an interview and score a good IT/ops job. This is coming from someone who works in IT, rather than someone in HR.
- If asked for salary expectations, don’t offer a salary “range”. It pretty much sets the bottom tier of your range, as their potential offer.
- Quote $10-20k over what your expected salary is. Companies like to play games and undercut you. Worst case scenario, you can bargain a bit. If you are not good at negotiating, perhaps even avoid saying a number at all. Something like: “I am looking to be appropriately remunerated for my skills and what the market is paying for such a role.”, would suffice.
- Maintain lots of eye contact and speak slowly. Think for a few moments before you answer questions.
- Act really enthusiastic. Speak about your work history, key projects and knowledge as if it’s super interesting and you’re really passionate about it.
- Be on time or a bit early. There are people who like to rock up 30 mins early, but I wouldn’t go that far. Sometimes the interviewer won’t even be ready for you if you arrive that early. The key idea behind being on-time/early is to not waste their time and being punctual is polite.
- Research the company beforehand. Read all over their website, browse the first few pages of Google for sites with their content, look through LinkedIn for the people you’ll be working with (look at their skills, technologies they work with etc). It also helps to be familiar with their industry and target market, competitors etc.
- Compliment the company’s product and convey that you admire what they do and what they offer the market. It makes them feel proud.
- Joke around, if appropriate. It depends on the culture of the company, but making the interview less formal at times or making funny observations can convey that you would be a good culture fit.
- Prepare and study for surprise/trick questions. I typically find some questions pretty illogical and don’t think they are relevant to the job, but it’s much better to have a memorised answer rather than be caught off-guard. For example: “What is your biggest weakness?” or “what did you struggle with at your previous workplace?” would stump a lot of people. If you do get caught off-guard, try your best.
- Wear formal attire to the interview. Even if you’ll be wearing a tshirt to work if you end up getting a job there, business shirt or otherwise formal attire, still helps. Even if it is a really informal place, it still portrays a nice image of yourself.
- If the opportunity arises, try to name drop specific technologies or programming languages you have worked with (should be a follow up to what you’ve listed on your resume).
- I’d recommend not listing references on your resume, as you are more prepared if the company asks you for some during the interview. Use this warning to your advantage and prep your references well. Make sure you choose people who will talk you up really well, even if they are biased.
- Make your Linkedin profile look neat and up to date prior to the interview. Some employers like to do a bit of research on you beforehand.
- Don’t undersell yourself or give them a reason to doubt you. aka. don’t say “I have experience with X… but I’m not that great”, which effectively /tells/ them that you are not good at something. Be more smooth; say you’ve only dabbled in it or have worked with something similar.
- Get the interviewer to sell the company to you. Ask about the culture and what’s good about working there. You may like to take this to the next level by asking to speak to someone that already works there in a similar position, to give you a more appropriate idea of what it really is like to work there and what day to day activities you can expect. This may not always be communicated in the best manner if you only speak to the HR person or higher level manager interviewing you.
Good luck, soldier.