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13 insider tips for acing your job interview

Steven A. Lowe | Dec. 2, 2014
Esoteric puzzles, landmine questions, 'cultural fit' -- these 13 tips help you navigate the IT interview process with confidence.

IT interview tip No. 3: Find employee blogs and read them in depth
Once you know what the company thinks is important about the position you are targeting and how its interview process works, it's time to gather all the information you can about the company. For most major companies, there are blogs, books, and websites devoted to their inner workings, technical focus, and business culture. Immersing yourself in these is not a waste of time; it helps you feel prepared, making you more relaxed when it comes time to interview.

Here, employee blogs can be a goldmine. When preparing for an interview with a major international consulting and development firm, I came across the blog of its chief scientist and read it -- all of it. This took about three days, several hours per day.

I also watched several of his presentations on YouTube, as well as presentations by the company's CTO and other technical employees. I read everything on the company website, researched the founder's background and vision, and skimmed hundreds of tweets and blog posts by current employees.

At no point in the interview process was I asked anything about this information, but it gave me a very good idea of what the company was focused on technically and socially, thus informing the conversations I had -- not just the technical ones. Doing so brings you a lot closer to the company, making it much easier to convince those who interview you that you belong and are ready to make a difference right away.

IT interview tip No. 4: Research social culture -- it's as critical as technical focus
Employee blogs, social media, and social networks are a great source of insider information about the company's social culture. Does everyone complain that there's no work/life balance? Do employees frequently get together after-hours to drink shots and sing karaoke? Do project teams volunteer for social-good projects together? Do employees often appear as speakers at conferences?

None of these are particularly important, but together they paint an overall picture of the social culture at the company. Do you find this picture attractive? Could you find yourself fitting into the company's social dynamic?

For some, a company with an all-work-and-no-play focus is fine; for others, working somewhere with people you actually want to be around after-hours can be a great benefit. Many people take jobs they think they will like only to discover they don't enjoy the dynamics of the workplace once they are hired, or simply enter the interview process blind to the social tenor interviews will take. Getting a sense of the day-to-day social interactions of a potential employer goes a long way toward giving you a sense of what to expect about the interview process.

 

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