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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. 8: Dress as if you already work there
It's simple, almost hackneyed, but it's true: What you wear, how you present yourself, your body language, and so on, all of these influence the interviewers and thus the outcome. If the company is "business casual," don't show up in a suit. Dress as if you already work there. If you're not sure from the description, ask your recruiter or inside contact, look for office pictures, or if possible drop by the office and peek through the window.

Before you walk into the room, remind yourself of your good qualities. Stand up straight, make eye contact, and enter the space as if you belong there -- not as if you own it or rule it, but as if it is a comfortable, familiar place where several of your friends reside. You want to project an open, friendly level of confidence, to set both you and the interviewers at ease.

IT interview tip No. 9: Let your personality out
Interviewers -- the good ones -- aren't merely looking for boxes to check. They're looking for someone who fits into the company culture, adds value to the business, and is able to grow with the job. It's important to let your personality out, though not all at once. This may be difficult for those with a more introverted personality to ease into, and for the more extroverted among us it may be hard to hold back on the thousand things you find fascinating.

Pick two or three areas of personal interest that you feel are relevant to the job, the company, or the interviewer. You may not be able to identify these in advance, so stay alert for clues during the course of the conversation. When opportunity presents, add a little bit of your personality into the dialog, and see if that increases interest or engagement. If it does, continue the thread for a little bit; if it doesn't, don't press it.

In the end, you want the company to be excited about you, not about filling a round hole with an uninteresting peg.

IT interview tip No. 10: Beware the "interviewing the interviewer" trap
Some publications recommend you take control of the interview by "interviewing the interviewer." This can be misinterpreted as adversarial in some circumstances. It's fine to turn the interview process into a conversation instead of an interrogation and ask questions. For example, if asked about your experience with a particular programming language, it's not a bad idea to answer with pertinent facts briefly, then follow up with a leading question such as, "How much of my work would be with this language, and in what domains?"

 

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