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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.

This is easier than it sounds, and it is definitely a good idea to prepare questions for the interviewer in advance, especially if you have concerns about the position or company. But by no means do you want to come off as challenging the interviewer by turning the process on its head. You want to be remembered as someone who is well-prepared, well-informed, and easy to talk to -- not someone who is going to undermine colleagues by questioning them for the sake of showing what you know.

IT interview tip No. 11: Help the interviewer imagine you in the position
Open-ended questions are an excellent opportunity to help the interviewer imagine you in the position. For example, "What would my day-to-day duties be?" pretty much forces the interviewer to imagine that you already have the position and are going about your daily routine before answering, or at least drawing a parallel between you and their ideal candidate or between you and the last person to fill the position.

IT interview tip No. 12: Always speak favorably about former employers
It doesn't matter if your prior employer was a complete control freak who made your life a living hell; always speak favorably about them. Don't say, "I got tired of text messages at midnight asking me for help with the manager's moonlighting project, so I'm looking for a new gig." Instead, make it positive: "I enjoyed the variety of challenges presented but am looking for new ones." Going on and on about how badly your prior employer treated you is a serious red flag, no matter how justified you feel you are in doing so.

You are very likely to be asked point-blank why you have left former positions, so be positive -- "to expand my opportunities to use my abilities to help more people," "to take my career in a more modern direction," "to relocate to [city name]." Whatever you say, you must mean it, and be ready to back it up with concrete examples. Moving toward a positive goal is attractive; running away from a negative space is not.

IT interview tip No. 13: Ask for the job
>Most interviewers ask if you have any questions for them at the end of the interview. If you are excited about the opportunity, it's OK to ask, "When do I start?" If the interviewer has hiring authority, he/she may make you an offer on the spot. This question shows enthusiasm and initiative, and at the very least elicits a laugh and ends the discussion on a positive note. If the interviewer reacts negatively to this question -- seems taken aback or flustered -- that may be a sign the interview did not go well from their perspective, and it's time to hunt anew, or seek out ways to assuage them of their reservations about you.

Good luck out there!


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