Do IT: Breaking In – Interviewing

Like resumes, interviewing happens more in IT than in most other fields simply by the nature of the career itself. Most IT professionals will interview many times more than comparable professionals in other fields partially because of the nature of the staggered consultancy and headhunter organizations that doing early interviews before sending applicants on to the final employers, partially because the nature of much IT work is contracting which means more rapid job changes and partially because IT professionals often achieve “promotions” through cross corporate job changes rather than by working vertically through a single company.

Interviewing is one of those skills that get honed only through doing it on a regular basis. The first skill that is necessary to obtain is the ability to remain calm in an interview. Most people panic in interviews especially when they have not done very many of them. This is to be expected but panicky interviews are not very impressive. You can reduce the anxiety by arriving early, being well prepared, carrying several copies of your resume – keeping at least one for yourself to reference, carrying any phone numbers that you might need in case something goes wrong, having your route carefully mapped out ahead of time, etc. Leave yourself plenty of time for an interview as well. You don’t want to be watching the clock because you need to leave. Tech interviews can easily run into several hours even for contract positions.

As interviewing is such a critical skill it is important to begin practicing early.  Interviews give you an opportunity to practice your interview skills as well as to get feedback as to your resume and skill set.  I recommend interviewing early and often.  When searching for the first IT post and possibly first several especially if you go the route of consulting you are likely to interview many times before getting an offer.  This can be disheartening because interviewing is very stressful and you are likely to be quite hopeful for at least some of the positions.  But the interviewing process itself is quite important and should be treated so.  Use the opportunity to perfect interviewing skills.  Eventually you will become an expert and this will be very valuable later in your career when you need to be able to be “dead on” the first time.

The first place to start interviewing is with consulting firms.  Consulting firms are lower pressure than direct employment, often because they are far more practiced at interviewing and also because they are evaluating you for a range of positions present and future and not just for a single post, and will often provide you will good feedback such as “Come back once you have an associate degree” or “Another certification or two wouldn’t hurt” or “We really need people with hands on Windows Vista skills.”  Use this resource to jump start your interviewing – it is worth the stress.

One thought on “Do IT: Breaking In – Interviewing”

  1. Continually reading, practicing your interviewing skills – these are all really good tips! Doing these helps to build confidence which is very important to success in the industry.

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