The interview is your opportunity to showcase not only your technical abilities but, first and foremost, your social skills and business knowledge.
Graduates applying for IT jobs should bear in mind that employers are as keen to test for business and interpersonal skills as for technical prowess.
"What will really set you apart is your ability to place your technical skills in the context of the organisation," says Adam Thilthorpe, director of professionalism at the British Computer Society (BCS). "A criminal number of graduates turn up for interview without even knowing what the company does".
So, if you’re applying to a credit card company, for example, it helps to understand that that technology is the engine of the business and to appreciate the relevance and responsibility of your role. Likewise, the public sector is all about transformational government and you will need to comment and ask questions about your role in that process and vision.
Even in these economically straitened times, "IT graduates who display good social skills are like gold dust,” says Sean Young, director at Spring Technology.
Common interview questions – and the best answers
Most interviews consist of predictable questions that you should prepare for. Our panel of recruitment agencies provides the best answers.
Why do you want to work for us? Explain any positives about the company that you have researched and identified, such as culture or training opportunities
Why did you apply for this job? Talk about the content of the job and the challenges. Avoid talking about any associated salary.
What are your strengths and weaknesses? Identify specific attributes and give real examples of where you have demonstrated these. Be honest about any weakness and try to show how you are working on this or have learnt from them.
What is your biggest achievement to date? This question is designed to give the interviewer an insight into what makes a candidate tick: it’s less about the achievement itself than how you present it and why it was significant.
With thanks to Office Team and Strategic Dimensions.
Mug up on technical questions
Use search engines to find valuable sources of technical Q&As such as these below:
Face-to-face interview tips
Prepare well and your interview is more likely to go well. Our IT experts offer their tips:
- Prepare well: Get your nerves and mistakes out in the open. Practice in front of family and friends and get feedback on your performance
- Show that you’re a social animal with good interpersonal skills, and don’t focus solely on selling your technical abilities.
- Research the studio or company you are applying to – what is their differentiator and their main appeal to you? Where will you add value?
- Be ready to show your enthusiasm to go for it!
With thanks to Sean Young of Spring Technology, Adam Thilthorpe of BCS and Tony Bickley of Train2Game.
DOs and DON'Ts of online interviews
More recruiters are using social and business networking sites and there’s an etiquette to be observed in any communication that may form part of an informal interview.
- Use your security settings - you may not want to share the same information with potential employers as you would with your friends
- Be honest with your profile and work history, particularly on LinkedIn.
- Use your Contact Settings to show whether you are open to job offers, consultancy opportunities etc.
- Think about keywords that describe your skill sets and disciplines and use them within your profile. Remember most searches are needs and location-based e.g. computer programmer, Ealing.
- Overstate your work history, previous work colleagues will be able to see it as well as potential employers.
- Integrate your personal social media feeds (Facebook or Twitter) into your professional social media profiles unless you are happy to share the content of your posts.
- Use your professional social networks for personal or derogatory comments (the internet remembers forever).
With thanks to Justine Perry, Cariad Marketing.
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