Interview Tips

A telephone or in person job interview can be very stressful, we have all been there. Often, just knowing the technology is not enough. Fortunately, good preparation will go a long way to greatly reduce that nervous feeling.

The key things a good interview will convey are:

  • First and most obviously, how much you know about the hardware, software, operating systems, applications, and/or networking technologies with which you would be working.
  • How articulate you are, especially for a position in which you may be called upon to write reports or documentation, or give presentations to users or upper management.
  • How poised and personable you are, especially in a position like tech support or network administration, where you will have to deal with many people at all levels of the organization.
  • How well you handle stress, especially if the position is in a high-pressure, time-sensitive environment.
  • How innovative you are; that is, whether you’re able to “think outside the box” to come up with new solutions rather than just spout the party line of the moment.
  • Whether you’ve had hands-on experience with the products, or you only know the “factoids” you read in books or learned in a classroom.
  • How vendor-centric you are; that is, whether you only know one product line for example, Microsoft or Novell, or have a broader base of knowledge that is necessary in today’s modern “hybrid” network environments.
  • How willing are you to take on extra duties or work overtime when necessary; how much pride you take in your work and in doing a good job.
  • How well you balance ambition and leadership with the ability to follow the instructions and defer to the wishes of management, even if you disagree.
  • How loyal you’ll be to the company.
  • How honest you are (including whether you’re able/willing to say “I don’t know” when you don’t know the answer to a question).
  • Whether you have the wherewithal to find out the answers to those questions and the solutions to those problems that you don’t know.

Important things to keep in mind:

PHONE INTERVIEWS

  • Research and understand the company you are interviewing with.
  • Thoroughly understand the job description and responsibilities.
  • Know your resume inside out for your interview. Be prepared for the questions your resume raises.
  • Convey confidence and enthusiasm – maintain an upbeat tone!
  • Speak clearly and at an appropriate pace. If you have an accent make sure you talk slowly enough to be understood
  • Stay away from simple “Yes” or “No” answers – follow your answers with relevant facts that backup and expand your claim. You must leave the interviewer satisfied that you know what you are talking about. Remember, it is okay to say you don’t know something.
  • Let the interviewer know that you would enjoy the challenge of working with something new and are a quick learner. Also, if you have experience with something similar, talk about that a little bit.
  • Answer the question. Listen carefully to what is being asked and make sure to answer the question completely but concisely. Follow with, “Does that fully answer your question?” Do not ramble on endlessly or get off topic.
  • Ask insightful questions. Towards the end of the interview is your chance to ask questions that further convey your subject matter expertise, interest in the project, and ability to fit into their team. Like, “Have you thought of doing X? It may be able to solve these problems in your environment.”
  • DO NOT discuss salary, vacation time, or benefits – leave that to your recruiter.
  • Closing statement – At the end of the interview, state your interest in the position. Like, “Thank you all for your time. I’m very interested in this position because I can help in X, Y, Z areas. What is the next step?”

IN PERSON INTERVIEWS

In addition to the tips for phone interviews, for an in person interview you will want to:

  • Make sure to be on time – try getting there 10-15 minutes early.
  • Dress appropriately – always err on the side of caution and wear a conservative business suite if you are unsure.
  • Body language is important. Maintain a pleasant demeanor with steady eye contact, do not slump or act “fidgety”.
  • When you first meet the interviewer, smile and give him/her a firm and warm handshake. Avoid squeezing the interviewer’s hand to discomfort.
  • To ease the conversation, make an intelligent compliment about the office or area. For example you could say: “Nice office” or better “I got here early and I was walking around, I really like (something) about the area.” This shows that you are punctual, have good interpersonal skills, and are observant.
  • If you are offered a drink like coffee, juice or water, take one. It seems to be easier to say “no thanks.” But, accepting it shows that you are a confident and easygoing person. Also, you might need to refresh your throat while you are speaking – and it can also buy some time to think about an answer.
  • Follow the interviewer to the room where the interview will take place and wait until they ask you to be seated.
  • Always take a notepad, or portfolio. Put your purse or brief case on the floor beside your chair.