Tech sector interviews

IT employers use interviews to assess your technical abilities, but usually their aim isn’t just to evaluate how much knowledge you have amassed in one specific area. Employers are also interested in your ability to deal with unfamiliar technical issues and acquire new skills quickly.

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Types of test you should expect

Employers may assess you with
practical tests, presentations, design
exercises, technical questions, or a
combination of all of the above. To
assess your problem-solving skills,
you may be asked to comment on a
range of scenarios or hypothetical
situations of increasing complexity.
Before the interview begins, you may
be required to take part in a short
design exercise or code analysis
activity. You will then be asked to
present your solution and explain
your findings, and interviewers may
ask you how or why you might revise
the system or code if given more
time. This may even happen prior to
the interview itself, in the form of
online tests as the first stage of the
selection process or a presentation
given to a group at an assessment
centre.

Getting to grips with unique
Problems

In the workplace, you’ll often be
asked questions to which no textbook
answer exists – e.g. ‘How can we
make this process run faster?’ You
may also be required to come up to
speed with new technologies in a
short space of time, often without
any formal training course. Recruiters
will often challenge candidates with
problems they’re unlikely to have
come across before. Rather than
panicking and thinking you’re
expected to know the answer, keep
calm and simply give it your best
shot. Show the interviewer how you
might approach finding a solution,
even if you don’t have the solution.
Before sharing your ideas, ask the
interviewer if you need further
information to complete a task,
rather than jumping straight in and
going off topic. Be honest if you don’t
know the answer to a question, as
the interviewer will see through your
attempts to fabricate an answer.

Focus on your preparation

Make sure you fully understand
exactly what it is the employer does,
and review the job description
carefully. Brush up on the relevant
skills for the role and the technical
activities of the organisation. While
you won’t be required to possess indepth
knowledge of all the company’s
areas of expertise, it’s likely some of
the questions you face will relate to
these.

Be prepared to answer questions
on anything you add to your CV. If
you’ve engaged in project work,
expect to be pressed on what it
entailed, as recruiters use this as a
way to assess how you may have
tackled problems. When discussing
your project in an interview, briefly
explain the key objectives of the work
and focus on the skills and
techniques you employed, and
mention how you overcame any
difficulties that arose. If it was a
group project, explain what your
specific role was and how you
integrated your skills into the group.

Don’t be passive

Most interviewers will stick to a set
interview format and ask their
questions in a specific order. While
you shouldn’t attempt to hijack the
interview and disrupt their method,
neither should you remain passive.
Sell your skills and experience in a
clear manner while remaining within
the framework of the interview.
At some point in the interview,
make sure you communicate the
relevant experience and attributes
you possess. If you aren’t asked about
them directly, include them in your
responses to other questions.
Interviewers will often conclude the
interview by asking if you have
anything to add; take advantage of
this and raise any key points you
didn’t get a chance to mention.
Don’t assume the interviewer is
aware of your achievements as it they
may not be the same person that
screened your application.

Do be polite and friendly

Viewing your interviewers as normal
people will relax you and help you
come off in a more natural manner.
Making some polite but genuine
small talk will help you stand out as a
thoughtful and mature candidate,
one who can interact with others in a
business context.

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