Following my blog discussing how to best tailor a technical CV, I am keen to share my knowledge of preparing for and attending job interviews in the technical sector. Interviews in the technical industries are in some ways similar to generic job interviews, but I would like to share a few pointers in order to ensure you stand out from the crowd. If you get past the telephone or Skype interview stage with your potential employer, it is now time to prepare for the most important phase – the face to face interview.
1. Do your research
. It might sound obvious, but you would be surprised how many candidates turn up to interviews having done no research at all into the company they could potentially be working for. Get up to date on as much significant information as possible, including company history, current project information and potential problems in the industry. When discussing the company during the interview, make sure you tie in your aspirations and skillset with their business plans going forward.
2. Get to know yourself
. Print out the CV you originally submitted, and read it until you can recite it in your sleep! The majority of candidates tailor their CVs for the job they are applying for, so it is imperative that you remember exactly what was written in your CV; specifically what you did and didn’t mention about your career. Be honest – as mentioned in my last blog
, employers will do background checks on everything from your qualifications to your work experience, so make sure everything you have mentioned in your CV and mention in your interview is 100% accurate.
Is there anything missing on your CV which will help to sell yourself? If so, don’t forget to mention it in your face to face interview. Practice what you would like to discuss by creating a mind map or list of your most valuable achievements; you will be able to use these as case studies. During the interview process, you will be able to discuss the examples and elaborate on your technical ability. Preparation is everything – if you have plenty to discuss with the interviewer, you won’t need to worry beforehand about which examples from the past 20 years you can use to answer questions.
3. Get to know the interviewer
. Judging someone is a skill in itself, but in order to be able to measure what you can and cannot say, you need to be able to weigh up your interviewer. Don’t overcompensate with humour – if you can tell that your potential employer doesn’t mind a bit of a laugh, that’s fine, but don’t take it too far. Remember that no matter how friendly your interviewer may seem, it is still an interview!
4. Sell yourself
. First impressions are everything, so no matter the role you are being interviewed for it is imperative that you dress to impress. A number of my clients have told me they have decided against hiring someone based on how they are dressed for an interview. One client even told me, “If he can’t look after himself, how can I trust him to look after 20 men on site?!”
Enthusiasm will also play a big part in how the interviewer sees you. You may have all the qualifications and experience they are looking for, but if you don’t seem enthusiastic and passionate about the role, company and industry, this could cost you the job.
5. Know your stuff
. When answering technical interview questions it is extremely important that your responses aren’t vague. Can you do the job you are being interviewed for? If so, how and why? Explain your technical ability in as much depth as possible, and give examples. In addition to being able to speak about your technical knowledge, it is also a good idea to discuss how you started out in your career, discussing challenges along the way and how you built up to where you are now. Why is the position good for you, and why would you be good for the position? Link the role to your current career path and explain why they would benefit from hiring you.
Overall, the best thing to do is make a checklist of the things you want to discuss during your interview, and revise it over and over again beforehand. The majority of interviews in the technical industries will last for one hour maximum, so be sure you can fit everything into a short timeframe. Most importantly – be yourself. As long as you have sufficient experience and display enthusiasm and thorough preparation, you’re already on the right track.