Let’s face the truth: these days in the tech world, talent is in high demand, but just having the technical skills is not enough to land the job. In today’s collaborative work environment, many teams are geographically and culturally diverse. Your future co-workers also have diverse technical skills that will overlap yours. Technology is ever evolving and while you may know Jira today, in a few months you may need to learn Bamboo, Hudson or Jenkins for Continuous Integration.
You’re probably well aware of your level of expertise, and you can expect common IT interview questions to drill into that knowledge. Sure, you may need to brush up on some of the more obscure tech skills, but if you can confidently walk your talk, then chances are you won’t be shocked by any outlier technical questions.
However, simply proving your knowledge may not be enough, especially when the next ten candidates in line have the same skills. So what differentiates you as the front runner for your next great career opportunity?
Here are a few of our thoughts about how to stand out in a tech interview.
1. Most important is your base line perspective of the interview itself. Too many candidates treat the interview as a passive event, letting the interviewer direct the way, and obligingly answering each question as it comes.
The trick to standing out is coming to the critical realization that an interview is essentially a two-way conversation and an opportunity to build a relationship. You should want to learn as much about the company and role as they want to learn about you. Make sure you’re asking questions about the company, job responsibilities, work environment, future of the company, career growth opportunities, and more. Engage the interviewer on what it is that they are passionate about in their company and job. Part of the hiring process is to inspire the interviewer to not only like your skills and expertise, but also like you and see you as a good team fit and the right person for the role.
Ultimately, the interview is the moment to “sell” yourself as a top contender for the position. Show that you’re an active participant in the process and project your personality as is appropriate for a business meeting. When answering specific technical interview questions, give relevant examples of your skills and work experience. While you may not have applicable experience on all of the technologies they question you on, having a comprehension of them shows the aptitude to adapt and grow. Research and preparation sets you apart.
2. Let’s talk about soft skills. This conversation isn’t anything new, but it is necessary. Your technical skills are essential to making sure you can do the job – this is, after all, a tech interview – but the way you fit into an organization and a team is important, too. If you’re going to be part of a team, you need to show you’re a team player. If the company values its employees’ contributions in its growth, you need to show your initiative.
This is where it’s important to ask questions of your interviewer. Find out as much as you can about the company culture, core values, team dynamic and management style, so you can determine if and how you’ll be a great fit in the organization. Other soft skills that are key for top candidates are traits like passion and work ethic, problem-solving skills, adaptability, follow-through, and a positive attitude.
3. Don’t miss your opportunity to follow up after the interview. Whether you’re one of a small handful or one of a hundred candidates, the interviewer is naturally going to have a better memory of some candidates over others. Even if you’ve done everything you can to stand out in the interview, it’s an excellent idea to send over a quick thank you email to follow up afterward.
Keep it short but appreciative, perhaps mentioning a specific conversation point from the interview that will help the interviewer remember you. Although the advice to send a follow up or thank you email is fairly common, the truth is that many candidates skip this step, leaving the opportunity wide open for you to make a great impression.
The tech industry is experiencing astonishingly high demand for top talent right now, which can be an advantage for great technology professionals. Nonetheless, you need to make sure you are being more than a passive participant in the interview process. Even the most talented IT pros should make an effort to stand out in a technical interview.
At CyberSearch, we work closely with candidates to make sure they find a company and a role that is a great fit for their career goals and work experience. If you need a hand navigating the search for a new career path, let us know today.