by Allan Hoffman
Expect to be tested on your technical knowledge and skills. Do research to find out what the employer really needs. Polish your communication skills -- and your shoes. You walk into an interview and minutes later you're being asked to set up a user's email account on a workstation. Sound unusual? It shouldn't. Interviews for technical positions, be it database administrator or Perl programmer, often include challenges far beyond the usual questions about career goals.
Many technology job seekers, wowed by all the talk of a labour shortages, sometimes think a position is theirs for the asking. With the right skills and experience, you've certainly got an edge, but thinking you've got a lock on a job -- any job -- is courting disaster. Approach the interview with confidence, but be prepared for the unexpected. Here's how to ace your next technology interview. Expect a Test With so many people sporting paper certifications -- MCSEs in particular -- it's no surprise that some employers are turning to written tests to screen potential employees. One such test programme is TeckCheck, which offers 140 vendor-independent tests on topics ranging from Visual and C++ to Unix. Companies may even ask someone to perform hands-on tasks as part of the interview process. They could literally sit a candidate in front of the computer and ask him to configure it in a certain way.
Be a Communicator Techies have a reputation for not being the best communicators. Do your best to work against that stereotype; technology pros who can clearly and easily explain technical concepts to clients or non technical managers are in high demand. Be specific in answering technical questions. You need to be able to give concise, qualitative answers. Anything else will be perceived as waffle. If you're asked how familiar you are with C++, don't just say, "I consider myself to be an expert." Talk about how long you have worked with the language, what percentage of your time is spent on programming, what percentage on testing, and what milestones you've achieved. In describing what you've done use action words (planned, initiated), leadership words (organised, directed), and results words (increased, contributed to) whenever possible.Avoid Arrogance Plenty of employers looking for technology professionals have seen one too many stereotypical 24-year-olds who think they're worth ?60K and don't see why they need to impress anyone during an interview. Don't be like them.
"Watch out for arrogance". "Don't come across like you're doing them a favour just by being there, even if you fit all of the job's technical requirements. Express interest in the job and talk about what you can do for the company."Know the CompanyCompanies don't simply want technical functionaries these days; they want people who understand the company's goals, competitors and the industry at large. Research the company using sites which feature company profiles. Read the company's press releases and scour its Web site.
You want to engage in a dialogue about how this company differentiates itself in the industry. Don’t be a slobJust because a company has a reputation for an informal atmosphere, don't show up in a tracksuit. If you're working with a recruiter, ask them for advice on what to wear. You may want to wear something more casual than a suit if you're interviewing at a dotcom with a reputation for being ultra-alternative, but save the tracksuit for another time. You don't need to match your interviewer's informality, even if he's in a swimsuit. As a general rule, interview attire should be relatively conservative.
"You can wear whatever they're wearing once you work there".Ask the right questionsWhatever you do, don't say you don't have any questions about the company. You don't want to come across as a know-it-all, or as not being particularly interested in the firm. If possible, Hough says, ask this question early in the interview: "What does the ideal candidate bring to this position?" Once you know that, you'll be able to explain why you fit the bill.
Monday, June 16, 2008
by Allan Hoffman