Passing the Test: Tips for Acing Your Technical Job Interview

by John Sullivan

Now that you've gotten your degree in information technology and you're ready to grace the real world with your skills and experience, it's time to prepare for the all-important technical job interview. Although information technology is one sector of the economy that has held up well in the face of a challenging business climate, you are far from guaranteed a job if you are not prepared to go the extra mile during your interview. Increase your chances of success with these real-world interview tips.

Be Specific

Your interviewer wants you to be direct and to the point without being curt. You won't have to write Shakespearean tragedies as a computer programmer or systems analyst, but you will have to be able to communicate effectively with other members of your team. Practice answering questions fully and without hesitation, avoiding generalizations and vague terms like "a while," "good," and "fun."

Do Your Homework

You wouldn't take an interview at a company that you don't know anything about, right? That's certainly how your interviewer sees things. You're expected to come into your interview knowing the history, mission, and function of the firm. Demonstrate this knowledge by working in company-specific facts and figures into your answers and co-opting the language used on the company's website and in its press releases. Just remember that "corporatese" varies subtly from firm to firm, so don't mix your metaphors from one interview to the next.


If there were a way to determine a computer technician's worth simply by looking her up and down, you can bet every single tech firm would use it. No interview can accurately model future performance, but an objective skills test certainly can. Research the position's precise duties and skills requirements, then spend some time polishing said skills before your interview, just in case. Also, always "under-promise and over-deliver" when it comes to your technical skills. Pleasant surprises can exert a powerful sway on your interviewer's hiring decision.

Don't Be Overconfident

Qualified computer technicians aren't quite a dime a dozen, but they're a lot more common than they used to be. Worse, more entry-level work than ever before is being outsourced to lower-cost job markets overseas. In other words, few firms are desperate enough for help that they'll hire any warm-bodied Joe who walks into their office. If you assume you are going to get a job and phone-in your interview with short answers, negative body language, and misplaced or caustic attempts at humor, you'll be in for an unpleasant surprise.

Dress for Success

An important related point: Don't show up in street clothes because you've heard most tech workplaces are super-casual. Many of them are, but that's not the point. Your interviewer expects you to make an effort, which may include being the only person in the office wearing a suit. If you're unsure about the proper dress code for your interview, check with your recruiter or an online employer-review forum.

Finding an information technology job isn't hard if you keep a few simple tips in mind. Dress for success, polish your technical and interview skills, and communicate clearly and fully with your interviewer. It's a great time to be good with computers, so get off the couch and into a lucrative new career!

This post was written by John Sullivan

John Sullivan blogs about higher education, including top online masters in it programs. If you are interested in working with computers, this may be the perfect degree for you.

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