13 insider tips for acing your job interview

Esoteric puzzles, landmine questions, ‘cultural fit’ -- these 13 tips help you navigate the IT interview process with confidence

Job Interviewing Skills

If you’re an IT pro, chances the job interview is at -- or very near -- the top of your list of personal hells. Why not? Tech job interviews can be grueling experiences, rife with esoteric puzzles, uncomfortable pauses, landmine questions, and the aching underlying feeling that maybe you don’t belong.

Throughout the process, you will be talking with strangers via phone and video, taking tests, answering challenging and often uncomfortable questions, traveling on sleepless red-eye flights, and enduring multiple anxious periods of not knowing what is going on, how you’ve been received, or what will happen next.

To really ace the interview and minimize your anxiety going in, you must be prepared to an almost otherworldly extent, on many fronts at once. This means deep research on the position and company to decode what to expect during the interview process and to understand the company dynamics at as near the level of a current employee as you can.

Still sure you want to pursue that new job?

IT interview tip No. 1: Don’t be afraid to reach out early

Interview preparation begins the moment you find yourself intrigued by a posting. The questions you anticipate fielding, how you’ll present your skills and experience persuasively, what you’ll ask to get a better grasp of the position -- the interview should always be a point of reflection as you dig deeper in researching the job.

One note to keep in mind early: Sometimes the company can be more important than the advertised position. Just because the job ad says “junior programmer” does not mean the company doesn’t also need a senior developer. The key to acing an IT interview is finding the perfect fit. Don’t be afraid to call or email; many jobs are not advertised. In some cases, early contact on a not-quite-right job can lead to an informal conversation with the recruiter, who can tell you whether other, better-suited jobs are on offer or if the organization is open to expanding the role to fit your extraordinary qualifications.

IT interview tip No. 2: Don't believe everything you read on Glassdoor

Resources such as Glassdoor provide a wealth of information about the hiring and interviewing process at most major companies. In fact, for many IT pros, Glassdoor’s community reviews of a company’s culture, salary information, and so on is the first stop in researching a position. The information can be extensive, detailed, and very valuable, providing instant insights from fellow professionals of their experiences with your target company.

But as with every other aspect of the Internet, be aware that people who don’t like the company are much more likely to review it than people who like the company. Take all the negativity -- you’re likely to encounter a lot -- with a block of salt and make up your own mind. Don’t be dissuaded from pursuing what could be your dream job, or get derailed by interview advice from someone who might not have been the right fit or was not as well prepared for the interview as you will be.

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