Professionals in the sphere of IT are much-in-demand. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment rates in the IT industry are projected to grow by 13% by 2026, faster than all other occupations. Thus, the IT industry is projected to add over 500,000 new jobs, encouraging young specialists to enter this industry.
However, despite the abundance of IT job offers, getting a job position in the IT industry can be very challenging for the young specialists, taking into consideration the high competition and the growing demands of the employers.
That’s why one of the prerequisites for a young specialist to get the desired job in IT is to make a good impression during a job interview.
First IT job interview is a kind of a milestone, often bringing a lot of stress to those who are just about to begin building their career. In this article, we will take a look at the steps you can take to prepare yourself for your first IT job interview.
Step #1: Research the Company
This step is essential for every job interview, not just in the IT industry. Researching the company, which will interview you, is your must-do homework because you will be asked a question, why you are interested to work for them.
Natalie Fisher, a Canada-based career advisor, explains, why you should research the company before going to the interview:
“The reason why you should research a company is for you. Your goal is not to impress someone, it is to come up with more interesting answers to the interview questions that will be relevant to the conversation.”
Natalie proceeds to say that collecting the information about the company is necessary because this job will affect your life, and you should base your decision on how this particular company will fit your career needs.
As a frontend or backend developer, or even an app developer, you’ll be spending your entire day at work behind the office computer. So making sure that the work environment is comfortable for you is essential.
However, a work environment is not the only thing you should research before the interview. Natalie Fisher gives the following advice on how to research a company before the interview:
· Browse their online credentials. This company’s website, its profile on Glassdoor and other online HR resources – this is a starting point of your research. However, don’t just look for plain facts. Natalie Fisher recommends a street smart approach, meaning that you should dig for the information behind the facts. For instance, don’t just stop at learning that a company has 100 employees, but look for what this team of employees has achieved.
· What does the CEO have to say? Natalie Fisher recommends googling interviews with the CEO of the company you’re interested in. Often in these interviews, you can find unique details about how this company operates. Bringing these details up during this interview can give you bonus points.
· Take a look at the company’s social life. Social media can tell a lot about how a company operates. Natalie Fisher reiterates the necessity of browsing through the company’s social media profiles to check out not only the company’s activities but also the people who’ve worked there. On LinkedIn, for instance, you can check out how long previous employees have worked for this company. This will give you a possible clue on how employees are treated at this company. You can also directly message people to learn insider information about the company.
These unconventional ways to check a company will work well for those who are preparing for their first IT job interview. This research will help you find out about a company’s corporate culture and whether it resonates with your own needs and your work ethic.
Step #2: Prepare Yourself Question-Wise
You should be ready for the fact that you will be asked a lot of questions about your background, related to the IT industry. Interview questions can be divided into general and industry-specific.
General questions are oriented at finding out more about your personality and how well you will fit in the company. You can see the visual demonstration of how general questions are applied to check a person’s fitness for a company by watching Deloitte’s “Will You Fit into Deloitte” video:
This video is filmed with humorous intent. Nevertheless, it describes real situations (which you can potentially be asked about) that will determine whether you fit in the company or not. You can use this video and other interactive videos online to prepare for being asked, how you will act in similar situations.
Now let’s talk about industry-specific questions, which you can be asked in two different ways:
· during a trial task
· during a conversation itself
A trial task is a common procedure that many employers in the IT industry resort to. This procedure allows an interviewer to witness and understand the thought process of a candidate while they perform. Besides, running a trial task allows employers to avoid an all-too-common basic approach to interviewing a candidate.
How to prepare for a trial task?
Although there’s no way to know which kind of trial task you will be given during the interview, you can still train at home with:
- Competitive programming: you are asked to write the source code of a certain computer program that will solve a certain problem (logical or mathematical). Competitive programming is one of the most challenging trial tasks, as competitors don’t know which coding style to follow. Thus, this task is often used during IT job interviews to check out the coding style of the applicants. Here you can find different competitive programming tasks to prepare yourself.
- Google Asia Pacific University Test (APAC): this test is scheduled, so you cannot take it as freely as competitive programming test. However, this test is still a great way to prepare for your IT interview trial task, as it offers 4 problems of varying difficulty. There are small and large input tasks, giving you lower and higher points respectively. After you complete the tasks, your name appears on the leaderboard of competitors, which you can print to add to your resume.
Both tests are great for not just preparing for a trial task, but also to simply test your skills. Moreover, completing APAC, for instance, adds bonus points to your resume, even if you have no previous work experience.
Interviewers can ask questions that test your knowledge during the interview itself, without giving you a trial task. This is done to see how fast you would respond to questions that describe particular problems or situations.
Let’s take Java programmers, for instance. “The main goal when hiring a Java specialist is to test their practical knowledge through short questions,” says Christina Perry, an HR manager at Top Writers Review.
She adds that the quality of their answers determines the outcome of the hiring process. If the candidate is confident in their answers and can support their answers with some experience (even from just studying the code), this gives them bonus points during the interview.
Here are the top 3 questions for Java developers that Christina Perry claims she uses during the interview process:
- Why String is unchanged in Java?
- How is memory managed in Java?
- Practical questions, like constructing a tree from Inorder and Preorder.
Browsing through possible questions that can test your skills is important before your first IT job interview because your skills are the main thing you can be confident about, having no previous experience working in IT.
Step #3: Learn from Someone’s Experience
This is the fun part. But it doesn’t mean that you cannot learn something valuable to prepare for your first IT job interview.
The best way is to go to YouTube and check out the videos from your fellow programmers and developers to learn from their experience of preparing for your first interview. Here’s one video by I.T. Career Questions on what you need to know before you go to your first interview:
The main message of the video:
- Don’t be too self-conscious (which is a common problem for the first-time interviewee).
- Be honest, even about being nervous.
- Not knowing the answer to some questions is natural, as every job is a learning experience.
- You may be asked very simple questions that are not related to the job you’re interviewing for, but which are related to your skills. Be prepared to answer them.
- Don’t be afraid to verbalize your thought process out loud, this will help you feel more relaxed.
Watching such videos will help you prepare for your first IT job interview psychologically, which is also very important to feel a bit more comfortable while speaking with the hiring manager. The speaker also suggests that you may call the company that interviewed you after a week if they didn’t get back to you themselves. This persistence is often what many IT companies are looking for.
The Bottom Line
Let’s be honest: it’s hard to be sure that you will nail your first IT job interview just because you’ve been diligently preparing for it. There are some things that you fail at and, by doing it, you can learn. Thus, job interviews are a learning experience on their own. Don’t be afraid to fail, there are a lot of other job opportunities for you.
Nevertheless, this small guide that we provide you with, should be helpful when preparing for your first IT job interview. Research as much as you can, talk to others about their experience, and practice more. At the end of the day, you’ll be hired for your skills, not necessarily for your job experience.