Started From The Bottom Now You’re Hired: Tips For The Tech Job Interview

March 24th, 2015 by Mary Silva

In the ever-growing tech industry, more and more jobs are becoming available. Sadly, this also means a lot of positions aren’t being filled due to bad interviews. Having interviewed hundreds of prospective employees in the past few months, I’ve learned that many people seem to struggle when considering what employers are looking for in candidates. You practice and prepare for interviews in advance thinking, “How can I show them how great I am?” when you really should be practicing to fulfill the question, “How can I show them I’m what they want?”

So here are some tips for acing the interview! A lot of these can apply to more than the tech world, so read on and take mental notes for your future!

Search Influence - New Orleans Tech Industry Interview DOs and DON'Ts

Do: Talk About What You Have To Offer A Company
If you’re applying for a position that requires any sort of client-facing or largely communicative capacities, talk about ways in which you’ve exhibited those abilities in the past. If you’re applying to work in a fast-paced, growing industry, talk about how you’ve been adaptive and proactive with change in your past experiences. Also, make it clear that the industry they’re in is the industry you want to work for. You should ALWAYS research what a company does before you attend an interview with them. Being completely clueless about the work they do shows a lack of sincere interest in the job.

Basically, find any way to show your interviewer that you have what they need and want to be there.

Don’t: Talk About What A Company Has To Offer You
One of the biggest mistakes you can make in an interview is saying something like, “I want to work here because I don’t know about insert industry here and want to learn everything I can from working here.” You’d be surprised how often we hear that people want to start their own online marketing companies and just want to work for us to learn how to do what we do. That kind of response is a huge red flag for companies.

Talking about your capacity and willingness to learn is a GREAT idea, but it needs to be done tastefully. A better way to express that would be something like, “I’d enjoy working in an environment where I’m constantly learning something new and improving.”

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Do: Talk About Any Relevant Online / Tech Experience
If you’re applying for a job in the tech industry, talk about any and all tech experience you have. Even if the job you’re applying for doesn’t require HTML experience, letting your interviewer know that you’ve got that experience shows that you’re well rounded and will be able to communicate effectively in that subject area if you need to (which can be helpful for interdepartmental work within a company). If you’ve got a professional website or blog for yourself, don’t be afraid to share it!

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Don’t: Talk About Your Tumblr
Unless you’ve got a blog or website suitable for the eyes of an employer, refrain from specifics when talking about any blogging, HTML experience, or other relevant experience. Most people who know what Tumblr is know that it is rarely used in a professional capacity, and the last thing you want to do in an interview is to get your employer imagining your possibly-emotional, probably-personal presence. You can still talk about how having a Tumblr or any other non-professional online experience plays into your abilities, but approach it carefully. Instead of “I use Tumblr a lot, so I get HTML,” say something like “Through a few blogging platforms, I’ve had some experience with basic HTML.”

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Do: Talk About Your Interests Outside Of Work
Usually, mentioning that you’ve balanced side projects in life while still working or going to school full time is an indication to future employers that you’re capable of balancing multiple tasks and prioritizing what needs to be done. It also helps to show you’re well-rounded and provides something unique that could make you stand out in the interviewer’s memory. If an employer is trying to weed out top candidates from a recent round of interviews, the good interviewee who played guitar in some band might stand out more than just the good interviewee.

Don’t: Talk About Starting Your Own Business, Going Back To School, Or Trying To Become An Actor
Unless you’re applying for a temporary position, most companies are looking for someone who’s in it for the long haul and wants to grow with the company. If you’re indicating to your interviewer that your main interests don’t align with being dedicated to your job, they might not consider you to be an ideal candidate for the position.

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Do: Elaborate And Give Examples
Even when given a general question, never give a general answer. Often, employers ask something about discussing a time when you exhibited a certain characteristic. For example, an employer might ask, “Can you tell us about a time when you had to deliver great customer service?” If you’ve had any service industry experience (which so many of us have), your initial thought is probably, “ALL. THE. TIME.” While it’s great that you’ve got a lot of experience with this, you want to give clear examples that exhibit it. So saying something more explicit gives the employer a clearer picture of what you define as “good customer service.”

Don’t: EVER Give A Yes Or No Answer
Along the lines of the suggestion above, even when you’re asked a “yes or no” or “either/or” question, make sure to explain the reasoning behind your answer and never ride the fence. The most common example of this that I see is when candidates are asked if they prefer working individually or on a team, as people often respond that they’re comfortable doing both. While this is seemingly an admirable trait, realistically everyone has a preference, and neither answer is wrong. If an employer chooses to hire you, they’ll want to know if you’re predisposed to work in the type of environment that their company has and be ready to work with you on it if you aren’t.

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Do: Prepare Your Online Presence Accordingly
According to a June 2014 study by CareerBuilder, 43 percent of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates, and 51 percent of employers researching candidates online found content that caused them to not hire the candidate. Even at a laid-back, young office like ours, a profile picture of you doing a shirtless keg stand is probably not going to get you invited to an interview. One safe move you should probably make is to switch your Facebook profile features to private when applying for jobs.

You should also have a well-built-out LinkedIn profile with references. Though most employers will do reference checks as you move along in the later stages of the hiring process, having good, easy-to-access references from the get-go could improve your chances of moving forward.

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Don’t: Delete Your Entire Online Presence
Having profiles online, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or your own site, puts you in control of what future employers see when they look for you. Also, if you’re trying to remove incriminating photos of yourself, deleting your profiles will only delete pictures you posted (not ones your friends posted of you). So you’re better off changing your privacy settings and managing your online presence. There are also sites like SimpleWash that connect to your Facebook and Twitter accounts in order to help you identify possibly inappropriate statuses, likes, and pictures.

Another reason why you should be keeping your social profiles around is that, in the tech industry in particular, employers are typically looking for people with a proclivity for all things techy, and having an online presence is another opportunity to exhibit that inclination.

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Use these tips, and good luck in your job searching! Feel free to share your interview experiences below. We’re often looking to fill positions here at Search Influence, so if you’re interested in working with a hard-working, fun bunch, check out our various tech industry job postings.