Applying for an I.T. role is often a nerve wracking experience. Here's some tips that I've learnt from being on both ends of the hiring process - both going for roles, as well as interviewing and working with Human Resources on what makes a good candidate.
Some of these might sound like common sense, but getting one wrong can mean the difference between being the first pick and the second, especially frustrating when there's no prize for second place.
You've gotten as far as getting an interview, so here's some fundamental pointers to keep your foot in the door:
1. Research The Company
I.T. people will often apply for a role based on the requirements of the role itself, and not really care what the company does. It's a fair view to have when searching for roles, but you need to know the basics about the company when talking to them face to face. Check their website, see what they do. Check the news, were they mentioned in anything recently?
It's important to have this information ready to use, but not to show it off. Forcing your newly acquired knowledge into conversation won't work well - but many interviewees will ask what you know about the company, and having a response that's a short and sweet overview will go towards making good impressions.
2. Turn Up On Time
This seems incredibly obvious, but being on time is one of the first impressions that can immediately lose you a job opportunity. Being late will generally be taken as a reflection on your 'care factor' for the role, as well as your ability to plan. If disaster strikes and you are running late - call. Apologise and explain why you're late, and make an extra apology in person when you finally arrive and meet. It gives something back to showing that you do care, and hopefully will be looked over.
The opposite can apply too: don't turn up early. 10 minutes or so before the interview is the maximum 'early' time to aim for. Any earlier than that has a chance of coming off being a bit over the top, and can apply extra pressure to your interviewees knowing you'll be waiting for half an hour. If you happen to turn up particularly early, then go grab a coffee nearby or spend a few minutes on your phone reminding yourself about the company you're about to talk to.
3. Be Confident, But Not Cocky
Usually the ideal candidate is someone who fits into the area of 'confident, but not cocky'. This means you're able to talk about your strengths, admit your weaknesses, but not oversell yourself. Someone who claims their abilities in a certain area are amazing is fine, but it needs to be presented with some tact and humility. Even if you ARE the best at something, part of a hire is looking at the cultural fit. If it seems like you're going to rub people up the wrong way and not make friends, it doesn't matter how good you are at your job - it may have a negative effect over the team and other staff you'll deal with.
4. Be Yourself
You are the best at being you. Pretending to be someone else in an interview doesn't help anyone - you won't be able to keep it up if you actually get the job. What you can do is present the best parts of you. Nobody's perfect, so don't worry about any mistakes you make in the interview process. You want to be chosen for the role because it suits you. Most people are terrible liars, particularly under pressure; don't bother trying to do that. If you're nervous, say so! Your interviewers can probably tell anyway, but it helps to get reassurance and to move past those nerves.
If you have questions you want to ask, wait for an appropriate time to do so. If you're not sure when that is, again just ask. The rapport built from being friendly, honest and sincere can only help your chances of being a successful candidate.
5. Follow Up
After the interview, it's a nice touch to send a follow up email thanking those involved for their time, and to show your interest. It's a time to give a short and sweet thank you, but not a time to continue to try and sell yourself more than that. Too much will make you seem a bit desperate and over-eager which can cast doubt, but the right amount will show off your great communication skills and attention to detail.
Everyone has their own tips and tricks on how to interview, and part of this comes down to all interviewers having their own differences and opinions on what makes a good candidate. Try to read the room and adapt. Lengthen or shorten your responses if it doesn't feel right. Ask for clarification on questions if you're not sure.
There's no way to guarantee success at an interview; sometimes you may even find that the job isn't the right fit for you even if you do get an offer. Go in with a positive mindset, and put yourself in a strong position to show who you are. That's the best way to give yourself the highest chance of success.