The IT Interview

A big part of the IT JD NEG/DWG project is getting job seekers involved in work-based learning programs, and a major part of that process is the IT interview. IT job seekers, both inside and out of the IT JD NEG/DWG program, need to be aware of the common and current trends in IT job interviews to be successful in their pursuits.

It’s important to note that these trends change frequently. Be sure to keep up on current trends by checking Illinois workNet and any other helpful interviewing site to make sure your methods aren’t outdated.

Interview Skills Webinar

The Most Important Tip

In IT interviewing, the most important thing to keep in mind is basic soft skills, which includes communication skills, teamwork abilities, adaptability, dependability, etc.  Being able to easily verbalize IT skills and experiences can make a candidate stand out since so many IT professionals are introverted. This is especially true since the first person who talks to a candidate is usually in HR, and they might not understand IT vernacular and acronyms.

There are two main reasons why soft skills are prized in IT interviews today. Firstly, IT is much more integrated into modern businesses than they were 10 or 15 years ago, which means that IT people need to be able to talk to everyone at the company rather than staying isolated. Secondly, IT is an incredibly large field that’s constantly changing, so the most successful IT professionals are the ones who can adapt quickly. Someone with experience in a specific programming language might be well suited for a job currently, but what happens when that programming language changes to something else? Can they acclimate to that change?

Behavioral Interviewing

Behavioral interview questions are incredibly popular in IT. These are questions that start with some form of the phrase “Tell me about a time when…”. They’re meant to gauge how a candidate reacted to a difficult or unusual situation, and what they learned from the experience.  

The best way to handle these questions is to prepare 3 successful stories about projects from the past, and 1 unsuccessful project. Your client can use the 3 successful stories to answer a wide variety of different behavioral interviewing questions. Sometimes, a behavioral interviewing question will be about how a candidate handled a negative situation, and the candidate can tell their unsuccessful story to answer this question.  In preparing the unsuccessful story, they should remain positive and focus on what they’ve learned from the experience.

Another way to answer these questions is to use the STAR method. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. This is a great way for a job seeker to train themselves to tell a cohesive, structured story in 2-3 minutes. Most people have a difficult time telling stories about past experiences off the top of their head, but if the job candidate remembers to briefly explain the situation they were in, the task at hand, the action they took, and the results of that action, they’ll have a much easier time answering behavioral interviewing questions.

Google-Style Questions

Recently, a particular style of interviewing questions has been made popular by Google’s HR. These questions are often absurd, outlandish questions that are made to throw the interviewing candidate off their game. Questions could be similar to, “If you were part of a cheeseburger, what part would you be and why?” Since Google’s popularization of it, many other smaller companies and startups particularly in the IT industry have adopted them, and IT job seekers need to know how to handle them.

The best method for handling these types of bizarre questions is to think out loud. The interviewer wants to see how the candidate processes a strange problem, and how they’d approach a way to solve it. Quick, one word answers won’t benefit a job candidate here, they need to explain they’re methodology for answering the question.

Further Information

For more information on basic interviewing skills, please visit the Illinois workNet Employment and Hiring page, as well as