A relevant qualification and computing-based hobbies will bolster anyone’s chances of developing a successful career in IT. However, technology can also help candidates prepare for interviews – the make-or-break stage of any job application. This is where CV statements are tested, interpersonal skills are identified and enthusiasm is showcased. Or at least, it should be…
Polish your credentials
Prospective employers will investigate your skills and background online, determining whether a career in IT is right for you. Consequently, you need a respectable online footprint. Review social media platforms for anything contentious, and delete unflattering posts. If in doubt, leave it out.
As well as managing your reputation, this is the time to bolster it. LinkedIn pages are essential for anyone seeking a career in IT, so build connections with people you know. A profile with a hundred connections looks more respectable than one with ten. If your CV is registered on job sites, ensure it’s up to date and includes details of your career in IT (or any academic or voluntary activities if you’re still studying).
Research your employer – and their industry
While you cultivate your online profile, your prospective employers will already be publicly visible. Study their websites and register an account to view gated content – this shows enthusiasm and diligence. Being able to mention historic projects or awards during an interview demonstrates a commitment to their firm in particular, rather than the industry in general. Do they encourage internal promotion or provide extensive software training?
Employers aren’t looking for you to recite their corporate timeline, but a common interview question involves your knowledge of their brand. Rehearse a few sentences covering key points, ideally touching on an area you’re familiar with. You can then lead the conversation to how your skillset might benefit the company long-term. Don’t mention a particular area of expertise too many times, since confidence may be misconstrued as arrogance. Your personality and professionalism are more important than your knowledge of HTML5 or C++.
Build a portfolio
Portfolios vary according to your chosen industry. If you want to be a web designer, look through your portfolio and compile an impressive shortlist. If your passion is CGI, pick a few eye-catching examples to take with you. Your aim is to demonstrate originality and attention to detail, so there’s no need to take every piece of work you’ve ever done. An iPad with a few screen grabs might be sufficient, but nobody wants a PowerPoint presentation these days.
Be prepared for theoretical scenarios
In computing, almost anything can go wrong. Tech firms like to test interviewees by setting a hypothetical problem and asking for possible resolutions. There might not be a definitive answer, but test how you’d respond by troubleshooting a few scenarios in advance. If a prospective programmer knows how to recover data from a corrupted CSS file, or how to spot errors in code, it demonstrates confidence under pressure. That’s a vital IT skill.
Plan your arrival
Google Maps offers a 3D birds-eye view of most urban environments, ideal for identifying where to park or how to reach the company’s offices from nearby public transport hubs. Use Street View to find the main entrance – it’ll create a poor impression if you’re wandering back and forth looking for the door. Calculate journey times to arrive in the vicinity early, but don’t enter the building until a few minutes before the appointed hour. Set any mobile devices to silent – even the buzzing of a phone may be a distraction mid-interview. And finally, formal dress and positive body language, like eye contact, makes a huge difference to your perceived employability…