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5 expert tips to help you ace your next IT job interview

The tech industry is an exciting area to work in but getting the interview right can be a challenge for even the most experienced IT executives. We asked an expert to share her advice to help you succeed in your next IT interview.

Over the last decade, the role of technology in businesses has evolved from backroom operations to become a pivotal function with influence at the highest levels. 

It’s an exciting time to be in tech, and senior tech candidates are highly sought-after across all industries to lead digital and operational transformations. But competition for coveted tech roles is fierce, and as tech has evolved so has the best ways to approach the job application process.

To help you prepare for your next tech executive job interview, we’ve asked our senior consultant of the Technology & Transformation team at Robert Walters Malaysia, for her advice.

Do your research

Every candidate knows preparation is key to a successful interview, but for an executive role in the tech industry, this preparation should be as up-to-date as possible.

“Having a good understanding about the company plays a significant role in a successful job interview,” shares Lynnette. “Equipping yourself with the knowledge about the company – its background, recent projects and digital transformation initiative – will make a great first impression and will help boost your confidence.”

“It’s also important that you are fully aware of the required technical competencies and the nature of the role, so hiring managers will know you are a good fit for the job and also to ensure the job expectation is aligned with your personal career goals,” she shares.

Learning and understanding more about the hiring manager will also help, shares Lynette. “Knowing their background and personality will provide you with insights on how to approach a good conversation with them. If you are working with a recruitment consultant, a good recruiter will also provide you insights on the company and hiring managers that are not easily found online.”

She advises, “Prior to the interview, it is important to know how the actual interview will be carried out, or if there is a test to be conducted. If it is a video interview, make sure you have a stable internet connection, a quiet and distraction-free space, and be dressed appropriately. If there is a technical assessment, come prepared by studying the test beforehand.”

Make your CV stand out

In the IT market, executive-level candidates must ensure their CVs are able to quickly capture the imaginations of the hiring managers.

“When structuring your CV, it is important that your background is tailored to the position’s requirements as much as possible - highlight the key experience and achievements that are relevant to the role you are applying for. You can note relevant technical competencies, completed training or certifications, and on-going and completed projects, including the roles you have played in each project,” Lynette says. “However, be sure to be as honest as possible when structuring your CV. Keep it true and share only your notable experiences and skills, in order not to set too high an expectation for the hiring manager, and also to prevent a backfire if you cannot answer certain technical questions during the interview,” she shares.

Be specific about your experience

A common frustration among tech hirers is that candidates often talk about projects they were involved in generally – without being more specific about their roles and contributions.

“When sharing your key experiences, achievements and projects with hiring managers during interviews, stating your achievements and involvements alone will not greatly convince them regarding your suitability for the role. Instead, you have to also provide what key roles you have played in each project – feel free to talk in-depth about the details,” she points out.

“If the hiring manager has a particular trait and aptitude they are looking for, try your best to express personal traits that match their requirements,” she says.

Show your softer side

As tech becomes even more of a business priority, soft skills such as thought leadership, strategic thinking, relationship building, stakeholder management, and effective communication skills are increasingly important to complement technical leadership.

“Soft skills are essential in a workplace – it enable us to have better relationships with our colleagues, which in turn help us perform better in the workplace. Nowadays, hiring managers no longer focus solely on a checklist of technical skills; they now consider soft skills as of equal importance! Hiring managers also often place emphasis on potential hires’ cultural fit and behavioural traits, so that the team can work well together,” she shares.

“Some of the soft skillsets that hiring managers look for are: eagerness and openness to learn, ability to cope with stress and high-pressure environments, critical thinking and problem-solving skills and adaptability as the Tech industry is fast-changing,” she says. 

Ask the right questions for you

Before even starting your job search, you should have already identified your long-term career goals and deal-breakers. The end of the interview is the time to ask your interviewer questions that will help you identify whether the job is aligned with your career plans, and if there are any ‘red-flags’ signalling that it is time to stop the process.

“Come prepared with questions that would help you decide if the role is right for you. Gathering information, such as projects that you will potentially be working on, team structure, roadmap, culture, room for promotion, will be helpful in giving you greater clarity,” she notes.

“Setting your priorities and knowing your career goals before doing a job search is also important to determine if a role is right for you. If you are working with a recruitment consultant, you can always speak to your recruiter who can provide you professional career consultations and will help find suitable opportunities that are aligned with your career aspirations,” she says.

Getting external help 

Searching for a job can be stressful – and it’s often useful to have someone support you throughout the entire process. A good recruitment consultant will provide you with the help that you need; providing you valuable information about the company and hiring manager, polishing your CV and preparing you for your interviews, so you can land that perfect role.

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