careertrend article image
nd3000/iStock/GettyImages

How To Prepare For An IT Job Interview

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

Even if you’ve interviewed for many jobs, an interview still can be a nerve-wracking experience. It’s an intimidating experience that ultimately determines whether you’ll get the job you’re applying for. In certain industries, such as IT, or information technology, you may feel even more pressure during the interview.

An IT interview is often a high-pressure environment designed to gauge how well you’ll do in the actual job. Because there are so many skilled IT professionals and so many companies rely on IT to provide services to their customers, it’s important that their candidate is not only qualified for the position, but stands out. As an IT job candidate, you’ll be competing against other skilled candidates, so you’ll want to do everything you can to prepare for an IT interview and come out on top.

Read Over the Job Description Several Times

Before heading to an IT interview, read over the original job description more than once. No two IT jobs are the same, and you should take the time to ensure you know exactly what the company is searching for in their candidate.

Preparation is especially key if you’re applying for several IT positions at the same time, as you may be feeling slightly overwhelmed and confused. You may even want to print out the job description and use a highlighter or pen to mark all the requirements and skills you already possess and those you’re willing to learn.

Highlight Both Soft Skills and Hard Skills

Speaking of skills, it’s essential that you think about your hard and soft skills. As most IT job candidates are highly skilled in their knowledge of computer and technology systems, job interviewers may rank candidates higher for soft skills than their hard skills.

Therefore, while it’s important to be clear on your skills – whether it’s MySQL, Python or cybersecurity practices – you’ll also have to highlight why others will want to work with you. What distinguishes you from other candidates? Most companies prefer to hire an entry-level IT professional who still needs some training in hard skills over a stubborn IT veteran with years of experience who is extremely difficult to work with.

Make Sure Your Resume Is Updated

Even though you should have updated your resume before applying for an IT job (or any job, for that matter), you should bring a copy of your resume to the interview and make sure that it’s freshly updated. Chances are that the interviewer will have a copy of your resume sitting on their desk as they interview you. However, it’s always good to bring your own copy – free of any mistakes and as recent as possible – with you as well.

Understand the Competition

Who else is interviewing for the IT job? Though you may not how many other candidates have applied for the job, you should have a general idea of whom you’re competing against. You can do this by reviewing the job description to see how many years of experience the company is looking for in their candidates.

For example, if the IT job description says “master’s degree preferred” and you don’t have a master’s degree, there’s a good chance that you’re competing against candidates who do have one. If this is the case, then you’ll want to emphasize how much you’ve learned on your own, as well as any courses you’ve taken and certifications you’ve earned to supplement your self-acquired training.

Research the Company

Always research the background of the company you’re going to interview with. These days, interviews are a lot more focused on how the candidate will fit in with the company’s culture and working style versus the expertise of the candidate themselves. Get a sense of what the company is all about before your interview because you may be asked about it.

Practice Information Technology Interview Questions and Answers

The best way to prepare for any interview is to have some ideas about the questions you’ll probably be asked. During an IT interview, the HR director may ask a variety of different questions, so there’s no possible way to prepare for them all. But, in general, IT interviewers typically ask their candidates a few standard questions, including:

  • “At your current or previous jobs, how have you helped innovate or improve the company’s IT infrastructure?”
  • “What programming languages are you an expert in? Which programming languages do you have some basic knowledge of or feel that you could learn quickly? Which programming language do you find the most useful for doing your job?”
  • “What do you feel are the biggest risks impacting a network’s overall security? How will you mitigate these risks and make sure all staff are doing their part?”
  • “Have you ever experienced a data breach before? What happened?”
  • “Which source control tools do you feel comfortable with?”
  • “What do you think makes an effective IT team? How will you contribute to that team? Do you have experience working with a team that you felt presented many challenges to your job? How did you manage that?”

The types of questions you’ll be asked in your IT interview will depend largely on the type of job you're interviewing for, the size of the company, and your specific experience. For example, entry-level information technology interview questions will be catered more to someone who does not yet have a lot of experience. On the other hand, an interview for someone with years in the field will be more catered to soft skills and the candidate’s ability to learn new things, despite that experience.

Get Organized and Ready for the Interview

Once you’re sure that you’re mentally prepared for the interview, it’s time to get physically prepared. Find out exactly where your interview is going to take place. Will it be online or in person? If it’s online, know which platform it will be held on and have that platform registered or ready to go on your computer. If it’s an in-person interview, know the location of the office and how soon you’ll need to leave your home to arrive on time.

Secondly, prepare by practicing your introduction and your answers to some of the potential questions you’ll be asked. Practice your answers to questions that you may not have an answer to (“I’m not sure about that, but I’m willing to learn!”). Decide what you’re going to wear the night before the interview. On the night before the interview, be sure to get a good night’s sleep. And eat a hearty breakfast on the day of the interview.

Ask Plenty of Questions

Finally, the key to preparing for an IT interview is to know which questions you’re going to ask at the end of it (or during the interview, if and when it’s appropriate). In any job interview, it’s crucial that the interviewee asks questions about the job and/or the company, even if the interviewer has already answered many questions and addressed many concerns throughout the interview. Some good information technology interview questions to ask include:

  • “How many people would be on my team? Who would I be working under, and who can I go to if I have to report an issue?”
  • “What does the future look like for this role? Is there an opportunity to get involved in other happenings around the company and/or grow in the position?”
  • “How important is technology in the eyes of the company’s leaders?”
  • “Are there opportunities for professional development?”
  • “What would most people say is their favorite thing about working here?”