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Tech Pros Tell All: The Interview
This is the first installment in our serial consultant blog series where IT contractors can come to read advice from like-minded tenured consultants. Tweet us @MATRIXResources with topics you would like to see covered. In this post, trusted IT consultants share how they prepare for everyone’s favorite part of the job search process: the interview.
Do your homework
Everyone knows that preparation is key for an interview. I spoke with Bryan Martin, current MATRIX IT contractor, who also happens to be a former hiring manager, to get advice based on his experience sitting on both sides of the table:
“Prepare, Prepare, Prepare. Don't think you can just walk in and get the job! The more you prepare, the more relaxed and better you will be.
First, ask your recruiter what they know about the interview process and what questions will be asked.
Be ready to provide quick answers to the standard technical interview questions. A lot of employers get their questions right off Google. Before an interview, take 20 minutes and make notes. This is the best way to remind yourself about common questions and things on your resume you might get asked about.
A smart employer will be looking to see if you know details about a project. They won’t care much about the project itself, but will want to hear your knowledge and level of participation. If you can't explain any of the details for a project you worked on, you won't pass the smell test. It is very common for the person interviewing to ask questions to see if you have hit any of the same problems they have.
Never talk bad about your current job or boss. Do not complain. Be flexible.
Don't claim to know everything. I had an interview I was giving once where the prospect said he knew everything about TFS. Well, game on! Do you really want the guy interviewing you to drill you until they find something you don't know?
Present yourself as the problem solver even if you don't know all the answers. Ask questions about how they do things: what is their project management methodology, release process, coding standards, how they do code reviews, etc.
After the interview, write down questions you didn't expect or didn't have an answer for. Have your answers ready for the next one and be sure to review them beforehand.”
Don’t be too “salesy”
This one you might not have heard too much. A lot of people think of interviews as selling yourself, but we talked with a couple IT vets who warn that over selling isn’t the answer.
From Brent Giesler, former MATRIX IT consultant:
“Probably the most helpful thing I've learned over the last several years is to listen more than you talk.
The reason I think that's important is because the goal of an interview, in my opinion, shouldn't be to ‘sell’ the prospective client that I'm the one for whatever job we're discussing. The goal should be to find out IF I'm the right person. Not trying to be all things to all clients is a much simpler way to live and help clients.”
Bernie Klinder, 18-year IT consulting veteran, also warns of selling too much:
“The best advice that I can give is not to think about the interview as a sales call until the end. The customer is offering to pay you to solve a problem. They often hate ‘being sold’, so put away the practiced pitch for a moment and have a conversation. Start by taking a consultative approach. What result are they looking for? Really seek to understand their problem and ask questions. Whiteboard your solution and demonstrate how you can customize it for them. Tell them about other customers you've helped. Give them insights that they never thought of before.
Far too many people ‘show up and throw up’. They shake hands, pull out the resume, recite the scripted pitch, and they ‘ta-da’ themselves. Never, never, never do that.”
Build trust and over deliver
One of the most important things you can do in an interview is build trust. If you don’t come across as authentic and believable, you won’t go far.
Klinder’s parting words of wisdom:
“You close the deal by building trust and taking the risk off the table for the customer. They have to feel confident that you will deliver what you say you can and that they won't regret it later. Get them excited about the outcome and give them a good sense of ‘I got this’. Then deliver more than you promised.”
Keep these tips in your back pocket for your next interview and reach out to your recruiter with any questions. And make sure to subscribe to our blog and follow us on social media for more career insight!