The IT industry has experienced a period of exponential growth both at home in Ireland and across the globe. This boom shows no signs of subsiding. As the complexity of the modern business environment continues to deepen, the relationships between organisations and IT and, by association, IT Professionals, becomes ever more entwined. Having evolved within the industry for almost forty years, we in Datapac have garnered an innate understanding of the profession. This #ITProDay we’re excited to share some of these insights to provide  interview skills for IT professionals to excel in their next job interview.

STAR Method

Designed by the global leadership consulting firm Development Dimensions International (DDI), the STAR method is one of the simplest and most effective ways for an interview candidate to communicate during an interview. By following the STAR method when responding to questions, the candidate is able to convincingly demonstrate how they solved a problem, rather than simply reciting what they think the interviewer wants to hear. In the IT industry where so much of a professional’s workload is comprised of problem resolution, the ability to showcase one’s approach in a logical narrative can help a candidate stand out from the crowd.

Situation:  To really set the scene, the candidate should succinctly outline how the situation came about and the other parties involved.

Task: The candidate should outline their role in the situation. What were they doing? Who identified the task? What was the desired outcome of carrying out the task?

Action: The candidate should outline how they actually approached the task and the steps taken to solve the problem. Candidates should take ownership of their accomplishments and describe the actions using “I” and “my” rather than “we” or “the team”.

Result: The candidate should tie in how their actions were responsible for or contributed to solving the initial problem as outlined in the situation. The interviewer may further test the candidate and pose questions, such as “if the scenario were to repeat itself what would you do differently?” It is advised that the interviewee has a response ready for this possibility.

Soft Skills

A lack of soft skills leads to a hard sell for the candidate. Soft skills refer to the set of non-specific skills and attributes which are an essential component contributing to a successful career in most organisations. Broadly speaking, they can be encapsulated into people skills and communication skills. Many professions within the field of IT may emphasise the acquisition of hard technical skills. It is important that the development of one’s soft skills is given a similar weight of importance. The majority of IT careers will require  interpersonal communication, be it through collaborative work with fellow colleagues or by providing technical support to customers. Interviewees need to be aware of this reality and be capable of demonstrating their soft skills during the interview. Simply sticking with the basics will go a long way:

  • Open body language.
  • Maintain an appropriate level of eye contact when speaking.
  • Be polite and friendly to everyone encountered before, during and after the interview.
  • Smile!

Know your Audience

Professionals who are highly knowledgeable of and integrated with the world of IT can often make the assumption that everyone else is just as well-informed as they are. In a job interview setting with multiple panelists this may not be the case. Very commonly, a HR representative will be present who, while perhaps having a broad working grasp of the technical concepts, may not have the same granular depth of knowledge as the candidate. It is essential for job candidates in the IT field to do their due diligence prior to the interview in order to gauge the technical prowess of the interviewers. The candidate needs to demonstrate the capacity to communicate their technical knowledge and accomplishments in a simple, easy to understand manner which anyone could comprehend. A common mistake candidates make is bombarding the interviewer with industry jargon and acronyms, presumably with the goal of astonishing the interviewer with the amount of “buzz terms” they can articulate. This tactic rarely works and can often backfire. In reality, it demonstrates a failure in one’s communication capacity and may even expose a lack of technical knowledge. In the words of Albert Einstein, “if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”.

Demonstrate a love for learning

Professionals in the IT industry must contend with an exponential rate of change in common trends and practices. One cannot simply obtain a degree and sit on their laurels, they must constantly strive to educate themselves further, whether that be through formal or reputable informal means. IT companies are looking for skilled and enthusiastic professionals who maintain a thirst for knowledge and a desire to continually expand their understanding of the latest technological trends.

Articulate a Professional Attitude

“You’ll never get a second chance to make a great first impression”. This maxim rings particularly true during an interview setting. In the perfect world, an interviewer would take all the time needed to truly get to know a candidate. Logistical efficiency can however be a hard task master. Within the parameters of reality, the onus is on every candidate to put their absolute best foot forward during the process. While perceptions in this case are deceiving, alluring pop-culture images conjured of the global tech giants may beguile some into incorrectly associating this model with the IT industry as a whole. In reality, one should approach every interview with the same degree of formal respect. It demonstrates to the interviewer that the candidate cares about performing well, both in the interview and the eventual position, should they prove successful.

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Siobháin O’Connor, Talent Manager, Datapac


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