How to Ace the IT Interview
The IT technical interview process is one of the most dreaded experiences job seekers of any industry must endure. Part of this draws from the difficult interview stories at top companies such as Google and Microsoft, and part of it draws from the style of interviewing itself. But does it have to be so nerve wracking? I have personally successfully interviewed at the companies listed above, and if you take my advice, you will be one step closer to the job of your dreams.
Before you land the interview, you must first have a resume that speaks to the company and position for which you are applying. Keeping the same, generic standard objective will not differentiate yourself from the pact. (Google receives thousands of resumes daily!) So what should you do? First, try to read the job description for what is written, and what is not. Then, try to make your objective speak to that description in terms of the skills you have to offer. Finally, list your relevant education, skills, and professional experience as it applies to that specific job description.
After you have a great resume, expect an email from a technical recruiter. This will be used to explain more about the position, gauge your current interest level, and set up a phone interview. Remember, your interaction with the recruiter is still part of the entire interviewing process- be polite and professional! A few days later, your phone rings...
The technical phone interview serves two main goals: 1) to establish your baseline technical capabilities, and 2) to save the company time and money by weeding out as many people as possible, as early as possible. You will most likely receive one or two typical HR style "soft questions". These will be things like, "Describe your contributions to project X on your resume..." They are mostly ice breakers, and also make sure your resume is factual. The next step is technical. There will obviously be no coding over the phone, but expect conceptual problem solving questions, some computer architecture question, and some algorithms, etc. Do not worry about getting the perfect answer: however, make sure you fully understand the question, and then just think out loud. The answer is often less important than your thought process.
If the technical phone interview ends well, expect another email from the technical recruiter to schedule your on-site interview. This is where your future team will once again try to ascertain your technical abilities, but also your personality fit. Brains and culture usually play an equally important role at most thriving IT companies, so try to relax and be yourself. Expect a long, grueling day at the top IT companies, but it is all worthwhile- you get free airfare, free lodging, free meals, and the chance to show what you know! The absolute worst that can happen is they say no. Keep in mind, however, that most interviewers are rooting for you. Yes, they actually do want the best and brightest to work with, and that is you, right?
So in short, tailor your resume to the job, ace the phone interview by thinking out loud, and relax when you are on-site. The recruiting process is as much for you as it is them. Ask whatever questions you feel would help you decide your fit as well. And finally, just enjoy the process. It should be fun!
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