Category Archives: Interview

Interview Guide: The top 2% of interviewees

This post is part of a complete guide on writing CVs, dealing with recruiters and attending interviews. The complete guide can be found here: https://developercareers.wordpress.com/contents/

 

As with everything in recruitment there are tricks that you can pull that will put you in the top 2% of the market. Here is a list of simple tactics that you can use to make you stick in peoples minds.

Demonstrations – If you have a piece of relevant work that would be of interest to the client and it is something, which you could demonstrate on a computer, then take in a laptop. This is very effective with websites or applications that are difficult to explain. If you have some real code that you are proud of then it’s a great touch to bring it along. Mention at the beginning that you have bought something along incase the employer wanted to see it.

Aftershave/Perfume – Spray something fresh on just before you enter. It is always pleasant to be greeted by someone that looks presentable but someone that smells nice too can really stick in your mind. Especially when compared to another candidate who smelled the opposite of the spectrum. Who would you rather work with all day. Obviously one spray is enough though – you do not want to be overpowering.

Take a copy of your CV – You never know if the client has spent the last five minutes frantically looking for a copy of your CV before you arrived. If you arrive with a fresh copy of your CV then it will be easy for you both to discuss parts of your career history and skills.

Ask for a drink of water – If you politely ask for a drink of water at the beginning of the interview (if you are not offered) it can show confidence. It is an opportunity for the interviewer to do something for you, which is another way of establishing rapport. It is also handy if after 90 minutes of talking your throat starts to feel dry and you cannot sell yourself as well as possible.

Ask to see the office – This is tricky and should only be attempted if you feel that you have struck up a rapport with the interviewer. If this is where you’re going to spend the bulk of your day you have every reason to want to see it. Ask to see where everything happens, even to meet the team if they have time. If the interview is going well then the interviewer will be more than happy to show you the technical team. This can be a great chance to get one up on the other applicants as it could be a chance to talk more in depth about your technical skills. This will also ensure the client knows that you are keen.

Write an e-mail afterwards – If you have taken the clients business card, use it. If you feel that the interview has gone well and you built a relationship with the interviewer then they will be happy to hear from you. The best time to do this is once you have got home. Send a simple email to say ‘thank you for your time and having considered the role I am extremely interested’. If you discussed anything of particular interest or have had any further thoughts or questions since leaving the interview then now is the time to mention those. If you didn’t get the business card then send a very polite mail back to the recruiter that set up the interview. Again this small thing could win you the job if the client is deciding between two very similar candidates.

@RecWorks

This post is part of a complete guide on writing CVs, dealing with recruiters and attending interviews. The complete guide can be found here: https://developercareers.wordpress.com/contents/

Originally titled ‘the top 2%’ the copy has been researched, compiled and edited continually over the last five years by the team at RecWorks Ltd. An IT recruitment consultancy aimed at spotting and developing technical talent with a focus in Java and Graduate developers.

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Interview Guide: Attending interviews

This post is part of a complete guide on writing CVs, dealing with recruiters and attending interviews. The complete guide can be found here: https://developercareers.wordpress.com/contents/

 

There are three parts to how to act in interviews.

  • First impressions
  • The best way to conduct yourself in an interview
  • How to conclude

First impressions

First impressions go a long way to any interviewer. If you give a good first impression then it will start the interview in the right way, give a bad first impression and you will find yourself trying to claw your position back through the rest of the interview.

The best way to handle an introduction is to be natural, do not try to be extremely confident, assertive or over friendly.

For the best possible introduction ensure that you offer a firm handshake and a smile, retain eye contact and introduce yourself politely. E.g. “Good afternoon, I’m John Smith, it’s nice to meet you”

You want the first few minutes of the meeting to be as smooth as possible so make sure you have enough small talk prepared in case of awkward silences. This is easy to do, by asking simple questions e.g. How is your day going? Have you had many people in for interview? How are they going? etc.


How to conduct yourself in an interview

Despite what you may read, the single most important part of any interview is to build a rapport with the interviewer. If you do this then the interview will very quickly become a relaxed conversation between professionals and will give you the best chance to sell yourself as well as you can.

The easiest way to build a rapport is to ask questions. This is where the importance of the preparation comes in. Your preparation should have left you with a series of questions that you have an honest interest in finding out. People love to talk about themselves, their products and their companies. Technical staff will love to talk about their products and interesting projects they have worked on. Human resources staff will love to talk about their recruitment processes, the bigger picture of where the company is going and how happy their staff are. Whenever there is a natural chance ask a question that the interviewer will be interested to answer and listen intently. If you do this you are well on the way to building a strong rapport.

When asking questions it is important to listen to the response. It is easy to become anxious and be trying to think of what to ask next. This will just make the conversation awkward and uncomfortable. Ask questions that you care about and make notes of their response. Ask questions on their responses and try to build up a strong understanding of the company and the opportunity.

Top 2% question – If you get a chance the single greatest question to ask to build rapport

“How did YOU get started in this career/role/company?”

Generally after asking that question the interviewer will smile or laugh, lean back and think for a few seconds before telling you their story. The question will work on anyone, in or out of an interview. Try it on the next person you see, ask them how they got started in their career and watch the effect it has. It can enable you to build a rapport with almost anyone immediately. It is also a great way of reminding the interviewer that they once had to be interviewed at this company, which is what you are currently doing. It is a subtle bond, which will most likely mean that you will be remembered.

If you feel you are building some rapport – you can also follow this question up with “As someone that has worked their way up within this company, what advice would you give someone in my position”.


Interview Questions

How to respond to questions

Interviews are a two way street, you should go armed with questions and the interviewer will have many questions to ask of you. It can be difficult to know how to respond and many people make the mistake of saying what they think the interviewer would want to hear. They prepare an answer for almost every question and recite it immaculately and believe they have done well. This is not what any interviewer wants to hear.

Interviewers’ wants honesty. If an interviewer asks a question like: “What skills could you offer to the company?” and you immediately come back with “I am hard-working, punctual and have very good communication skills” it is clearly a prepared answer. It may have all the right attributes but any candidate could say something like that – it gives the interviewer no insight.

Answer the question as if it were a friend asking the question. Think about how you speak in conversations, if someone asks a question about you, you would stop for a few seconds to consider your answer. So when your interviewer says: “What skills could you offer to the company?” start by thinking honestly about what skills you have that the company could want and how you can back that up. This is where the preparation on yourself comes in. A better way of answering would be something like this:

“Once I get started on a project I don’t stop working until I have finished and I have a passion for solving problems, I remember once working for my last company we came across a problem xxx and I couldn’t sleep for trying to think about how we could solve it. When I finally did it was great and we finished the project just after.”

A very common reason that candidates are rejected from interviews is because they have tried to bluff their way through an interview. Honesty is one of the most important parts to an interview. If you don’t have enough experience in a technology be honest and admit it, make a point of saying that you do not want to lie. The chances are you will be praised for your honesty, and it may help you to shine where others fail.

Top 2% tip Develop a way of coming back to questions in a positive way. In a situation where you do not have experience in a given technology, the worst thing you can do is lie as you will struggle to answer the more complex questions that may follow. The best thing you can do is first be honest, then following up with a positive point, then finishing with a question

“Unfortunately I do not have experience with <technology>”

The important thing is to follow up with a positive e.g.

“It is something I would really like to get into” (OR)

“I have done something similar with <another similar technology>”.

The best way that you end this is by finishing with a question

“Is <technology> something you have used in this company? Is it effective?”

It is a highly effective technique at diverting difficult questions and also moving the interview into more of a conversation.

Concluding an interview

There will usually be a point in the interview where the interviewer will ask if you have any further questions. It is at this point that you should (if you haven’t already) ask some questions that you have prepared before hand (see preparing for interviews) These questions should be considered and not just simple questions like: “how long has the company been running?” Having researched the company there should be many things that you are curious about and now is the time to demonstrate your interest in your future by asking some carefully considered questions.

Finally you should always thank the interviewer for their time, and make sure you let them know that you are interested in the position. Many people miss this opportunity and remain professional throughout. My advice would be to make a point of saying that you are very interested in working with the company. This sole line could make the difference between yourself and another candidate.

The top 2% – The best possible way to end an interview is to make the final question that you ask something along the lines of:

“What is the process moving forward?”

You may be lucky enough to be offered the job there and then. Far more likely the client will say something like “we still have some other people to see”, or “we will consider your application then be in touch with your agent”. No matter what they say you should follow up with a question about their thoughts on you: “Do you have any immediate objections to me as a candidate” it is a very difficult question to ask but potentially could be the reason you get the job. Let me explain.

Most interviewers will have minor concerns in the back of their mind as to whether you could do the job. They are normally too kind to ever mention their concerns at the time. However these minor concerns can grow into major doubts and effectively can become the reason why someone else is offered the position instead of you.

If you ask them their objections, they will normally tell you. At this point you have a chance to change their mind.

An example of this could be that a client is concerned you will not stay at the company very long, because they feel you are young ambitious and very keen to move forward in your career.

Scenario 1: Interview goes very well, rapport has been built and both parties leave feeling good although the employer has the mild concern that you won’t stay with them. The next candidate they meet comes across as far more steady and although isn’t quite as good, the employer opts for the second candidate because they feel that they will stay with the company longer.

Scenario 2: Interview goes very well, rapport has been built and you ask the question to find out if the employer has any objections. The employer says that although they really like you, they are concerned that they are not a good enough company to keep you. At this point you can explain that you are just looking for a chance in a company that you can stay with for the next five years and are definitely not looking to be a job hopper. At this point the client is left reassured and you have turned a concern of theirs into a top selling point of yours.

Top 2% tip: If you haven’t yet been given one, ask for their business card, this will be important later on.

Final tips

Always wear a suit, regardless of dress code. Always ALWAYS wear a suit. Men should not wear open neck shirts. Even on a hot day, always enter the meeting in a suit. Some interviewers will immediately say don’t worry, feel free to take off your jacket or tie. It shows that you have taken the interview very seriously and are interested in making a good impression. Some companies will not have professional dress codes, and won’t mind what you wear, but you are better off not assuming this. Without question, always wear a suit.

Resist the urge to smoke before your interview. Cigarette smoke is very overpowering to non-smokers. Even if you cannot smell the smoke yourself, the chances are your interviewer will.

Make sure you keep regular eye contact. It is known in body language that looking at your subject and regular eye contact shows that you are interested and focusing on a subject, looking around the room and focusing on other things gives the impression of boredom. Likewise leaning forward is a good way of showing you are interested and alert where leaning back and slouching can give the impression of boredom.

Make sure you turn your phone off. Avoid putting your phone on silent. The hum of a phone that is on silent and relentlessly vibrating in someone’s pocket can be highly distracting.

@RecWorks

This post is part of a complete guide on writing CVs, dealing with recruiters and attending interviews. The complete guide can be found here: https://developercareers.wordpress.com/contents/

Originally titled ‘the top 2%’ the copy has been researched, compiled and edited continually over the last five years by the team at RecWorks Ltd. An IT recruitment consultancy aimed at spotting and developing technical talent with a focus in Java and Graduate developers.

Interview Guide: Preparing for interviews

This post is part of a complete guide on writing CVs, dealing with recruiters and attending interviews. The complete guide can be found here: https://developercareers.wordpress.com/contents/

 

There are two things you need to be thinking about at this point. Preparing information about the opportunity and preparing information about yourself.

Preparing information on the company

It is difficult to know what you should prepare for an interview and what’s the point of doing all this preparation? Where should you look and what information should you be looking for? Should you:

–        Read the website?

–        Check out all the case studies you can find?

–        Check the latest news articles?

–        Speak to people who currently work there?

–        Download accounts for the last 5 years?

When preparing information about the opportunity you should be thinking about what questions you have about it… what do you actually care about?

The fact is that you may actually get a job at this company…  If you do get the job it will have a profound effect on the rest of your career. Hopefully you will be stay with them for at least a few years, you may even stay for the rest of your career. This job will occupy most of your time, your coworkers may become close friends. When you start to think about the opportunity in this way the preparation becomes far more focused around “what do you actually want to know” instead of “what could you tell them to show you’ve prepared”.

The strategy to adopt is to start developing a genuine interest in your career. Tell yourself “I want to get the right job for me” rather than “I just want to get a new job”. What do you really want to know to find out if this is the right job for you. Here are some good starting points:

–          What will I be doing Monday to Friday? What is a typical day?

–          What is the company really like to work for?

–          What is the industry like? Who are their competitors and what makes this company better than them?

–          What is progression like in the company – What will you be doing in 3 months, 6 months, 2 years or 5 years? What have previous hires gone on to do?

–          What is the team like? Is it a big team? Are they young/old? Social? Will you fit in?

These questions serve as the basis for your preparation. A lot of the answers to your questions you will find on the internet from reading their website, industry news, google, blogs from other employees that have worked at the company etc. but you should be left with a long list of questions that you can ask at the interview.

Once you have answered all the questions using what research you can do, you can use the interview to find out the rest. Interviews are a two-way exercise and it is important to treat them as such. They will be a lot easier as they become more of a fact-finding meeting.

Prepare information on yourself

You should definitely prepare information on yourself, not just on the company. This should not be a list of examples that you can recite word for word. It should simply be information that can be drawn on if necessary. At the very least you should compose a few bullet points to advertise yourself on each of the following: Your technical skills and abilities, your greatest achievement, a summary of your career to date & your career goals and your personal skills.

Top 2% tip: Have you ever left an interview and felt that you could have done a lot better? Preparation is key to any presentation. The best way to approach preparation on yourself is to go through your CV, looking at your projects one at a time and doing a brief retrospective on each one.

–        What went well

–        What didn’t go well

–        What could you have done better

–        What technical skills did you learn

–        What soft skills did you learn

–        Which of your skills were you able to demonstrate

If you do this for each project and read it through before the interview it will ensure that you can perfectly articulate the project with a deep level of detail. It is something that you can save as an appendix to your CV for future reference too.

How to beat nerves

Most candidates are nervous about interviews. There are very few candidates that have no nerves about attending an interview but it is important that you control this and you do not let nerves get the better of you. There is a trick to controlling nerves for the future. It is in the way that you think about an interview.

The wrong way to look at an interview is to think of it as a presentation, in which you have to meet a stranger and convince them that you are the right person for the job.

The right way to look at an interview is a chance to meet with someone to find out more about the opportunity. Do not think about trying to impress the interviewer with answers to their questions, just answer their questions honestly and sincerely. This way, if you are the right person for the job, then you will get the job. If your answers weren’t correct then it is likely that you are not the right person for the job and would not have been happy in it.

From your preparation you should have a series of questions that you are honestly interested to find the answers to. Your objective for the interview should be trying to find answers your questions on the role and the company. Once you shift your focus to trying to find answers to your questions, your nerves will become much easier to manage.

@RecWorks

This post is part of a complete guide on writing CVs, dealing with recruiters and attending interviews. The complete guide can be found here: https://developercareers.wordpress.com/contents/

Originally titled ‘the top 2%’ the copy has been researched, compiled and edited continually over the last five years by the team at RecWorks Ltd. An IT recruitment consultancy aimed at spotting and developing technical talent with a focus in Java and Graduate developers.

Interview Guide: Interview Tests

This post is part of a complete guide on writing CVs, dealing with recruiters and attending interviews. The complete guide can be found here: https://developercareers.wordpress.com/contents/

 

Technical Tests

These are extremely varied and you are well advised to try to seek the advice of the recruiter to understand what to expect. Find out if you will be writing code, answering multi choice questions or general technical questions. Find out which subjects the test will cover, will it be general or specific. Get as much advice from your recruiter about the technical test to give yourself the best chance of success.

It is difficult to give specific advice at this point as the tests are so varied, but if it’s a Java role then one thing that will help is to go through this mindmap. It is a breakdown of the SCJP study guide so gives a great holistic view of the many components of Java. If you look at it when preparing for an interview it can highlight any gaps in your knowledge. Also spending 15 minutes reviewing the map on the way to an interview can help make sure that the relevant technical term is on the tip of your tongue not the back of your mind: http://www.xmind.net/share/_embed/syhannnn/scjp-study-guide-2/
Aptitude Tests

Aptitude Tests evaluate a particular ability such as numerical, verbal, diagrammatic etc. The tests are administered under exam conditions and are often multiple choices. There are various practice tests available on the Internet and in books and whilst practicing will not necessarily improve your primary ability, it will help to increase your familiarity with tests. When completing aptitude tests, make sure that you read the instructions and questions thoroughly and understand exactly what is required. If you get stuck on a question, don’t spend too much time on it, either put your best idea down or leave it, remembering to go back later on. Most tests get progressively more difficult, so take your time and try not to rush to complete all the answers, remember that it is the number of correct answers that counts!

Psychometric or Personality Assessments

Psychometric or personality evaluations assess your personal qualities by your responses to questions or statements. Unlike aptitude tests they are conducted in untimed conditions and are likely to offer multiple-choice answers. Questions relate to different aspects of your personality, such as your working style, how you interact with other people, what motivates you etc. There are no right or wrong answers; the employer is assessing how well you will fit the role. You should respond naturally and honestly, it is difficult to try and guess what the employer is looking for and it can also be counter productive. These types of assessments often have reliability checks built in to evaluate how realistically you have answered the questions and furthermore if you do not answer the questions genuinely you may end up being offered a job, which does not really suit you! In conclusion, whatever kind of test you come across, treat it as you would any other form of assessment – prepare beforehand, read and follow all the instructions carefully and ask for feedback so you can benefit from the experience for the future.

@RecWorks

This post is part of a complete guide on writing CVs, dealing with recruiters and attending interviews. The complete guide can be found here: https://developercareers.wordpress.com/contents/

Originally titled ‘the top 2%’ the copy has been researched, compiled and edited continually over the last five years by the team at RecWorks Ltd. An IT recruitment consultancy aimed at spotting and developing technical talent with a focus in Java and Graduate developers.

Interview Guide: Interview Types

This post is part of a complete guide on writing CVs, dealing with recruiters and attending interviews. The complete guide can be found here: https://developercareers.wordpress.com/contents/

 

Often employers will screen their candidates by interviewing many candidates over the telephone before deciding which to pursue to an actual meeting.

Telephone interviews
If a telephone interview is arranged we would recommend finding a time in which you know you will have no other distractions and can guarantee a quiet place. Print a copy of your CV and make sure you have it in front of you, you can be sure that the client will have a copy so it will be easier to discuss things.

The client will most likely be the one controlling the interview and will probably have set questions that they will go through. The general advice here would be to give them no reason not to want to meet you.

Your main focus should be to come over as professional and keen. At the end of the interview it is a good idea to ask what the process is moving forward. This can sometimes compel the client to suggest a time that you would be around for a meeting, although do not push for it at this point.

Meetings
Once you have successfully arranged a meeting, it will most likely be one of, or a combination of the following four types. I would recommend that you find out which interview it will be from your recruiter and prepare accordingly.

Technical interviews – This will be a conversation with one or more members of technical staff, generally including a line manager. As it is a technical interview it is important to do your research on what technologies will be part of the job and if possible which technologies the employer is looking to test you on. You can do this by asking the recruiter and studying the job spec. See how it matches up against your CV to find out which skills are on your CV that are required in the job. These are the most likely things to come up. Many candidates fail interviews because they could not back up the technical knowledge on their CV. Refresh your memory and do your homework to make sure you are fully able to discuss any part of your CV and relevant work history.

Human resources interviews – This will generally be a meeting with a member of the HR or Personnel team and will most likely be either a CV review or a competency-based interview. They may ask your career goals, your reason for leaving companies and get you to explain any gaps in your career. If it is a competency based interview then the interviewer will ask questions on your competencies e.g. “give me an example of strong team work” or “can you tell me an example where things haven’t gone your way” to prepare well for these interviews you must review your CV and recall projects and events that display the best of your skills.

Team interviews – These are a chance for you to meet some of the people that you will be working with. If you do meet the team then treat them with respect and ask as many questions about their role within the company. Try to refer to them by name and you will make a good impression. The best questions to ask in team interviews are “what is the company like to work for?” and “how did you get into the company”

Tests – These can be technical tests, aptitude tests or Psychometric tests.

@RecWorks

This post is part of a complete guide on writing CVs, dealing with recruiters and attending interviews. The complete guide can be found here: https://developercareers.wordpress.com/contents/

Originally titled ‘the top 2%’ the copy has been researched, compiled and edited continually over the last five years by the team at RecWorks Ltd. An IT recruitment consultancy aimed at spotting and developing technical talent with a focus in Java and Graduate developers.

Interview Guide: Preparing for and attending interviews

This post is part of a complete guide on writing CVs, dealing with recruiters and attending interviews. The complete guide can be found here: https://developercareers.wordpress.com/contents/

 

Interviews can be incredibly nerve-racking. Many people hate them with a passion. The aim of this section of the guide is to give you a supreme confidence in attending interviews by offering advice on preparation, building rapport with interviewers and how best to sell yourself in an interview.

The ethos behind interviews is very different to the ethos behind CV writing. CV writing and applying for jobs is about making sure that the employer will have no reason not to interview you. However if you get to interview stage then you will most likely be facing several other people who are similarly qualified for the position. At this point the principle changes to actively trying to get offered the position. The principle in the early stage interviews is to get through to the next stage. The principle in the final interview is to get the offer.

The first thing to remember is that you would not be asked in for an interview if the employer suspected that you weren’t potentially right for the position. The employer likes you already, it is your job to make sure that they do not change their mind.

There are five different parts to our interview guide:

Interview Types – This section will take you through the different types of interview, which some companies offer. It is good to be fully prepared on what to expect.

Tests – A few recommendations when taking technical tests.

Preparing for interviews – This will help you to feel totally prepared about the interview so that you can stride in to the interview room with confidence that you can handle any situation.

Attending interviews – This will give you ideas on how to present yourself. It will help you to sell yourself as effectively as possible.

The Top 2% – Here are some optional extra ideas that really will put you in the top 2% of interviewees.

@RecWorks

This post is part of a complete guide on writing CVs, dealing with recruiters and attending interviews. The complete guide can be found here: https://developercareers.wordpress.com/contents/

Originally titled ‘the top 2%’ the copy has been researched, compiled and edited continually over the last five years by the team at RecWorks Ltd. An IT recruitment consultancy aimed at spotting and developing technical talent with a focus in Java and Graduate developers.

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