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Preparing for your first interview for a tech role

Young graduate keen to impress at her first job interview

ARTICLE SUMMARY

Interviews can be a daunting experience, and even the most seasoned candidates can feel anxious ahead of an important opportunity to showcase their skills, experience and fit with a prospective company.

Feeling nervous ahead of your first interview for a tech role, then, is completely normal and arguably to be expected.

However, one way of getting around the nerves is to prepare properly. After all, as the old saying goes; fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

Dee Robertson, Senior Talent Solutions Manager at Robert Half

But what can you do to get ahead of the competition and put yourself in the best position to succeed in the interview? Dee Robertson, Senior Talent Solutions Manager at Robert Half, gives us her tips and tricks.

As part of her role Dee is specifically focused on their proud collaboration with the DE&I Amazon-led initiative, AWS re/Start. The focus is to upskill, underrepresented individuals with the necessary IT/cloud computing skills for Dee to help create career outcomes thereafter across UK&I. As a leading recruitment agency, Robert Half’s aim is to create effective social mobility, increased diversity, and a more inclusive workforce within the technology sector, both for the benefit of their candidates and their clients.

THE FIRST STEP TO ENSURING THE INTERVIEW STARTS IN THE BEST POSSIBLE WAY IS TO MAKE SURE THAT YOUR CV AND APPLICATION ARE FULLY SPELL-CHECKED AND HAVE NO GRAMMAR OR PUNCTUATION ERRORS.

You should always look to get a second pair of eyes on your CV before submitting it for a role as well as trying to align your skills and experience with the job specification. Your recruiter will also be able to help with this if you’re job hunting through one. If you can’t get another person to look at it for you then there are now various AI-based apps and programmes that can do this.

It’s worth remembering, however alien this may feel, that you should leave your modesty at the door when preparing your CV and application. This is one of the few opportunities you’ll get where you’re encouraged to really show off your achievements and transferable skills, so take advantage of it. This is particularly key if you’re new to the tech industry, either as a career switcher or starting at entry level.

When it comes to preparing for the interview itself, there’s no substitute for hard work. You need to know everything you can about the role, the company you’re applying to work for, and how it fits into the wider sector landscape. Not knowing this detail will only make you more nervous. You should build in time ahead to do this, rather than trying to cram everything you can into the five minutes before the interview starts.

You’d be wise to find out as much as you can about the interviewer and hiring manager.

Use LinkedIn to see if you can find any areas of overlapping synergy between you and the people who are interviewing you to demonstrate that you’ve done your research in advance; this will help you build those quick and needed connections.

While technical knowledge is obviously key, the organisation will likely be looking for signs that you have a ‘can-do’ attitude, can take on new information, and adapt quickly. You can learn about the technical aspects required for the role by researching what is mentioned on the job specification and, again, showcase this in the interview to demonstrate that you’ve invested time in learning as much as you could beforehand. Don’t be afraid of showing your personality; this is often paramount to securing a role at a junior level. If you can show your dedication to learning, motivation to work in the technology sector, and of course display a genuine passion and enthusiasm for the role, you’ll be halfway to winning the hiring manager over. Remember, people buy people first!

When it comes to answering questions look to use the STAR technique – talk through the Situation you had to deal with, outline the Task, describe the Action and be clear on the Results. Ensure you’re being specific in how you respond, using first-person language and highlighting how you helped shape the direction of whatever example you are discussing. Many candidates will go into interviews focusing on the collective and how they responded to tasks as part of a team. However, hirers want to hear specifically what you focused on in your role and how your input shaped the outcome, rather than that of anyone else.

Remember as well that success in an interview is not just about answering questions, but also the ones you ask in response.

When doing your research prepare some questions about the company, the future of the role and where they see it going in the coming years. This doesn’t just help you to get more relevant information, but also shows that you have prepared properly and that you’re genuinely invested in the role.

When you have completed this research, run through some mock interview questions and shape your potential answers to be as concise as possible. While it may feel daunting, a 30-minute interview slot will fly by; avoid waffling to show yourself in the best possible light.

Here at Robert Half, we offer group soft-skills sessions as part of our community-based, DE&I initiative, Amazon Web Services (AWS) re/Start programme, which aims to upskill underrepresented groups with the necessary skills for them to succeed in entry-level roles within the technology sector.

We often invite our recently placed candidates and our actively engaged technical hiring managers to talk at a group level, offering their first-hand experience and wisdom on the interview process to our eager audiences. A group environment makes for a more informal approach, which naturally leads to overlapping questions, offering an informative and interactive session to our prospective candidates.

Whatever your preferred approach might be, one thing for certain is you can never fall short from over-preparing for an interview!

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