5 IT Job Interview Mistakes New Grads Make

5 IT Job Interview Mistakes New Grads Make

Hiring managers expect more from newly minted IT grads than ever. Establish a GitHub presence — and avoid other common blunders.

Good news for IT grads: The job market looks promising.

According to a new survey of more than 12,000 tech industry executives, more than three quarters plan to grow their workforce this year. Small businesses with less than $5 million in revenue expect the most growth with an expected rate of 50%, while companies with more than $50 million in revenue expect to grow by 15%, the report said.

As companies battle to attract the best IT talent, graduates need to do their part too, said Gabriella Petralia, senior technical recruiter at IT staffing firm Mondo. “Since the IT industry is highly competitive and rapidly growing, companies are expecting more out of candidates than before.”

New grads need to shine during the interview process. Here are five mistakes that could sabotage your job search.

[For a recruiter’s perspective, read IT Jobs: How To Hire New Grads.]

1. You’re not prepared

“New grads think about preparation in terms of, ‘Do I have the knowledge and skill set?’ But what you really need to focus on in your preparation is familiarizing yourself with the company,” said Karen Tegan Padir, CTO at Progress and a member of Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s board of trustees. “Know about their business model, read the company’s SEC filings, do a Google search on company news, and know about the company’s competition,” she said.

Mondo’s Petralia suggests you also familiarize yourself with the technologies the company uses. “If you can say, ‘I know you use Salesforce or PHP,’ that helps you make a connection and shows that you’ve done your homework,” she said.

2. You don’t have an online presence

Because a lot of talent is found through social media, not having a techno-social presence will hurt you, Petralia pointed out. “These days it’s less about looking good on paper and more about publicly sharing your work via social media,” she said.

Establish a GitHub account where you can collaborate, review code, and manage open-source projects, and don’t neglect Twitter or LinkedIn for showcasing your work, Petralia recommended. “This helps to depict a vivid image of your skills in a real-life setting. Display the work and applications you’ve developed and code you’ve written. New grads [who] don’t have this are hurting.”

Your presence in related tech communities like GitHub is especially important, Padir added. “There are so many open-source and developer communities that you should participate in. Your involvement in them shows that you’re excited about the work that you do and that you’re willing to learn and try new things.”

3. You talk compensation too soon

Never bring up salary or compensation packages early in the interview process, Padir advised. Instead, let the hiring manager or HR start that conversation. “Going into an interview with a ‘What are you going to do for me?’ attitude is the wrong approach — it’s about how you can contribute and add value to the company.”

If a hiring manager brings up salary in the early stages of the interview, Padir recommends telling them

Kristin Burnham currently serves as InformationWeek.com’s Senior Editor, covering social media, social business, IT leadership and IT careers. Prior to joining InformationWeek in July 2013, she served in a number of roles at CIO magazine and CIO.com, most recently as senior … View Full Bio

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Hiring managers expect more from newly minted IT grads than ever. Establish a GitHub presence — and avoid other common blunders.

you’d like to be paid competitively or comparatively to the market. “Sometimes you’ll be in a situation where they say, ‘We only have a budget for X amount; would you take it?’ You can always decide later that you don’t want the job because of the money, but don’t make it an issue up front.”

Petralia pointed out that it’s important to prove your worth first. “Show that you can help this company move in the right direction.”

4. You don’t ask questions

When the hiring manager asks at the end of the interview if you have any questions, always be prepared to ask a few.

“I hate interviewing people where I ask all the questions, and then I ask if they have any questions for me — and they don’t,” Padir said. “You need to have at least one to show you are engaged.”

“A lot of people think that when this question comes up, it’s the end of the interview,” Petralia added. “This is another opportunity to show that your experience is relevant: Ask about tech platforms in regards to your skill set; ask about culture or what projects are in their pipeline.”

5. You don’t say thank you

Once the interview is over, you must write a thank-you note to everyone who interviewed you, Petralia said.

“Touch on the basics that you talked about. This will make you stand out and make your candidacy fresh in their minds,” she said. “Be sure to reiterate your interest in the role and thank them for their time. Forgetting a thank-you letter is a huge no-no.”

 

 

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