This is a guide with practical tips we have collected at Get on Board, both when recruiting for our own team and for our clients. The following tips apply not only to programming or UX positions but also to other positions related to technology or the creative industries.
🧠 Tip 1: Be prepared to explain how you think
If you were tasked with a technical challenge, explain how you arrived at the solution. What solutions did you consider and did not use? (What you DON'T do is as important as what you do).
We recommend that you practice this exercise: what would you have done differently or better? It is very important to be able to recognize what things you would do differently if you had a new opportunity (refactor code, use more effective tools, optimize resources, etc). If you are asked to explain your project, think visually: could you explain your idea by making a diagram?
🤔 Tip 2: Appeal to your experience
In a job interview, you will be asked about your experience for the position. Don't explain theory: explain what you did. Try to anchor your answers to projects and initiatives you've worked on, not just job-related. Mention hackathons, side projects, volunteering, hobbies, and personal projects that demonstrate your knowledge and expertise.
If you think you still don't have enough experience to show, here are 7 tips to improve your employability options in the IT area.
In addition to your experience you can talk about what you are passionate about, your hobby, what you do for fun, not for money, and it doesn't have to be tech, it can be writing or having a garden or taking things apart, or being a puppeteer.
👉🏽 We recommend "no experience" or junior jobs.
📦 Tip 3: Don't stiffen up or try to control the interview.
Avoid name-dropping. No one cares that you know such-and-such an author or have spoken to such-and-such an expert. Remember that the interview is not a social gathering or an appearance of importance.
Don't try to control the agenda or interview topics: let the interviewer guide the process. Don't dodge challenging questions or try to deflect a topic just because you find it difficult to answer; that only makes you look defensive. The only exception is if the person interviewing you asks questions that are clearly unprofessional and cross a line (such as whether or not you have children).
Avoid bringing prepared things "you want to show off" or trying to "win over" the interviewer by flattering them or trying to do research on them. Be clear that your interviewers will already have their questions prepared and their time frame limited. Be confident in your abilities and keep a relaxed and open attitude.
🎤 Tip 4: It's a technical interview, not a TED talk.
The idea is that the interview reflects how you think and work. You don't have to know everything by heart: if you don't remember it's OK; if you get it wrong it's OK. You don't need to demonstrate charisma or presence. Remember that the interview serves to assess your skills (both those you already have and those you can and want to learn).
Refrain from over-rehearsing your answers and don't bring prepared speeches or jokes (please). When answers are prepared, it shows and does not convey a good impression.
It is a good idea to have mock interviews to make you feel more comfortable, but from there to having a pre-made speech there is a big difference.
💌 Tip 5: Accept feedback with 💜
Many recruiters when interviewing measure "coachability": that is, how willing are you to accept criticism? Avoid extremes: defensiveness on the one hand, or throwing yourself on the floor and playing the victim on the other.
One of the things companies are most looking for is to work with people who are willing to change, who receive constructive criticism that will help them improve their performance. Receiving negative feedback with lightness and a good disposition is something that will help you for life, not just for the job interview.
⚖️ Tip 6: Honesty first and foremost.
Always keep in mind that they might be asking you something they already found out elsewhere, so avoid exaggerating your experience or taking credit from others.
In addition to mentioning your strengths, you should also mention your weaknesses. Don't hide problems or flaws. If you don't know how to do it, acknowledge it (and be willing to learn how to do it).
Be prepared to be asked: Why did you get fired from this job? Why did you go 6 months without working? Why did you change careers? The things you have lived through are what make you who you are. There is no need to paint a perfect picture of your career.
Honesty...and clarity 🤔
🕴🏼Tip 7: You're not James Bond (or Jessica Jones).
Teamwork is part of the culture of many companies. Remember that you won't be working in solitude. Think about the team you'll be joining.
You don't need to present yourself as someone who will do it all on her own or who knows how to do it all by herself. Just as important as what you know how to do is that you are clear: Who will you rely on? Who will you ask for help/advice? Who will you turn to if you don't know something?
In most work teams, it is very difficult for credit to go to any one person. Trying to separate your contribution from everyone else's ("well, the branding and colors are mine, I can't take care of the rest") only reflects individualism and a lack of team spirit, and is a red flag to recruiters.
Instead, talk about the team's achievements and how you contributed to them ("we launched a new application just in time for Cyber day and I was in charge of developing the code and interface with two colleagues, and I also had to review code and refactor some services").
🧠 Be prepared to explain how you think.
🤔 Appeal to your experience.
📦 Don't stiff-arm yourself.
🎤 It's a technical interview, not a TED talk.
💌 Get feedback with 💜
⚖️ Honesty first and foremost.
🕴🏼 You are not James Bond (or Jessica Jones).
We hope your professional development and job search are successful.
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Cover photo by Ben White on Unsplash