To get the graduate IT job of your dreams, you’ll need more than a computer science degree and a persuasive application - you’ll also need to make a great impression in your interview. That means preparing for a range of general interview questions designed to reveal more about your talents, personality and fitness for the role. To help you make a convincing case for your candidacy, we’ve come up with five key tips.
IT interviews are notorious for including curveball questions, with recruiters asking everything from “what type of animal are you most like?” to “how many ping pong balls fit within a 747?”. We’ll deal with those unpredictable brainteasers in a separate blog. Here, we’ll focus on the one question you are guaranteed to be asked: why are you suitable for the job?
Recruiters are particularly attracted to driven graduates who are eager to develop their existing skills, learn new ones and pursue opportunities for personal and professional growth. Often, they’ll give you a chance to show this by asking a question like “where do you see yourself in five years?”.
Even if they don’t, it’s a good idea to show your ambitiousness by making clear your commitment to long-term results, and hinting at how you can be useful to the company in the future. A great way to do this is to share concrete goals related to the job description. For example, you might mention your determination to master a new analytics program and apply it to a challenge currently facing the company.
As a graduate, you’ll have a range of freshly developed skills, many of which will (or should) match the job description. However, don’t be disheartened if there are prerequisite skills that you haven’t yet acquired. The fact that you’ve still been offered an interview indicates that recruiters can see your potential to learn new skills or build upon existing ones.
You can reassure them by showing that you understand what skills will be important and possess a keen desire to acquire them. For example, you could say something like: “I haven’t used [insert program/skill] yet, but I appreciate its importance to [insert relevant task], and I’m eager to learn more about it.’ Consider reinforcing this message by mentioning a previous occasion on which you have successfully learned a new skill and put it to use.
Here’s another thing of which we can be fairly confident: towards the end of the interview, your recruiter will turn the tables by asking if you have any questions for them. This an invaluable opportunity to demonstrate your passion for, and understanding of, the role, so seize upon it! You might enquire about specific products, the culture of the organisation or any specific challenges you’ll be expected to overcome. Alternatively, you can consider some of the suggestions below:
In case you’re still wondering about those curveball questions described above - or, indeed, about any question you haven’t prepared for - remember that interviews are just as much about how you perform under pressure or work through complex problems as they are about your actual response. So if you’re stuck, take a deep breath and show them somebody who responds to a challenge with good humor, grit and intellectual curiosity. Good luck!