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IT Interviews


  • pg 1
									Professional Practice

         Ann Doris
   Careers & Placement Adviser
  for School of Computer Science
             Semester 1

Time:           Thursdays 2.00 – 3.00pm

Venue:          Rm G06 PFC

         BSc/BEng Computer Science
    Professional Practice Lecture

             Week 7
How to succeed at interview

   Interview techniques

   Assessment centres

    Placement update
IT Interviews

Being short listed for interview means that an employer
believes you have the potential to do the job because you
have the right qualifications, skills and experience, and is now
narrowing the selection by criteria to see whether you have all
the requirements.
IT Interviews cont’d
Criteria for Interview

Vary from job to job but typically:

•   Your intellectual qualities
•   Your level of enthusiasm
•   Your ability to get on with people
•   Your ability to express yourself
•   Whether you fit into the organisation
IT Interviews ont’d
Most organisations will have a selection process, which
involves a first interview and aptitude tests leading to a
second interview.

The interview also gives you the chance to assess the
organisation – is it offering exactly what you want as
regards training and organisation.
IT Interviews ont’d
Your aims in the interview are:
• to demonstrate that you are the right person for the job
• to discover if the job on offer is right for you

The aims of the interviewer are:
• to discover how far you match their requirements for the
  job so that they can choose the ‘best’ candidate
• to ensure that you, the candidate, understand their job and
  organisation sufficiently to decide whether the job is right
  for you.
Success at the Interview
So how do you convince the recruiter you are the right
person for the job?
The key to success is in the preparation beforehand.

Practical matters:
• Confirming your attendance at the interview by telephone
  or email
• Checking the format of the interview if it is not clear from
  your invitation
• Transport and cost, making sure you will arrive at least 15
  minutes early
Success at the Interview cont’d
• Dressing appropriately, looking professional and smart,
  creating the right impression
• What to bring with you – map, CV or application form,
  presentation materials if you have been asked to give one

Preparation for Questions

• You will have to prepare for the types of questions you will
  be asked at the interview.
• The recruiter will want to learn more about you, about your
  knowledge of the company and your ability to do the job.
Types of Interview
Chronological or Biographical

• This type of interview is largely based on your CV or
  application form and allows you to explain and expand on
  what you have written.

• Very few interviews are still like this as recruiters find that
  the structured interview is more successful.
Types of Interview cont’d
Criteria or Competence Based

• Most interviews are criteria based these days.
• All candidates are asked more or less the same questions
  and are matched against 6-8 criteria.
• Questions are detailed and maybe increasingly in-depth.

  If the interviewer is examining your abilities against the
  criterion leadership skills then this is the likely pattern of
Types of Interview cont’d
• Level One
  The Question: Would you describe yourself as having
  leadership skills?
• Level Two
  The Evidence: You are asked for specific, real life
• Level Three
  The Personal Contribution: Your own role is examined, and
  your own feelings, thoughts and opinions sought. What was
  your individual contribution to this activity? What did you learn from the
  experience? How would you do it differently next time? What would
  have happened if you weren’t there?
Types of Interview cont’d
• Level Four
  The General: The criterion is looked at more generally to
  test your powers of analysis. What makes a good leader? Have
  you ever witnessed something that was badly led? Why is it important
  for our own company to recruit with this skill?

• Level Five
  The Challenge: Your ideas and thoughts are challenged
  “Surely what you have just described show you have not been as
  successful as you might have been” or “I don’t agree. Don’t you

• Level Six
  And back to the start…… “Thank you, that’s very interesting.
  How else could you convince me that you are a leader?”
Types of Interview cont’d
Technical Interviews

• If the job requires technical skill then you can expect to be
  asked about specific knowledge and skills.
• You might be asked to interpret a diagram or decipher a
  computer programming code.
Have You Got The Look?
• You can expect that anything between 70-90% of your
  communication messages are conveyed through non-
  verbal aspects.

• Your body language gives a lot away about you and how
  you feel about yourself.

• In important situations such as interviews or social events it
  is vital to get the balance right.

• Body language often speaks louder than words.
Have You Got The Look? cont’d
• The first step to changing your body language is

• Start by observing other people as it is usually easier than
  observing yourself.

• Once you are aware of body signals, then you can begin
  slowly correcting yours.
Have You Got The Look? cont’d
Things to watch for are:

•   Tone of voice
•   Inflection
•   Speed of speech
•   Eye contact
•   Body Posture
•   Hand gestures
•   Facial expressions
Have You Got The Look? cont’d
Assertive                 Aggressive           Non-Assertive

•Direct eye contact       •Looking bored       •Looking away
•Open body                •Pointing finger     •Fidgeting with
•Body is still and        •Hands on hips        hair, jewellery etc
 relaxed                  •Sarcastic tone      •Whining voice or
•Hand gestures            •Loud or too soft    •difficult to hear
 emphasise words           voice               •Smiling
•Shoulders straight and   •Body closed off      inappropriately
 posture upright          •Invading personal   •Shoulders
•Voice appears warm        space by standing    slumped and bad
 and firm                  too close            posture
Winning Body Language
Here’s how to give the right message at important
meetings and interviews

• Stand tall and straight
• Hold you arms relaxed down your side and turning the
  palm of your hands and wrists outwards, this will
  immediately throw back your shoulders and open out your
Winning Body Language cont’d

• A palm of the hand facing downwards in the handshake
  indicates a dominant attitude
• A palm offered upward indicates a submissive approach
• Keep your hand vertical. Maintain firm (not crushing)
  pressure, keep steady eye contact and smile – this will
  signal co-operation, respect and friendliness
Winning Body Language cont’d

• Sit upright, but relaxed in the chair.
• Do not lean overly forward, this looks too keen and
• Relaxing too far back into the chair denotes disrespect

Arms & Legs

• Unfolded arms and uncross legs
• Crossed limbs are usually perceived as negative,
  defensive gestures
Winning Body Language cont’d

• Practise neutral positions, like lying your hands in your lap
• Non verbal gestures indicating deceit include rubbing your
  face below the nose, rubbing your eyes, and pulling your
  collar away from the neck
• Keep your hands away from your face
• Don’t be tempted to clench your hands together as this
  signals nervousness
Winning Body Language cont’d
The Eyes and Face

• Speaking with your eyes closed, even for a second, signals
  an attempt to block someone from your sight because you
  are not particularly interested in what they have to say, or
  what they have to hear
• Excessive and sustained eye contact can be interpreted as
  aggressive and threatening
• Smiling can be a really powerful body language tool, you’ll
  appear as confident, friendly and relaxed
Knowledge of Yourself
Read through your CV or form to remind yourself of the
impression already conveyed and make a list of
questions that are likely to appear:

•   Why do you want the job?
•   Why do you think you are a suitable candidate?
•   What are your ambitions? What are your interests?
•   What are your strengths and weaknesses?
•   How would your best friend describe you?
•   What are your relevant skills and experiences?
•   Why should we select you?
Knowledge of Yourself cont’d
• What is the most exciting thing you have ever done?
• What did you gain from your degree/placement/part-time
• Describe projects, difficult situations you have experienced,
  how you managed your time on university.
• What are you looking for when you graduate?
• What did you like and dislike about your degree course?
What should you ask?
• Your questions can demonstrate your awareness of the

• Ask about recent developments, training opportunities and
  things which occur to you as you read the literature or

• Don’t ask anything that has been previously explained in
  the brochure.
What should you ask? cont’d
• Where does this position fit into your overall organisation?

• To whom should I report?

• What do you see as the priorities for someone in this

• How are employees evaluated and promoted?

• What type of on-the-job training is available?

• How will your performance be assessed?
What should you ask? cont’d
• Does the job involve travel? If so, how much?

• Does your company encourage its employees to undertake
  further education and training?

• What are the company’s plans for the future?

• What are the biggest challenges facing the company?


• Competence based selection requires interviewers to
  obtain evidence of past behaviour because the
  competences are described in terms of how people
• The reason why past behaviour is required is
  because it indicates how the candidate is likely to
  behave in the future
  (i.e. the way I behaved in a given situation yesterday is likely to be the
  way I will behave tomorrow in the same circumstances)

1. Open the Interview
   The interviewer will introduce themselves and explain how
   the interview will be conducted.

2. Walk through the CV/Application Form
   Here the interviewer will identify how and why career
   changes have occurred. They will explore the transition
   between jobs and any ‘gaps’ or dates that don’t match.

3. Overview the Person: current position
   Explores current activities and obtains a picture of the
   candidate e.g. what they do, how they are coping, time
   management, projects etc.


 Prepare well

 Rehearse/role play if you can before the interview

 Arrive in good time - check out journey details beforehand

 Shake hands warmly - adopt a friendly open approach to
  the interviewer

 Smile when you feel it is appropriate and so generate
  some warmth

 Sit comfortable and try to look confident

 Listen carefully

 Look directly at the interviewers

 Appear open and approachable

 Wear appropriate but comfortable clothes

 Let the interviewers take the lead

 Use positive phrases such as 'I am confident that...' rather
  than 'I think I could..‘

 Emphasise the positive aspects of the things you have
  done - play down the negative

 Elaborate on something the interviewer seems interested
 Have a mental list of things you still need to know about
  the job. If relevant, ask these at the end of the interview eg
  about job content, training, future prospects

 Ensure that you have told the panel everything that you
  feel is relevant to your application
 Check when you are likely to hear the interview result, if
  you haven’t been told.

It’s okay to:
 Ask for a question to be repeated if you have not heard it,
  or to be rephrased if you have not understood it
 Allow yourself thinking time
 Have ‘time-gaining’ phrases up your sleeve such as:
  o ‘That is a difficult/interesting question’
  o ‘That is an important point’
  o ‘I am not sure how I would answer that – could I give
     it some thought?
 But…if you really do not know the answer to a question,
  say so.
Try not to:

 Sit on edge of chair or fidget

 Whisper responses or waffle

 Appear over-confident or be too ‘laid back’

 Clutch a newspaper, umbrella, briefcase, etc

 Sit facing a window if there is a choice of where to sit

 Say you can do something you cannot substantiate
 Give one word, or very brief answers. Instead, amplify and
  support your statements, giving examples of relevant

 Underplay your abilities and achievements

 Allow yourself to get flustered or show irritation

 Ask questions about the job which you could/should have
  found out answers to before eg conditions of service,
  hours, etc.

 Have a long written list of questions to put to the panel
What three skills are you looking for at interview?
Liberty IT
• Communication: We are looking for candidates who can
  communicate confidently and with interest about
  themselves and their skills

• Organisation: Is the candidate organised in their approach
  to their academic studies and their leisure time?

• Problem Solving: Can the candidate approach a problem in
  a structured fashion and bring clarity and judgement to the
What three skills are you looking for at interview?   cont’d

Northbrook Technology NI
• Excellent communication skills
• Being able to demonstrate team player skills
• Being adaptable and flexible

Intel Ireland
• Assertiveness
• Organisation and planning
• Written/spoken communication
What three skills are you looking for at interview?   cont’d

• Effective communication skills
• Team working – working co-operatively rather than
  competitively with others for a common goal
• Influencing others – using a personal style which helps to
  positively persuade others
What makes for success at interview?

Liberty IT
• Someone who has obviously researched the company, and
  where possible has talked to an employee. These
  candidates impress us with their personal motivation and
  desire to join the company as opposed to those who treat it
  as just another interview

Intel Ireland
• Good appearance
• Well prepared
• Confident and enthusiastic
What makes for success at interview?     cont’d

• Dress to impress and be confident
• Be able to articulate ideas
• Do some research – show an interest in the company

Northbrook Technology NI
• If the applicant listens to the question and then answers
• Asking for clarification if the question is not understood
• Providing a clear and structured answer
• Smartly dressed, good eye contact, erect posture, shakes
  hands at beginning and end of interview
After the interview?
There are some things you should do as soon as you can
after the interview:
• Write down all that you can remember:
   –   what you said
   –   what you did
   –   what went well
   –   what could have been better
• Make a note of any questions you could not answer and
  ensure you can answer them next time
This will help you assess and improve your interview
Assessment Centres
Second stage selection lasts from a couple of hours to 3
days, depending on the method used.

You may receive an invitation to:

• Another interview
• An assessment centre
Assessment Centres cont’d
What can happen?

•   Group Exercises
•   Presentations
•   Aptitude Tests
•   Panel Interviews
•   Case studies, in-tray exercises and role plays
Assessment Centres cont’d
Group Exercises

•   The ice breaker
•   The discussion group
•   The leaderless task
•   The leadership task
      good leader
         uses the strengths of others
         knows what is going on
         takes decisions
Assessment Centres cont’d
Some tips for effective group work

•   Watch out for people with clipboards
•   It’s quality not quantity that counts
•   Complete the task
•   Never seek to destroy
•   Know how and when to compromise
• You can’t be assessed if you can’t be heard
Assessment Centres cont’d

Every presentations needs a structure

      2 most common structures:

[1]   A beginning           [2]   Situation
      A middle                    Complication
      An end                      Resolution
Assessment Centres cont’d
Some tips for presentations

•   Be ruthless with the content
•   How you come across is more important than what you say
•   Don’t start until you are ready
•   Master the visual aids
Assessment Centres cont’d
Aptitude Tests                                www.prospects.ac.uk
Ability Tests
• Tests your innate ability in key work related areas.
• Most common tests:        Verbal reasoning
                              Numerical reasoning
                              Logical reasoning
•   Answers are either right or wrong
•   Time limit
•   Questions get progressively harder
•   Tests always start with example questions
•   Practice ability tests before the selection centre
Assessment Centres cont’d
Personality Inventories
• Tell the organisation nothing about your ability but quite a
  lot about the type of person you are and what you want out
  of life
• There are no right or wrong answers
• There is no real time limit
• You often get a chance to talk over your ‘profile’ with the
• Answer personality inventories honestly
Assessment Centres cont’d
Panel Interviews

• Extend your knowledge further than the company brochure
  and annual report
• Beaware of any current news stories about the
  organisation or the industry its in
• Study your application form
• Expect a grilling on your knowledge of subject if you are
  applying for a technical job
• Have a high level of enthusiasm for the job and be very
  clear exactly why you should be offered it
• Don’t disappoint them
Assessment Centres cont’d
• Panel interviews, if you don’t panic, are a fair test of your
• Expect a more testing interview and prepare accordingly
Assessment Centres cont’d
Case studies, in-tray exercises and role plays

Case studies
• Test your ability to assimilate written material and draw out
  the important points
• Folder containing lists of information
• Read it
• Make a number of proposals or recommendations
Assessment Centres cont’d
In-tray exercises
• Are used to test not only your ability to understand complex
   written material but also how well you prioritise tasks
• Given pile of documents
• Told it is Mon morning and you have 30 mins to read
   through them all and decide what you do first, second, third
   and so on
Assessment Centres cont’d
Preparation for in-tray exercises

• Usually carried out against the clock
• Decide quickly what is important
• It’s best to glance through everything to get an overall
  picture before you study the contents in detail
• Keep calm
• Tests your understanding
• Expect a logical answer
Assessment Centres cont’d
Role Play Exercises
•     Simulation of real life working incidents one step
      further than case studies or in-tray exercises
•    An unrehearsed duet with an assessor
•    Be aware of the ‘background’ to the role play, but
      never make up your mind in advance what is going to

 After the Assessment Centre
•     Usually receive a letter within a week or so telling
       you their decision
•     Sometimes you are informed on the day
     Current Vacancies

Any Questions????

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