Monthly Archives: February 2014

Informational Interviews: A Valuable Tool for IT Candidates

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By Sean McCoy, Talent Agent, VisionIT.

In the white hot technology job market, for many IT candidates the world is their oyster when it comes to picking a prospective employer. For others, the competition for open positions is so heated that any leg up can mean the difference between landing your dream job or not. In either case, informational interviews can be a great alternative, or precursor to a formal job interview, that can provide valuable insight into a company’s culture, environment, and a great step towards landing a job.

As a recent article in CIO magazine points out, sometimes job search tips that are “beyond the obvious” can be the difference-maker, and we think informational interviews are one such “out-of-the-box” approach IT candidates ought to consider.

Informational interviews are a great way to find out what’s going on in a company, better understand the culture and work environment, and what they’re looking for in a candidate. It’s also a good way to get on a potential employer’s list of future candidates.

Here are a few guidelines to follow:

  • Try to interview with someone who is working in your desired IT field, not just with someone who is in human resources. The way to land an interview is by digging through your network of friends, family, former colleagues, trade groups, and social media. Find out who you’re connected to and start building the bridge to make new contacts
  • Before you reach out to the contacts you would like to interview, do your homework. Be prepared to know everything you can about the interviewer and the company. Research the company’s latest developments and make a list of questions. Some examples include how the firm sources job candidates and what corporate culture is like. Prepping with questions will help ease your nerves, but it will also show the interviewer that you’re serious about your job search and their company.
  • When your interview takes place, don’t pepper your interviewer with questions. Let the conversation flow normally and interject a question when it’s appropriate. You shouldn’t try to sell yourself directly, but it’s okay to have a few sentences prepared that outline your background and interest in the company. Again, let the conversation flow normally, and insert information about yourself where it makes sense. Be interested and engaged, but don’t try to force anything.
  • When it comes to scheduling interviews, take what you can get. People are busy, and any time they can give you is valuable. Even if it’s just a few minutes on the phone or an email exchange, it’s still a foot in the door. Whatever time you are given, make sure to thank the interviewer for their time and input.

It doesn’t matter if a company is officially hiring or not. Having good informational interviews is the best way to make a good first impression before an official interview takes place. It’s always valuable to get a foot in the door, and it proves your initiative.

Posing For Power: Why Body Language Matters in the IT Interview

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By Glenn Schmidt, Talent Agent, VisionIT

Having interviewed thousands of IT candidates over our company’s history, we know the role body language can play in either presenting yourself as a professional or in some cases, costing you the job. And, for IT professionals, the issue of body language is often overlooked given the traditional nature of IT jobs where most of your time is sitting in front of a computer screen. Why bother?

As was recently reported by Forbes, body language can impact the outcome of a job interview. But we also think understanding the basics of body language can be an important step in your managerial journey. While body language can be difficult to read and control, learning about what your body language says about you can help you to succeed and be perceived positively. It can also help you understand more about how you make others feel and what they think about you.

Consider these tips to ensure you convey the right qualifications – mind and body:

  • Eye contact is one of the most important factors in body language. While maintaining eye contact indicates interest and demonstrates listening, too much eye contact can seem aggressive. The best way to master eye contact is to learn the balance between submissive, or looking away too often, and domineering, or looking too closely too often.
  • Posture is another key component to body language. Slouching posture indicates disinterest and fatigue, whereas straight posture shows that you are powerful and engaged. However, when sitting and standing up straight, be relaxed and comfortable to avoid looking rigid.
  • Speed also reveals what you are thinking. Slower movements, such as slow nodding, suggest that you are giving something your full attention. Fast nodding reveals impatience. If you are still, it suggests you are comfortable and in control. But if you move too quickly, people will think you are nervous.
  • Gestures with your hands can reveal your state of mind, which is especially important to notice when something negative needs to be portrayed in a positive light. Repetitive motions such as tapping show boredom, and emphasizing words by beating your hands on something shows power and authority.

In an interview and throughout your career, the messages your body sends are just important as what you say. Understanding how effectively communicate through body language will help you ace an interview, give you more confidence, and serve as another tool to further your IT career.