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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.

IT Jobs: Best Paying Titles Of 2014
IT Jobs: Best Paying Titles Of 2014
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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

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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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User Rank: Apprentice
5/9/2014 | 10:29:54 AM
researching the company
For my internships and full time jobs I have always found it useful to show the interviewer that it is not just another company that I want to see if they'll hire me; it is a company that I want to contribute, be part of.

Doing my online research about the company, checking their social posts, recent news about them, etc all gives me a chance to start an interesting conversation with the interviewer, and it shows my interest level.
User Rank: Apprentice
5/9/2014 | 10:12:33 AM
being paid competitively
I am excited for interviews but I always feel like they are going to hire me for a very low salary since I don't know how to handle those questions. Clearly they are the ones experienced in this.
Kristin Burnham
Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
5/9/2014 | 10:10:16 AM
Your thoughts?
What other words of advice can you offer graduates? Let's hear your stories.
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