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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
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

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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Kristin Burnham
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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.
kenotani
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kenotani,
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.
donderrins
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donderrins,
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.
donderrins
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donderrins,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/9/2014 | 10:32:19 AM
Re: being paid competitively
They are more experienced but there are many online websites and tools so that you can be informed beforehand. Check out Glassdoor, Indeed, Salary Fairy, etc and see what you should expect. When you know the market you can hardly get lowballed.
Number 6
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Number 6,
User Rank: Moderator
5/9/2014 | 11:24:43 AM
Thank You E-mails | Interview Start and End
(1) Send the thank you notes quickly. Some companies start making decisions shortly after you walk out the door. E-mail is acceptable these days. Snail mail takes too long. Since surprisingly few applicants send a thank you, doing this is an easy way to stand out.

(2) Remember that the interview starts as soon as you walk in the door and doesn't end until you walk out (and maybe even extends to the parking lot).  At some companies, even the receptionist will have an opinion on your suitability that could be factored into the hiring decision.  Be nice to EVERYONE.

 
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
5/9/2014 | 12:04:14 PM
Re: Thank You E-mails | Interview Start and End
Interesting, I just had a conversation about the demise of hand-written thank you notes. It is true e-mail gets there faster. This is your chance to close the deal, so speed does matter. However, a hand-written note stands out. Which do you prefer?
rodneymbliss
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rodneymbliss,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/9/2014 | 4:43:35 PM
Re: Thank You E-mails | Interview Start and End
Buy a package of generic thank you notes and keep them in your car. After the interview go to your car and write the notes in your car. Address them with the interviewers name on the envelope and drop them off with the receptionist before you leave.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
5/9/2014 | 5:19:36 PM
Re: Thank You E-mails | Interview Start and End
Better yet, if you can, try to get a job at a company where decisions aren't made on the basis of something as insipid as the rapidity of Thank You note-sending.

And if you sneeze in the interview, casually fold your legs and clandestinely wipe your boogers on your sock.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
5/9/2014 | 5:22:12 PM
Re: being paid competitively
I tend to stay away from job postings where you're required to provide salary expectations as part of your application package, before they even meet you.  That may have been appropriate for summer jobs when you're a teenager, but in big boy (and girl) land, that just smells of a cheap company.  And if the company is going to be cheap in that particular way, you can expect them to be cheap in other areas as well -- such as training and development.
batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
5/10/2014 | 1:00:06 AM
Re: Thank You E-mails | Interview Start and End
interesting to know... and for the kids starting up they life in IT it a bit scary...
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Research: 2014 US IT Salary Survey
Research: 2014 US IT Salary Survey
Our survey of nearly 12,000 respondents shows IT pays well -- staffers rack up a median total compensation of $92,000, and managers hit $120,000. Industry matters. And the gender pay gap is real and getting wider.
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