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11/20/2013
09:06 AM
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8 Ways To Bomb IT Job Interviews

Don't trash past employers. Don't make crazy requests. Here's what else to avoid in an IT job interview, say recruiters.

5. You're not perceptive. Pay attention to cues your interviewer gives you as you answer their questions. Blue Lion Media's Heiser recalled an instance when he was looking to hire a help desk manager.

"When you interview someone, you're always looking for someone who can be articulate and thoughtful, which is why we initiate dialogue by asking open-ended questions. I had one candidate who kept giving me long-winded answers and it got to a point where I modified my approach and asked her yes or no questions. I still couldn't get a straight answer out of her even then," Heiser said. "I kept thinking that if there was a critical situation happening like a system down and I'm trying to get a status update, I wouldn't be able to because she'd have an elaborate answer for everything."

Heiser said it's important to be adaptable in an interview, pay attention to body language, and adapt accordingly.

6. You're too focused on technical skills. Eric Axelbank, deputy director of systems integration with the U.S. Air Force, said that IT candidates focus too much on their skills and not enough on strategy.

"All too often, IT professionals tend to be stove-piped and technically oriented, and their qualifications highlight technical certifications," he said. "These portfolios of experience are great, but they don't necessarily reflect one's potential for success as a CIO or CTO."

Instead, make sure you're asserting both your technical and strategic qualities in your interview.

7. You lie. Embellishing the truth and flat-out lying are two ways to get your resume fast-tracked to the "no" pile. Microsoft's Cann once interviewed a candidate for placement in a government position. The candidate was told he needed to have a clean record, which the candidate said it was. He went through the interview process, and once the background check was performed, it was revealed that the candidate had an outstanding warrant for his arrest, Cann said.

"You can guarantee that we're going to do background checks on you, so don't hide anything," Cann said. "If you don't have a degree, don't put it on your resume because we'll find out. Just don't lie; don't mislead us."

8. You make an absurd request. IT recruiter Berger said it's always a bad idea to make out-of-the-ordinary requests during the hiring process.  One candidate he worked with was offered a senior project manager role, but the candidate requested a title change to "director." Berger asked him to speak to HR about the change, which he did.

"I received a phone call from the director of human resources who told me they were going to pull the offer. Not only was the candidate rude to her, but he accepted the senior project manager title, then asked her to tell everyone that calls the firm that he was the director -- he didn't want anyone to know that he was merely a senior project manager."

Battle lines are forming behind hardware-centric and virtual approaches to software-defined networking. We size up strengths and weaknesses. Also in the SDN Skirmish issue of InformationWeek: Anonymity has a role in business communities. (Free registration required.)

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jeffhutton
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jeffhutton,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/23/2013 | 10:15:01 AM
Re: 8 Ways To Bomb IT Job Interviews
I agree and that was the case.  But I have had a number of interviews with candidates where their phone either rang or vibrated and it was an interruption and distraction to both of us.  I would suggest leaving the phone in the car or at least turn it off.   
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
11/22/2013 | 2:50:30 PM
Re: 8 Ways To Bomb IT Job Interviews
I can envision this being a problem with Millennials, though I'd hope that most would have enough common sense to put the phone away for the duration of the interview.
jeffhutton
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jeffhutton,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/21/2013 | 5:24:49 PM
8 Ways To Bomb IT Job Interviews
These are great pointers.  I could also add don't have your phone accessible.  We had someone interview for a job and he responded to texts during the interview!  Nothing screams 'I'm uninterested' louder.    
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
11/20/2013 | 11:27:09 AM
What else?
IT recruiters and hiring managers: Let's hear your horror stories. What other no-nos would you add to this list?
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Ninja
11/20/2013 | 10:22:55 AM
Re: ways to bomb
@Shane, yes, that's a good way to put it. I don't mean that one should adopt a fake personality or even pretend that s/he only lives for work 12 hours a day if that is not the case. But relaxing too much is not the way to go. I remember reading some time ago about an interviewer who would trick people intor revealing information that is illegal to ask. 

LearnVest ran a piece called 11 Things Hiring Managers Won't Tell You last April. Among other things it warned about what you give away:

Your wedding or engagement ring? Can and may be used against you.

Those photos of kids on a hiring manager's desk? They may not actually be the manager's children—but the photo is designed to get you talking about your kids, or whether you plan to have some eventually.
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
11/20/2013 | 9:49:51 AM
Re: ways to bomb
It's better to say "be the most professional version of yourself." You should probably only be yourself around friends and colleagues that you've worked with for a while. 
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
User Rank: Author
11/20/2013 | 9:48:52 AM
A Related One
Related to the no-no about bringing up salary too soon: Don't ask about days off and vacations too soon. You don't want to be telling a future employer that your mind is already on the R&R. 

 
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Ninja
11/20/2013 | 9:33:00 AM
ways to bomb
All excellent pointers. You know when people advise you to "just be yourself?" That doesn't really work for a job interview if you think being yourself includes trashing your last boss or dressing like a slob or using profanity because that's the way you speak among friends.
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