8 Ways To Bomb IT Job Interviews

CIOs and IT recruiters encourage job candidates to steer clear of these faux pas.

Kristin Burnham, Senior Editor, InformationWeek.com

November 20, 2013

3 Min Read

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."

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About the Author(s)

Kristin Burnham

Senior Editor, InformationWeek.com

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 writer. Kristin's writing has earned an ASBPE Gold Award in 2010 for her Facebook coverage and a Min Editorial and Design Award in 2011 for "Single Online Article." She is a graduate of Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

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