The Golden Rule of the Technical Interview: Tips for New and Tenured Tech Consultants

tech consultant sitting for a technical interview with hiring manager

Whether you’re interviewing for your very first job in the technology industry or your tenth interview as a professional IT consultant, it’s helpful to learn or conduct a refresh of the basics of this process. Understanding the foundational nature of an interview, specifically a technical interview geared towards a job in IT and how to maneuver it, is a first step to landing the job of your dreams.

What is a technical interview?

A technical interview is an organized meeting between a hiring manager and a potential employee pursuing a technical role, like a data analyst, software developer, systems architect, and more. Technical interviews aim to evaluate and assess a consultant’s skills in areas such as coding, advanced problem-solving, creativity, and basic technical knowledge.

The technical interview unfolds in several ways; below is one standard roadmap that many interviewing processes follow:

  1. Phone Screen: The interviewer first determines your capabilities simply by asking questions over the phone and rating answers.
  2. Technical Skills Assessments: A test or task that’s assigned to a candidate as part of the interview process to see first-hand how they solve coding problems, how fast they complete a project in a given time, and how well they can respond to a set of instructions. For example, Indeed states that an example of this could be someone being tested on how well they use the coding language Python to develop a user interface.

These assessments can take on various forms. Geektastic shares a thorough overview of the pros and cons of the different formats. In summary:

    • There are assessments that follow the model of standard automatic tests, where the interviewee answers a set of questions via multiple-choice answers. Answers are yes or no, and graded accordingly.
    • Coding challenges ask an interviewee to present their final work for a coding situation, which will highlight their technical expertise but also the way they managed their time, the steps they took, and critical thinking.
    • A more advanced assessment would involve a team-based project, working collaboratively with a group towards a technical solution, again highlighting tech skills but also digging deeper into the soft skills required to reach a successful outcome in an organization.
  1. Virtual interview: conducted via videoconference software, this popular method of interview certainly emerged over the last decade but simply skyrocketed following the onset of the Covid19 pandemic. Even in 2021, surveys reported that over 80% of employers used virtual interviewing, and the trend continues. Virtual interviewing is hailed as a time-saver – in travel for interviews, in schedule availability, and more. It also often satisfies that in-person connection between employer and potential employee needed through verbal cues, facial expressions, and mannerisms.
  2. In-person interview: For some employers, step 1 and step 2 are the lead-up to this final step in the interview process (sometimes replaced with the aforementioned virtual interview.) Doing well on assignments and initial screenings is important to advance to interviews with decision-makers, often leading to interviews with multiple company members.

Throughout it all, remember the golden rule of interviewing: research the company. Learn as much as you possibly can about where you are trying to land a job and, most importantly, the person who is vetting you. According to Harvard Business Review, build a relationship with the other person by discussing topics you’re both passionate about. Understand their experience in the company or the workplace culture. Then align this information with your own experience and how you would be a good fit for the role.

Technical Interview Pro Tips

 

Seasoned Tech Professionals or First-Time Job Seekers: Use Networking Skills to Sell Yourself

For a person who has been in the tech industry for a while, your approach to a new position may be different because of connections. It won’t preclude an interview, but it may change the trajectory. There is a certain professional courtesy that allows for increased connection when you have been in the industry for a time, as with most professions.

For those new to the tech industry, networking is a bonus as well. As a workforce, we are more networked than ever before, so lean on your circle to help facilitate an introduction to an organization you are interested in. Having a hand-off from a referral makes for some of the most successful hires.  Find the recruiter tasked with securing talent and connect with them by following the detailed format:

  • Start with a descriptive subject line
  • Introduce yourself and explain how you have their information
  • In a few words, describe your experience and what you want to offer to the company, and why you find value in the company’s mission
  • Attach a resume or portfolio
  • Follow up

How to Answer Experience Questions

If you are a seasoned professional, you must emphasize your experience, awards, and skills in a way that highlights your expertise in the technology field but also demonstrates the value and ROI you brought to your previous roles. How did the organization solve a challenge with what you implemented? What did you help innovate, streamline, make more efficient, secure, and how did you save money for the organization? Tech companies will understand the technologies you used, but how business was affected by your actions is important to the decision-makers.

An entry-level consultant might focus more on tech skills they have acquired if they don’t necessarily have the project experience to pull from. Showing your growth in education steps you took to learn something new, or demonstrating how you can apply your skills to a challenge that the hiring company or their industry might be facing will convey a practical implementation of your skills.

Paint yourself as a Leader

Whether you realize it or not, if you have been in the profession long enough, you must have led a project or team one way or another. Be sure to discuss the positions you have held where your leadership skills have been evident. Even more importantly, demonstrate how you want to continue going down that path. Technical skills are a given for a tech job, but soft skills are high on the list for landing the right positions, with a heavy emphasis on communication skills, management skills, and general business knowledge. The right combination of technical and soft skills is going to be what sets you apart from other tech consultants competing for roles.


We also value our incredible team of SSi People. We understand that in order to attract the best, we must compete for you! That’s why our expert staffing and recruiting team will help prepare you to make the best first impression for any role you seek. We prioritize your growth, value your expertise, and create a supportive environment that fosters mutual success. Contact us today to discuss becoming an SSi person.

 

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