I’ve been interviewing a number of people over the past several weeks for an internal IT job.  It’s a fairly entry level position and the compensation information is spelled out on the job ad.  We also suggest a few things to do to prepare.  Here are a few observations and tips based on the interviews.

  • If we’re going to spend an hour with you, spend an hour figuring out what we do.  In my case, I work for an Internet Marketing company.  Our website spells out everything we do, and there are tens of thousands of articles on the company.  I’m fairly certain that you can figure it out.  It’s almost immediate disqualification in my book if you can’t answer the simple question, “What can you tell us about our company?”  Also, spend some time researching the people who will be interviewing you and read through press releases to see what’s important to the company today.

  • Don’t BS.  If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t make one up – especially if it’s a technical question that really only has one right answer.  Throwing acronyms combined with numbers and punctuation marks at us doesn’t make you sound smarter.  In our case, we’re only partially hiring the person for what they know.  We’re also hiring the person for what they can learn, and their personality.  But – if the position is for a technical role, expect to be asked technical questions and set expectations correctly at the beginning.

  • We might wear casual clothes on a daily basis, but dress for success.  You don’t have the job yet.  Dazzle us with your professionalism.  Jeans, short sleeved shirts, t-shirts, sneakers, shorts… none of these things belong at an interview unless you are the most amazing and world renowned person for what you do.

  • Speak up during an interview.  We’re trying to learn about who you are.  Keeping your mouth shut tells us that you are uncomfortable communicating to others.  Personality matches to our culture are a big portion of our decision making process.
  • At the same time, make sure we can get a word in edgewise.  One of the people we interviewed talked for over 10 minutes on each question and didn’t pause, and most of what he said was irrelevant.  He didn’t get the job.

  • Ask questions.  You don’t know all of the answers.  If you think you do then you’re arrogant and stupid.

  • Going to college, whether it’s two year or four year, and then spending a few months or a year in a technology profession does not automatically entitle you to $75k+benefits a year.  We laugh at some of the amounts people request as initial salary.  “I’ve been working as a customer service rep for the past two years but really want to do IT.  I went to a night school and got my degree and I want $65k a year”.  You wouldn’t believe how common that is.  Ask for a reasonable amount.  Suggest alternative methods of getting to where you want to be.  “If I learn xxx in the first 6 months, can you bump me by $5k?”

  • Similarly, if the job is posted with the compensation spelled out, and you want three times that amount, don’t bother interviewing with us.

  • If we ask questions on the pre-screening questionnaire, answer them!  Don’t leave them blank.  We ask them because we want to know the answers.  If you don’t answer them, you probably won’t get an interview.

  • Follow up to show your interest.  We’ve interviewed 7 people for this spot.  I have yet to receive a single thank you or follow-up letter.  It amazes me.  Are you actually even interested?  Sorry if I made you get up off the couch to talk to us.

  • We’re not doing you a favor by giving you a job.  A job is not a right – it’s a privilege.  Treat the opportunity to apply for one appropriately.

As you can probably see, there’s very little here about whether or not you have the skills for the role or not.  You could have all of the skills, but miss a few of the items above and you won’t get the job.  We’re always looking for the “all-around” candidate.

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Chris is currently the Chief Innovation Officer at Internet Marketing Ninjas where he manages M&A activity, legal work, and also focuses on the use of technology and other solutions to lead innovation and growth. Prior to this, Chris led the sale of his $10mil information technology company, twice an Inc500 fastest growing company in the US, to an investment banking firm in NYC. He has a strong passion for sailing, and had the opportunity to spend two years travelling from Lake Champlain to the southern Bahamas and back with his family.

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