The tech industry may be booming with opportunity but competition for the top positions remains fierce. Having a strong interview game and being aware of the common pitfalls can be key to landing a dream job.
We spoke to Ian Cruickshank, founder and managing director of Spectrum IT Recruitment, the lead sponsor of The Business Magazine's South Coast Tech Awards, about how you should approach an interview, the mistakes candidates commonly make and how the recruitment world has changed post-pandemic.
Ian started Southampton-based Spectrum IT Recruitment in 2008, just after the financial crash, and the company has gone on to become one of the leading tech recruiters in the South East of England.
His team completed over 1,000 placements last year across the technology sector and, when it comes to recruitment, it's fair to say they have seen and heard it all.
1 - BE HONEST
"Just be open, professional and honest as you could be caught out by anything less. Ian said.
"We have seen people say they can't attend interviews because they have been involved in a car crash on route and send us a picture of the first car crash they find on the internet.
"We have seen the same picture sent to us on a number of occasions
“Similarly, and more topically, we have seen the same picture of a positive lateral flow test available from the internet when COVID-19 is used as a reason for the late cancellation of an interview.
“The tech industry is very intertwined especially along the south coast and everyone knows everyone, particularly at a management level; therefore it’s important to be honest and upfront about your experience so far.
“Make sure that your employment dates on your CV match up with your LinkedIn profile otherwise it can look like you are hiding employment details.”
2 - DO A DIGITAL DETOX
We all have a digital footprint which gives a glimpse of our private lives and who doesn't have an embarrassing long-forgotten night out picture lingering in a Facebook album?
Ian recommends having a thorough purge of all of your social media accounts prior to embarking on a job hunt and also making sure that your LinkedIn page is in order.
He said: "Be very careful with social media.
"Go through your social media and clear out anything controversial. Social media is making the world a very small place and everything is accessible.
"We had one client who said he was going to offer a job to a candidate until, at the conclusion of the interview, the candidate was asked for his email address which started with Spliffman@.....
"It sounds really obvious but make sure your email address is professional or set up another one for your job hunting."
3 - HAVE A PROFESSIONAL ATTITUDE
Attitude is a key attribute that employers are assessing during an interview. In the digital age when many interviews are conducted via video conferencing, how do you get across that you have the correct outlook?
Ian says preparation is key as well as projecting a professional image.
He said: "I know the world has softened out in terms of dress code and going into the office for an interview but employers still expect you to be professional and well prepared. Do your research and be interested.
“Having a professional set up for a video call could be as simple as sitting at a table rather than on the sofa with Sky Sports on in the background.
“Avoid family members or people that share your house making a cameo appearance during the interview.”
4 - ASK QUESTIONS
It is the one part of an interview which is the most predictable and the easiest to prepare for but many candidates still fail to ask any questions at the end of their interview.
Ian says they may be missing a trick to put themselves above the competition.
He said: "It shows that you have considered the opportunity and have a genuine interest in it.
"I also think it's common courtesy as the client has spent time looking through your CV and therefore they would expect that you have done the same by researching into the company.
"It is an opportunity for you to sell yourself and gives you a platform to open up the conversation."
5 - BE OPEN ABOUT MONEY
Asking about money can sometimes be a difficult topic for candidates. However Ian says that it is important that job hunters are prepared for this conversation and that advice is taken from a number of sources.
He said: "People think that what they are on currently will dictate market value which isn't necessarily the case.
"If you are earning £50k and want £70k from your next role, which is quite similar to the last, make sure that you can justify this expectation.
"This could be by letting the potential employer know that you haven't had a pay rise for over five years or were promised a bonus that you never got.
"People run into problems when they lie about what their current salary package is.”
6 - START-UPS AND DOCUMENTATION
The pandemic has encouraged us all to think deeply about our current employment with many choosing to join the plethora of start-ups that have emerged from The Great Resignation.
Ian says candidates should think very carefully before putting pen-to-paper with an early stage company.
He said: "There is this excitement that happens when you go to work for a start-up which is great but I have seen people get burnt as they have been promised share equity or share ownership which has never materialised.
"Make sure that everything that is important to you is documented before you commit.”
OTHER KEY TIPS
7 - If you are applying for an entry-level tech position make sure you can talk through your university dissertation or have a Github page where you can show off your skills.
8 - Plan ahead if you want to move into a managerial position and consider moving to a role in a company where you can learn from a supportive line manager.
9 - Network and make connections if you are wanting to move into senior management as a lot of these appointments come from word of mouth.
[Original article - 9 Tips for Impressing at your Tech Job Interview - The Business Magazine]