For many in the IT community, in-person interviews are challenging. The cleared IT community, with its necessary security precautions, can make interviewing even a little more challenging. Usually a non-technical recruiter will start the interview off just to pre-screen the individual and ensure they are a good candidate for the job. Next, the project manager or technical team lead will interview the individual to assess their technical skill set. Lastly, the hiring manager interviews to evaluate if the candidate’s personality matches with the company culture and the rest of the team. Interviewing in person can be a very daunting process, especially for those that are not very personable to begin with. Here are some of the best tips to eliminate anxiety and ace the in-person interview process.
1. Be Prepared
Being prepared is key to having success in any interview. Whether in-person or on the phone, come prepared. Being prepared means having a hard copy of your most recent resume in hand, arriving ahead of your interview time, as well as the rest of the other steps listed below. Do not underestimate the power of being prepared. Preparation alleviates the stress of the situation, and puts you in a more calm and confident state of mind.
2. Dress for the Part
This topic is debated all the time: Should you dress to the nines, or just come in what you would wear if you had the job? If you are in the brick laying career field and you are applying for a new job with a construction company, should you wear a shirt and tie? Probably not, but blue jeans and a dirty shirt does not cut it either. Most of us on ClearanceJobs.com are not in the brick laying business and therefore should 100% of the time show up in business attire; shirt and tie for me, business dress or pantsuit for women. You get one chance at a first impression, so come groomed and well dressed.
3. Know Your Stuff
If you are a network engineer, and you are applying for a lead network engineering position, you should be able to answer just about any question the technical personnel have. However, at times we get stuck when we are not exposed to every technology or specific use of a technology that we know. To get around this issue, simply read the job description and make sure you have a good understanding of the types of tasks you will be asked to perform from day to day. If you are rusty on certain tasks, do some research prior to your interview so you can be prepared to answer their questions confidently.
4. Know the Company
Applying for a position in the cleared community is more than just applying for a position – you are applying to represent the company to customers. Your customer will have the utmost trust in you to handle classified material; how you do that will reflect not just on you, but on your company as well.
Get to know the company you are applying to work for. Go to their website and read their “about” page to get an idea of who they are and where they have come from. Do not go out and memorize random facts, but get a gist of their mission and main focus. Knowing a brief history of the company and their current state of affairs will impress your hiring manager when she asks why you’re interested in a job with them. It shows that you are approaching the interview seriously and that you really want the job.
5. Be Honest
Last tip, but definitely not the least. I would say this tip is the most important by far: be honest. If you are asked a question and you do not know the answer, don’t just wing it and make something up. Chances are, they will call you on it and then you will find yourself tap dancing around the answer.
At the same time, never utter the words “I don’t know” in an interview. There are so many ways to answer a question better than “I don’t know.” An example would be, “I haven’t worked with that technology before, but I definitely would love to learn more about it.” That answer shows that you are dedicated to learning and – most importantly – that you are honest.
If you follow these five tips, you will make a good first impression – and better yet, a lasting impression. An in-person interview does not have to be scary. By looking professional, being honest and prepared, knowing the company, and knowing your stuff, you can create your own success.