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Tips for Information Technology Interviews

Recently I was interviewed by Peggy McKee, career coach and the CEO of Career Confidential, regarding the challenges of interviewing for an IT-related job.  A great deal of what we discussed applies to all interviews, but IT interviews have the opportunity to dive deep into tool knowledge and project experience.  In this audio file, you’ll hear our thoughts on technical interviews, specifically:

  • Preparing for the interview
  • Typical questions to expect
  • How to approach the interview and present the right information

Link to audio: What You Need to Know to Get an Information Technology Job


A while back, Peggy and I generated a video discussing proper format for resumes, too. 

Link to video: Formatting Your Resume to Be Read!


Peggy’s Web site dedicated to helping job seekers find and get the jobs they want.  Career Confidential coaches job seekers through every stage in the job search and interview process, from resumes to interviews to follow up.  It specializes in providing job seekers with powerful and customizable tools and techniques through blog articles, training videos, templates, and Webinars.


February 1, 2013 Posted by | Audio, Guest Post, Interview with Jeff, Interviewing 101, Resume Writing, Working with Recruiters | 1 Comment

Best Job Search Blog Posts of 2012

Every year-end, one of my fellow colleagues on Twitter, Jacob Share, likes to share popular blog posts on the topic of Job Search.  Typically, the authors include many of the folks I befriended and have respected since I started tweeting in 2009.  Take a look if the topic interests you–lots of advice on many different perspectives and topics.

Link to article: 56 Best Job Search Blog Posts of 2012

December 19, 2012 Posted by | Interviewing 101, Job Search, Resume Writing, Social Media, Working with Recruiters | Leave a comment

Listening is as Important as Talking in an Interview

MP900431736[1]One of the most popular requirements listed for an open job posting is “good communicator.”  Most people immediately think something  along the lines of “Yes, I am good at communicating my message clearly to individuals and large groups.”

But this is only half of being a good communicator.  Hiring managers want to know you are also a good listener.  And an interview is a great chance to demonstrate your skills in this area.

Check out my first article for a blog site dedicated to coaching you through your career path: Work Coach Cafe.  If you have additional tips on listening skills, please share your comments on either blog.

Article:  You’re a “good communicator,” but are you listening?

February 16, 2012 Posted by | Interviewing 101, WorkCoachCafe article | Leave a comment

Negotiating Your Starting Salary

When an employer asks you what your salary expectations are during the early stages of the interviewing process, you are trained to say you are open-minded on salary and are more concerned about the overall opportunity. Many say, “I look at the entire package and opportunity before I make decisions about salary.”  And from there, the conversation may go in a few directions, hopefully leading to an ideal result.

When working with an external recruiter, the process is slightly different.  Read this article I wrote for to learn more about how to manage this aspect of the interviewing process when a recruiter is involved.

Article:  The Starting Salary Question

September 27, 2011 Posted by | Interviewing 101, Job Search, article, Working with Recruiters | Leave a comment

Taboo Topics: What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Say

TCrenshaw (2) Being stressed about job interviews (and let’s face it, in this age of joblessness, who wouldn’t get a little worked-up over an upcoming interview?) comes with its fair share of psychological afflictions. If you’ve been making the rounds at various interviews long enough, you may even start to have interview-related dreams or even nightmares. And that’s pretty rough.  Of course, it’s nothing compared to the sheer terror of seeing those nightmares become realities.

Here’s one that’s actually been happening more and more often, at least if the correspondence of various HR representatives is to be believed.

You sit down for a job interview, perhaps your last one after a grueling cycle. This is the job you are most eager to land, the position that excites you the most. And you feel like the interview has been going smoothly. Then, all of a sudden, a taboo topic emerges. For whatever reason, the interviewer steers the question toward politics. And you panic. Ducking out to the restroom would look bad, and feigning choking isn’t going to fool anyone. So what do you do?

Well, for starters, you should know that the interviewer really shouldn’t be asking this question. In fact, it’s wrong for any employer to discriminate based on political or religious beliefs. So if they ask you any direct and possibly contentious question about your deep-seated values, it could well be an illegal question, and you’re well within your rights to politely decline answering it. You should also know that, unless you are applying for a position as a political science professor, your political opinions are probably not relevant to the job, and the employer probably doesn’t really care what you think; rather, the interviewer is probably asking the question to gauge how you respond.

In other words: It’s about you and your character, not about the politics themselves. So if you do answer the question, think about what your answer is saying about you as a potential employee. Think first about the way in which you answer. Does it indicate a willingness to be honest but also eloquent and tactful? Does it show that you are able to be respectful to a superior without completely cowering to them? Does it demonstrate free thought, but not insubordination? And perhaps most importantly: Does it indicate that you are able to remain calm under pressure?  This actually might be what the interviewer is really looking for–not the answer itself, but your ability to offer it without breaking into a sweat or developing a sudden stutter.

As for the answer itself, simply consider what it might reveal about your own, personal values and how those values square with those of the company itself. Certain political stances might come across as being contemptuous of corporate America or of big business.  If you’re applying for a job at a big corporation, this is probably ill-advised. Likewise, taking a position that seems radical in a work environment that tends to emphasize a strong, unified corporate mindset is also a bad idea.

For example, earlier this year there was a big skirmish about unions, and the issue was hot enough that many HR representatives reported the topic arising in different job interview scenarios. This is a great example of a question that’s probably best to simply not answer.  It’s controversial, and it’s directly related to a business’ bottom line. The best response is going to be a tactful and eloquent one that doesn’t actually indicate what you truly believe: “I think unions can be a complicated matter,” or, “Unions are a mixed blessing.” You’ll probably want to think up a similar response for questions related to, say, business tax cuts or outsourcing.

More than anything else, it’s simply important to remain poised, even if the question feels like a bit of a sucker punch. Again, politicians are not the ones who are auditioning here–you are. So your top priority should be to make yourself look good. Respond to the question in a way that makes it clear you are thoughtful, respectful, and discerning.  And perhaps that you are ultimately less interested in politics than you are in performing your job to the very best of your abilities.


Terry Crenshaw is a writer for who has focused her attention on what political professionals and their advisors, such as Peter Orszag, have to say about current economic policy. Through her work, Terry hopes to develop the public’s understanding of how politics can influence the economy.

June 13, 2011 Posted by | Guest Post, Interviewing 101 | Leave a comment

Interviewing Your Interviewer: Asking Good Questions

I’ve talked about asking the right questions in interviews before.  It’s an important topic.  Especially when you consider it’s towards the end of the interview–part of the lasting impression you’ll make after you’ve worked out of the office. 

If you have a recruiter involved (or even an HR representative at the company), asking the wrong questions of the hiring manager could be squandering a great opportunity to shine.  Read more about this in my latest article for

Article:  Interview Success: Asking the Right Questions


Related articles:

What Not to Ask Your Interviewer

Successful Interviewing- Part 5 – Asking the Right Questions the Right Way

June 7, 2011 Posted by | Interviewing 101, article, Working with Recruiters | Leave a comment

Are You Going to Eat That? The Lunch Interview Challenge.

ribs I’m not a big fan of the breakfast or lunch interview. Perhaps for an all-day, meet-tons-of-people type of interview, a meal might serve as a nice break from the standard format. However, I’ve been witness to many interviews where the only meeting is at a dining table. Why am I not a fan of the mealtime interview? A simple rule my mom taught me years ago: Don’t talk with your mouth full.

I’m sure you can provide your own tips for interviewing while eating.  Feel free to add comments to add to my list of tips on lunch or breakfast interviews.

Article:  Are You Going to Eat That … During an Interview? How to Handle a Lunch Interview

March 29, 2011 Posted by | AOL article, Interviewing 101 | 1 Comment

Are You Positive You Want This Job?

Have you noticed I’m on a little bit of a rant lately with my posts about job seekers.  I absolutely hate to pick on them as their job is so difficult and I don’t expect them to be experts.  After all, if they were experts at job searching and interviewing, that would imply they do it often (not a good indicator of a loyal employee).

But, some recent events have prompted me to identify more pitfalls job seekers fall into.  Practically on a daily basis from my perspective.  If you are applying for jobs, talking with recruiters, or interviewing, please read my latest article for AOL.

Article:  Are You Sure You Want This Job?

March 2, 2011 Posted by | AOL article, General Musings, Interviewing 101, Job Search, Working with Recruiters | Leave a comment

Confidence to the Edge of Cockiness

Time and time again, I remind job seekers that your attitude in the interview can make or break your chances of getting the job. Keep in mind though that, “attitude” covers a lot of ground. Job seekers are reminded to keep a positive demeanor on interviews.  Attitude also encompasses projecting an air of confidence during interviews.  However, there can be a danger if it borders on cockiness. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some are not comfortable with listing their accomplishments as it sounds like bragging.

Managing this gray area of an interview can be tricky. But if simple guidelines are followed, you don’t have to worry about taking it too far.

Article:  Interview Confidence to the Edge of Cockiness

February 16, 2011 Posted by | AOL article, Interviewing 101, Personal Branding | Leave a comment

You’re Only Human … and So Are Interviewers

You likely have heard that interviewing is like dating. Or interviewing is a complex dance with lots of steps. The translation: Interviewing is a unique conversation where there seem to be many rules and traps that could lead to failure. You can interview almost perfectly and still not get the job. So this prompts the question:  If I’m a superstar on paper and meet all the requirements, why didn’t they hire me?  Perhaps, it was the other major requirement:  Because the boss has to LIKE you.

Read more on this reality in interviewing in my latest article for AOL:

Article:  You’re Only Human … and so Are Interviewers

January 31, 2011 Posted by | AOL article, General Musings, Interviewing 101, Job Search | Leave a comment