Talent Development Centre

Category Archives: Job Interview Tips

Helpful advice for IT contractors as they prepare for job interviews with clients and recruiters.

Dating Advice for your Job Search: 8 things you should NEVER do after a first date (or job interview)

Dating Advice for your Job Search: 8 things you should NEVER do after a first date (or job interview)

You gotta love that feeling after a successful job interview for a gig that you really want. Leaving the meeting knowing that there was a genuine connection, they know that what you’re offering is exactly what they need and you know that their project is exactly what you’ve been looking for. Unfortunately, you’re not the only fish in the sea, so as much as you’d like them to pick you right away, the reality is, they need to look at all their options before making their final decision.

The scenario is like that of a first date, so what better place to get your next steps than a dating professional? The dating website eHarmony published a post outlining what you should never do after a first date and it perfectly aligns with what you should never do after a job interview.

1. Go text crazy

Text, email or phone. A follow-up afterwards to thank them for their time is great, but then leave it alone and wait for your recruiter to get in touch with you. If a week or two goes by without hearing anything, it’s definitely alright to follow-up. Just like dating, ghosting is rude and no ethical recruiter will intentionally do it to you.

2. Over analyze

The past is over and you can’t control it. Rehashing every response you gave and wishing you’d said something else won’t change anything. Some interview advice does recommend that you can clarify in your follow-up email, but aside from that, stressing about it is futile. The only way to know If they liked you is by waiting for the recruiter or client’s response.

3. Add them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, pin to their Pinterest board…

Add them to LinkedIn with a brief thank you message, and you should already be following the company’s social media pages, but it stops there. Most hiring managers and recruiters save their Facebook and Instagram accounts for personal relationships. Stocking them through those networks is slightly creepy and over-stepping a boundary.

4. Tell yourself you’ll be single [or unemployed] forever

A terrible interview is disappointing, especially if it’s one that you really wanted to work out. That said, self-doubt and negative talk about your future is not going to help you move forward. It’s important to keep a positive frame of mind so you can continue with a successful job search.

5. Act like you’re in a relationship

A great interview with a recruiter is fantastic and it is safe start building a business relationship. You will get to know each other better and the recruiter will send you job opportunities as they arise. But, the eHarmony article states that you need to know the difference between ‘dating’ and ‘in a relationship’. If we compare this to your recruitment agency relationship, it’s important to understand that just because they like you and you’re on their radar, it doesn’t guarantee they will have a job for you. That stage of the relationship might take some time to get to.

6. Cut off all contact with other matches

We always encourage IT contractors to build relationships with multiple staffing agencies. As per the previous point, no single recruiter will be able to help you 100% of the time. Even if there’s one you really like, continue to keep in contact with others. When you’re on contract, continue to meet with recruiters to ensure you’re set-up for the next gig. Polygamous relationships are not only socially acceptable in IT contracting, but strongly encouraged.

7. Tell your friends & family you’ve met The One

Recruiters need to present their clients with top candidates who they can guarantee will be available if chosen. After you complete a successful interview, refrain from jumping the gun and telling other recruiters that you’ve got a contract confirmed because that will diminish any chance of them submitting you to other roles. If that job you think you had falls through, you’ll suddenly find yourself with no leads at all.

8. Play games

Recruiters and clients have work to get done and don’t have time for your games. Be upfront in telling them about other opportunities you’re considering if they give you a job offer, be fair and open during rate negotiations, and stick to your commitments. Similarly, lying about other opportunities to try and speed up the process or adjust your rate is also an unethical game that, when discovered, will stop any future opportunities from that recruiter.

The Difference Between a Recruiter and Client Interview

The Difference Between a Recruiter and Client Interview

Crystal Nicol By Crystal Nicol,
Director of Delivery, Strategy and Development at Eagle

I often get questions from consultants asking me, “What’s the difference between my interview with a recruiter and the interview with the client (hiring manager)” or “Why do I need to meet with you if I’m also meeting with the hiring manager?” There is a real difference between the recruiter interview and the hiring manager interview, and they each have their importance. Remember, the recruiter is a third-party individual who is working with the client company to go out into the market and find the best candidates possible for that client company’s position. The hiring manager is someone who actually works directly at the client company seeking to fill the position.

A recruiter is requested to use their searching expertise to go out into the industry and find and qualify the best candidate possible who specifically fit a set of requirements provided by the hiring manager. They’re really focusing in on skills and requirements and the job fit. It’s the hiring manager who will take this candidate from the recruiter and then determine if the candidate’s qualifications are suitable for the open position, the team fit, the company’s culture, the company’s core values, etc.

An interview with the recruiter is important. In this interview they will ask you questions to help them determine if you have the specific skills required for the open position. The recruiter wants to set you up for success in your future role so they are going to look deep into your work experience and try to understand both your strengths and weaknesses. Interviewing with the recruiter is also good practice. As per this SparkHire post, during this interview, the recruiter will also coach you and help you prepare for your interview with the hiring manager. They will provide you with useful tips throughout the hiring process, such as appropriate dress, resume format, and handling gaps in employment. They can also provide advice on when it’s appropriate to ask questions about things such as salary and benefits. Your best bet is to look at your interview and conversations with the recruiter as more of a training advantage and a way to learn inside information on the job and hiring manager beforehand.

During the interview with a hiring manager, the hiring manager will ask you questions to determine if your experience would be beneficial not only to the position but to the company as well. The hiring manager is the person who defined the scope of work, including the tasks and responsibilities, and the requirements of the role. They also have the bigger picture and understand the goals and milestones that go along with this role. The hiring manager has the insight into the company and is more likely to assess your skills to see if your skill set would align to other projects or departments in the company, along with this position. They are also asking the candidate questions to determine the team and culture fit. It is the hiring manager who makes the decision over whether or not to hire the candidate.

Remember, it’s important to create a good relationship with your recruiter. A good recruiter is an added benefit to your job searching. If this particular opportunity didn’t work out and if you’ve made a good impression, the recruiter will work with you on future positions, increasing your options.

Dating Advice for your Job Search: 7 signs your first date (or job interview) is going great

Dating Advice for your Job Search: 7 signs your first date (or job interview) is going great

Job search advice has been researched and hashed out by experts around the world, and if there’s any topic more popular on the internet, it’s dating. The two have plenty of parallels so to give you a different perspective on your job search, we’ve found expert dating tips and applied them to make your career thrive.

In this post, we’re looking at a first date article from the dating website Plenty of Fish. It gives the sure-fire signs that a date is going well. These can easily be applied to your job interview. Knowing an interview is going well gives you momentum. You’re encouraged to keep putting effort into your responses, it makes you more positive, and the connection with your interviewer grows. In contrast, when you spot an interview is tanking, you know not get your hopes up and you’re driven to keep searching for your next gig as soon as you get home.

If you’re ever doubting yourself during an interview (which we all do), here’s some tangible evidence that everything’s going a-ok… based on advice from a first date:

Genuine Face Time

Eye contact, nodding and smiling are all good signs that the recruiter or hiring manager are interested in what you’re saying and engaged in conversation. Vice-versa, you want to be doing the same and let your body language display that you care about the IT contract. If the person you meet with is distracted by their phone or checking their watch, it might be time to kiss this job opportunity goodbye.

The Conversation Flows, Easily

Conversation happens naturally when there’s a real connection. You and your interviewer will have a great back-and-forth discussion about your experience and their project, plus you might even crack a few jokes. Unlike dating, lack of connection doesn’t represent a lack of future. Being liked by your recruiter, however, does give you a leg-up on your competition.

They Make You Laugh

As already mentioned, joking together is a sign of a good connection. For this point, though, let’s look at laughing from a broader perspective and consider that the interview makes you feel happy and excited about what’s going on. Similar to when you hear a good joke, if what you’re hearing in this interview gives you a positive feeling, makes you smile, and you genuinely want to hear more, then it’s safe to say you’re on the right track.

You Have Things in Common

Not necessarily with the interviewer (although it’s a nice-to-have) but as the interview moves along, you’ll know things are going well if your goals and skills align with the projects and opportunities available with the client. Perhaps you’ll even find that your unique skillset matches exactly what they need for their newest innovation.

You Get the Feeling They’re a Good Person

After meeting with the recruiter and hiring manager, and getting to know them and their company, you can confirm that you’re in the right place. You know from the conversation that both the individuals and the companies they represent (the client and/or staffing agency) are they types of people you want to do business with.

No One Pulls the “Something-Suddenly-Came-Up” Move

A bit of a harsh move for a first date, but practical and understandable in business. Time is valuable so if a hiring manager realizes early in the interview that things won’t work out, they might end it and send you on your way. Make no mistake, this is no subtle sign. The interview did not go great and it’s time to keep looking.

The Long Kiss Goodnight

We can’t speak for all recruitment agencies, but at Eagle, there will not be a kiss… regardless of how great your interview was. If the interview went great, though, you might get a long conversation at the door, a request to see them again sometime soon, and even a follow-up text the next day!

Dating Advice for Your Job Search: How to Have a Great First Date (or Job Interview)

Dating Advice for Your Job Search: How to Have a Great First Date (or Job Interview)

A few years ago, we shared a post with general dating advice and compared it to your job search. As we noted then, “Finding a recruiter, building your relationship and working to get a job through them can be a long, complicated, some-what awkward and sometimes painful experience… not too different from dating.” The advice followed the entire job search/dating process. Let’s look at a more specific stage and dive into how to make your first meeting successful, using this Readers Digest “First Date” article as a guideline. They summarized 9 secrets for a perfect first date that can all be applied to that first interview with either a recruiter or a client.

1. Reassess Your Expectations

Be sure you’re realistic going in and understand what can or cannot come out of this interview. Is the recruiter just meeting you to understand your experience, or is there a specific job already available? Are you one of the only contractors the client interviewing and the job’s a sure-thing, or is this just the start of a long competition?

2. Dress to Impress

While many workplaces and clients’ sites are leaning towards a more casual culture, dressing to impress your job interviewer never goes out of style. That’s not to say you must wear a suit and tie. Jeans and a nice shirt can look professional and appropriate, but they can also make you look like a slob. Choose a new, clean pair of jeans and a collared shirt with a neutral design and no words or logos.

3. Pick a Safe and Comfortable Environment

If there’s a chance your interview environment isn’t going to be safe, you might want to reconsider this job opportunity all together. But, there is still some job interview validity to this piece of dating advice. Often times, the first meeting with a recruiter will be over a casual coffee and they will let you choose a location. Select a venue that is comfortable, close and not loud to ensure a great conversation.

4. Be Courteous

We can take Reader’s Digest’s dating advice on this point almost word-for-word for job interviews: Manners say a lot about a person. Punctuality is essential, so if you are running late, give your [Interviewer] a call to let him [or her} know. During the [interview], keep your cellphone on silent mode and answer only urgent calls. Most importantly, say “please” and “thank you.”

5. Keep the Conversation Light

Your first interview is rarely the time to get into nitty gritty details and bargain for rate. Focus on understanding each other, giving the interviewer the best impression of who you are and what you can do. Don’t forget, a conversation goes two ways. Listen actively and ask follow-up questions to guarantee you fully understand the opportunity, the client and hiring process.

6. Split the Costs on a First Date…But Offer to Pay if You Made the Invitation

There shouldn’t be any costs to your first date except for maybe coffee, in which case sure, split it or offer to pay. You might also incur costs like parking or transportation. Unless there are extraordinary circumstances or a previous agreement, you will eat these costs. Handing your interviewer a receipt to reimburse half of your Uber is unlikely to create the ideal first impression.

7. Make Your Intentions Clear from The Start

IT contractors enjoy flexibility in where they work, when they work and for whom they work, but they also need to respect their client. When you plan to work from your home office, take a specific vacation, or juggle multiple contracts, be up-front about your intentions. If it is a major issue (which it rarely is), you can end the interview and both move-on. Otherwise, it prevents surprises and tricky conversations down the road.

8. Smile and Have a Good Time

In this section, Reader’s Digest says, “A date is supposed to be more fun than a job interview.” Ouch! Job interviews should be human and real. While we don’t recommend cracking jokes and telling stories about your college days, you can smile, laugh a little, and leave your mark as a positive person.

9. Remember, There Are Plenty of Fish In The Sea

You might realize part way through the job interview that it simply isn’t for you. Maybe it’s in the wrong part of town, your skillset doesn’t match the requirements, or you’ve had a bad experience with the client. No problem! End the interview early to avoid wasting anyone’s time and keep on moving.

Preparing for an Interview? Use this Worksheet.

Prepping for an Interview? Use this Worksheet.

Brianne Risley By Brianne Risley,
Director, Delivery Strategy & Development at Eagle

Have you ever walked out of an interview knowing you nailed it? Has the reverse also happened where you agonized over your responses hours, or even days later, wishing you had answered a question differently?

How you prepare for your interview can make or break your important meeting.

I created the worksheet below to accomplish two things: To cement your personal brand, and to help you pull out as much detail as possible on recent roles to answer any interview question with textured, specific, and fulsome answers. The detail you provide in your responses can move your interview from ‘good’ to ‘great’ in the eyes of a hiring manager, and can really help with your poise and confidence during the meeting.

You owe it to yourself to make your next interview as painless as possible. Try this framework out; I’m confident it will make a difference. You are about to really impress a hiring manager!

Step One: Fill out the worksheet 2-3 days prior to your interview. You will prepare detail for your most recent 3 contracts, or last 5 years of work experience – whichever you deem to be the best overview of your experience.

Step Two: Use all the detail you organized to answer sample interview questions using the STAR interview technique (more details below). Remember, most candidates struggle to provide specific examples of their experience during an interview. After taking the time to layout your recent experience in the worksheet, your answers will flow.

Interview Prep Worksheet

PART I: Your Personal Brand/”Tell Me About Yourself”

Here you will perfect your 30-second ‘elevator pitch’ and your brand/value proposition for a client. Every interview, (and every dinner party!) starts with some form of this question. Determine what yours is and you can add it to your header on Linkedin.

  • What I am:
  • What I’m great at:
  • Who I help:
  • What I want:

“I am a career Business Analyst with a passion for helping business teams re-imagine their legacy applications into the cloud. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your project and sharing how I can help.”

PART II: Detailed Experience Worksheet

Complete this for your most recent 3 contracts, or last 5 years of work experience – whichever you deem to be the best overview of your experience.

  • What is the nature of the project that you were working on? (Why was it needed by the business?)
  • Describe your responsibilities/breakdown your day. How much time do you spend on what activities each week(%)?
  • What size team are you working with? (your internal team, vendors, roles, size of user-base)
  • Who were you liaising with (business units? other developers? vendors?)
  • What major challenges did you encounter on the project? What was your role in handling the challenge?
  • What successes (small/large) did you achieve?
  • What tools/technology did you use in your role or were present in the technology environment? (versions?)
  • What was the Result? (specifics around how you made money, saved money, or changed a business process that did both)
  • Lessons learned?

PART III: STAR Interview Technique

Reference your worksheet to provide detailed answers to interview questions using the STAR interview format:

  • Situation:The interviewer wants you to present a recent challenge and situation in which you found yourself.
  • Task:The interviewer will be looking to see what you were trying to achieve from the situation.
  • Action:What did you do? The interviewer will be looking for information on what you did, why you did it and what were the alternatives.
  • Results:What was the outcome of your actions? What did you achieve through your actions and did you meet your objectives. What did you learn from this experience and have you used this learning since?

PART IV: Sample Interview Questions

These are the top 5 most common interview questions for you to practice against.

  1. What is your greatest accomplishment to date and can you relate that to the job you are applying to?
  2. What drives you, personally and professionally? What are you passionate about?
  3. How would you deal with an underperforming team member that you are responsible for?
  4. Tell me of a time when things did not go as planned that you had to deal with a very upset person. What happened? Why? What did you do?
  5. What are you looking for? Describe the ideal job description for you.

Outside-the-Box Job Interview Tips

Getting called in for a job interview is a good sign. It means your qualifications on paper are strong enough that a recruiter or client believes you’re worth meeting in-person. You’ve already beaten out dozens, possibly hundreds, of other applicants and now your job is to prove to your interviewer that you’re also better than the other applicants they’re meeting.

Strong answers and good technical knowledge about the project are going to help you succeed in the job interview, but let’s face it, any good IT job candidate will do the same. You need some unique strategies to set yourself apart, and this infographic we found from Forbes might be your ticket. They recommend ideas that few job seekers follow-through on:

  1. Go Beyond the Homepage
  2. Use Google Alerts
  3. Aim for 10:30am Tuesday
  4. Craft your Story Statement
  5. Wear a Fashion Statement

All of the details are below and, while doing all of them still won’t guarantee your job interview success, they will definitely help you stand out in the crowd.

Good luck!

Outside-the-Box Job Interview Tips

When an Interviewer Asks a Ridiculously Tough (or just ridiculous) Question

When an Interview Asks a Ridiculously Tough (or just ridiculous) Question

Clients and recruiters alike have an ability to completely derail a perfectly good job interview by asking a question that totally stumps you. Sometimes it’s a valid question that you hadn’t expected and other times they throw a curveball by asking about a topic completely irrelevant and senseless to the job interview. Even if you are judging them and questioning their intelligence at this point, the situation remains the same — this person is the gatekeeper to your next gig and you need to provide a smart, professional answer.

Natala Pratini wrote an article for Hired a few months ago that provides a helpful roadmap for getting through difficult interview questions. Next time you prepare for an interview with a recruiter or client, rather than try to imagine all possible questions an interviewer might ask, consider these 5 points from Pratini to create a broad strategy:

  1. Take Your Time and Ask Questions: If you already think this response is going to be the death of your interview, spewing out the first thing that comes to mind is not going to make things any better. Think about the question asked to truly understand what the interviewer wants to learn about and start crafting the right response in your head. If the question still is not clear (or makes no sense at all), ask questions for clarification. This will also buy time and demonstrate that you care about providing the best answer.
  2. Walk Your Interviewer Through Your Thinking: Especially if you’re uncertain that your response is answering the question being asked, giving the interviewer insight into how you came to your response will buy you credit. It also provides insight to your problem-solving approach which might be exactly what they want to see.
  3. Practice Humility (judiciously): Know when you’re in over your head. If your answer is going to be nothing more than jargon-filled non-sense that provides no value, then stop yourself right there and admit that you do not have a great answer. Take that opportunity to create a larger discussion about the question, how it relates to the project at-hand, and how you can still provide the best solution or improve your skills.
  4. Remember, It’s Called an Interview ‘Process’ for a Reason: Unless the question was about the core skills required to take on the contract for which you’re interviewing, one poorly answered question will not be your demise. Accept that one portion did not go well and move forward with the interview. Stewing on one terrible response is certain to mess up all other answers.
  5. Use It as a Learning Experience: Everything in life is an opportunity to learn. When you reflect on the interview afterwards, ask yourself if you were truly as prepared as you could have been for this interview and how you could have approached it differently. You should also write down the tricky question so you’re better prepared next time.

Independent contractors go through so many interviews throughout their career, it’s only normal to have acquired a handful of nightmare stories along the way. How have you come out on the other end of a tough question? We’d love to read your experiences in the comments below.

Take Control of a Disorganized Job Interview

Take Control of a Disorganized Job InterviewIf you’ve been an IT contractor for some time then you’ve met with plenty of recruiters from a variety of staffing agencies. Though no fault of your own, you’ve also had interviews go terribly wrong. Perhaps the recruiter is too junior, extremely busy, or just bad at their job, but when you find an interview going off the rails because they were unprepared, it’s up to you to save the meeting.

Certainly, a scattered recruiter who can’t conduct an interview is a red flag, but they may also be the key to a contract with your ideal client. Making the job interview work will make you stand out, be appreciated by the recruiter and give you more control over the outcome.

Have Empathy for the Unprepared Recruiter

This is understandably extremely frustrating for you. You gave up your time, maybe even paid time, to come into their office and meet but this recruiter didn’t even have the courtesy to be prepared. Still, this is a gatekeeper to contract opportunities so refrain from burning bridges just yet. Empathize with the recruiter and understand their situation. Maybe they’re new to the role, extremely busy, having a personal crisis, or got thrown into this interview at the last minute. None are really excusable but putting yourself in their shoes will dictate your future reactions.

Take Control of the Interview (subtly)

You took the time to arrive for the interview and still want a shot at the IT contract, so you might as well make this work. Even if you’ve determined you’re talking to an incompetent human being, let them feel like they’re still in control of the interview. Doing otherwise would not only crush their ego, but can give them a negative impression of you.

It may be their first time conducting an interview, but it definitely is not your first time being in one, so use your experience to guide the conversation. When you feel an awkward silence in the room, ask leading questions:

  • Can I tell you about my background and how I can help the client?
  • Would it be ok if I lead you through my resume to highlight why I’m a good fit?
  • Can you tell me a bit about the client and their project?

Answer Their Questions, Even the Odd Ones

Another reason your recruiter may appear unprepared is because they do not have the technical knowledge to fully understand the job. As a result, you’ll get off-the-wall questions that make no sense. Politely answer them and then steer the response back to something more relevant. This feeds them with real facts they can use to sell you to their client and the recruiter will appreciate you helping them learn more about the technology.

Know When to End It

As alluded to at the start of this post, sometimes a disorganized recruiter is a red flag. Look around the recruitment agency’s office and reflect on your entire experience leading up to this interview. Was this mess a one-time mistake or have you found your way onto a sinking ship of an organization? If this is not going to work, end the interview and move on with your day.

As rare as they are, unprepared interviews do happen, which is why it’s important for you to be prepared! Could you imagine walking into a meeting where neither party had a clue about the opportunity or what to do? If you find yourself in the situation, remember to be polite and empathetic, and just have a meaningful conversation. A self-aware recruiter will remember your conduct, know they can count on you and, as an added bonus, will know they owe you a favour!

Problem Solving Tips for Cracking Coding Interview Questions

Job interviews come in all forms with different goals. Recruiters typically want to know that you’re qualified, have the necessary experience, and that you’re presentable to a client. Once interviewing with your client, you’re more likely to be meeting a hiring manager who has in-depth technical experience and they may test you to ensure you can back up your claims.

We’re increasingly hearing about developer interviews that have a whiteboard component or some sort of challenge where the candidate must solve a coding problem in front of the interviewer, discussing how they’re coming to their conclusions. If you’re currently preparing for one of these interviews, or anticipating one in the future, check out this insightful video from CS Dojo. It provides multiple strategies for solving a coding problem and advice on how to work through and explain your solutions in a job interview.

20 Great Job Interview Tips from 3 Great Sources

When it comes to job interviews, you can never get too much help. Once again, we’ve rounded up the latest tips from some of the most experienced sources when it comes to developer jobs and interviews.

Glass Door’s Job Interview Checklist

Job InterviewGlassdoor is a leader in reviewing companies’ cultures and helping people find jobs at organizations with the best fit. That’s why we’re starting with their interview checklist that guides a job seeker through the process, from the second you get the interview to the days following it.

  1. Study for your interview like it’s a final exam
  2. Generate a list of potential interview questions (and their answers!) beforehand
  3. Write out answers to every question you anticipate, and practice delivering them out loud
  4. Compare your skills and experience to the job description
  5. Be rested and healthy for the big day
  6. Dress for success
  7. Empower yourself
  8. Don’t leave any unnecessary unknowns
  9. Keep an interview journal
  10. Follow up

Simple Programmer’s Top Ways to Behave in a Developer Job Interview

Marcell Lipp has five years of work experience as a software developer and blogs about his experience surviving as a programmer. Lipp recently posted on Simple Programmer with these 6 tips for how to behave in a developer interview.

  1. Stay Calm and Confident
  2. Never Lie About Your Knowledge
  3. Evaluate the Company as Well
  4. Don’t Stress Before the Interview
  5. Buy Time During the Interview
  6. Try Your Best and Be Prepared for Your Interview

Lessons Learned from Dice’s Horror Stories

Dice published a semi-humourous/semi-horrifying article with horrible stories from tech interviews. With each story came a lesson and these are four extremely relevant ones for any technology professional.

  1. Prepare for high pressure
  2. Don’t lie about skills and experience
  3. Never argue… even if you’re right
  4. Don’t Bring Your Parents

Noticeably, many of the tips and advice repeat within each source, highlighting their importance. Also, these lists merely tease the details and clicking through to any of these links will give you much more valuable advice and information on how you can apply it. If you come across any helpful resources, we’d love to see them so we can continue to share expert knowledge from around the world on the Talent Development Centre with IT contractors and other job seekers.