As many corporation owners, entrepreneurs, and investors will tell you, the pandemic has been a two-edged sword for various economic industries, particularly the IT industry. When COVID-19 first hit, hundreds of thousands of supply chains were affected. Companies were forced to reevaluate and transform their supply chain management just to stay afloat during this difficult period.


For the IT industry, millions of employees had to relocate to remote working environments, and dozens of global tech conferences were canceled to contain the virus. However, there were also some disguised benefits to the pandemic. Before the virus, the IT industry was already set up for consistent growth. In 2019, the industry was expected to grow at a rate of 3.7% in just one year — reaching a market value of US $131 billion.


Due to the sudden shift of work from the office to the home, people began to rely on technology more than ever before. The industry saw an acceleration in market value with the development and increased usage of programs like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Hangouts.


Now, as we enter the post-COVID era, companies are opening back up and looking to rehire IT professionals. But, regardless of how experienced you might be, the technical screening process is always a challenge.


Candidates must not only be mindful of standard interview questions and answers, but they must also be prepared to discuss technical methods and skills or demonstrate knowledge of industry requirements.


That’s not to say that passing the technical screening segment of an interview is impossible. We’ve provided five tips to help you be better prepared for whatever your next IT interview has to offer.


1.  Obtain Soft Skills


In any industry, an employer is going to look for a candidate that possesses both industry knowledge and quality soft skills. Soft skills relate to how you work and interact with people, both internal and external to the company. This includes communication skills, listening skills, time management, resilience, empathy, and other positive interpersonal traits.


During the pandemic, many of these skills were thrust out the door, as business operations no longer heavily relied on one-on-one interaction or in-person meetings. But as we begin our return to normalcy in the business environment, recruiters and hiring managers are going to be searching for candidates who possess these key skills.


While these traits are categorically defined as “soft” and not absolutely necessary for a job, these skills will soon no longer be viewed as such; as the world moves forward, they’ll become determinants of success — so it’s wise that you start developing them now.


2. Be Upfront About Your Knowledge


Just as many IT professionals will point out, the technical screening portion is a necessary evil of the interview process. When preparing for your technical screening, be ready to express your knowledge of the industry as honestly as possible.


Undoubtedly, there are going to be questions you don’t know how to answer, or skills you might not possess. But most employers would prefer an honest and upfront candidate over a candidate taking uninformed guesses.


An employer will also see this as a reflection of how you will manage operations within the company, as well. Be upfront and say you’re not sure, then suggest how you would go about finding the solution. Doing so will also demonstrate your ability to solve problems and think critically on the spot — a necessary skill for IT professionals.


3. Subtly Steer the Conversation Toward Your Strengths


In most, if not all, interviews, the employer will ask you to define your strengths and weaknesses. When discussing your weakness, be brief and to the point. Then, you can focus on your industry knowledge, your skills and talents, and other positive traits you have to offer.


The goal is to keep the conversation focused on your strengths as much as possible. This doesn’t mean being overly braggadocious. No employer wants an arrogant employee.


Rather, discuss how you’ve utilized your strengths in the past under previous employers. If you have multiple certifications or noteworthy credentials, be sure to mention those, too, and how they might pertain to the role.


It’s also important to focus on the quality of your strengths, not the quantity. Identify three to five personal strengths and prepare answers according to those identified strengths before the interview.


4. Don’t Overuse Buzzwords — Be Genuine


Another thing employers will be on the lookout for is an overuse of buzzwords, or popular terms and phrases candidates sprinkle into the conversation to create a positive impression.


An overuse of technical, important-sounding terms can actually deter an employer rather than captivate them. Phrases like: “result-oriented,” “work well under pressure,” “can-do attitude,” “team player,” and people person,” are just a few examples of buzzwords.


Think of these buzzwords as the verbal form of clickbait. An employer’s interest might initially peak, but as the interview progresses, they’ll realize you’ve just sensationalized your knowledge to attract their attention.


Instead, be genuine about your industry knowledge. Flaunting these buzzwords won’t guarantee you the job — your experience, strengths, skills, and achievements will. During your technical screening, you should describe these details more specifically, and explain to the employer how your skills pertain to the mission and goals of the business.


5. Show Your Enthusiasm


Finally, don’t hesitate to show your enthusiasm for the role. Since the majority of candidates interviewing for the position are doing so simply to be employed, an employer will be more keen on hiring a positive and enthusiastic candidate.


This point can serve as a sub-point to obtaining soft skills. While the technical screening mainly focuses on your technical aptitude and knowledge, don’t be afraid to express your excitement and passion about joining the company.


If you have the time, discuss positive non-word-related strengths or mutually interesting topics. Remember: You’re interviewing for a role with like-minded people, so take advantage of that.


Not every technical screening portion of an interview has to be a burden. By preparing ahead of time and utilizing these five tips, you can ensure your potential employer has an accurate sense of who you are and how you’ll fit into the role and the company as a whole.

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