Non-Traditional Interview Tips

By: Wendy Johnson, CPC | IT Recruiter

I have been an IT recruiter for the past 10 years, and I am still amazed at the mistakes people make during an interview.  I’m not talking about dressing inappropriately or forgetting to send a follow up note… fact, most of the people I’ve placed have never sent thank you notes, and many of my placements didn’t even wear a suit to their interviews!  Some people are so focused on doing or saying what they perceive to be the “right things” that they forget the most important parts of the interview – satisfying the requirements, and making a genuine connection.  Of course it is still important to follow other more traditional interview tips.  I am just suggesting that candidates put more energy into their connection with the interviewer than they put in deciding what to wear.

Assuming you meet the requirements of the job, I am going to focus on the behavioral part of an interview.  The most important tip when going on an interview…BE YOURSELF! This is where many people fail.  They put on a suit, give cliché answers to questions, smile nervously, and ask rehearsed questions about the company.  This does not give the interviewer a chance to understand who you truly are, and it often results in a manager giving me feedback such as “he was giving us answers he thought we wanted to hear” or “she said all the right things, but something was off”.  On the flip side, I have had candidates give what may be perceived to be “wrong” answers, yet still get an offer because they have made a genuine connection with the interview team.

Make sure to draw out similarities between yourself and the person you are meeting with.  Take cues from your interviewer by reading their body language and conversation style.  If they are reserved and ask all technical questions, share examples of how focused, dedicated, and technical you are.  If they are relaxed and ask more personal or behavioral questions, you should relax and share more personal traits.  If they talk about their personal lives, show interest by asking questions and try to share something with them that they can relate to.  The key is to remain yourself while bringing different personality traits to light.  If you find yourself reaching or trying too hard – forget it.  If you cannot relate to your interviewer at any level, then you may not want to work for or with them anyway!

Lastly, a good tip is to work with a recruiter.  And no, I am not saying this just because I am one!  I say this because as Recruiters, we get to know our candidates and our clients pretty well. Once we get to know you, we can usually determine whether or not you would be a good match for our clients based on your personality and career goals.   Recruiters are essentially matchmakers, and we know a good placement ultimately comes down to a genuine connection between candidate and client.

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2 Responses to Non-Traditional Interview Tips

  1. tami honesty September 24, 2010 at 5:02 pm #


    Really enjoyed your blog post. You seem like an extraordinary recruiter. I agree about all the traditional ‘stuff’ that is fundamental but not deal-sealers. Personal connections, have to be at the top of the list and cannot be separated from “being yourself” – there are mutual benefits for both candidate and employer – I couldn’t agree more.

    [just stopped by your blog referred by your LinkedIn profile] Great advise.

    • syracusejobs September 27, 2010 at 8:07 am #

      Thank you for your comments, Tami. Glad you enjoyed the post! It’s important to remember these traditional tips when interviewing.

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