How to nail a tech job interview in 2023

Advice from a senior Talent Acquisition Manager with 16+ years of experience.

Unlocking tech talent stories

December 27, 2021
At Landing.Jobs we have the great privilege of coming into contact with expert professionals in Tech HR. One of them is Margaret Buj, TA Manager who has years of experience in the field and with whom we were happy to count on to give a workshop at the #FWTC21 this year. Today she’s sharing more of her expertise, helping you prepare your career for the year ahead.

1. First of all, could you briefly introduce yourself for our readers?

Margaret Buj: I am a Talent Acquisition Manager and interview coach who specialises in helping professionals get hired, promoted and paid more. I’ve spent 16 years recruiting for global technology companies + tech start-ups across Europe & the US, and in the last 15 years, I’ve coached over a thousand of job seekers to get the jobs and promotions they really wanted. I also do a lot of videos and articles aimed at helping job seekers get the jobs and careers they love and I’ve spoken at many career events.

2. How do you see the current recruitment market, especially for tech professionals?

MB: COVID-19 has accelerated the expansion of e-commerce, online education, digital health and remote work all out of necessity. This ‘new normal’ has normalised remote-working and resulted in the adoption of technologies to support virtual collaboration, communication, and working from a distance. I talk to a lot of tech professionals, mostly developers who would only consider a fully remote role if changing jobs.

With the advent of remote hiring, recruiters now have access to a global talent pool of fresh, up-skilled developers from all corners of the globe. The widening of the talent pool is both an opportunity and a challenge for us recruiters, and many companies are still figuring out how to navigate the global talent landscape.

Top-tier candidates have their pick of the jobs on the market. “Perks” and “benefits” that were once considered frivolous — like workplace culture and employers that respect their employees’ development goals and work/life balance — have now become critical decision-making factors. A recent research from Glassdoor finds that 77% of candidates (from the US, UK, France, and Germany) would consider a company’s culture before applying there, and 56% of respondents say culture is more important than salary when it comes to job satisfaction.

There is also a lot more focus on Diversity & Inclusion and a growing number of prominent companies have reformed their HR processes in order to access neurodiverse talent; that is, people who are “outside the box” thinkers. Neurodiversity is the idea that neurological differences like autism and ADHD are the result of normal, natural variation in the human genome.

3. Given your expertise, what would you say are the greatest tips for a tech professional who wants to take advantage of networking to leverage their career?

MB: For many people who have succeeded in their career, the causes have largely been attributed to the strong networking channels they have created over time.

It’s important to remember that networking is always a two-way process. Do not approach it solely as about what you can get from it but what you can offer to the others. If you’re in any kind of a networking situation, don’t just talk about yourself but listen to others, hear about their experiences, learn from them.

It’s not just about you; you may meet people that could be helpful to colleagues or friends. Put them in touch (with their permission) –this can be mutually beneficial networking.

As we do so much online these days, remember to maximise your online networking skills as well and don’t wait until you need help to start nurturing your network.

Review your networks and make the most of existing contacts. Keep updated. Do a checklist of what groups you already belong to and those you aim to join. Ensure your LinkedIn profile is up to date. Share with your colleagues and friends and ask for/give recommendations.

Boost your social media presence generally through other platforms for e.g. Twitter. You may find employment and business opportunities through ‘remote’ colleagues.

4. What do recruiters usually look for in a CV? How can a tech professional stand out from the crowd?

MB: In general, we look for whether your work experience and skills are relevant to what the company needs, what results you’ve had and what impact you’ve had — tangible achievements are important to make yourself stand out. For example, a Software Engineer could say:

Created, maintained, and monitored the entire cloud infrastructure of Company X, while working on 20+ microservices for 5 clients.

Another example is a Project Manager — instead of saying you led projects, it would be better to quantify this experience, for example:

Over the past 5 years, successfully completed 6 projects from start to finish, generating a total of $600,000 in revenue.

You’ll need to tailor your CV to each particular job that you apply for, so it’s vital that the job titles and the responsibilities you include in your CV are relevant (if not a direct match) for the job on offer. Although you need to clarify your remit, it’s important that your CV offers more than just a list of your responsibilities.

Your CV will be scanned for the right kind of experience. Ensure your experience, whether six months in one role or four years in another, comes across as consistent and relevant to the job you’re applying for. Be clear where you added value, and your exact contribution to any high-profile project.

Ensure you include instantly recognisable keywords throughout your CV. Avoid excessive jargon and be mindful that the person reading it may not be a technical or industry expert, however they will know what to look out for.

Finally, your CV should be easy to read, with no spelling/grammar mistakes and with relevant language.

5. Interviews are probably the most nerve-wracking and scary part for a lot of candidates. Do you have any tips on how to deal with this and how to prepare for an interview?

MB: This is a huge topic and I cover it in detail in my online course which teaches tech professionals how to get more interviews and job offers, even in a competitive job market. You’ll learn the best way to research the company, the interviewer and to ensure the job is the right cultural fit for you, how to answer the most common interview questions and what questions to ask the interviewer.

You can also find out how to prepare for competency-based interviews in my mini free e-course here. But in general, the steps are to research the industry and company, clarify your “selling points” and the reasons you want the job, anticipate the interviewer’s concerns and reservations, and prepare for common interview questions. Prepare your examples using STAR format. Prepare questions for the interviewer and practice, practice, practice.

6. Do you think that it’s as important for the candidate to analyse if that company/job role is the right fit for them? How could a “bad” choice impact their career?

MB: It’s extremely important — a bad choice can really knock down your confidence and make you hate your working life. It doesn’t matter how good a job it is if you’re not going to be happy doing it!

An important first step is to develop a list of what you are looking for in a job. Everyone’s profile for the desired job will differ, but here are some factors that you might want to consider: actual day to day responsibilities of the role and the skills you’ll be using, salary, your direct line manager (most people leave because of their boss!), opportunity for advancement, location, culture and mission of the organisation, benefits, job security.

7. Let’s imagine the tech professional receives a job offer. What are the key things to have in mind when negotiating the salary proposition?

MB: Firstly, it’s important to know your value and what the going rate for your position in your specific industry and in your geographic area is.

You can do this by doing an online search on sites such as Payscale or Glassdoor, or by asking others in your field (ideally both men and women, to avoid falling victim to the gender pay gap). Talk to recruiters as well as they’ll know what a range for someone with your experience is.

Always ask for a little bit more than what you’re looking for so that you have room for negotiation.

If you’re negotiating for a new job, here’s a great script to try, courtesy of Rebecca Thorman at U.S. News & World Report:

“I’m really excited to work here, and I know that I will bring a lot of value. I appreciate the offer at $58,000, but was really expecting to be in the $65,000 range based on my experience, drive, and performance. Can we look at a salary of $65,000 for this position?”

8. And, to wrap it up, what advice would you give to a tech professional who’s trying to get into the job market?

MB: Here are some great tips on how to get a job in tech with no experience:

Find out how to approach a hiring manager on LinkedIn (don’t just rely on job boards — be proactive):

Try to get referred for a job (these templates can help):

And find out how to optimise your LinkedIn profile for job search:

Margaret Buj

Website | LinkedIn | Youtube

If you’re interested in tips and topics like the one Margaret just shared, make sure not to miss next year’s edition of the Future.Works Tech Conference! Sign up to receive early information here.

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