A job interview can be a nerve-wracking process. This is especially true in the ultra-competitive IT industry, where experience is just one of the factors you need to beat out all the other candidates for the same position. Worse, if you’re nervous about the interview, it will show – and your stage fright may count against you.

So how can you gain enough confidence to breeze through an IT interview and prove you’re perfect for the job? Keep these tips in mind the next time you’re sitting on the wrong side of the desk.

Play it straight

Honesty is the best policy – on your resume, and especially during an interview. The person who’s grilling you knows their stuff, and if you try to techno-babble your way through a question with an unclear or inaccurate response, things will get uncomfortable quickly.

Instead, be prepared to handle questions you’re uncertain about with honesty and creativity. Admit that you don’t know the answer, but explain to the interviewer how you’d go about finding it. This shows that you have strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which will go a long way toward making you valuable to a prospective employer.

Show your soft side

You’ve got the technical skills that make you a perfect candidate for this job—but so do all the other applicants. How can you differentiate? By demonstrating your soft skills.

Employers are looking for more than a match on paper. They want to hire someone who can interact well with colleagues and clients, and get things done without a manager breathing down their necks all day. Find a way to show that you’re skilled in leadership, teamwork, communication, self-starting, or multitasking, and suddenly you’re a cut above the competition.

Personality is important, too. Prove that you’re a genuine, friendly person with a sense of humor, instead of just a laundry list of tech skills, and you’ll win over the interviewer.

Take the wheel

If the interview starts veering away from your comfort zone, try to return the conversation to your strengths. Then, once you’re back on track, expand on them. Bring up related experiences you’ve had with the subject at hand. That way, even if your skill set doesn’t match the position you’re interviewing for, you’ll have a great shot at other jobs within the company.

Get fired up

Employers value enthusiasm in a candidate. If you’re apathetic, rigid, or otherwise acting like you don’t really want the job, why would they want to give it to you? By asking questions about relevant aspects of the position that didn’t come up naturally during the interview, like professional IT certification and training programs, you’ll show that you’re interested in a long-term career.

And don’t be afraid to unleash your inner geek. If you have an unreasonable love for Java/J2EE, or you’d happily spend your days off immersed in Oracle Forms and Reports, go ahead and lapse into tech-speak. You just might enjoy the conversation with the like-minded interviewer.

With a little preparation and foresight, you don’t have to dread your next IT interview. Strive to be your personable, skilled self, and you’ll hear those magic words in no time: You’re hired!


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