The tech industry is an exciting area to work in but getting the interview right can be a challenge for even the most experienced IT executives. We asked an expert to share her advice to help you succeed in your next IT interview…
Over the last decade, the role of technology in business has evolved from a backroom operation to a pivotal function with influence at the highest levels.
It’s an exciting time to be in tech, and senior tech candidates are in high demand across all industries to lead digital and operational transformation strides. But competition for coveted roles is still fierce, and as tech has evolved so has the best way to approach the application process.
To help you prepare for your next tech executive job interview, we’ve asked Andrea dela Casa, manager of the Technology & Transformation team at Robert Walters Philippines for her advice…
Every candidate knows preparation is key to a successful interview, but for an executive role in the tech industry, this preparation should be as up-to-date as possible.
“It’s important to have a good understanding of both the industry and the company,” shares Andrea. “Many companies in the Philippines are undergoing their own digital transformation, and knowing what they are doing – for example, exploring AI technologies or developing a new mobile app – will really make a positive impression.”
Learning more about the hiring managers will also help, shares Andrea. “Check out their LinkedIn profiles and understand their career interests. This will help you better engage in conversations with them. If you are working with a recruitment consultancy, ask your recruiter about the company and hiring manager. Good recruitment consultants will have spent time communicating with the hiring managers and will be able to provide insights not easily found online.”
In the IT marketplace, executive-level candidates must ensure that their CV is able to capture the imagination of the hiring manager as quickly as possible.
“Start off with a personal brand statement that highlights key achievements relevant to the role you are applying for,” Andrea says.
“Hiring managers are likely to receive several CVs and it’s essential that they are able to tell within the first 10-15 seconds what’s impressive in your portfolio. It may be tempting to list all of your achievements but narrow it down to two or three so it’s easy for hiring managers to digest.”
“Think about the role you’re applying for and tailor your brand statement to it. A good rule of thumb is to state relevant expertise and how you’ve used your skills to make a difference,” shares Andrea. “For example, if you’re applying for a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) role, highlight how you have measurably strengthened the information security capabilities of organisations in the past.”
A common frustration among tech hirers is that candidates often talk about projects they were involved in generally – without being specific about their role and contributions.
“This often leaves hiring managers feeling as though the candidate may not have the actual experience and executional skills,” says Andrea. “Remember that your executive hiring managers are experienced professionals who would like to understand how you’ve implemented technology projects that have changed the business so don’t be afraid to drill down and talk about details. This will reassure hiring managers that you have the required expertise.”
Preparation is essential here, says Andrea. “You want to be able to clearly articulate your experience and expertise as it shows familiarity with your work. Before an interview, practice with someone who can give you credible advice such as a specialist recruiter – and make sure you come across confident but not arrogant.”
If hiring managers ask about areas you are less familiar with, it’s best to be honest, Andrea shares. “For example, a hiring manager may ask you about emerging technologies you’re less familiar with. I recommend being frank with them while demonstrating your interest in learning – hiring managers will appreciate your honesty.”
As tech becomes more and more of a business priority, soft skills such as thought leadership, strategic thinking, relationship building, stakeholder management, and effective communication skills are increasingly important to complement technical leadership.
“Organisations are moving their IT operations to the Philippines and building up their shared services hub here. These tech executives may have to work with stakeholders outside the Philippines and their responsibilities often include strategic location planning for transferring capabilities, and building talent,” said Andrea. “As such, hiring managers are often on the look out for candidates who have experience delivering such initiatives so be sure to talk about such experiences in detail.”
Asking questions about why the role is open and the short-term and long-term goals of a company will also reflect positively, as it demonstrates the interest in delivering solutions that truly address the company needs and challenges.
This advice doesn’t only apply to candidates who are seeking for jobs within a shared services environment, shares Andrea. “Technical leadership skills are certainly very important, but at a senior level, companies are looking for professionals who can add value to the business, so jobseekers need to remember to share about their both their technical skills and soft skills.”
Before even starting your job search, you should have already identified your long term career goals and deal breakers. The end of the interview is the time to ask your interviewer questions that will help you identify whether the job is aligned with your career plans, and if there are any deal breakers that will signal it’s time to stop the process.
“Come prepared with questions that will give you greater clarity on whether you should take up the job,” shares Andrea. “You can do an internet search if you need some inspiration, but pick only the relevant questions so you get the information you need to ascertain whether a job’s the right fit. For example, if you’re leaving your previous company because there is a lack of new opportunities and challenges, then you should certainly include questions about expansion plans and the direction of the company’s growth.”
One thing to note, Andrea shares, is to not be distracted by salaries and benefits. “It’s often challenging for jobseekers to negotiate these on your own and it may create a lot of stress during the interview – distracting you from your other concerns. This is where working with a recruitment consultant can really help as they can assist with the tricky negotiation process, allowing you to focus solely on identifying whether the job is a good fit for you.”
Searching for a job can be stressful – and it’s often useful to have someone support you throughout the entire process. A good recruitment consultant will provide you with the help you need, giving you with valuable information about the company and hiring manager, polishing your CV and preparing you for your interviews – so you can land that perfect role.
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