Beyond Strengths and Weaknesses: Interviewing in a Tough Hiring Market

by Pranav Ramesh
September 13, 2022
How to understand and respond the tough interview questions

Job interviews can bring about a mixture of emotions, even in the most unflappable among us. Job hunters are likely to experience anxiety, excitement, trepidation, happiness, and a flurry of other emotions, often all at once. This is especially prevalent in the tech sector, where nailing a job interview can lead to landing a job with a company with prestige, excellent compensation, and the opportunity to change the future.  

And when the stakes are high for a position in the tech industry, confusing headlines can lead to uncertainty. Is the economy heading for a recession? Are tech giants really laying off hundreds of workers? How will hiring freezes factor into the job market? Was the Great Resignation a thing? Will there be regrets for employees who choose to leave their current roles? 

Hopefully, none of these challenges deter current tech employees from evaluating the job market, especially if they find themselves in an unfulfilling role or taking their career to the next step. While the hiring market in tech certainly has its challenges right now, there are ways for candidates to keep emotions in check and present their best selves during an interview. Candidates must keep in mind that they are interviewing potential employers, as well. An excellent job interview is a two-way discussion that considers the needs of both the employee and employer.  

Before Applying for that Job 

As employees, or those entering the job market, understand, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the interview process for both candidates and employers. More interviews are being conducted virtually now, at least in the beginning stages of the selection process. Pre-pandemic, 22% of employers incorporated video interviews into their interview process. But by January 2021, 79% of employers are conducting video interviews routinely. 

Before a candidate begins applying to jobs at random, it can be helpful to consider a list of questions that will function as guideposts during the job search. This is a helpful exercise for both veteran job hunters and those just entering the job market. It’s a rare experience for a candidate to receive everything on their wish list when it comes to landing a new job, so having some questions to refer back to can be useful for candidates. 

  • Make a list of companies you’re interested in working for. It’s important to research not only the benefits offered with employment, but also check out a company’s history, mission, and future growth potential. What is it that attracts you to these companies? 
  • How would this role be different from your current role?  
  • Does it seem like you’d be able to avoid the pitfalls that are causing you to look for a new job in the first place? 
  • Are you willing to relocate? Is a hybrid work model acceptable or do you desire a fully remote role? 

Candidates know that their current circumstances might dictate the next move in their career. Being cognizant of this fact, along with knowing their absolute dealbreakers, will help set the tone for their job search and specifically, the interview process.  

What do employers want to know?

As companies adapt to new ways of working in a decade that has brought transformational changes, the ways they interview candidates have also changed. Different skills have become more important as companies transition from office space to home office. Employers want to know what candidates’ work ethics are like, how conscientious they are, and how independent they are. Potential employees need to think of ways that highlight their abilities to work independently with limited oversight- and understand how best to communicate these skills to employers.   

Communication Capabilities 

Employers also want to know that candidates are capable of agile communication across multiple platforms. This includes virtual video meetings, email, chat, and good, old-fashioned face-to-face communications. As much as employers want to know how well you can communicate virtually, and not hide behind a computer screen, they also want to see how well candidates communicate in-person, with presentation skills and written skills as well. 

 Questions that tech candidates should be prepared to answer in an interview regarding communication styles include:  

  • Tell us about a time when you had to communicate the same information to several different audiences in different ways. 
  • How do you ensure that both virtual and in-person audiences are engaged and successfully receive your message? 
  • What ways do you use to assess that your communication was not only received but understood and acted upon? 

Employee Preferences 

In a challenging hiring market, prospective employers want to make certain, as best they can, that their new hire(s) is a good fit culturally and skill-wise. In a market with hiring freezes and layoffs, employers are treating hiring like a privilege and want to ensure the best match possible for long-term success. Job seekers need to be honest and upfront with their preferences in their working lives. They need to be prepared to address questions like: 

  • Are you willing to work a hybrid schedule? 
  • What management style do you most prefer to work for? 
  • How do our company’s mission and values line up with what’s important to you? 
  • What sort of health/personal benefits matter most to you? 
  • What is your familiarity with different communication platforms? Technical platforms? Please detail your experience with these platforms.  

You need to ask questions too 

Potential employees always need to remember that interviewing should always be a two-way exchange. They shouldn’t think of an interview as being on the hot seat, but instead as a conversation about serving the interests of both parties.  

The portion of the interview that is turned over to the candidate to ask their questions is a valuable opportunity. It provides the job seeker a chance to learn something genuinely useful about the company while proving that a candidate is thoughtful, conscientious, and willing to ask questions. 

Some valuable questions that can be asked of potential employers include:  

  • How are criticism and feedback managed across the team and with management? 
  • What makes this a great company to work for? What can be challenging about working here? 
  • How is this company putting its DEI strategy into practice? 
  • How are salary differences dealt with company-wide? 
  • What is the company doing practically to support employees’ work/life balances? 

Job interviews can be the start of the next great chapter of your career, or make candidates glad they dodged a bullet. In either instance, making sure job seekers are prepared for the interview and know what questions they want to ask will only make them stronger candidates for their next interview. Even if job hunters don’t land their dream role in tech immediately, practice makes perfect. Job interviews can be great opportunities- make sure not to waste them. 


PTP helps you in hiring the top IT talent.

Let us connect you with the strongest candidates to help meet your goals; say hello@ptechpartners.com or contact us here.

 

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