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Nailing the interview: Hard skills, soft skills and what to wear

Having successfully snatched up a job interview, you want to prepare optimally. In part 1 of our 5-part tutorial we’ve given an introduction into the world of job interviews. Today, we highlight how relevant hard and soft skills are. We also look at professional attire. Katharina van Zeller, DreiKreis co-founder and director shares a decade worth of expertise and experience in the field of IT-related recruitment consultancy.

Soft skills, relevant in IT?

All candidates want to know, how important soft skills are, explains van Zeller. Rumours abound that personal, social, and methodical competencies are of not much consequence in this sector. Such generalisation, however, only propagates the image of IT-nerdism. And in our experience, there are only few positions where this holds true.

Soft skills are relevant!

Technical competency weighs more, no question. And without that, you won’t find a job. But, explains van Zeller, “lots of companies hire candidates with minor social skills as long as their technical expertise is excellent.” But the so-called team fit, plays an important role and may count up to 50% in the decision-making process. Still, no need to worry! Brush up on your social skills before the interview. And this is how:

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Katharina van Zeller shows: You can learn to connect with people. A warm smile opens up room for a successful interview. (c) DreiKreis

Openness and eye contact – a good way to start

The famous first impression largely depends on how sympathetic a candidate comes across. At DreiKreis we recommend our applicants to remember a few simple things: a greeting smile, eye contact with the person you’re speaking to and a firm handshake are an optimal start to a meeting.

Van Zeller explains: most interviewers will mirror an open and natural attitude, in which case you have set a positive tone for the entire conversation. In addition, be sure to look at and speak to all persons present, not only your future superior, but also the HR and team members.

Feeling uncertain about the impact you have? At DreiKreis we ensure that our candidates know what to do. But preparing on your own doesn’t have to be tricky. How about practising the conversation in front of a mirror or with friends? But: authenticity is more important than perfection, stresses van Zeller. Also, an experienced interviewer or head of department would see through a masquerade sooner rather than later.

Authenticity wins over perfection!

Soft skills matching the position

It is down to the company as well as the position for which you are applying, how many and which personal and social skills you need. You want to develop great software? Usually, technical competencies will suffice. But for jobs higher up the ladder, or in project management, your communication skills as well as other soft factors will be thoroughly assessed.

The perfect fit

There are companies who specifically search for flexible, communicative and dynamic staff with an agile mindset.

The DreiKreis-preselection leads to good matches. Our customers give clear guidelines. Consequently, we can accurately assess whether your soft skills are sufficient for the job. In addition, we provide our applicants with helpful tips, smooth out the CV, offer support prior to the job interview as well as mental preparation. And during the interview, we can help in emergencies.

Candidates, applying for such positions should be able to illustrate their team spirit, leadership quality, ability to convince and assert as well as dynamism and agility with fitting examples. Take some time to consider, which success underlines your qualities best.

Shirt and jeans or suit and tie?

The IT sector is well known for allowing a more relaxed attitude towards business attire. Still, the position you are applying for should be reflected in your appearance. Where software developers may happily don a clean pair of un-ripped jeans and a freshly ironed shirt, project managers need to add a smart jacket. There aren’t many companies though, where you need a full suit and tie.

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Staying true to yourself is important – so is respect. Show that you take this opportunity seriously. (c) DreiKreis

Why not have a look at the company’s website or ask future colleagues. As a rule, making an effort while staying true to yourself is a good place to start. “We make sure that our candidates are dressed appropriately both with regards to the position as well as the company,” explains van Zeller and concludes ”Always be little more dapper in an interview than you would on the job.”

Read in part 3 of our tutorial series, how important a flexible mindset is and find out about the buzzword agility.