IT jobs: How to ace a technical interview with a big company

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Will Astbury
by Will Astbury 19 May 2017

Opportunities of a lifetime don’t come a long every day – especially when you’re looking for IT jobs.

What’s more, gaining experience within a company that is recognisable as leading, innovative, global brand can catapult your career into a new dimension.

In a recent interview with business journalist Suzy Welch, Dick Costolo, Silicon Valley veteran and former CEO of Twitter between 2010 and 2015, discussed how he vetted and attracted the very best technical minds to his organisation.

In this article, consultants from Crimson's IT recruitment agency debate the nuggets revealed in Costolo’s article and share some of their own tips on how to impress in a technical interview.

Costolo’s Three Tips For Getting An IT Job Within A Global Brand

Demonstrate that you can make a difference to the company:

In her article, Welch highlights that the likes of Amazon, Google, Twitter, and Microsoft are all typically advertising around 1,000 roles at any one time and they usually receive more than 400 applications per role. This stat highlights how difficult it is to stand out when submitting a normal application. These companies are looking for something different.

Costolo said: “When it comes to tech, the competitive battle is won or lost with your engineers… Really world-class engineers are worth their weight in gold. A great engineer can be worth ten times a ‘regular’ engineer, or 30, 40, 50, or 100 times.”

So, what is Costolo looking for? He said the best candidates demonstrate “something that shows you’ve thought about the company and its challenges, and how you will actually make the company better. One time, a marketing person sent me a look book walking me through how I could reimagine talking about Twitter publicly. A lot of time and energy went into it, and we cut the normal four-part process, and got him in right away for an interview.”

Be abstract and “wildly creative”:

If you really want to impress the leading executives of a company don’t just ‘go through the motions’. Make a special effort for a special opportunity.

Costolo tries to identify individuals that are creative problem-solvers. He said: “It’s so much more than high-quality coding, developing algorithms, and the ability to solve graduate-level comp sci problems, that’s for sure. It’s the ability to think abstractly, to think about solving a problem you have never seen or heard of before, and knowing how to step through a big problem in a logical fashion, and in a thoughtful, smart, original way.”

In one instance, a student at University of Wisconsin, Madison, ran an extremely effective online campaign to get hired in a digital marketing role. It was dubbed #HireAlex. Suffice to say, Costolo hired him.

Be nice:

In the interview with Welch, Costolo admitted that supremely technically-skilled individuals will sometimes be cut a lot of slack when it comes their personal skills. He said: “A lot these companies will say, ‘no brilliant jerks’, and generally, they would prefer not to have brilliant jerks, but when you’re trying to get world-class engineers, there’s a lot you’ll overlook.”

However, Crimson’s IT recruitment consultants have seen first-hand how arrogance can dissuade an employer from hiring a technically-adept candidate. If you’re hoping to progress to a high role within a big company you’re going to need emotional intelligence and business acumen. Your technical prowess can only get you so far.

Crimson recruit for the IT teams of some of the most prestigious organisations in UK. Click here to check out the IT jobs we’re currently advertising.

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Crimson is an IT consultancy, an IT solutions provider, an IT recruitment agency, and a Microsoft Gold Partner operating across the UK.

Topics: IT Jobs