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6 expert tips to help you ace your next IT executive job 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 application processes have evolved rapidly.

Below are the tips to help you prepare for your next tech executive job interview:

Do your research

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. Many companies 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.

Gather as much information as you can about the hiring managers. Look through their LinkedIn profile. Their career history and interests provide conversation pointers you can use when you speak to them. If you’re working with a recruitment consultancy, work closely with your recruiter to understand more about the company and what the expectations are. They can share insights into the company that you can’t find online.

Make your CV stand out

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. 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. 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.

Be specific about your experience

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.

When this happens, hiring managers may come out of each interview feeling unconvinced that you have the required expertise. For tech roles, the hiring managers are often experienced professionals, so don’t be shy about drilling down to the technicalities and details of projects you have worked on.

Preparation is key. Prepare a list of best engineering practices or projects you have been involved in and be ready to share this off the top of your head. Include details such as the biggest challenges you have faced and how you overcame them, as well as what the outcome was. Many tech interviews in China today are done in English, so rehearse beforehand to ensure you articulate your thoughts well.

When asked about areas you are less familiar with during the interview, be honest. If there are technologies you don’t know about, you can say you may not know but are eager to learn. Tech is an ever-changing industry, and everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Hiring managers appreciate candidates who have a strong capability to learn new things quickly.

Show your softer side

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.

A rising number of foreign tech companies are setting up offices in China. As a tech executive, you will certainly have to liaise with stakeholders in other markets or departments. Especially when moving up into senior level positions, you would do well to show that you have confidence, and the ability to communicate and work in a fast-moving agile environment.

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’s needs and challenges.

Particularly in China, hiring managers in tech place a big emphasis on determining whether the candidate is serious and committed to the role for the long-term. That is why you must be prepared to share solid reasons for leaving your current role and your push factors for applying to this new position. Interviewers can sense whether you are motivated to take this next step in your career with them. Candidates can be rejected if they do not come across as genuinely interested.

Ask the right questions for you

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.

Prepare and ask questions around the company’s culture, team size, work processes, strengths and weaknesses. Aside from helping you assess whether the job is the right fit, it also provides a window for you to share your strengths and what you can bring to the team.

One thing to note, 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.

Getting external help

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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