In the current working climate there are a number of opportunities available for those looking to take the initiative and improve themselves through IT certification. The problem is however, that many people got the same news at the same time and so there’s a lot of people with entry level Cisco certifications including the Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) and Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) competing for the same positions. In order to increase your chances of getting these available jobs, your resume and job interview become even more important. This article focuses on tips to help you build your job interview skills so you can make a good first impression.
Job Interview Tip #1: Make a Good First Impression
The first thing that you must do in order to make a good impression in your job interview is prepare and practice before even getting ready to go to your interview. This preparation is especially important for those new to the working world but can be a good refresh for those with some interviewing experience.
My first tip in getting ready for your job interview is to prepare an introduction (less than 90 seconds) of who you are and your general high level achievements. This is to get you ready for response to the first very common job interview question asked: tell me about yourself. Another suggestion would be to make sure that you research the company and the job you’re applying for. The more integrated and knowledgeable you are about the company and job in question, the more vested and prepared it makes you look. Make the job of the interviewer easy by having answers to the common questions (a few of which I include below) and practice them, ideally using a mirror or video camera, or with a friend. The impression that you give to the interviewer in the first few minutes is vital; being well prepared and confident in what you say and how you act is a great first step.
Here are a few typical initial job interview questions that you should prepare for:
- Why are you interested in this position?
- Why are you interesting in working for this organization?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses? (Work especially on your weaknesses, this shows a willingness to critique oneself and acknowledge weaknesses)
- What qualifies you for this position?
- How can your work experience help this organization?
- Give me an example of how you took the lead in addressing an issue or a problem.
Now, as with any job interview, there are a number of different basic steps which you should follow in order to make a good general first impression. These include dressing appropriately, being groomed well and being professional in the interviewing environment. Generally, it is best to be dressed formally, cleanly shaved (or trimmed) and be generally clean from a good clean haircut (regardless of style) to smelling good.
Take a look at tip #4 in Abhinav’s article on job interview tips for IT professionals for more detailed information on how to dress for your next job interview.
Job Interview Tip #2: Prepare for Your Technical Interview
Once you’re ready for the general section of your job interview, you should prepare for the important part of an IT interview: the technical interview. Sometimes the person performing the technical part of the interview is the same person doing the general interview, but often another person is either in the interview or will be brought into the room to measure the amount of technical knowledge you bring to the table. Just like the first part of the interview, this part of the interview process can make or break your chances for getting the job.
In my opinion, the worst thing that you can do during the technical part of your interview is be overconfident, cocky and egotistical; often this will just give the interviewer a chance to trip you up in areas where you have less knowledge. Being humble and confident is quite different from being cocky and egotistical. Answer the questions that you know clearly and concisely, and be open to saying “I don’t know” or “I am unsure” to the questions that you don’t known. The willingness to admit a lack of knowledge but a willingness to learn is just as important as having the knowledge, especially when interviewing for an entry level position.
Preparing and practicing your responses to technical questions is just as important as preparing for the introductory personality questions. When interviewing for CCENT or CCNA positions, a base level of knowledge will be expected from you by the technical interviewer.
Here’s what you need to know for a typical technical interview for CCENT or CCNA positions:
- Basic knowledge of subnetting
- Basic navigation of Cisco IOS (or SDM in some organizations)
- Good understanding of OSI and TCP/IP Models
- Basic routing protocol and routing process knowledge
- Basic switching concepts (VLANs, 802.1q.)
- Basic WAN concepts (Frame Relay, MPLS Basics)
- Access list basics
- NAT basics
Knowledge over and above these basics would be considered a plus and would enhance your chances of doing well in the technical portion of your job interview.
Hopefully, this article will come in handy when you’re preparing for your job interview. As with any skill, the more practice you get, the better your chances are at getting a shot at the position. Remember, preparation is key.