Telephone Interview. How to Prepare for a Telephone Interview

Telephone Interview

It is crucial to prepare very thoroughly for your telephone interview.

Study the Job Description

Begin by studying the job description and the candidate profile. This will enable you to identify the company’s particular needs and demonstrate that you possess the skills required to meet them during the telephone interview.

Find Out About the Company

Find out all you can about the company’s products, services, history, and culture. Make a special effort to identify any areas where your skills and experience may be of particular value.

Check the Website

Familiarise yourself with the company’s website and be prepared to comment constructively upon it if asked at the telephone interview.

Match the Requirements

Prepare a list matching your accomplishments to the company’s stated requirements. Keep this list in front of you during the telephone interview and refer to it at every opportunity.

Specify Your Accomplishments

Specify and quantify your accomplishments, e.g. ‘finished all work in 90% of the time allocated’.

Specify How You Solved Problems

Interviewers are keen to hear about relevant challenges or problems you faced in the workplace, the specific actions you took, and the measurable results you achieved. They seek to identify key competencies such as communication skills, analytical skills, teamwork, drive and initiative. Be prepared, in a telephone interview, to give examples of how and when you have demonstrated these key competencies.

Prepare for Probable Questions

To get the feel of being interviewed over the phone, compile a list of probable questions and ask a friend use them in a simulated telephone interview. Prepare your answers carefully, using key words and phrases from the job description and candidate profile. Do not attempt to write out your answers in full or they will sound wooden and scripted.

Keep Relevant Documents Handy

Select a quiet place where you will not be disturbed during the telephone interview. You don’t want them to hear the dog suddenly start barking or the kids crying. Keep your CV and cover letter, a copy of the job advertisement, and your notes in front of you. Jot down key points throughout the course of the telephone interview.

Stand Up

It is a good idea to stand during a telephone interview as this makes you sound more confident and helps project a positive and professional image.

Use Matching Techniques

Matching your speaking rate and pitch to that of the interviewer will help you to establish rapport.

Smile While Talking

Professional radio broadcasters can vouch for the fact that smiling creates a friendly and enthusiastic impression. So make an effort to smile appropriately during the call.

Show Genuine Interest

Since it is important to convey the impression that you are genuinely interested in the company and eager to make a contribution, refer to salient information you discovered during the course of your research.

Listen Attentively to Interviewer’s Questions

Listen attentively to the interviewer’s questions and comments. Respond appropriately to verbal or tonal cues. If you don’t understand a question, ask for clarification. Provide well-developed, balanced, and analytical answers. Avoid monosyllabic ‘yes’ and ‘no’ replies.

Prepare Positive Reasons for Leaving Last Job

If asked to explain your reasons for leaving your previous job, make sure to have positive reasons prepared. Under no circumstances should you criticise your previous clients or colleagues. Having researched the company and analysed the contract description as suggested, you should find it easy to prepare a few thoughtful questions to ask the interviewer when afforded the opportunity.

Register Your Interest

At the end of the telephone interview, emphasise your interest in the job and the company and reiterate your qualifications. Stress that you would welcome the opportunity of a face-to-face interview.

After the telephone interview, write a short thank-you letter.

An Employer – Your CV has got just 30 Seconds to Impress me

30 Seconds to Impress

Your CV has 30 seconds to impress according to a frequent employer of IT Contractors.

In the current market, clients are getting hundreds of CVs for each position advertised. I saw recently that the average number of applicants for each position is 250.

Agents will weed some of these out before the CVs gets to the client, but still, reading all the CVs is just not on for a busy manager of an IT department.

So what does he do?

Initial Trawl – 30 Seconds to Impress Client

If he is anything like me, the first thing he does is to have an initial trawl through the CVs to try to narrow it down a bit.

I once got over 800 CVs when I advertised for IT graduates. I was never going to give them all 5 or 10 minutes each.

I went through them all, first of all, with just one criteria in mind and looking for nothing else on the CV. I looked for all of those with computer-related first class honours degrees and those with 2:1s, and those with first class honours degrees in non-IT subjects.

The rest were simply rejected unless something managed to catch my eye that I liked.

Simply put, their CVs had 30 seconds to impress me. If it didn’t, their CV was binned.

Some people may think that this is unfair, but I just didn’t have the time, and I’m just telling it ‘like it is’.

Weeding Out Trawl

In the first trawl through of the CVs, paper or online, the interviewer weeds out at least 90% of them, before giving the remainder a little extra consideration. Each CV will get 20 to 30 seconds each. In that time, I’ve got to find the skills and the experience that I want in your CV. If I can’t find it, it is deleted or binned, as I’ve got another 250 CVs to wade through.

I’d prefer not to go onto the second page to find out what I want on the initial trawl, and I’m certainly not going to be going as far as the fourth or fifth page. Your ‘winning’ information has to be upfront on the first page and easy to find.

So what am I looking for?

The skills and experience that I advertised for, stupid.

I’m not interested in any other skills or experience that you have, and if these other skills are on the front page, then they are taking up precious space. In fact it’s an actual nuisance having to separate the wheat from the chaff as far as my requirements are concerned.

Customise Your CV

If I were to give you advice it would be that, on the front page at least, you should customise your CV for every single application that you make, pushing the skills that the particular client wants up front.

Give yourself a chance!

Your CV has only 30 seconds to impress the client at a maximum to see it – if that. By the time I was onto my second or third hundred of CVs, I can tell you that the time allocated to each on was getting even more severely restricted as my eyes began to suffer and my brain to become numb.

Do not clutter up the front page with your interests. I won’t be using them. You might even lose the job if you are doing something that I think is a bit naff or stupid.

I might think that you would not fit in or might need to take time off to pursue your interests, or might end up in hospital or something.

Show Me What I Want

If I want a C++ programmer, I’m not interested in how much Java you have done. Similarly, if I want a Java developer, I’m not interested in how much C++ you have done.

Similarly, if I want a business analyst in a financial area, I’m not interested in the experience you have as a business analyst in the manufacturing area.

If you were a business analyst in manufacturing, bring to the fore the skills and techniques that you used there that match the skills and techniques that I am looking for.

If we are looking for a Business Analyst with UML experience, play that up rather than the fact it was for a totally different type of company.

It is even more important nowadays to catch the eye of the client with your CV, firstly because the client is receiving so many, and secondly because clients are so precise when matching candidates experience with requirements.

Everything that you have on your front page (your selling page) should be of interest to the client.

CV Tick List

In the first trawl through, the client is probably working on a tick-list basis, probably looking for those who have the skills he wants, and rejecting the rest. I’m sure that many CVs get rejected even though the people concerned had the skills, but the client just couldn’t find them all in the allotted time.

Do you know those puzzle pictures that children have, where they have to find a number of objects hidden in the picture? That is similar to the task that a client who is trawling through CVs will have – to identify his ‘objects’ (requirements) in amongst the clutter.

If you can remove a lot of that clutter, so that he can see your ‘objects’ straight away, you will have achieved your first objective – getting onto the pile that will be given serious consideration.

If other clients are like I was, then this pile will probably consist of only 10-15 CVs and out of that I’ll select perhaps half a dozen to interview. Therefore, if you manage to get onto the pile created after the ‘thirty seconds per CV’ trawl, then you would have pretty close to a 50% chance of getting an interview.

Give yourself that chance!

Have a Practice

Why don’t you have some practice? Look at some jobs on a job site that are a close match to your skills and then look at your CV. Now work out what the client is looking for and what he isn’t. Then look at your CV front page and work out what should go and what should stay.

It’s quite easy, isn’t it, and such an obvious thing to do – yet so few applicants do it.

If the client isn’t looking for it, then it’s clutter – and it will make his job of finding the skills and experience that you DO have, that he is looking, for all the harder.

Sometimes my children will come and tell me that they can’t find all the objects that are hidden in the picture, and ask if I could find them for them.

Your potential client won’t give you that chance!

Remember, your CV has 30 seconds to impress a client. Otherwise it will be binned and you’ll only hear that they didn’t want to see you.

Unwanted Contractors. The IT Contractors I dont want – a client

Unwanted Contractors

I have interviewed dozens of IT contractors. Some I will hire before others. The following are the type of contractors I don’t want.

1. Unwanted Contractors – The Scruff

It doesn’t take much to present oneself well at an interview. Even it is a dress down place contractors should show respect for their interview and their potential new company by making some kind of effort to impress. When I see someone dressed casually at an interview I always think that they’re saying “You’ll have to fit in with me rather than the other way round”.

I won’t!

2. Unwanted Contractors – The Unprepared

When contractors join us I want them to prepare themselves well and do their homework. What gives me a signal that they are likely to be this kind of contractor is if they prepare before they come to the interview. They should at least know what the company do before they arrive. This information is easy to get. They could ask their agency or they can get the information from the company website.

3. Unwanted Contractors – The Chancers

There are some people who arrive at the interview who obviously don’t know the skills that are required. Despite this they still try and bullshit their way through the questions. This is a total waste of my time. I presume that they were hoping that there would be no technical questions and that I would take their word for it.

The agencies that send them don’t impress me either.

4. Unwanted Contractors – The Techniquers

I don’t know who gives advice to people about the techniques that they should have at an interview. A very firm handshake may impress a girl from HR but if someone puts a death grip on my hand when shaking it, it just p*sses me off, firstly because it may hurt a little, secondly because I realise I am being techniqued. I’m going to give the contract to someone who can do the job.

We don’t have vacancies for people who can wring other people’s hands. We have no call for it.

5. Unwanted Contractors – The Bored

There are two ways that people show me that they are not interested in what they are being told about the company or the job. The first ones are those that actually look bored and show it. The second are those that pay excessive attention, as they have been told that it shows interest. Some of them show it by never taking their eyes off you for a second. Their eyes grow wider and wider as they force themselves to listen to what you are telling them. It’s quite spooky. You either have interest in the job and company or you don’t.

I want those who do!

6. Unwanted Contractors – The Beggars

I am sure that they have been told that it is a good technique at an interview. Either that or they are just desperate. I’ve had several of the ones who say things like “If you just give me this chance I’ll not let you down”. One guy even said that he would work for a graduate’s salary rather than the salary of the Systems Manager that I was hiring for till he’d proved himself to me. I did hire him and, of course, I did give him the full salary, but he wasn’t worth even the graduate’s salary. I have never found that any of these type of guys ever turn out to be very good.

7. Unwanted Contractors – Those Unaware of Problems

Many places give technical interviews. I tend not to as those just off a course would be better at doing them than someone with several years’ experience, the reason being that all areas of the skill are covered by the course, whereas only a subset of those are used in practice.

What I find best is to ask interviewees what can go wrong and how they could fix it. If you are hiring a Project Manager who knows all the latest Prince, ISO and CMM techniques, but who doesn’t know what could go wrong at the various stages of a project and what you can do to stop that happening or to fix it when it does happen, then you are going to have major problems on your project if you hire him or her – even of they can answer all the Prince questions.

8. Unwanted Contractors – Those with Longer Contracts

There is little point in taking references. It is against the law to give a bad reference, and most people will give them anyway, whether the person is any good or not. The person who is being interviewed can also pick who they get references from and I don’t know the people from Adam.

No, I much prefer to look at the lengths of their previous contracts. If they keep getting renewed then that is the best reference you can get from a previous employer. If they have short contracts, and they seldom get renewed, you can say that previous employers are voting with their boots.

9. Unwanted Contractors – The Cushy Number Brigade

It doesn’t look good at an interview if contractors start enquiring if they can do some of their work from home, or whether they can do all of their hours in 4 days taking Friday off. I’m not averse to some of the work being done from home as long as I can monitor that it is being done. Also, if someone lives a long way off and asks at the interview if they can come to some arrangement I don’t mind that either. However, there are some that you know are just looking for an easy time and that doesn’t come across well at the interview.

10. Unwanted Contractors – The Tanned Porsche Driver

Perhaps this is just prejudice on my part, but let me give you an example of one of these type of creatures that I didn’t hire. He was late for the interview but phoned me up to say that he was having trouble parking his Porsche. Could I give him some advice. Why he had to tell me it was a Porsche I don’t know, because he could just have said that he was having trouble parking his car. Perhaps he thought it would impress me. He thought wrong.

When he did arrive he started prattling on about his Porsche. He was obviously well suntanned and he told me that he had just come back from Barbados and proceeded to tell me about the snorkeling, the trip in the submarine, and various other holiday memories.

I was not in a very good mood anyway and so I just wanted rid of this pratt. The interview lasted around 15 minutes and I told him I’d be in touch with his agent.

I could just picture this guy regaling my project team with tales of his holidays and why one version of a Porsche is better than another. Firstly I want people who look like they want to roll up their sleeves. Secondly it would have p*ssed off the project team most severely.

So, I’ve got that off my chest about the type of contractors I don’t like at interview. I’ll follow up shortly with an article on those that I do.

Successful Interviews |The IT Contractors I want by an IT Client

Successful Interviews

I wrote an article recently for pointing out the contractors that I do not want. It is only fair now to say which IT contractors I want.

This will be a two-part article about successful interviews. The first part of the article will deal in the crucial lead up to the interview up till the very start of the interview, and the second one will deal with the interview itself.

They say that most interviews are decided in the first 90 seconds. Here is some advice on successful interviews in how to make an impression during that crucial period.

1. Timeliness

It is important that an IT contractor gets there on time.

Any salesman will tell you that this is absolutely crucial. It shows the client that you want the business. It shows disrespect for the client, the company and the job offered if you can’t even ensure that you are there on time.

How slack would you actually be if I did offer you the job?

2. Dress

In successful interviews, the way you dress shows whether you want to fit in with the company or whether you think that the company should fit in with you. You should be smart, clean-looking and wearing a suit if you are a guy. Don’t go over the top with a whole load of jewellery and a big flash tie. Clean and tidy are the messages that you want to give.

3. Waiting for the Boss

The greeting and the conversation before the IT interview starts is important in successful interviews. People like to work with people that they are comfortable with. If you are sitting in reception don’t get all funny with the receptionist if you are made to wait.

So often when I’ve been seeing someone out the receptionist has asked “are you taking him on?” and will make a positive or negative comment about the person. I don’t want to take people on who have difficulty getting on with current staff and who would be stupid enough to get uppity with the receptionist at an interview.

Expect to have to wait twenty minutes or so before being interviewed and spend the time reading the paper, preparing for the interview in your head or, better still, asking the receptionist what it is like to work there.

4. The Greeting

It is always awkward when you first greet the person you are interviewing and you take them up the stairs or the elevator to the interview.

You don’t know the person and so conversation can be a bit stilted. When you first greet the person, you want to see that they are reasonably open and friendly without having a silly grin.

I’m not too bothered about handshakes but it should be neither too hard nor too soft – the Baby Bear scenario.

5. The Walk to the IT Interview

In successful interviews, an interviewee should always have something prepared to say on the way up to the interview. Be prepared to have answers to the usual questions like “Did you have any trouble finding us?”.

This is just a way of striking up conversation. A straight “No” will just lead to an awkward silence in the elevator going up. “Have you come far?” might be another one asked.

Don’t get too technical too early. The walk to the Interview Room is just for small talk.

If you can break the ice here that is a bonus for you and the interviewer(s) will be relaxed with you before the interview starts.

6. Positive Comment

Make some positive comment about the building you are in and what seems to be the office environment.

One question that you might want to ask would be “What is it like to work here?” or “What sort of people work here and what kind of work environment is it?”.

That will get them talking as they are employees of the company too. It will also make them feel good being able to dispense some positive thoughts before the interview begins.

You could say something like “It seems to have a good atmosphere here”.

You are already giving them a positive signal here that you think you will fit in. That’s one of the things they are looking for.

7. Entering the Room

Wait till the interviewer has chosen his chair before you sit down. I know that this may sound a bit funny but there is the chair I usually sit on when interviewing people. I feel comfortable interviewing from there.

In the past there are contractors who have just sat down there. I, of course, wouldn’t judge them on that, but it just puts me off a bit, interviewing from another chair.

You don’t have to wait to be asked to sit down, in  successful interviews, but at least wait till the interviewer is moving towards the chair where he or she wants to sit.

8. Don’t be Smarmy

In the past I have been sharing the interviewing duties with a female interviewer. It has happened that male interviewees try to use what they see as their most charming lines to the female interviewer.

Keep these for chatting up an 18-year-old at a Disco or Night Club.

The female interviewers seldom like it as they see you as being condescending and I start to think “Oh, oh! What have we got here”!

You can get away with a larger smile than you have given me and perhaps a firmer handshake but leave it at that.

9. Do You Want a Cup of Coffee?

Always say Yes to that one. If you say No I may not be able to get one either and I could do with one.

All I’ve had is machine coffee so far and here is an opportunity to have some properly made coffee.

I would rather have a cup of coffee and some more small talk before I start the serious business.

You also have a chance to interact with one of the more junior members of staff when they come in and ask what you would like.

Smile and be friendly to them. Look at them when you are ordering rather than concentrating on me whilst ordering your coffee to them.

When they come back in with the coffee thank them and if they provide something else, e.g. a plate of biscuits then say something positive about it.

In successful interviews, if you can seem warm and friendly at this stage then we are starting the interview on a good note.

10. Starting the Interview

Hopefully I have already decided that you are the type of person who would fit in with our current staff at the company and even more importantly that I would like to work with myself.

Now I need to find out if you can do the job. Before that happens be prepared for the opening questions that join the gap after we sit down between the lead up to the interview and the serious part of it.

Before I start my spiel I may ask questions like “Have you heard about our company before?”, “Do you know what we do?” or “What has you agent told you about the job?”

In successful interviews, it is better if you have a positive answer to the first two. I prefer that you would have quizzed your agent a bit as regards the third question.

No, No and Nothing are not a good start to the interview although they are not crucial.

Serious Business

OK, I have formed an impression of you and whether we could work with you. Now it only remains to find out if you are going to benefit our project (and my career) or be a hindrance to it.

I will give advice on the actual interview itself in an article coming soon.

7 Excuses for why you have not worked for a while

Excuses for not Working

It is difficult to explain away those gaps in the CV – especially the current gap. Here are seven excuses to use.

Excuses 1. Around the World

Say you’ve been around the world for a year as one of your excuses. You’d meant to do it for a long time but when the downturn started you decided to take the opportunity.

You’re now back refreshed and ready to go for it.

Make sure you have a tan (fake or not), don’t look miserable, and do some study on the destinations you’ve been to, If you name somewhere the interviewer has been to, say that your bus didn’t stop long there and it just drove through the outskirts.

Excuses 2. Internet Site

You took some time off to build your own internet site, which went well in terms of traffic but didn’t bring in the income you’d hoped for. You’ve closed it down now (in case they check) and sold the name off.

It was something you had to do but you’ve got it out of your system now and are ready to go for it again (refreshed).

Try to make sure that you picked up skills that will be useful to your client company.

Excuses 3. Charity Work

You took time off to do charity work for a very good cause. I won’t be flippant here by suggesting any here, but I’m sure you can work it out for yourself.

Perhaps you built them an internet system using some useful skills or dug a well out in deepest Africa.

Excuses 4. In Hospital

You have been recuperating in hospital and at home after a nasty accident (don’t make it a nasty disease). If you could make it a hang gliding (or other outdoor activity) accident this would be bonus points for you.

You are fully recuperated (and refreshed) and you used your time wisely by swatting up on your main skills (which your client uses).

Excuses 5. Software Set Up

A friend of yours (or better still a family member) was setting up a new business, and you took time out to write the software for it. You will be paid for it out of future profits and in company shares.

The business has started very well and they have now sufficient funds to hire a young graduate to look after the software side of it.

It was an interesting experience for you but now you are back ready (and refreshed) to resume your contracting career.

A change is as good as a rest!

Excuses 6. Property

You bought some property in Scotland or Ireland and it burned down. You had to take some time off to deal with the insurance and the rebuilding. You were compensated for your time off by the insurance company.

It’s all sorted now and the property sold (for a profit) and you are now available again (refreshed) to resume work.

Excuses 7. Sick Family Member

For those of you of a less scrupulous nature, you had to take some time off to nurse a family member back to full recovery (wife or husband is best).

If one of the interviewers is a women, you can lay it on a little thicker.

Best of All

The best of all is to have no excuse at all – to simply put in your CV that you’ve been working for a small company (a mate of yours) and give his or her phone number.

The agency doesn’t care where the reference comes from as long as they can tell the client that they got one.

Note:- We’re not advising that you do this – only saying that it works

Interview Best Practice – How to conduct yourself at an interview

Interview Best Practice – Arrival.

10-15 minutes before the interview go directly to the floor/office specified and notify the receptionist of your arrival.

Most offices will have a waiting area. The table will more than likely have some publications on it. Usually there will be a number of publications relating to the organisation – i.e. a departmental magazine, a technical publication or annual report.

These will normally be accompanied by a few general interest magazines such as ‘Home and Garden’, ‘TV Weekly’, ‘Women’s Day’ etc….. Always pick up one of the publications that relate to the employer. You may learn something important in the minutes before the interview, or you may just get a better feel for the organisation.

An interviewer will notice which magazine you were reading, and it will go in your favour.

Do not be afraid to refer to the publication during the interview if the opportunity arises. For example you could start a question in the interview with “I was just reading the departmental news letter in reception and it mentioned , I wonder if you could give me some more information about this?”

This instantly shows the interviewer that you have a genuine interest.

Interview Best Practice – A firm hand.

When greeted by the interviewer, make sure that you give a firm handshake. Be mindful that there will be at least 2 people in most interviews, sometimes 3. As you are introduced, shake hands with each person in turn and try to repeat their name as you do so.

Interview Best Practice – In the interview.

– During the interview keep the following in mind:

– Be confident, but not cocky or arrogant.

– Think about your answers. Do not be afraid to think, pause or ask the interviewer to repeat or clarify a question.

– Use open body language. Open your body to the interviewer, and be sure to give eye contact.

– Answer the person who asked the question. It is tempting to find 1 person to talk to – the one you perceive as the nicest (easiest to convince), but make sure that you connect with the person who asked the question. Interviews find it frustrating when an interviewee only talks to 1 interviewer.

– Do not be afraid to laugh with the interviewers. This does not mean that you should start telling jokes, but there is nothing wrong with being light-hearted if the opportunity is there. An interview does not need to be formal for the entire duration. If you are relaxed and this will rub off on the interviewers

– Ask questions – do not wait until the end to ask questions, if the opportunity arises during the interview ask the question. A flowing conversational interview is easier for interviewers and interviewees.

– At the end of the interview, thank the panel. Try to use their names if you can remember them. Do not be afraid to ask what happens next and when you may hear from them.

From Aussie contractor site

Interview tips from an experienced IT recruiter. Preparation

Interview Tips – Quick Reference Guide

– Prepare
– Dress well
– Mobile phones off
– Firm handshake
– If you use glasses, wear them in the interview
– Think before you answer

Interview Tips Introduction

So we have helped to secure you an interview.

Now it’s up to you to convince the employer that you are the best person for the job. It’s time to sell your skills, your experience and most importantly sell yourself!

Although your technical abilities are most important, interviewers don’t only consider your qualifications and on job experience. Employers also use interviews to assess:
– Your communication skill? Your ability to articulate your views
– Your ability to perform under pressure
– Your ability to think on your feet
– Your personality
Therefore the way you answer the questions is as important as the content of the answer.

Interview Tips – Preparation

Even if you are a successful contracting professional, and have attended countless interviews it pays not to be too complacent.

Always spend some time preparing for the interview – the extent of the preparation is up to you, but make sure that you are ready.

Some helpful preparation tips:

Interview Tips – Where to go?

Do you know exactly where you need to go? Address? Floor? Contact name?

If you do not have all the information make sure that you ask.

Interview Tips – Find your way.

Do you know how to get to the interview?

If you are not sure take the trip the day before if you can. Make sure you know how you are going to get there and how long it will take you. There is nothing worse than panicking the morning of the interview because you’re not sure how to find the office or you thought there was a bus at 9.00am and in fact it left at 8.50am – do your research and make sure that you can get there in good time. If driving, make sure that you know where you can park.

This will also help to calm nerves as you will have 1 less thing to worry about on the day of the interview.

Interview Tips – Who are they?

Find out some background information about the organisation. Make sure that you know something about their products, services, systems/applications, technical environment. What you don’t know – ask in the interview.

Interview Tips – Questions please?

”No, I think we’ve covered everything” is not something that an interviewer want to hear when they ask if you have any questions. Make sure that you have some questions prepared, and make sure that they are relevant – it always helps if you are actually interested in the answer. Try not to ask the same old questions. Think about things that you really want to know about your potential employer

Interview Tips – Refresh

Make sure that you re-read the job description, your application and your resume before the interview as you will be questioned on these.

Interview Tips – Practice.

If you are not confident or do not have much experience of interview try to practice with a friend or family member. Make sure that you treat this as a practice and not a rehearsal – don’t try to memorise answers, instead use this exercise to get you thinking.

Interview Tips – Wearing out.

Make sure that you know what you are going to wear. If possible a day or 2 before the interview make sure that everything is clean, pressed and shoes polished. At that stage you still have time to do something about it.

Interview Day

Depending on the time of the interview will depend on your exact routine, but here are some basic point to remember:

Interview Tips – Have breakfast.

As they say – breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Feeling hungry during an interview is not a good feeling. Having a healthy breakfast will help your concentration and will eliminate any embarrassing grumbling noises from an empty stomach.

Interview Tips – Dress to impress.

No matter what the job, always dress to impress. Wear you best suit for the occasion – make sure that your clothes are clean and pressed. Neutral, clean colours are best. It is said that coloured shirts on men show confidence, but be mindful that heat and stress cause perspiration and if invited to remove your jacket, a coloured shirt may disclose your anxiety more than a white shirt. A white shirt is by far the safest option.

There are mixed opinions about jackets – on or off. I personally would keep the jacket on, unless specifically invited to remove and hang it up. Correct use of jacket buttons on sitting and rising is a nice touch that is noticed.

Interview Tips – Be kind on the nose.

Try not to eat right before the interview. If you find that you do not have a choice make sure you do not eat or drink anything right before the interview that may linger on your breath – i.e. onion, coffee etc. Also do not smoke before going into the interview. Before going into the interview have a mint to freshen the breath. Chewing gum is an alternative, but make sure that you find a bin outside the building and discard the gum before you go in. Interviews are a No Gum Zone!

Interview Tips – Be early.

It’s better to be early than late. Aim to get to the interview at least 10 minutes early. If transport dictates that you either get there 30 minutes early or 2 minutes early, always take the 30 minute option. Obviously you do not want to arrive 30 minutes early, so take a walk around, clear you head, relax, read through your resume again, re-read the job description.

How IT Contractors can make heaps of money on Stock Market

Money – IT Contractor Investors

As we’ve said before, IT Contractors tend to invest in the Stock Market just before it heads south.

So, at the same time as they are out of work in an economic downturn, their Stock Market assets are tumbling in price.

We’ve also said that the way round this is to build a cash safety net before investing in the Stock Market and to invest regularly on a long-term basis.

Making Money

But how do IT Contractors go about making money out of it.

One thing to note is that buying is the easy bit. Selling is the hard bit.

However, there are certain disciplines that we have followed both in this share portfolio and in our other share buying activity.

All the shares in our portfolio have one thing in common and that is they have either delivered profits beyond the market analyst’s expectations or have made an announcement to the Stock Market that their profits will be above or well above market expectations.

These shares tend to do well.

Good Companies

If the company are doing even better than expected then it means that they are well-managed or have really good products or are in a sector that is doing very well – or, more likely a combination of all three.

The share prices of the companies don’t necessarily go up straight away so we always give them six months.

It’s best that you’re not buying and selling shares all the time.

If you are you are giving a lot of commission to the brokers and that cuts your margins.

When To Sell

I tend to hang onto them till I see that they are not performing as expected (which rarely happens) or until they announce that profits will be less than expected or produce profits that are lower than analyst estimates.

If you want to be even more picky then you could drop them after several periods when they have just met market expectations and not exceeded them.

After all there are plenty more companies out there who are beating expectations that you could re-invest the money in.


You must be ruthless though and sell on a downgrade.

Once a downgrade has been announced the price will have fallen a bit before you get to hear about it.

However, don’t wait for a hoped for bounce to get out.

Get out straight away.

Not Wise

As Jim Slater once said the average Stock Market punter does the opposite of what he or she should do.

If they have got a portfolio of shares, what they tend to do is sell the ones that they have made money on and hang onto those that they are losing money on.

That way they end up with a portfolio of dud shares.

They should indeed do the opposite.

They should hang on to the good ones that they are making money on as they are likely to make more money from these well run, well-managed companies in a good area of the market, in the future.

It’s the duds they should dump.

Every Three Months

You should sit down every three months and list your shares.

You tell yourself that you are going to sell the worst one or two depending on how many you have.

If you have 10 different shares I would say that two have to be relegated every three months.

List your shares and then put the percentage chance you think you have of doubling your money in them over the next year.

The two at the bottom should then be sold – automatically.

No Regrets

You seldom regret doing this.

The two shares that you think are the best will almost always outperform the two you think are the worst.

So, why hang onto the duds?

Selling Hardest

Selling is the hardest part of the operation.

There’s many good buyers of shares – but it is the good sellers who tend to make the money.

If you follow the above advice you should stand a pretty good chance of outperforming your fellow Stock Market pundits.

Then you can think of packing in IT Contracting and doing whatever you really want to spend your life doing.

Good Luck!

Contractor Crowdfunding Opportunities

Contractors often miss out on the opportunities to make real money from buying shares in startup tech companies as they don’t get to hear about them. Join our contracting club to be told immediately about these opportunities as soon as they become available by filling in the form below.


Ten reasons why clients are complete idiots

Complete Idiots

A lot of the decisions that clients make don’t make any sense, especially in terms of how they deal with IT contractors. We document here ten of the craziest and most frustrating things that these complete idiots do:-

1. They don’t let contractors come direct to their companies.

They would rather pay 25% more so that they come through agencies. They cite ‘comeback’ as the reason for this, and say stupid things like if the contractor goes, the agency will replace them with somebody else.

There are lots of agencies who would like to supply the company, and there are lots of contractors who would do. It seems to be some deep-seated insecurity that causes them to do this

2. They don’t take or want contractors’ advice

, even though contractors have many years of experience. Contractors so often watch projects go wrong, and even though they know what is going wrong and know how to fix it, they daren’t offer any advice

3. These complete idiots de-motivate contractors, who are normally their star players. They assume that it is only money that motivates them, when the money is only important when the contract is being negotiated.

These complete idiots make remarks about the ‘type of money’ contractors are making, and contractors generally have to motivate themselves

4. They infuriatingly follow methodologies to the letter of the law

and don’t have the experience or the nous to implement the parts which are useful to the project.

There is no reality check. Any advice in this area is not appreciated at all

5. They encourage the development of poor quality software

by pressurising developers to hand over software before it is fully tested. These complete idiots can even be so stupid as to do things like cut out the link testing, or even the systems testing stage to save time when the project is running behind schedule. This is completely crazy. People should be locked up for this

6. Clients make the same project mistakes over and over again.

The same mistakes are being made on projects up and down the land. They never seem to learn.

These complete idiots just get rid of the failed project manager and get in a new one who will make the same mistakes, when it is the system that needs changing

7. When recruiting for the project

, they don’t ask their contractors if they know any good people with the same skills. They ask agencies instead. Contractors know who is good. Agencies don’t.

However agencies will charge you more for someone who is not likely to be as good as the contractor who came on the recommendation of another contractor

8. These complete idiots pay absolute fortunes to consultancies

for people who are not long out of university, when they could have hired their own graduates or taken on more experienced contractors at much less cost.

This comes from their own insecurity and lack of belief in their own ability to manage a project properly. Sadly they are usually right

9. They do really stupid things

like getting rid of all of their contractors en masse, only to take on a fresh bunch of contractors a few months later when the project falls behind.

These new contractors have a learning curve and don’t have the knowledge of the system that the previous contractors had

10. They promote all the wrong people.

They usually pick someone who is a good developer or a good analyst and make them Project Manager whether or not they have shown any inclination of being any good at it. Normally they aren’t

Given all this, it is surprising to think that any projects get done on time and to budget, giving the users or customers what they want.

Come to think of it, not many projects do.

Perhaps the above ten reasons might have something to do with this.

Can you add any more to this?

Interview Problems. The Unfairness of Them

Interview Problems

Many IT workers, whether contractor or permanent, complain when the go to an interview that they cannot answer many of the technical questions that they are asked, or given to them in a test, because they do not use the particular technical components asked in questions in their normal daily work.

In fact they often say that someone just out of university, or just off a course, with no practical experience, would be far more likely to pass the technical test or answer the technical questions, than they would.

They are, in fact, quite correct. That is just one of the interview problems.

Been on a Course

Someone doing a course learns the particular area very broadly. However, someone using it in practice only uses a portion of the technical area and so remembers that part and not the parts he or she never uses.

So, it’s pretty daft to use the broad-based set of technical questions then, isn’t it?

And yet so many companies do this.

Show-Off Interviewers

There is the other one of the interview problems, of one of the interviewers using the interview as an opportunity to show their superior technical knowledge by asking questions about the technical subject that are seldom used.

Once again, only someone just off a course would be the equal of him and be able to answer his questions. Perhaps they are not long off a course themselves and want to impress the boss who may also be at the interview.

Technical Interview Problems

So how do you get to hire those with a wealth of experience in a technical area? How do you get to separate those who have only done a course on the subject and those who have a wealth of experience in a subject?

You could look at their CV to see how much experience that they have had. However, if someone had worked at a place for five years where a certain technical skill was used, and they had only done a course in it plus written a few programs, they could tailor their CV to put 5 years worth of that skill on it.

They might even have used it very sparingly over that 5 year period, but have gone on a refresher course recently. These interview problems often mean that the best contractor doesn’t always get the contract.