Preparing for an IT Job Interview

Many people live by the maxim that if you fail to prepare, then you are preparing to fail. This is especially important during an IT job interview. As well as your standard set of interview questions, IT interviews will contain many specialist questions. Employers may be interested in questioning you on your skills, qualifications and coding languages.

To avoid being thrown off track, preparing possible answers can be really beneficial to your interview success. See below for some of the questions you can expect during an IT job interview.

About You

Firstly, expect general questions about you so the interviewer can get to know each candidate. For IT job interviews, this may also include questions on your technical skills and experience. This will help employers build an idea of you as both a person and employee.

You may be asked a series of questions including:

  • Why is this job position of interest to you?
  • What qualifications do you currently hold?
  • Which programming languages can you confidently work with?
  • What experience do you hold in using automated-build tools or processes?
  • What experience do you have in source control tools?
  • How do you keep up to date within this industry?
  • What were your responsibilities during your most recent project?
  • How would you score your time management skills with meeting deadlines?
  • Provide an example of a time when you were able to improve an original design from a client.

You could also be asked problem solving questions to test your knowledge, skills and professionalism. This may concern faulty code, spreadsheets and data bases, working with clients, and IT challenges in your previous projects.

Industry Knowledge

Next, employers will check that you have completed your research. Asking you questions on the job and company will help them to see how you will fit with their business.

You can expect to be asked a selection of the following questions:

  • Which skills of yours make you qualified for this job position?
  • If hired, what challenges would you expect from this role?
  • Who do you consider as our biggest competitors in this industry?
  • Following the job description, what do you expect your daily tasks to be?
  • How important is it to you to develop professional relationships with business users?
  • How would you describe your production deployment process?

A number of these questions could easily catch you out if you are not prepared. Therefore, we strongly advise thorough research into the job vacancy, company, industry and even their competitors. After all, in-depth research can help you to plan more original answers better suited to you.

Technical Ability

The following questions are all designed to test you on your skills and knowledge as an IT professional. Your interviewer will be determining your compatibility for the job role and company based on your answers. Therefore, it will be especially useful if you also prepare examples of past work to link to your answers. This will demonstrate experience, understanding and great potential.

  • How do you guarantee quality in your deliverables?
  • What experience do you have with Eclipse and Visual Studio?
  • What percentage of your working hours do you spend on unit testing?
  • Are you able to define what a transaction log is and how they should be used?
  • What is the term “honey pot” used for in network security?
  • Can you compare the similarities and differences between SOAP and REST web services?
  • With the original code you develop, how do you reuse and how much are you able to reuse?
  • What would you consider to be the most essential metrics for database performance and how do you monitor them?

Questions for Your Interviewer

Showing interest by preparing questions to ask can make a great impression on employers. Therefore, preparing questions for your interviewer is also key. Possible questions you could ask are:

  • What is the company’s greatest achievement to date?
  • What size is your IT team currently?
  • What are your biggest challenges as an IT company?
  • What development process do you have in place?

Applying for IT Jobs

As recruitment specialists, the Certes team are the match makers of the IT industry, pairing motivated applicants with compatible employers. To browse job vacancies in your area and secure an IT job interview, click here.

Work-life balance in the digital era

Balancing work and life are important for all employees but it is a difficult task for many. If not balanced correctly it could lead to employees becoming dissatisfied, unmotivated in their role and other negative impacts on life can occur such as lack of exercise, increased stress levels,  little social lives, psychological and physical health problems. A survey from focuses on the working hours of managers goes into detail about “Managers’ working hours in a digital era”.

According to the survey, managers are working extra hours and this trend has continued to rise since 2012.

“Managers’ contracted working hours have risen by one hour daily compared to 2012, which is equivalent to an additional 29 days extra each year. That’s more than the typical annual leave entitlement. Overall, 92% of managers work longer than their contracted hours. This pattern has resulted in a third of managers feeling ‘overloaded’ and a perception that long working hours are something they have ‘no choice’ about.”

A majority of managers are working between 41 to 48 hours (38%) with 23% of managers working beyond that, between 49 to 59 hours.

Depending on the seniority of the manager, the extra hours worked changes. Junior managers will tend to work an extra 30 minutes over contracted hours while Directors and above will work an extra 2 hours over contracted hours.

Despite the extra hours worked, under half (42%) of the managers surveyed do not feel overburdened with their workload. However, a third (33%) of managers feel that they are overloaded with work.

What is surprising is that while 63% feel that they have no choice to work the extra hours to meet deadlines, 54% work the extra hours by choice.

Being in a digital era and technology working alongside us in our daily work tasks, we were led to believe that work would be more efficient and our work lives would be made easier. However, technology has enabled an ‘always connected’ environment when away from our place of work and has also influenced the working hours.

Staying connected has also affected managers ability to maintain their work-life balance as being constantly connected makes it difficult for them to ‘switch off’ and leave work at work.

“61% of managers say that technology has made it difficult to switch off from work. Around one in five managers say they now check their email all the time outside of working hours; over half (54%) check frequently. This is particularly common among those in senior management positions.  Whilst not perceived unfavourably by all managers, constant email accessibility and digital connectivity mean longer working hours for some.”


Though technology is not the root of increase work hours, the ability to access work life while at home is a contributor.

The survey does not specify the industries that the managers are working within but IT managers and those working within the IT industry have to ability to work remotely. Employees within the IT sector have the power to access a multitude of areas without having to physically be in a specific location and this also opens the doors to working extra hours a to rectify problems or to meet deadlines.


What Candidates looks for in an Agency

We have seen what consultants look for in candidates, but this is a two way street. Candidates expect many things from the agencies that they interact with. Here, candidates who have used agencies share what they look for in an agency. Certes have asked  people who have dealt with agencies to find out thier views and what they look for.


“The most important thing that I look for in an agency is the ability to provide me with regular work that suits my needs i.e. workplaces within reasonable commuting distance, that treat employees and agency workers well. The agency should provide access to both long and short term roles and provide career professional development opportunities so that I am able to continue to enhance my skills while working for them. Agency recruitment staff should be friendly and have good interpersonal skills that make it clear that they are focused on finding you the right job opportunities. Agencies should contact you regularly with job opportunities that may be of interest to you based on their knowledge of your needs and requirements”.

Anonymous, Science Teacher

“As a job seeker and speaking with numerous agencies, the agencies that I return to are the ones that actually make an effort to contact me personally with new opportunities that match my skills. Multiple time agencies have notified me about openings that are not what I am looking for and that makes me feel that they are not interested in my needs and are only trying to fill jobs. An agency that takes time to find out what my ideal job is and informs me of any jobs available that fit what I want is what I look for in an agency”.

Andrew Robinson

“An agencies main job is to place people in jobs. I feel that this help should extend further, such as advice. Problems that I and other people may have come across are CV’s that are not up to scratch. Agencies should recommend changes to CV’s that would help improve chances of being selected for vacancies I have applied for. I know Agencies go through hundreds of CV’s a week, they are the best person to go for advice and tips to improve a job seekers CV”.

Kalvin Higgins, Alloy Refurb Specialist

“I work within IT and as such I possess many technical skills. The agencies that I go to need to have knowledge of these skills, if they don’t I have no faith that they will find jobs catered to me. As well as industry knowledge, agencies should keep me up-to-date on the progress of my application. There’s nothing more frustrating to me when dealing with agencies than being informed of a job that they think I would be perfect for and that I have applied to, to not hear anything back. A phone call or an email to let me know if I have been considered by the employer with feedback would help. This would give me information on what employers are looking for and would also give me a chance to see the areas that I may need to improve on in both my skills and CV”.

Imran Ebrahim, IT Manager


“Having the option to do an interview over the phone is something that I look for in an agency. Some agencies that I have used have asked me to come into their offices for an interview. I do not have a problem with making the journey but when the agencies are located in different regions of the UK it can be difficult to make the journey, for instance, travelling to Manchester from the West Midlands. Agencies should be aware of my location to where there office is so we can either arrange a mutual meeting location or we can arrange a time where we can discuss my background and what I am looking for over the phone.”

Anonymous, Marketing Executive

Why reinvent the wheel?

I caught up with an old contact recently and we were discussing how the IT landscape has changed over the last few years as more functions are becoming engaged at a business strategic level rather than the traditional order taker.  What I found very interesting was my contact’s view of certain functions being more successful at this than others. He highlighted that, in his opinion, Enterprise Architecture as a department is very much established and on “ the executive's radar” whilst Business Analysis has typically not reached this level.

This raises the question: what can BRM departments learn from other functions which will help them become more established at an executive level?

Comparing Enterprise Architecture and Business Analysis , the duties/ deliverables for both roles are, according to Wiki:


Enterprise Architect (EA)

  • Alignment of IT strategy and planning with company's business goals.
  • Optimisation of information management through an understanding of evolving business needs and technology capabilities.
  • Strategic responsibility for the company's IT systems.
  • Promotion of shared infrastructure and applications to reduce costs and improve information flow. Ensure that projects do not duplicate functionality or diverge from each other and business and IT strategies.
  • Work with solutions architect(s) to provide a consensus based enterprise solution that is scalable, adaptable and in synchronisation with ever changing business needs.
  • Risk Management of information and IT assets through appropriate standards and security policies.
  • Direct or indirect involvement in the development of policies, standards and guidelines that direct the selection, development, implementation and use of Information Technology within the enterprise.
  • Build employee knowledge and skills in specific areas of expertise.


Business Analyst

  • Business requirements, i.e. business plan, key performance indicator, project plan…
  • Functional requirements, i.e. data models, technical specifications, use case scenarios, work instructions, reports…
  • Non-functional requirements
  • As-is processes, e.g. data flow diagrams, flowcharts
  • To-be processes, e.g. data flow diagrams, flowcharts
  • Data models, i.e. data requirements expressed as a documented data model of some sort
  • Business case, a strategic plan containing shareholders' risk and return


I’ve highlighted in bold the elements I believe have links/commonality to the BRM role, which has led me to the below conclusions and further questions. 


1.BRMs can learn a significant amount from EAs for various reasons:

a. There is a significant commonality between the two positions.

b. EAs are now generally established at the business strategic level. How have they done this and what can BRMs learn from EAs to help them reach this level?

c. What tools (or elements of tools) are available to EAs that can also be utilised by BRMs to help them along this journey?

2. Where does the EA roles end and the BRM roles begin? Do the roles/functions need to consider merging?

     3. Business Analysis, whilst sharing less commonality, is an established function with established tools including              those within (high level) business requirements and business cases.  Such tools can help BRMs also become              more established and need to be utilised.  

     4. What other established functions can BRMs tap into?  Other business partnering functions? PMO?  Who else?                                         

There is a strong desire in the BRM community to become more established at the business strategic level and whilst specific tools and procedures are available to achieve this, we shouldn’t forget there is also a fountain of knowledge available to us via peers in different functions, some of whom have already successfully achieved what the BRM community is looking to accomplish.

What Does It Mean to Be a Recruiter in 2016? (Infographic)

In 2016, what does it take to be a successful recruitment professional able to thrive as well as survive in this dog-eat-dog industry? Well, the folks at GetHRS have created an infographic listing the skills and traits you need if you want to stand out from the crowd:


Source: SocialTalent

What Gen Y Really Wants

In a recent blog from Certes, we talked about Generation Y also known as Millennials and how employers can recruit and retain them.

A report from Software Advice, a company that offers listings and reviews of the top recruiting software systems, continues this discussion with what Millennials really want. As software Advice explains “The “Greatest Generation” primarily sought stability, only changing jobs a few times in their lives. The “baby boomers” and “Generation X” became more restless, holding an average of about 11 jobs in a lifetime”. Millenials employment patterns however are different than that of the previous generations and can hold up to 20 different jobs. This goes with what we mentioned and that “Millenials will often move on if they don’t feel like they are being listened to, challenged or given enough responsibility”.

From a sample of 1355 Millennias, Software Advice came back with some interesting finds.


What Gen Y Really Wants in a Job

Salary and Benefits – Money is still an incentive but 34% Millennials are moving more towards ‘Salary and benefits’

Culture and Atmosphere – 31% of Millennials say they need to like where they work

Fulfillment and Satisfaction – 30% of Millennials say they need to enjoy what they do

Growth and Development – 25% of “Millennials say growth and development is important. Software Advice accredits this to Millenials …“are, by definition, on the younger side of the age spectrum: many cited a desire for “learning” or to gain more on-the-job “experience,” and noted they wanted to “advance [their] career.”

Software Advice concludes their findings with “What Gen Y really wants is to make a good living—but these young professionals also want to find happiness, fulfillment and opportunity in their work, and to build the foundation for a career that rewards in ways beyond the mere financial.”

What is the coalition between the improved job market and job seekers using social media?

It’s good news for job seekers. The job market is improving and with that people who are looking for vacancies now have more options.

The improved job market seems to be reaping benefits for jobs seekers and it turns out that it is becoming easier to find a job. According to research from Jobvite, 65% of job seekers asked are finding it easier to find employment compared to 39% from 2012, that’s an increase of 57%.

The results above shows job seekers who say it is harder to find jobs

Due to the better nature of finding employment, does this mean that job hopping will also increase? In a word, No. Let’s look into the IT sector. Jobvite explains that 53% of Software/Tech employees are satisfied with their current position; however they are open to new opportunities. This shows that even though it is easier to find a new job employees will remain where they are.

So who are the most likely to leave their current role?

According to the Jobvite’s research, the highly sort after  millennials are twice as likely to leave a job after just three years compared to previous generations. Surprisingly the IT sector shows the most job change frequency with 50% in this sector switching jobs every 1 to 5 years.

What is evident is those aged between 18 and 29 – Millennials, see their current position as an entry level post which they are using as a “stepping stone”. Millennials are in need of experience and will gain the experience in what they want to do, where they can until they acquire the skills needed for their dream job.

So far we have seen that it is easier to find new employment than it was a mere three years ago and the generation that are more likely to look for a new job are millennials. Millennials are adept with technology than previous generations and 47% are using mobile technology to search for their new role. It is also pointed out that job seekers and employees will spend some time searching for jobs on mobile with a majority of job seekers spending up to ten minutes. The ease of mobile job hunting allows for applying for jobs anywhere. Funnily enough most mobile job hunting is done in bed with searching while commuting is a close second.


Job seekers are  also using social media more to aid them with their job searching.  It is shown that millennials in the IT sector prefer using Twitter than Facebook and LinkedIn.


Is there a coalition between the improved job market and the use of social media? Yes, but its is down to the times that we live in. Technology that simplifies tasks are being used for nearly everything including job seeking. Millennials are accounting for a large segement of the workforce and these are the workforce that have knowledge and use social media the most.

For more information on the Jobvite survey, visit here


If your looking for you next IT role using social media feel free to connect with use on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+. You can also go to to search for more IT job vacancies.

What skills are in demand in Q2?

According to Certes 4Sight review, the demands for skills have changed slightly for both contract and permanent IT employment.

In Q1 contract and permanent employers were seeking Microsoft skills as their number one demand. In Q2 Microsoft skills have been removed from the contract and permanent and replaced with HTLM and .NET respectively.

For contract, the demand for Web Services and HTLM5 skills have increased and have pushed Oracle out of the top five demanded skills

For Permanent, jQuery has entered in the top five demanding skills list taking the place of Microsoft.

Surprising the skills with the highest demand increase is windows 10. This demand could be down to a couple of reasons such as companies using Microsoft’s latest operating system or that Windows 10 has now integrated the use of the Bash command-line shell that can enable users to Linux based command lines.

Though not as much of an increase in demand compared to Q1, Cyber Security is still seeing some increase in demand ranking 2nd for contract employment and 3rd in permanent.  Although Data protection can be seen as a form of Cyber Security, this skill has had an increase in demand in permanent employment.



With great power comes great responsibility: children taking interest in IT but…

We mentioned that the last few years have experienced many global companies being targeted and attacked, compromising thousands upon thousands of sensitive customer details. The latest casualty to undergo a data breach is the telecommunication company, TalkTalk.

On the 21st October, TalkTalk released a statement that they were a part of a cyber attack where details of millions of customers may be at risk. Information such as the names, addresses, dates of birth, email addresses, telephone numbers, TalkTalk account information and even credit card details and/or bank details were all at risk.

This is the third time that TalkTalk have been a target in a cyber attack.

After investigating this cyber attack, police have arrested four people in connection with the attacks, two of which were teenagers. A 15 year old boy from Northern Ireland and a 16 year old boy from West London 

This isn’t the first time that a child has been involved in hacking. Betsy Davies, a seven year old primary schooler managed to hack laptops connected to open Wi-Fi networks. This however was done in a controlled environment to replicate open Wi-Fi networks found on high streets. It took Betsy only 10 minutes and 54 seconds to not only learn how to set up a rouge access point – frequently used by attackers to activate what is known as a ‘man in the middle’ attack but to access information on laptop traffic.

What is incredible and scary is that an issue that can cripple companies and put the details of the public at risk is shaping up to be something a child can access. However, It is great to see that children are taking an interest in IT and bodes well for the future of the industry. If this interest increases and more children take an interest in IT, the skills shortage in the cyber security could diminish. Let's just hope that children use this interest for good.

What are ‘Managed Services’ and their pros and cons

‘Managed Services’ has become somewhat of a buzzword, with article headlines urging companies to move towards what they call the ‘modern model’. But underneath the entire buzz, for many of us, the question still remains– what are managed services and what are they good for? This is the question we at Certes will aim to answer clearly and in enough depth to give you a better grasp of how managed services work and the pros and cons for both clients and providers.

In a nutshell, a managed IT service is an information technology task provided by a third-party contractor for a client organisation. Managed services can be tailored to almost any business requirement within IT. Managed Services frequently comprise running applications, databases, data recovery and back-up, network management, storage, security, and monitoring. However, not all managed services are technology-based, despite that being the most widespread use of the term. At its most basic level, a managed service is an outsourced business need which may even cover things like marketing and transportation.

A managed IT service comes with a service-level agreement (SLA), which is the contract between the service provider and the customer. The SLA identifies what services the provider will supply and how successful delivery of services will be measured.

Within this model, the client owns or has direct oversight of their organisation or system. The managed services provider (MSP) is the service provider delivering the managed services. The client and the MSP enter into a contractual, service-level agreement that defines the performance and quality metrics of their relationship.

What are the benefits of Managed Services?


  • Enabling business agility and adaptation. Managed services are emerging as an invaluable strategic asset that aids enterprises in adapting more quickly to changes in the market. This is achieved by allowing quick access to new capabilities via cloud services, such software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) or infrastructure as a service (IaaS). In addition, access to data and analytics is enabling enterprises to better assess current and future business needs.


  • Optimising productivity and performance. While managed services open doors to accessing specific talent, cloud capabilities help to improve employee productivity and efficient use of resources. Cloud capabilities are also utilised to focus enterprise needs by requirements of each business unit and specific systems of engagement (e.g., sales, marketing, customer support).


  • Ensuring integrated, end-to-end “hybrid” IT service delivery and management. Companies also are using managed services as a way of receiving support across a hybrid of IT linking traditional delivery models and up-and-coming cloud-based options, which are far more automated.


Pros and Cons of Managed Services


  • Because the provider is responsible for the delivery and management of stakeholder expectations, the client business can fully focus on their core strategic initiatives
  • Providers can have more autonomy and benefit from a fairly disturbance-free supervision of the project.
  • Providers will be able to make long-term strategic investments that should indirectly benefit the client organization.
  • Providers are able to implement their best practices into the project, and therefore make key process improvements rather than having to fit into a rigid existing framework.
  • Knowledge retention becomes more streamlined and sustainable.


  •   Providers can be disinclined to take on additional management duties
  • There can be a culture incompatibility between the client and provider organisations which can lead to a lack of understanding or a breakdown of collaboration between the two, which in turn can have an impact on outputs and deliverables
  • In some situations, because they are external to the organisation, providers will not be able to understand all of the client organisation’s problems, pain points and worries. They may also struggle to fully grasp the scope of the project, which might result in significant delays and setbacks.
  • Where there are multiple managed service providers, with each managing a different part of the organisation’s IT requirements, it is not uncommon to find an approach of shifting blame, with providers being unwilling to take responsibility for disappointments and failures.
  • Despite process improvements bringing great benefits, a potential disadvantage of such improvements is a reduction in the number of people necessary to support the project. This is a drawback for the providers who may lose out on billing due to a reduced requirement of service.
  • The client may wish or need to re-allocate the contract to a new managed services provider, perhaps in part due to issues in performance or the SLA not being honoured. This is likely to become a significant challenge for the client, because the existing provider may become hostile or less co-operative.

On the whole, managed services are a great asset to any modern organisation, with opportunities to benefit in a multitude of ways. An MSP can lead to significant reductions in costs. Most providers will charge an upfront fee and then an ongoing fixed monthly fee, which provides clients with a set monthly expenditure, making financial planning much easier. Outsourcing managed services also allows business owners to reduce the cost of employees working in-house as well as the technology, tools, and other resources needed to handle the tasks.

Secondly, the managed service provider will bring the knowledge, expertise and experience in their service offering that will enable increased accuracy and decreased risk and liabilities, especially since they have to ensure compliance with government regulations and various industry standards.

Third, the MSP will have the tools, technology, and resources required to improve efficiencies by streamlining procedures and various processes. This can then lead to increased transparency and better understanding, which will then provide a foundation for stronger decision making based on factual, real-time statistics and information.

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