Many consultants who have been in the business for years will skip some of the fundamentals when preparing for client interviews. Even with many years of experience (or perhaps because of them), they rely too much on their practical experience and skip the basic interview preparation. Whether you are a junior resource or seasoned professional, you should gather as much information on the specifics of an assignment from your IT staffing firm.
Consulting interviews never have the same format. They can be very casual, mostly aimed at verifying team fit and background. And, they can also include a technical or functional component with an expert asking very specific questions.
More and more, we see interviews with a test component to validate the consultant’s technical or functional know-how. You would be surprised at the number of senior consultants who score low to average grades on these tests. Why? Most of us who have been in our respective disciplines for a long time assume that if there is a test component to an interview process, we will ace it. We are good at what we do, we are experts in our field and we should ace it, right? Wrong! Tests are just that — tests. Some of them echo real life scenarios and some do not. In order to “ace” them, as we did in school, we need to freshen up on our technical or functional knowledge (even more so if we are experienced). The good news is that today there are many internet tests available to review our skills and most of them are free.
To summarize, before an interview get as much information as possible from your recruiter about:
the overall interview process
how many people will be interviewing
what are their respective roles and profiles
what you should focus on
whether there is a test component
If there is a test, try to get as much information as you can on it. The types of questions and focus of the test are very important to know beforehand in order to nail down the areas that you need to focus on and which skills you should freshen up. And then, spend the required time on testing sites to work on the areas where you may have weaknesses.
In a hot IT market, poor test results will not stop you from finding other opportunities. But they may stop you from getting the contract you truly wanted!