Job Interview advice

ReznikReznik Registered User regular
edited September 2017 in Help / Advice Forum
In a fit of dissatisfaction, I shotgunned a bunch of online job applications and unexpectedly got a bite. And now I've got an interview on Wednesday.

This is really my first interview for a real, legit, professional job and not a minimum wage grocery store deal or a college co-op. It's for an IT position in a very large company, somewhat similar to what I am already doing (desktop support, managing lab PCs) but with Linux, OSX, and security stuff thrown in.

Now, I did the Linux and security stuff in college but I graduated 2 years ago and haven't had the opportunity to use any of it in my current position (and things are very rigid and segmented here; even if I asked, I would not be allowed to dip my toes into any of it). We just got a Mac in our lab and I have some experience using them but little to none in any kind of sysadmin capacity.

I'm wondering what the best way is to deal with my lack of experience in those areas if it comes up in the interview. I am a quick study and if you give me time with the tools and some material to read, I can learn just about anything. It's been discouraging to see so many job postings with '5 years of experience in [tool you never had the opportunity to use anywhere but in school]', I guess I'm just worried that "I can learn it" isn't good enough.

The other concern I have is regarding pay. Where I am there is zero opportunity for advancement, and I'm lucky to get a 50 cent raise every couple of years, but there are no benefits whatsoever. I need to make more money (rent increases) and I want something that will give me the opportunity to earn more over time. The problem is I lowballed my salary expectations when I filled out the online application (I'm only just realizing this now after doing some number crunching). How would you recommend approaching this subject in the interview? The number I wrote was roughly $2k to $5k below what I'd really want/need. Also if I got this job I would have added transit expenses.

For reference, I've been at my current job for about 3.5 years (counting 2 co-op terms and 2 contracts), with another 2 years in a really low level support position in college, and "freelance" tech support since 2010-ish. Skill/knowledge wise I would consider myself on the low end of intermediate; learning opportunities for anything really interesting and challenging are limited at my current job.

Thanks for any advice.

Edit: Also, I am in Canada if that makes any difference.

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Posts

  • NewblarNewblar Registered User regular
    edited September 2017
    Employers post the ideal candidate qualifications but realistically few if anyone applying will meet all the criteria at the specified number of years and often they would balk at the salary level if they did. It may be impossible to have good depth of experience in everything they list. You can work with lots of things for 5 years but can't be super knowledgeable all of them.

    Interviewing is a pain in the ass so if they've bothered to set one up they consider you to meet the minimum requirements. So yeah being willing to learn is probably good enough. Even better is showing you have some sort of plan to learn already.

    Interview is mainly to try to attempt to get a sense of how far you stretched or outright lied in your resume, gauge right fit personality wise and compare you to a few other candidates.

    Be prepared for salary discussions but other then potentially mentioning a range they won't usually try to hammer out a number. That's usually more of a discussion for when you get an offer. Until you sign an offer, compensation and benefits are gernally negotiable. If you need more money try to get more and if they balk you can talk about the total compensation package being different then you expected (coverage, vacation days, pension, sick days, etc).

    Newblar on
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  • ArcanisTheImpotentArcanisTheImpotent Registered User regular
    i can't speak for the pay portion as i worked my way into my role through grinding at the helpdesk so my pay is on the company's promotional track, not a fresh hire, but i can definitely tell you for the interview, if the company/hiring manager is worth a darn they will be looking for a fit personality-wise. they've seen your resume and based on what you put there they feel your skill set merits an interview. speaking from my own experience, that's exactly how I landed where I am now; good leadership teams want people who are motivated and play well with others. hard skills can be learned with time, but soft skills are worth a hell of a lot more ESPECIALLY in IT

    if they ask about an area you feel you're weak in, try to formulate your answer in such a way that demonstrates your capacity to learn quickly (preferably with an example)

    good luck!

  • AstaerethAstaereth In the belly of the beastRegistered User regular
    If you really are a quick study, tell them you don't need to learn anything. Then go learn it.

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  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    If you are weak in Linux and lose the job because of that, take it as a wake-up call to get into Linux at home. A good IT guy doesn't use the excuse "they don't let me do it at work" because that makes you look like you are not a self-starter.

    If you get the job anyway, rest assured you will pick it up fast enough. At the interview just tell them what you told us about being a "quick study" and you will be fine unless there is another candidate who ticks all the boxes.

  • ReznikReznik Registered User regular
    Thanks for the advice everyone. As far as linux goes, I do tinker with it at home using a raspberry pi and some VMs on my laptop (Kali and centOS mostly), I just don't have any enterprise level administration experience like I do with Windows.

    I've been reviewing some college material in any case, but I'm hoping the interview isn't too technical.

    Do... Re.... Mi... Ti... La...
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    Forget it...
  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    Sounds like you have as good a chance as anyone! Good luck!

    Accidentally lowballing yourself in salary might not be too bad a thing if you do lack a couple of points of experience that they want. You can get a couple of years experience in this decent job and use it as a stepping stone to another.

  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    Also enterprise Linux will vary significantly unless they're full boat red hat or something.

    zepherinArcanisTheImpotent
  • ReznikReznik Registered User regular
    Update: the interview went pretty well. I probably don't have enough experience for what they're looking for (the posting made it sound way less involved) but I didn't embarrass myself so that's something.

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  • ReznikReznik Registered User regular
    Update 2:

    Holy shit they're calling me in a half hour with a job offer.

    I'm furiously reading salary negotiation tips. I've never been in a spot to really negotiate pay before. But also they have benefits. I don't really know bow to weigh that stuff.

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  • mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    they probably have an idea of what salary they are offering

    just make sure its what you might see for someone in your field in your area

    ask about promotions, vacation sick time and other benefits since that stuff is usually negotiable too.

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  • ReznikReznik Registered User regular
    They told me about vacation time in the initial interview which I am more than happy with, and they do rrsp matching. I'll definitely ask about the other stuff.

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    Forget it...
  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    Know what you are worth. It is the best negotiating tip.

    Better than waiting for them, or going first. Knowing your value, and your worth on the market place.

    If you know your worth you can confidently go first to set the tone of the negotiation because you won't low ball yourself. Because they'll ask what do you think you'd like to make in this position?

  • SatanIsMyMotorSatanIsMyMotor Registered User regular
    Remember that this is your first professional job and people don't tend to start out making $70-100k. The fact that they do RRSP matching is HUGE and you should max that out right away. That is literally free money. Congrats!

    CelestialBadger
  • ReznikReznik Registered User regular
    Thanks for the advice everyone. I'm going to end up with about 10k more per year than I'm getting now, plus a boatload of benefits that make the hour commute more than worth it.

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    Forget it...
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  • lunchbox12682lunchbox12682 MinnesotaRegistered User regular
    Reznik wrote: »
    Update 2:

    Holy shit they're calling me in a half hour with a job offer.

    I'm furiously reading salary negotiation tips. I've never been in a spot to really negotiate pay before. But also they have benefits. I don't really know bow to weigh that stuff.

    LOL. I've had interviews like that before. Congrats and good luck.
    Dont' be afraid to come back here in a couple weeks if you need advice on all of the other first professional job details, like the previously mentioned matching.

    Pacificstar
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