3 C's for Nailing Your First IT Interview: Be Curious, Show You Care and Coach Yourself

by Michelle Lange | Mar 11, 2019

Jordan Grening
Jordan first posted about his interview on Reddit. We loved his story so much, we had to share it! We spoke with Jordan to learn more about how he uses CompTIA certs in his job interview strategy.

Jordan Grening was always anxious before job interviews — “I notoriously short circuit” is how he put it — so he started experimenting with his interview techniques to gain power in the game.

“I wanted to get to the point where I don’t feel anxiety in an interview setting anymore,” he said. “That’s really where the strategy has come from, having failures and learning from those failures and wanting to succeed.”

As he practiced for interviews and developed his skills, Grening earned his CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA Security+ certifications. Recently, he nailed a job interview for an IT support job with a local government agency and its connected sites. He hopes that sharing what he learned about job interviews will help others who feel anxiety or are stepping into IT for the first time.

“I’ve had a lot of failed interviews, and that’s where I started developing my strategy,” he said. “I started wearing better clothes and asking questions right out of the gate, changing my strategy. In IT job interviews you have to be formal, but it doesn’t have to be traditional.”

1. Be Curious

In Grening’s new job he keeps up the rugged laptops that ride along with police cruisers and law enforcement boats and the external modems that connect everything back to the agency. When Grening first applied for the job, he noticed the job description included experience in two software programs that were way past their expiration dates.

“I thought, ‘They’ve been end-of-life for a while and there’s very little chance those would even be running in an enterprise environment,’” he said. The description also included Windows 7, which Grening knew was on its way out.

“I asked if they had plans to migrate their system and if they needed someone to help with that,” he said. Now part of his role involves migrating images to the new system.

“I think they liked to see that I was already thinking about the projects they were going to be working on.” Be curious about the job you’re interviewing for and bring those questions to the table.

“I think one of the mistakes people make is that they don’t show enough interest in the position and they don’t have questions to ask,” he said.

2. Show You Care

Another way to be your best in an interview is to show your interest and experience in this field.

“Try to answer the interview questions with a relevant story, even if it’s from an enthusiast hobby or your certification training,” Grening said.

Grening made note of the remote sites mentioned in the job posting and used Google Earth to see if he could spot them. He brought a printout of his findings to the interview and asked if these would be the buildings he’d likely be supporting.

“Turned out there were a couple more,” he said, laughing. “I was just using publicly available information to my advantage, but you want to show initiative. Show them you’re not just somebody blowing in for an interview.”

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3. Coach Yourself

Grening had the benefit of having his CompTIA A+ material fresh in his mind when he sat for the job interview’s technical assessment, a standard part of an entry-level job interview.

“A lot of people are using them to screen their employees, so if you want to get past the technical assessment, make sure you’re competent in your knowledge,” he said. 

When it came to that technical assessment, almost all the material covered was also found on the CompTIA A+ exam.

“I studied hard for those certification exams, so I knew almost all of the answers,” Grening said. “For people going into an interview, if you’re working the CompTIA certifications, even if you passed them the first time, go over the material so it’s fresh in your mind. You really want to prove you know your stuff.”

Download the exam objectives to brush up on your own CompTIA certifications today.

Michelle Lange is a writer and designer living in Chicago.


  • margaret jiang

    Friday, March 22, 2019

    Very helpful tip!

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