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.

10 Comments

  • margaret jiang

    Friday, March 22, 2019

    Very helpful tip!

  • Martin

    Friday, March 22, 2019

    Hello, I am currently studying for my A+ certification. Could you please advise some measures that can be taken to ensure my dream comes to realization? What books, jornal, practice questions etc that can assist me? Thanks, Martin

  • Umair Ali

    Friday, March 22, 2019

    Thanks for sharing your experience Jordan. Being in the IT field is really challenging and the way you used your strategies will help others aswell. Well done and wish you success.

  • Adelegan

    Saturday, March 23, 2019

    That's great and very helpful. Thanks, Jordan.

  • John

    Saturday, March 23, 2019

    Interview. All good answer all question perfectly. I'm well qualified. References from formular One IT managers. 5 Year plan. Rertirement. Offered to train, up and coming stars. No further interest. What are they thinking!!!! Dumb. DOH!!!!

  • Anyigulile Kilindu

    Saturday, March 23, 2019

    I need to start learning soo as possible

  • Denver

    Sunday, March 24, 2019

    Hi I'm really happy to see that you've found a successful way to get past your anxiety and managed to get a decent job. The problem I am having is that I can't seem to get an interview because I don't have experience although having the CompTIA A+ and CompTIA N+ certifications. I would really like to know what I need to do just to get me into the door for an interview.

  • Billy Ferguson

    Monday, March 25, 2019

    As an IT Supervisor, I have recent experience on both sides of the interview table, I think everything Jordan stated is 100% accurate. Too bad CompTIA doesn't have an IT Interview+ certificate!

  • Monday, March 25, 2019

    Hi, Martin! Thanks for your question. If you haven't already, check out the CompTIA CertMaster line of products to prepare for your A+ exam. CompTIA CertMaster Learn, Labs and Practice are all available for the Core Series (220-1001 and 220-1002) and take you through eLearning, hands-on practice and exam prep. Learn more here, and good luck! https://certification.comptia.org/training/certmaster

  • Muritala Gaffar

    Tuesday, March 26, 2019

    Hi, Jordan, thanks for sharing your experience, its highly facilitating. i got my A+ plus 2017 and working toward my N+. but the comptia certmaster and lab training are very expensive and not all can afford that. is their any other way out?

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