IT Industry overview


First the bad news

The IT industry in Australia has definitely been in a slump for the last couple of years as a result of the dotcom crash and the general downturn in the global economy.

US and European companies with operations here have been laying off large numbers of staff both in Australia and overseas.

The job market has become saturated due to Australian job cuts by US and European companies and also due to overseas job cuts that have forced many Australian IT workers to return home.

And now the good news?

The business press is starting to suggest that the IT sector is picking up. So why do they think the slump is coming to an end?

Many companies were badly burnt by the dotcom crash and slashed IT jobs as a result. However these companies are now realising that technology really has been transforming the marketplace, particularly in ebusiness.

Around the world ecommerce is "hotter than ever", at least according to a recent Business Week cover story pointing at a market beginning to boom. They note that "at eight years, the Web is the same age color TV was when it turned profitable in 1962".

Last but not least, here in Australia the overall economy is actually pretty healthy. So there are jobs to be found here - particularly in mainstream Australian-owned companies and government agencies.

How to perform well at Australian interviews


The four Ps


Do as much research as possible on the company and the position before you arrive. If the company has a web site read it thoroughly. You can also learn about the company’s products, services and growth from a variety of publications available in public libraries. Examples include The Business Who’s Who of Australia and Kompass Australia.


Be ready to talk about everything that you mentioned on your resume, and refresh your memory on the facts and figures of your last or present employer. Rehearse answers to common questions. Be aware of any weaknesses you have and be ready to counter them in the interview, ideally before being questioned about them by the interviewer.


Plan what you are going to wear, and make sure it is appropriate for position and the company. It’s better to be too smart than too casual. Know the exact time and place of the interview and aim to arrive 5-10 minutes early.


At the interview try to be at ease and friendly. Be confident but not arrogant when answering questions and look the interviewer in the eye. Be enthusiastic about the position but don’t talk too much. Relax, and smile!

Answers to common questions

Our quick "Four Ps" guide on the right of this page has all the interview basics you need. For answers to common questions see our selection below.

It’s very useful to rehearse how you are going to answer common questions. Even if these particular questions don’t come up, rehearsing will help you talk fluently about yourself and your achievements.

1. Tell me about yourself.

This question is often used to kick things off and let the interviewer hear you speak. Run though your employment history (or education if you are new to the job market) and finish up with what you’ve done most recently. You should show how your career has progressed. Make sure you focus on any experience relevant to the position you are applying for.

2. Why do you want to work for us?

The interviewer wants to know why you want to work for the company. Demonstrate that you have done plenty of research on the company, then mention particular characteristics and explain why they are important to you. Never say “I just need a job” or “I want more money”.

3. Why do you think you would be suited to this role?

This is a question about your experience, skills and personal qualities. Make sure the attributes you mention are relevant to the position, and don’t use vague statements about your personality - instead use facts to back up what you’re saying.

4. Are you happy with your career so far?

The interviewer wants to know if you are a positive person. Your answer must always be “yes”, but it doesn’t hurt to add that you are keen to take your career to the next level.

5. What do you think your greatest achievement has been?

The interviewer wants to know if you are an achiever. Pick an achievement that is work-related and relatively recent. An example would be: “I introduced a new manufacturing process ahead of schedule that saves the company $10,000 a month.”

6. Aren't you over-qualified for this position?

The interviewer is worried that you‘ll get bored or perhaps even try to take over. Say that you understand the interviewer’s concern but emphasise exactly what attracts you to the position and explain why you would be perfectly happy and motivated in that position. Don’t say that you need a rest and want to slow down.

Note that if you might be perceived as over-qualified you must address this issue at some point in the interview, even if this question is not asked.

7. What motivates you?

The interviewer wants to know how self-aware you are and whether you will fit into the organisation. Never say “money”, unless perhaps the position is a commission-based sales role. Try to think what gets you fired up as an employee. This might be praise, personal satisfaction, public recognition or the respect of your colleagues. If you know what style of management is used at the company adjust your answer accordingly.

8. What is the most difficult situation you have had to face and how did you tackle it?

The interviewer wants to know what you consider difficult. To answer this outline a truly difficult situation that wasn’t caused by you and explain how you successfully resolved it. Don’t be negative or use language like “nightmare” to describe the situation. Instead make it sound like a challenge that ended with you rising to the occasion.

9. Why did you leave (or are looking to leave) your last job?

The interviewer wants to understand your motives. It’s important to not be negative – don’t say that your current boss is an idiot. Good answers include changes within the industry or organisation caused by new technology or downsizing. Don’t mention money.

Be careful if you say that you are looking for a bigger challenge or more responsibility as the interviewer may worry that you get bored easily.

10. What do you dislike about your present (or last) job?

Again, don’t be too negative or draw attention to what might be perceived as personal weaknesses. For example, don’t say: “My boss is badly organised and this makes my job far too stressful.” Instead draw attention to a feature of the company – for example, that it is very large and bureaucratic. Don’t mention something that might be an issue at the company you are hoping to work for.

11. What is your greatest weakness?

This is another question about how self-aware you are. It’s important to rehearse the answer to this, but make sure you take a few seconds before answering the question to show that you are not too conscious of what your weaknesses are.

Don’t mention a flaw in your personality. Instead mention a gap in your knowledge or skills and then explain what you are doing to correct this. Pick an area that is not essential to the position you are applying for.

If you have an obvious weakness that the interviewer will be aware of, this is the perfect opportunity to counter the objection before it is raised.

12. What is the question you don't want me to ask?

Another nasty question. One solution is to mention a question that the interviewer has already asked you. Another solution is to answer with the classic “What is your greatest weakness?” question above – and of course have your answer ready.

13. Where do you see yourself in five years time?

The interviewer may be looking for one of two answers: either that you see yourself in a more senior position or that you see yourself in a similar role. You need to work out which is more applicable to the company’s culture.

14. What are your salary requirements?

Try to avoid talking about money until you are sure they want to hire you - that way you don’t sound excessively interested in money and you will be in a stronger negotiating position.

Don’t bring this subject up first. It is always better if the company mentions it first because they may name a much higher figure than you expect.

If you are asked it early on try saying that you haven’t thought about it too much and you’d prefer to discuss this a little further down the line. If you are forced to give an answer suggest a range that is acceptable within the particular industry – but try to make the range as broad as possible.

15. Do you have any questions?

This is a typical way to wrap up the interview. Ask a few carefully chosen questions that demonstrate that you done extensive research on the company. If you have already asked these questions earlier in the interview it is acceptable to say something along the lines of: “No thanks, I think this discussion has given me a pretty good feel for what this job is all about.”

If this question comes early in the interview ask questions that will help you provide perfect answers later on. Good examples include: “What is this company’s style of management?” and “What are the biggest challenges facing this company?”







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