How Do You Convey Professionalism?

Susan Hall
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10 Interview Questions Job Seekers Must Ask

The most important questions of an interview might be those that you, the applicant, ask.

We often write about IT pros, without even pausing on the "professional" part of that moniker. Obviously, you have to come off as professional to land a job as an IT pro. But what does that mean?


As this post on points out, being professional means more than wearing a fancy suit. Minnesota tech recruiter Harry Urschel offers these tips on how employers judge professionalism:


  • Attitude: He says it's not about being a Pollyanna, but being someone who finds solutions rather than being a naysayer. Urschel has a whole separate post on attitude. (Hint: Guard against even off-handed remarks that can be construed as negative.)
  • Competence: You not only have to know what you're talking about, you have to be able to convey that knowledge.
  • Communication skills: It's easy to stay in a technical frame of mind, even in non-technical interviewers, but that's a big pitfall. You need to not only use clear, simple language, but also illustrate that you can make complex topics understandable.
  • Appearance: This can be a minefield. Show up in an expensive tailored suit to be interviewed by folks in shorts and flip-flops? Yikes! It's imperative to thoroughly research the company culture to figure out the proper dress for an interview. Needless to say, that will never include clothes that are dirty, wrinkled, sloppy or torn.
  • Appropriateness: Another minefield that calls for more research on language (slang?), sensitive topics and possibly even inside jokes. He says bucking the system rarely works. (Of course, bucking the system can be part of the company culture, in which case, it's good to know that.)

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