Ace your next GIS interview

4 tips to help you ace your GIS interview

Congratulations! The GIS company you recently applied to was pleased with your resume and decided to extend their hand for a GIS interview. With over 250 years of collective GIS industry experience, we at Bootcamp GIS would like to offer 4 insider tips on how to ace the interview.

Know the company like the back of your hand

GIS is a diverse field employed by a wide variety of companies. Each company has its own niche and specialties which make them unique. As an applicant, it is important to be able to answer company-specific questions to stand out above the rest. Being able to pinpoint details about a company’s role in the GIS industry will give the impression that you have genuine interest in working with the company. Here is one of our first GIS interview questions: ‘What do we do?’ If you don’t have an informed answer, it’s a sign you’ve shot-gunned your resume to every GIS job listing. Do your homework so you can mention specific projects you would like to work on and how your skill set would be helpful for the company.

Describe your previous experience in detail

During a GIS interview, you can expect to be prompted for an elaboration of an item listed on your resume. Whether it is an independent project or previous work, the interviewer is looking for a description of your role and how that translates into a skillset. Be prepared to describe team aspects, software used, skills applied, and ultimate outcome of your work. For example, your future employer will ask about your project experience. Be sure to give accurate, direct responses to in-depth questions such as ‘What was the team dynamic?, ‘Which programming languages did you apply to your last mapping project?’, or ‘What versions of ArcGIS and extensions have you used?’ If you lack details, then it appears that your experience is distant or weak. If this is indeed the case, then brush up on a couple online GIS courses or even get a new GIS certificate.

Express the ability to problem solve

No employer expects you to know everything. A pivotal trait is the ability to identify problems and explore their solutions. By demonstrating this skill, you are showing willingness to adapt and overcome the challenges that come with the job. To show your resourcefulness, be able to cite an incident where you overcame an obstacle. As one of the most common interview questions, exhibiting the ability to deal with difficult situations and solve problems is a highly sought after trait. Be able to show your thought process, illustrating how you learn. Show that you are responsive and willing to ask for help if needed by walking the line between confidence and humility. 

Are you a cultural fit?

Just like studying for anticipated questions on a test, you should study for anticipated questions for a GIS interview and know your answers. GIS applicants should prepare for personal, technical, company, and industry questions. To address personal questions, an applicant would ideally touch on their general knowledge, personality, and work style within a professional environment. Such questions may inquire about career goals, ideal work environment, and team preferences. HR Managers know that a good hire is not solely based on technical acumen.  Equally important is the cultural fit to their company and knowing ‘how’ you work.  

After some introspection on these questions, you’ll likely identify gaps. Reach out and talk to people that work at a target company. Or start to take a class in a technical area not on your resume yet. Even if you haven’t finished the class, it shows initiative that you want to learn.  Here are some really good examples of applied GIS courses that you can add to your portfolio right away. You might also want to look at tips to reformat your GIS resume so it doesn’t look like it was done on a typewriter. You will have brief moments of making an impression so do these things to make the most out of them.

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