Explaining Complex Projects to Job Interviewers

shutterstock_289649159 (1)

As a tech pro, you work on a lot of very complex projects. That’s wonderful, but it also presents some potential difficulties when interviewing for a new job. How can you effectively explain what you do to a recruiter or HR staffer who might not understand the intricacies of building a cloud platform or launching a mobile app?

Rehearsing a response is key, as is preparation. Before a job interview, sit down with a piece of paper (or in front of your PC) and diagram out, in simplest terms, your most successful projects. That diagram should include:

  • Project goals
  • Project resources
  • Timeline
  • Collaborators (not only your team, but other company stakeholders)

That top-level view will help frame your thinking for the next part: boiling down your project’s technology into a pithy, jargon-free summary. As anyone who’s ever put together a presentation about a complex effort can attest, that’s much easier said than done.

First, reduce the project into the simplest terms possible. Eliminate unnecessary details; when dealing with job interviewers, a focus on the broadest picture is best—at least for the initial round of talks. Make sure your summary ends with a sentence or two describing the impact of the project(s) on your organization; how did your work change things for the better?

Pithiness is also important. Rehearse your summary aloud, and work on reducing it to under a minute. If the interviewer wants to ask additional questions regarding a particular aspect, you can always elaborate; but aspire to keep everything quick and simple at the initial stages.