Interviewing Tips for Security Professionals

Here is a quick summary everyone should review thoroughly before going into an interview:

  1. Relax – Think of the interview as a social setting.  If offered coffee or water – take them up on it.  Making them feel more comfortable will also make you feel more comfortable.
  2. People hire who they like.  Managers want a good relationship with both employees and consultants therefore, they hire those they can relate to.  Communication is primary.  Technical skills many times are secondary.
  3. Don’t Ramble / Ask questions.  The #1 reason interviews fail is because candidates try to sell too hard and ramble through questions not allowing interviewer to ask additional question and don’t engage the interviewer with questions.  If any answer is longer than 3 minutes – STOP!  Engage the interviewer so the conversation is balanced closer to 50%/50%.
  4. Think & talk positive.  Always talk positive about yourself, your previous work places, managers, and projects.
  5. Be aware of non-verbal communication.  Remember your confidence will show more in how you appear than what you say.  Your posture, good eye contact, open arms, uncrossed legs will show that you are confident in your abilities which is very important in almost any significant role.
  6. List your accomplishments.  Prepare a list of 3 or 4 significant accomplishments you can refer to when asked “Tell me about yourself” or “What projects are you working on”.  Work these in as conversation items during the interview.
  7. Listen.  Many times the company will give you clues to what challenges they face.  Probe those challenges then relate your accomplishments back to those challenges to prove to them you could help with the solution.
  8. Research the client.  Make sure you have detailed information about the company and position.  Go to their website and Google their name to learn about their current activities, people and news.
  9. Be prepared for the interview.  Spend a few minutes the night before preparing answers to common questions you might be asked and the questions you want to ask.  Make sure you have detailed directions to the company’s site, the interviewer’s name and a phone number in case you get lost.  Always plan to arrive 10-15 minutes early.
  10. Take Notes.  Bring your questions into the interview and ask them.  Take notes of the interviewer’s answers and other significant items.  This will show them you have a high level of interest and that you are organized.
  11. Attitude is everything.  The company will only be interviewing qualified people for the position.  The person that interviews the best usually gets the position.  Companies look for people who will match their personalities and be able to communicate that they can make an immediate positive impact to their team.
  12. Compensation.  Before going into the interview, you should have qualified the role based on a general level of compensation.  Therefore, your first interview should be focused on what you can do for the company, not what the company can do for you (i.e. salary, benefits, etc.).  You object should be to get to the second interview.  At that time, it may be more appropriate to begin compensation discussions.
  13. Ask for the position.  Make sure you have addressed all of the interviewer’s questions or concerns.  If you feel the interview went well, then ask the them if they think you would be a good match for the position.  Then ask them when they will get back to you.
  14. Send a Thank You note after the interview.  It is becoming increasingly rare that people send a thank you note.  Make yourself stand out of the crowd.

Invest in your career by being prepared for the interview.  Practice your responses to common interview questions. Good Luck!

Author:

Tim Howard is the founder of Fortify Experts (top ranked Cybersecurity Search firm by Cybersecurity Ventures) which helps companies find exceptional cybersecurity talent through executive search, permanent placement and project consultants.  Howard has been leading technology staffing teams for over 15 years and is the founder of three other technology and staffing firms.  He has degrees from Texas A&M University in Industrial Distribution and Marketing.  

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