Thanks to COVID-19 working from home has become the new norm, but what happens when you have an interview? This piece focuses on cyber security practitioners being interviewed and the content is primarily composed of questions I received in response to Part 1.

Please note, aspects of this advice can be also be applied to ALL professional interviews.

Let’s, look at ways to increase your chances of securing that role.

Some assumptions:

  • You are competing with more applicants than this time last year
  • The hiring manager is likely to be more selective as a result
  • Remote interviews are the commercial response to restricted movement, the interviewer would prefer to make a judgement call face-to face.

Selling YOU

In most cases when security runs smoothly, no major breaches, no fines; the good work you do can often be underappreciated.

Actually … breach or no breach… fine or no fine… your work can be underappreciated.  You need to sell YOU and the benefits you bring.  In a remote interview, it is more challenging to build rapport whilst we manoeuvre this relatively new selection process.

What is the most impactful way to get my message across?

Don’t just discuss what you have achieved, talk about how this has affected the business.

How has that IdAM migration contributed to business growth?  How did it affect the bottom line?

Demonstrate your worth and trace it back to revenue if possible, either profit making or cost-saving (commercially or regulatory).

This advice is universal regardless of how technical the position is.   Relating technical issues to a non-technical audience is a valued and some-what mandatory skill.  The importance of demonstrating this applies to face-to-face interviews but becomes even more so in video / remote interviews.

Being able to convey your commercial acumen by relating your contributions to the business is powerful.  Your level of comfort and sophistication in this will affect your move up the career ladder.  Do not underestimate this in the interview.

I have several slides and presentations; I can share at the click of a button – is this advisable?

Unless you have been specifically asked to give a presentation or display slides, I would steer clear of this.  They are interviewing you. Not your previous work.

It is all too easy for interviews to be hijacked by PowerPoint presentations, potentially creating a distracting and disjointed experience.  If it is distracting to the interviewer rest assured, he or she will not be confident in your ability to convey clear and concise information to relevant stakeholders.

Security is a function that relies heavily on clear communication and collaboration.  There is no room for distractions.

Disclaimer: if interviewing with Consultancies or MSP’s where part of your role is sales, it may work in small doses if prompted. Don’t overcook it.

Do remote interviews differ between permanent and contract positions? 

Yes, in both face-to-face and remote interviews, although I have always attested that contractors who interview like they are interviewing for a permanent position increase their chances of securing the role.  There is an assumption whether right or wrong that contractors are expected to hit the ground running.  But do not assume that the hiring manager is just interested in finding a hired gun.

One who takes a vested interest in the company and has insight into the relevant industry sector shows a level of professional maturity that can be utilised in other areas of the firm, making you more valuable and more likely for a contract extension.  (hopefully outside of IR35 – cough cough)

Does it make a difference if I am being interviewed by HR or line management?

Yes.  That is an article in itself – let me know if you want a piece on this.

I know the hiring manager is interviewing applicants back to back – any advice on how I can stand out and not just be a face on a screen?

Use your Van Helsing.

In part 1 I introduced the concept of a Van Helsing.

“In Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Van Helsing was the oracle who educated the reader and the characters on how Dracula came to be, the signs of his victims, and ultimately how to defeat him.”

{A Van Helsing can shed a unique light on the interviewer, the team, or the organisation…. something you are not going to find on their website.  Your Van Helsing may be an associate, a former colleague, or an educated recruiter.

He or she will be able to give insight into the challenges you are likely to face in the role, and perhaps provide input on off the grid projects.  This exclusive knowledge will demonstrate your investigative skills.}

Remote Interviews – How can I make an impact Part 1

Why is a Van Helsing more important in a remote interview than a face to face?

A Van Helsing is important in every interview scenario – but more so in these times.

The UK is expected to reach 10% unemployment this quarter.  Globally $3.44 trillion is expected to be wiped off the global workforce income in 2020 alone due to COVID 19 according to the International Labour Organisation. The global employment market has shrunk.

Now, overall, security practitioners find themselves in a better working situation than many other professionals, however, we are not immune. As a result – assume correctly that you are competing with more candidates and you must use every advantage at your disposal.  A Van Helsing will provide you with unique insight.

An important bi-product of utilising your Van Helsing is that the exclusive knowledge you bring to the interview will demonstrate your investigative skills. A trait that is necessary for any line of security work.

Secondly, it is easier to identify and address the challenges you will face in the role.

If there is one main trait that stands out from my years in the recruitment industry, it is the requirement for the candidate to successfully engage with stakeholders. Both in the business and IT on matters of security.  This is universally prevalent in mid to senior security and even some entry-level roles.

Other pointers

P.S. Make sure you are suitable dressed from head to toe – you never know when you will need to stand up.

As I side note, I have not focussed on set up, logistics and aesthetics, as some of this was addressed in part 1 and ample information is available online.

If you would like help preparing for an up and coming interview, please feel free to reach out.  Or have you experienced a remote interview recently? How did it go? On the flip side hiring managers, what extra criteria are you using when interviewing remotely?

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