Interview DOS and Don’ts from a Cybersecurity CEO

Interview DOS and Don’ts from a Cybersecurity CEO

By Craig Hinkley, CEO, WhiteHat Security

A job interview is your chance to show a potential employer how you can succeed in the role and at the company. A preliminary interview is essentially an audition for the job, and it also doubles as a glimpse into your work and who you are. If the interview is well-received, you will often make it to the next step to meet with the higher-ups who will decide if you’re the ideal fit for the role.

A positive interview doesn’t just happen by accident. To be successful, candidates are required to carefully research, plan and prepare diligently. There are proactive steps that they can take at every step of the process to increase their chances of success: from pre-interview research and perfecting their first impressions to learning how to expertly navigate challenging questions and knowing how to conduct post-interview follow-up.

Candidate Skills to Look For

Self-awareness is easily one of the most important traits I look for in prospective employees. By the time I meet candidates, they’ve gone through the screening process and validated their technical and functional capabilities in relation to the job on offer. So by that point, I’m looking at their fit within the company culture, their attitude and their behavioral patterns. Can they demonstrate, for example, that they can make a decision that will benefit the business, even if it goes against their own self-interest? Can they make a sacrifice for the greater good?

Closely behind self-awareness is the important trait of adaptability. Candidates need to show me that they can evolve and that they have the ability to be receptive to growth and change. If they show signs that they will shy away from it, I take that as a red flag.

If we stop evolving as people, we start to become somewhat irrelevant. If my company stopped moving forward, then we might as well give up. Because if we’re not continuously evolving, then we’re not moving with the industry.

Candidate Don’ts – Red Flags and Mistakes

There are many interview pitfalls that candidates can succumb to as well. Too many job candidates focus on the past, describing every detail of everything they ever did. I have interviewed countless people in my role as CEO, and I can tell you that your next boss is most interested in your contribution to the journey ahead, then the accomplishments you’ve provided.

Candidates with characteristics that are the opposite of self-awareness and adaptability – people with too much ego – immediately give me pause about their ability to succeed in the role they are interviewing for. These types of candidates are ones that, when you say you’ve done something, they feel that they have always done it better. This isn’t an attribute that companies need. Instead of having a large ego, candidates need to check their egos at the door completely and instead demonstrate quiet confidence. Being able to do so is not boastful but still shows that you’ll be an asset to the team. It’s overall much more positive and much more powerful, for any organization.

Another common mistake is the candidates’ tendency to brag or give off the impression they are interviewing for the wrong reasons. Bragging gives the wrong impression, like you are out for yourself only rather than the best interest of the company, especially when your accomplishments should speak for themselves. Others give off poor first impressions by indicating that they’re only interested in the job because of the salary, benefits, or geographic location. When interviewing, it’s important to avoid giving off the indication that you intend the job to be a “stepping stone” to something else.

Candidate Do’s – Know the Company and the Position

It is vitally important for candidates to show that they researched the company thoroughly. Coming into the interview with good questions is imperative, as doing so shows that the candidate is engaged and truly interested in the opportunity.

Personally, my favorite question to ask a candidate is what they know about our company and the position that they’re seeking. Many people can’t give a straight answer to this one, and it helps set apart the quality candidates from the mediocre ones.

Candidates need to prepare as much as possible ahead of their interviews, and a failure to do so is immediately evident. To help prepare, read the company’s website, press announcements, leadership team biographies, thought leadership articles, and analyst reports on the industry and the company.

The interview is not only for the Candidate but also an interview of the company by the candidate. For the candidate, it is important to know if you can see yourself working for this company, for the leader, and with the team. You are empowered to ask the interviewers what makes the company a great place to work; what are the cultural and leadership strengths the company has and is looking for in new leaders. What is the vision and strategy of the company? If the leaders of the company can’t answer those questions or you get widely ranging answers, this might send up red flags for you.

Always research the LinkedIn profile of the person you’re meeting as well. By doing so, you might find something you have in common, e.g. having mutual connections, sharing the same alma mater, etc.

Overall, a good interview should be an intelligent conversation, with everyone trying to find out if they can work together and help the company evolve. Following these tips will increase your chances of a positive outcome. Best of luck!

About the Author

Interview DOS and Don’ts from a Cybersecurity CEOCraig Hinkley joined WhiteHat Security as CEO in early 2015, bringing more than 20 years of executive leadership in the technology sector to this role. Craig is driving a customer-centric focus throughout the company and has broadened WhiteHat’s global brand and visibility beyond the application security space and security buyer, to the world of the development organization and a DevSecOps approach to application development.

Prior to joining WhiteHat Security, Craig served as vice president and general manager of the LogLogic business unit for TIBCO Software. In that role, he was responsible for global field sales and operations, client technical services, engineering, research and development, product design, and product management. Before TIBCO, he served as the general manager at Hewlett-Packard for the HP Networking Business in the Americas. Earlier in his career, Craig held positions at Cisco Systems Inc. and Bank of America. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology from the Swinburne University of Technology in Australia.

Craig can be reached online at our company website

July 8, 2019

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