Friday, December 13, 2013

Are You Prepared For Your Next Interview? Are You Sure?

Imagine this…your phone rings…it’s time for the phone interview a human resources representative scheduled for you with the Chief Information Security Officer.

You’re interviewing for a significant Director level role and the human resources representative set an expectation that the CISO would be calling you directly.  Somewhere along the line, the CISO decided that he was too busy to conduct an interview at the time of your scheduled call so he delegated to one of his current Directors.

Based on the expectation that your interview would be with the CISO, you’ve prepared.  Or at least you think you’ve prepared.  Your phone does ring at the agreed upon time but it isn't the CISO on the other end.  It is a Director who works for the CISO and you're caught off guard because you have no idea who this person is.  You studied the CISO's background and you were prepared to speak with him.

This director has been with the company for a long time.  She herself doesn't have personal experience interviewing in the past 20 years and nobody has ever taught this Director how to conduct an interview.  It was assumed that she'd figure it out or at least that's what the candidate told me he thought.

Instead of being asked about your skills, experience, strengths and weaknesses, all those topics you’ve prepared to talk about, you’re asked this question.

Tell me what you’d like to know about our company.

First, you’re feeling emotionally deflated because you were excited to put your best foot forward with the CISO, the person whom you believe will be your next boss.  Then, in an instant, your interview is turned upside down. You have a list of questions to ask but you've never been instructed to ask your questions at the outset of an interview.  Most of the time, putting your questions in line before the employer's questions will be grounds for a quick exit from your interview.

This question you’ve just been asked could be asked by a highly skilled interviewer who wants to throw you off track.  Instead, in this case, the person who is on the other end of your telephone doesn’t have the slightest idea how to conduct an interview.

Would you be prepared for this interview? 

One of my highly skilled clients specifically builds time into a telephone interview for the candidate to ask questions.  She tells me that most candidates show up inadequately prepared to ask questions.  They’ve put most of their preparation time into preparing to answer questions.  She is definitely measuring a candidate's analytical skills based on the quality of questions they bring to an interview.

Interviewing is an art more than a science 

You get one chance to make a first impression.  What kind of first impression are you making when your interviews start?

The example given in this real story is one of an interviewer not being the least bit prepared to conduct an interview.  As a job candidate, you don’t get to pick and choose who you’ll interview with.  Your job is to show up for an interview prepared for anything that might come up. 

The Candidate Walks Away

The candidate who was involved in this interview told me that this was the most bizarre interview he’d ever had in his entire 30 year career.  He handled the interview question well but he told me that he wasn't the least bit impressed with the Director who would be his peer if he were to join the company.  

This candidate was a top-shelf, “A” player in his own right.  He wants to be surrounded by other “A“ players.

The CISO in this case wasn't off the hook. The candidate for a Director job who would ultimately report to the CISO decided that if the CISO was too busy to speak with him, this was a bad sign.  He extrapolated further to determine that if the CISO wanted his Director direct report to conduct an interview but he didn't train his Director to conduct an interview properly, this reflected not only on the Director but also on the CISO.

“A” players have choices.  They want to work with and for other “A” players.

Are you sure you’re fully prepared for your next interview?'s Security Recruiter Blog