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How NOT to pass a job interview

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WCNA

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Post Sat Sep 08, 2012 9:48 am

How NOT to pass a job interview

I work for a company that provides wireless security software. We have been looking for a qualified candidate for about 8 months now and we finally got a candidate. Sadly, I don't think he's going to make it to the next step.

Here's  a list of things why candidates have failed:

Do you know what we do?

Did the candidate google us and find out what we do? If he/she has, that shows that the person has taken the time to try and see if he would fit into what the company does.

If the job requirements say a CWNA is the minimum cert, then yeah you need to have a recent cert or at least be able to answer simple, basic questions about 802.11. If you can't answer what the difference is between a bssid and an essid, then you shouldn't be applying for the job. What the ideal candidate would have done is read through his CWNA book to refresh his memory on some of the topics.

If the job requirements say you need linux experience with the command line and logs, then even if you don't have vast experience, you could always join a local or online linux user group, or use linux at home and be able to tell the interviewer more than "ls" when asked what commands you know. If the candidate had taken the time to spend 1 friggin hour with an online linux free command line tutorial, he would have been able to answer basic questions. The ideal candidate would have looked up "search linux logs" and known about grep, more, pipe and maybe even sed and awk. If you want the job then you have to realize that's what you're going to be doing most of the day and the ideal candidate would have known that if he researched what the job would likely entail and would have known at least one grep option.

If the job requirements say sql experience,
at least know something about it. Once again, one hour with a free online tutorial would have passed the interviewer's questions.

I guess what I'm saying is, if you want to pass an interview (even if you don't have a lot of experience) then at least come prepared. You prepared for all those certs you have, why not prep for an interview?

The company will list their job requirements and wish list in the job posting. Pay careful attention to this list. Google all the items. If you don't know a subject at all, then at least google it so you can say " I don't know anything about subjectXYZ except ....". Be honest. Tell them what you do know and what you don't know.

If you can ace some parts and know a little about the others on the wish list, you stand a good chance of getting the job. Spend an hour on each of the items in their wish list and not only will be smarter for it but likely have a better pay check.
Last edited by WCNA on Sat Sep 08, 2012 9:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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dynamik

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Post Sat Sep 08, 2012 10:48 am

Re: How NOT to pass a job interview

WCNA wrote: You prepared for all those certs you have, why not prep for an interview?


Unless the candidate just cheated his/her way through those as well...

Most of those tips show up on any search along the lines of "how to prepare for an interview." Complete lack of preparation across the board.
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unicityd

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Post Sat Sep 08, 2012 12:27 pm

Re: How NOT to pass a job interview

This is good advice.  I've interviewed people for tech and non-tech roles and this all applies.  If there is something in the requirements that you don't have, you should learn a little.  If there is something that you have/know but don't work with every day, you should brush up. 
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SephStorm

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Post Sun Sep 09, 2012 3:48 am

Re: How NOT to pass a job interview

I've actually started scouring job postings, and highlighting things that I need to gain experience with, before I am even ready to apply for jobs. If the job says you need experience with Juniper, and you are a CCIE w no other xp I still dont know if you'll be hired.
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Triban

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Post Sun Sep 09, 2012 6:17 am

Re: How NOT to pass a job interview

Great advice!  I wish I could say it is common sense but after hearing stories from my mom about people coming into interviews in jeans and t-shirts, I am not surprised any more.  Another funny thing I thought was when I re-working my resume to show a more mature and security sound profile, my recruiter reminded me to wear a suit.  I looked at him like he had 3 heads and wondering "Why wouldn't I wear one???"  But its like warning signs, they are there because people don't use common sense. 
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Jamie.R

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Post Sun Sep 09, 2012 6:54 am

Re: How NOT to pass a job interview

Some great advice I think applying for a job should be like if you doing a pen test.

Information Gather - What are they ? what do they do ? do you have anything in common with person interview you so on The better you do this the more chance you have.

I had interview once and I done my research and found out the person who was interviewing me went to my uni so we spend most time talking about the tutors than him asking me anything else.
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tturner

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Post Sun Sep 09, 2012 11:48 am

Re: How NOT to pass a job interview

3xban wrote:.. Another funny thing I thought was when I re-working my resume to show a more mature and security sound profile, my recruiter reminded me to wear a suit.  I looked at him like he had 3 heads and wondering "Why wouldn't I wear one???"  But its like warning signs, they are there because people don't use common sense. 


I've actually lost out on jobs with startups by overdressing for the interview. Don't just research what they do, try to learn about their culture through such sites as http://www.glassdoor.com/index.htm or Linkedin contacts that work there, friends, recruiter, etc. We pass over candidates all the time where I work that blow the technical questions out of the water because we don't think they will be a good fit for our culture. Wearing a suit to a jeans and t-shirt work environment interview may make you seem stuffy. The rest of this advice is very sound though.
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dynamik

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Post Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:24 pm

Re: How NOT to pass a job interview

tturner wrote:I've actually lost out on jobs with startups by overdressing for the interview. Don't just research what they do, try to learn about their culture through such sites as http://www.glassdoor.com/index.htm or Linkedin contacts that work there, friends, recruiter, etc. We pass over candidates all the time where I work that blow the technical questions out of the water because we don't think they will be a good fit for our culture. Wearing a suit to a jeans and t-shirt work environment interview may make you seem stuffy. The rest of this advice is very sound though.


I agree that you should research the corporate culture beforehand, and that finding an employee who will easily integrate into that culture is of paramount importance. However, it sounds like the people you spoke with suck at interviewing and couldn't do much beyond judge a book by it's cover. You're a cool dude (who has excellent taste in beer), and that should be obvious after brief discussion. To simply dismiss someone because they arrived over-prepared is asinine IMHO.

Granted, that doesn't make your point any less valid. I guess it comes down to whether you want to land a job at any costs, or if you want to end up in what you'd consider to be an ideal position. If a company is dismissing qualified candidates simply because they wore a suit, there's probably going to be other issues that become painfully apparent on day-one, and I'd more-than-likely want to avoid that place anyway. I'd personally rather error on the side of being over-dressed.

Off-topic, but take what you find on Glass Door with a grain of salt. They'll remove any remotely negative reviews upon the organization's request, and you may end up in a situation where you're unknowingly reading reviews that were written exclusively by management. I'm not going to name the organization, but the only reviews for it on there are far from accurate, with all the others being removed in a matter of days. I wouldn't treat it as anything more than another marketing outlet (which indeed may still be useful for the reason you brought it up); the information is just not nearly as transparent as they claim.
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Eleven

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Post Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:54 pm

Re: How NOT to pass a job interview

I can understand someone showing up for a job at Arby's in a suit losing points from an interviewer for being over dressed... However, showing up in a suit for an interview for a serious career that requires a lot of education seems standard practice to me.  So I don't think an interviewer could really come to any conclusions on whether someone is "stuffy" solely based on them wearing a suit to an interview, since 99% of interviewees would probably much rather dress casual, and only wear the suit because it's considered standard.
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tturner

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Post Sun Sep 09, 2012 1:08 pm

Re: How NOT to pass a job interview

I definitely agree about Glassdoor. I find it useful, but not as a sole source. For instance, I was considering a job change about a year ago with a large security company. I checked out the reviews on glassdoor and saw about 8 unique profiles, all sales people, complaining about how "fastpaced" the environment was. Several indicated they were expected to come in on Sunday to organize upcoming weeks sales objectives, and typically worked 60+ hours a week. If you didn't, you got let go. That was very informative to me, even though I'm not a sales guy it told me a lot about their culture and what they typically expect from employees. It also told me they didn't really care about their people very much. That's not a place I want to work.

It's just like any security finding. You can't prove that the absence of the finding (management deleted bad comments or application was implemented in nonstandard way you did not test for) means the vulnerability does not exist. But when you have confirmed findings, especially when you can correlate those with other external sources, those have value that provide actionable intelligence. I can do something with that. Glassdoor is no exception.

Something we don't talk about a lot is confidence levels. How confident are you in your finding? With a penetration test, what may be a low confidence level from an automated scanner becomes high confidence once you exploit the vulnerability and pilfer sensitive data. When researching a company as a prospective employer, you almost never get the chance to achieve that level of confidence.

As far as the startups I did not get hired at, they were a similar environment to the one I mentioned above. Some really neat perks like onsite barrista free for employees, free Friday lunch, MBP and iPhone for everyone, etc but the work output expected was insanity. I need time in my work week to do independent research, stay current on issues, etc. Maybe it's unfair to expect my employer bear the cost of that, but while I can find employers who will, that is where I will naturally gravitate. That has more value to me than an extra 5 or 10k salary each year.
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Triban

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Post Sun Sep 09, 2012 6:19 pm

Re: How NOT to pass a job interview

tturner wrote:I've actually lost out on jobs with startups by overdressing for the interview. Don't just research what they do, try to learn about their culture through such sites as http://www.glassdoor.com/index.htm or Linkedin contacts that work there, friends, recruiter, etc. We pass over candidates all the time where I work that blow the technical questions out of the water because we don't think they will be a good fit for our culture. Wearing a suit to a jeans and t-shirt work environment interview may make you seem stuffy. The rest of this advice is very sound though.


I miss working in a casual environment.  I am in big corp now and I feel dressed down when I am in khakis and a polo.  Then again everyone there is shooting for an exec level job and frankly I can care less about that right now.  I do appreciate the fact that they try to groom everyone into management but at the same time, they have too many of those already and not enough people who actually know how to do anything.  They leave that stuff for the contractors, which aren't always consultants.  At least I can work from home every so often, so I can toss on the shorts, flip flops and t-shirts then and play my music at a reasonable volume.  :D 

I did feel over dressed at my last job when I interviewed, mainly because the hiring manager was sporting jeans and polo, and the IT Director was in shorts and sneakers (summer casual).
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hayabusa

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Post Sun Sep 09, 2012 7:39 pm

Re: How NOT to pass a job interview

Late to this thread, but I'll reiterate the same thing I said on the old thread about interviews...  My biggest pet peeve, when interviewing someone, is when they more or less lie, or expect me to believe they understand something that they don't.

I'd much prefer they answer that they don't know, but understand who to ask, or how to find the answers they need.  I tend to ask VERY specific questions, that I certainly already have answers to, so I know when someone tries to BS.

Just make sure you're honest with those interviewing you, as well as with yourself, so you don't end up in a job you can't handle, or causing more harm than good, if you DO get hired.  Nothing looks worse, to future employers, than to see you harmed your previous company, or really cost them a lot of time and money, because you weren't really qualified.
Last edited by hayabusa on Sun Sep 09, 2012 7:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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sternone

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Post Sun Sep 09, 2012 9:09 pm

Re: How NOT to pass a job interview

hayabusa wrote:I'd much prefer they answer that they don't know, but understand who to ask, or how to find the answers they need.  


Well if they did the OSCP that wouldn't be a problem at all for them, would it ?
I hope you forgive me hayabusa for this remark but I really couldn't resist.  :D

You're absolutely right. While many people might think that they have to talk their way true it on every job interview question, in fact it's not. Most job interview questions aren't supposed to be answers all 100% correctly.

A great book for coders that could help them is :

http://www.amazon.com/Cracking-Coding-I ... er+c%2B%2B

I used that book myself to hire people.
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hayabusa

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Post Sun Sep 09, 2012 10:14 pm

Re: How NOT to pass a job interview

@sternone - as I see your humorous side coming out, I take no offense to that one.  No worries.  Again, good luck, and keep working on that lab.
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JTD121

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Post Mon Sep 10, 2012 8:55 am

Re: How NOT to pass a job interview

Unfortunately (or fortunately in a few rare cases) having general knowledge of concepts in say, SQL, or the searching through Linux logs, is not usually enough for interviews.

I've been to a number of them, through an IT contractor company, where the requirements they gave me didn't quite match up with what the interviewer actually expected.

I mean, Googling a company is fine and dandy, but sometimes they have several different businesses umbrella'd under their name, and so, you can prepare for their core business, but the part of it you might be working for? Totally different and unrelated. Especially (and I know this excuse is older than the dead horse) in this economy. Many businesses have been bought up and just rebranded, while they do their original thing. And sometimes they don't even do the same thing as the parent company, so you can research the entirely wrong business division, and come in cold to the interviewer.

I do agree preparing for an interview is a really great way to wow the interviewer(s), but sometimes I personally feel like not even bothering. There have been a number of times where I researched the company, read up on a couple of the things they said they needed, and then bullshitted my way through the interview because they wanted a completely different set of expertise.

Again, though, this is probably miscommunication between a middle manager at the company, and their contact at the contracting agency, then to me with their gobbled list of things.

Very few direct interviews have these problems, but that might just be from my perspective :)
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