By Liam McKevitt and Nick Schwieso
With a shortage of security jobs, competition remains fierce for security professionals. Making the most of every job interview is critical. You need to make a great first impression and give the prospective employer every reason to hire you. How can you outshine your competition and increase your chances of landing your next security job? Read our 5 tips which cover everything you need to know for a successful security job interview.
Before the Interview:
Research the Company Ahead of Time
Research the company before your interview. There are several sources you can tap into to find out as much as possible about the company before the actual interview. Visit the company website. Google the company and check out Google News for the most recent articles. Next, check out the company LinkedIn company profile. You will able to see your connections at the company, new hires, as well as company statistics. Take a look at your interviewer’s profile to gain insight on their experience as well. Also visit the company’s social media pages to tap into their company culture. Finally, check out Glassdoor’s Questions and Reviews section to read comments from actual former employees. Sometimes, you can even find out what questions were asked for the positions you are interviewing for by the prospective employers.
During the Interview:
Be prepared to answer the tough questions and give real world examples of how you handled these situations in the past.
First impressions are everything, so be prepared before you interview. Although it’s difficult to know ahead of time what questions will be thrown at you, be ready to answer the challenging ones. For example, the job interviewer often asks the dreaded question, “Why do you want to leave your current position” or “Why did you leave your last job.” Go the positive, professional route by answering, “I am looking for a better opportunity.” Never give the gritty details of why you really left your last job. Also, think of a few difficult situations you have encountered during your career, and how you dealt with the problem and what you learned from it. Also, be prepared to talk about yourself. There are inevitable questions in every interview that people dread and interviewers often ask such as, “What are your weaknesses?” Think about these questions ahead of time and either practice or write out your answers ahead of time.
Focus on your skills and training that directly correlate to the position.
Talking too much about the tactical side of your background may turn off potential employers. Chances are, you have acquired many skills from a military or law enforcement background; however, instead discuss your ability to take initiative and operate under stressful conditions, your attention to detail, and drive to succeed. Don’t forget to talk about your strong leadership skills. Give specific examples how you have led by example and demonstrated your ability to lead under stressful situations as these traits are highly desirable to any employer. Do not focus on your proficiency with the Browning M2 .50cal heavy machine gun or your ability to make breaching charges. This won’t matter to a HR manager. In fact, they probably won’t have a clue what you are talking about.
Show you understand security and the industry.
Make sure you know the duties and responsibilities of the position. Talk about how your experience closely aligns with their requirements. During the interview, you need to convince the interviewer that you will be worth the investment. Security provides a valuable service for companies, so being able to sell yourself and articulate why you are the best person for the job is very important. Know the company objectives and tailor your answers for each position. For example, a security manager will meet different challenges working for a pharmaceutical company verses a defense contractor.
After the interview:
Don’t forget to follow up
Do follow-up after the interview. Persistence and follow-up are key attributes of a successful candidate. Write a handwritten thank you note, although an e-mail can work if it is professionally written. Do not make a phone call to follow-up. Your personal note or email will not only allow you to thank the prospective employer for taking the time to interview you, but it will give you one final chance to demonstrate your professionalism and leave a lasting impression.
My partner, Nick Schwieso and I have 50 years of combined experience in the security industry. We recently launched, Sec2Sec (www.sec-2-sec.com), a comprehensive employee resource for security professionals. Our goal in this business venture is to provide the best employment resource for both security professionals and employers in the industry.