Career Advice Tuesday – “Eight Is Enough”

September 13, 2011

Dear Infosecleaders:

I am writing to ask you a question about my current interview process and I hope that you can help.   To provide some context, I am interviewing for a senior information security management role, and the compensation package is targeted around 200K.

The crux of my issue is that my interview process has been going on for an extended and I am losing my patience.   Over the past two months I have utilized four vacation days, missed parts of five days off of work,  gone on a total of eight interviews (in person and via phone), met with over 15 people (from infosec engineers to executive management), and have subjected myself to a half day of psychological testing, and I still do not know where I stand.

It has been a week since my last meeting and I have not received any communication from my potential “future” employer.   It has really left me confused and frustrated, which leads to my questions:

First, how can I get an answer from the company?  Next, if they offer me the position, do I really want it?  How should I interpret this behavior?  Should I doubt their confidence in my ability to do perform in the role?

Any help I can get would be appreciated.


Dick Van Patten


Dear Dick:

The first thing I would tell you is that a lengthy interview process for a CISO or an Information Security leadership position is commonplace.  It is often difficult to coordinate schedules for the necessary decision makers, especially during the summer time months when many are on vacation.

All this being said, eight separate interviews is excessive.  I think that it is important for all “candidates” to make themselves available for interviews, but to communicate to the hiring party, that it is their expectation that their time be maximized when scheduling.

I will also say this, that when a senior candidate is “too accommodating” and always adjusts their calendars to accommodate the interviewers, it is sometimes interpreted as a sign of weakness senior level decision makers.

As far as interpreting this behavior, I think that you were fine, until the last delay in your process. When you are receiving “dead air” from the hiring party after 8 interviews and a week since your last conversation, you are most likely either going to be rejected, or they are stalling you, waiting for a decision from another candidate, whom they like better.    It is the lack of information that should be very concerning, and should serve as an indication that they are not sure that you are the correct fit, or they believe that there are better options.   In the end, if they do hire you, and your do not live up to expectations or if there is a security issue, they are going to second guess themselves, and more than likely “reevaluate” your hiring.

As far as forcing a decision, I think it becomes a question of how assertive you would like to be, and if you would like to regain control over the interview process – independent of the outcome.  At this point, I do not believe you have anything to lose.

If you really want to know how they feel about you, call the internal HR person until you speak with them, and let them know that you need to have an answer, based on a new development in your current position.  Tell them that you will need to have an answer on their direction “by the end of the week”, or you will have to remove yourself from consideration.

I do believe that by doing this, you are going to receive closure, and they will either reveal the truth (that you are a second choice), or that they do not believe that you are the right person for their role.

Again, without knowing all the details or the hiring party, I cannot be 100% accurate, but based on my experience this is the best guidance that I am able to provide.

Good luck in your continued pursuits.   Let us know the outcome.

Lee and Mike

Posted by lee | Filed Under Advice, Career Advice Tuesday, Interviewing, Position Selection, Recruiting, Uncategorized 


One Response to “Career Advice Tuesday – “Eight Is Enough””

  1. Phillip Greene on September 14th, 2011 7:57 am

    Lee, this is really solid advice for the original poster. Great to see you making your experience available in this format. It offers a tremendous amount of value and insight for people wrestling with difficult or ambigous situations.