Career Advice Tuesday – “Should I Audition?”

November 29, 2011

Dear Infosecleaders:

I am a talented penetration tester and have been perfecting my craft for over a decade in both corporate and consulting work environments.  I have spoken at some of the major InfoSec conferences, have authored chapters of books, and have spent a good deal of time and energy in the development of my personal brand. 

Based on my industry reputation, I have been solicited directly by an internal recruiter of a technology firm that has a well-documented information security issues.  They would like for me to interview to lead their internal penetration testing initiative. 

 After the initial interview with the hiring manager, they have asked me to come in and perform a practical application assessment, prior to learning more about the position and the company.  Generally speaking, I have some issue with this – as they sought me out for the role, based n my credentials.

I guess what I am asking is if I should be putt off by being asked to “audition” for the role.  I kind of feel that I am at a point in my career where I should not need to “audition”, and I find this to be quite insulting. 

Do you think that I am over reacting?  Would it be appropriate to tell the employer that I am not willing to be a part of their practical “experiment”? 

Any help would be appreciated.

“Brad Pitt”


Dear Mr. Pitt:

The best thing that I can tell you is not to let your ego get in the way of a good career opportunity.

One of the primary knocks against information security professionals – especially penetration testers – that their egos get in the way of their ability to conform to corporate cultures – this may be your opportunity to dispel this perception.

I would tell you that your willingness to conform to the company’s interview process and “audition” for the role, should be based on your level of interest in the opportunity and the knowledge of “what you are playing for”.    If you are genuinely interested in the company, the position represents a good career move, and the compensation is attractive to you – then I believe you should go through with the “audition”.

But before you do, I would tell you that you should adjust your attitude prior to participating in the exercise.  Instead of looking at the “audition” as a test of your talents, I would look at it as a puzzle or as a challenge like a miniature “capture the flag”.   What I would do is to use this scenario as a way to showcase not only your skills but also your thought process and problem solving abilities.  You should demonstrate your creativity in finding ways to discover vulnerabilities and maybe even point out solutions.

By raising the bar, you may create a greater desire to hire you for the role and this could even lead to some additional leverage in your compensation negotiations.

In closing, get over yourself, have fun with it, and understand that even the most proven talents have to audition – as the producers always have the final say!

Good luck,

Lee and Mike

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


3 Responses to “Career Advice Tuesday – “Should I Audition?””

  1. Angelina on November 30th, 2011 10:10 am

    It’s possible that the hiring organization is interested less in the candidate’s technical abilities and more interested in how well they work with others and would “fit” into their organization. Again with the “ego” issue…

  2. Lee Kushner on December 1st, 2011 4:09 pm

    Interesting point Ang. In my expereince there are other “tests” or types of interviews to test if they “Play Well With Others”. Generally practical techical “scenarios” are created to test tactical skill – and sometimes judgment or thought process.

  3. svchost.exe on December 22nd, 2011 5:23 am

    cool story bro