Interviewing Advice

I hope everyone had a great and safe 4th of July holiday.  Our weather was wonderful here in central Florida and several friends joined my wife and me for a party around the pool followed by some great food off the new Weber grill. (It was great cooking over charcoal again after all the years of gas)

The Friday before the holiday, I had a candidate speak by phone with the CISO at a client of mine.  My client is a mid sized organization that realizes they are way behind in their Infrastructure Security and want to bring in a top talent to get them where they need to go.  They had already talked with two other candidates earlier in the week that I had presented and wanted to talk with the third and last person before heading out for the holiday.

 The Candidate Feedback

Friday afternoon, I got a call from my candidate telling me he thought the conversation had gone very well. He was able to answer many technical questions and provide ideas how they would handle the upgrade to new security and so forth. The client really liked his ideas and they seemed to hit it off very well. In fact, they even joked around a bit at the end of the conversation. He felt that my client would want to have him fly in for an interview.

 The Client Feedback

On Tuesday, when we all went back to work, the client called and said they would like to invite candidate #1 and #2 in for on site interviews.  This was great news and I then asked about candidate #3.  Would they also like to invite him in?

The short answer was not at this time.  The client said his skills and experience were great and were equal to the other candidates interviewed through me, but he had turned the client off at the end of their conversation.

Here’s What Happened

During the first 95% of the phone interview, he presented himself well in regards to his current and past duties. He was clear and detailed on the approach he would take to complete the task the position required. They were getting along very well, so well in fact that my candidate decided to share what he though were a couple of humorous anecdotes.

They were funny to the candidate, but the client was not as amused and felt the candidate’s professionalism left something to be desired.


When you are on a phone interview you are speaking with a hiring manager / authority.  They are not your friend or buddy today. They may become your boss soon and perhaps later a friend, but not today.  They are on the other end of the phone to learn about you, your experience and personality.

In this economy, most employers are going to phone interview multiple candidates to screen down to a couple to invite onsite for an interview.

Phone interviews need to be handled as professional as an on site interview since they are generally the first step in the process. To be eliminated from the interview process for telling what you think are humorous stories is purely a waste.

In coming days, I’ll right a posting about the no-no’s on interviews both phone and on site.

Contact Information on Your Resume

I love getting resumes from Security Professionals, but…

I am very fortunate in that my security search firm receives many resumes  every week that are unsolicited.  Unfortunately, I /we can’t call everyone that sends a resume. There simply is not enough time.

We do however save 95% of all resumes sent  because the first place I go when I have a new search is our company database. The software we use is great since all we have to do is

save the resume file and the resume is parsed into the database right from the email.  All the information such as contact, skills, employers, etc. is pulled and entered to certain fields which I can then search upon.

Here is minor problem that we encounter many times a month.

Many people send resumes with incomplete contact information. Here are basic examples from last week:

John J. Smith


John Smith


John Smith
Atlanta, GA

Why is full contact important? It goes to what I mentioned earlier. We can’t call everyone that sends a resume today, but that doesn’t mean we’ll not try contacting you in a week, month, or year from now regarding a new opportunity that comes across our desks.  Knowing this fact means your resume can’t be entered until all the correct  contact data has been included. A new position/ search may happen at any time and full contact allows us to search by variables, including location. Many clients only want local based candidates or candidates within a certain mileage of their location. The more contact we have the better chance we can reach you quickly or at all.

Also, another good tip for you is don’t use your current employers email (yes some people do) because when you leave that employer your email becomes invalid. Simply keep a Gmail or Yahoo type for use with your resume and career development. I call people every day from 3-4 year old resumes.

Don’t get me wrong. We love getting all the resumes that are sent to us, but please include all your contact information, not just for today but for years from now.

John Smith
1000 Main Street
Orlando, FL 32805

Not to worry, we will reach out to you and ask for full contact, but it’s much quicker if you  included full contact on your resume to begin with.

Keep those resumes coming, but preferably with full contact information included.

As usual, thanks for visiting my blog.


Wils Bell
President, Inc.
POB 620298 * Oviedo, FL 32762
Direct: 407-365-2404

Phone Interviews are “Very Important”

Phone Interview are a Key Part of the Interviewing Process

As you can imagine, I speak with many security candidates every day in the process of doing my job for client companies.  Over the years, these 1,000’s of phone interviews have allowed me to become somewhat of an authority on phone interviewing and I wanted to share  some tips, observations and stories that may help you during this aspect of the  interviewing  process. These tips are for both talking with a recruiter or an employer. Hope they help.

1) Keep your scheduled appointment or contact ASAP

Yes, I know that we are all really busy, but if we have a scheduled time to speak please try to keep it. Many times this is the first impression I have of you. I understand that your schedule can change at the last second due to problems at work, but please try reaching me thru email, text, or phone just to give me a heads up. We can reschedule,  just let me know. Also, there’s no worse feeling than having you scheduled to speak to a client of mine at say 1 pm and I see the client’s # come up my caller ID at 1:05 only to hear them say you were not at your phone when they called.

2) Cell phone charged, conference room available, Etc.

Yes this happens more times that I like to admit. I’ll be talking on a scheduled call and the candidate says that their cell is going dead. Ouch.  I also have people chased out of conferences rooms since they failed to check the availability. Also, when talking on a cell if you go outside the building, please be aware that many times traffic and / or wind noise can be a real issue to the person on  the other end. Try sitting in your car. That generally works well as long as you have a good signal.

3) Never ever eat while interviewing!

Yes this does happen. I’ll be interviewing a potential candidate and they are eating.  Not only does this sound bad on the phone, it really give a bad impression to me or an interviewer.

4) Give the interviewer your full attention.

Many times I speak to candidates while they are home or in the car driving.  I understand that you may need to ask me to hold on while attending to children or other issues, but doing it several times is not good.

5) Interrupting the interviewer is never good.

Let’s face it, we all interrupt each other from time to time. It must be human nature, but constantly interrupting an interviewer is one of the worst things you can do. It happens to me on many occasions. I can barely get a sentence out before someone starts talking again. They don’t listen to my entire question before trying to answer and many times I have to ask the question again. This is incredibly annoying.

As I stated above, I have done 1000’s of telephone interviews over my career. Probably over 25,000, so I can speak on the subject with authority.

Remember, there are several candidates to interview for an open position. Several are interviewed by phone to determine who will get a second interview and / or in house interview. When you look at it this way, it’s obvious to see that a phone interview by me or an employer is a method of eliminating candidates for a particular job. That’s why so much is based on the conversation.

Whether the call is for 15 minutes or a full blown hour or two call, I learn a great deal about you and how you conduct yourself, how you share your skills, and how you will represent yourself to a client of mine if I get you an interview.

Wils Bell
Information Security Recruiter, Inc.
POB 620298
Oviedo, FL 32762
Desk: 407-365-2404
LinkedIn Profile:
Twitter: security_REC

Why I Don’t Share Client Name

Why I Don’t Share the Name of Client on First Recruiting Call

When I am recruiting for an open Security Job that is not a retained search, I usually do not share the name of my client with a cold called candidate for several reason,  until we have talked in detail.

First, I interview many candidates daily, and unfortunately I must tell several that they are not a match for “this job”.  Perhaps future jobs, but not this one. It does not mean that are not a good security candidate, just not a good match for this job. Sometimes, they on the other hand, feel that they are a great fit and want to proceed with the interview process. When I explain that the client wants and expects me  to pre-screen heavily so as only to present dead on matches, they get upset.  I have had these people try to go directly to the client themselves or call other recruiters and ask them to present them. If the company name has not been discussed, it protects me.

Also, I have had some very good intentioned people that knew my client name simply mention  to a friend or co-worker that I called and discussed a great opportunity with them at XYZ company and the friend or co-worker simply goes directly to the company without thinking about me. They did not mean to cut me out, they just did not realize they should call me to present them. After all, I am dealing directly with the hiring authority and can make things happen.

Please be aware that I do share the client name as soon as we (you and I) determine that it is a good match and worth proceeding forward with the process.

Since this is how I earn a living for me and my family please don’t be insulted by the process and my guarding my client name until we agree it’s a match.


Happy Holidays,


Wils Bell – Security Recruiter

Bell (at), Inc.


Desk: 407-365-2404

The No Comment Resume Submission

As you can imagine I get many unsolicited resumes emailed to me each week. Don’t get me wrong, I like the fact that people find the website or this blog or my Linkedin Profile and take the time to forward their credentials.

Here’s what I don’t understand. On more occasions than I can count I don’t understand when these resumes come directly from a person (not automated system), BUT they don’t have anything written in the body of the email or if they do it is something like “My Resume” and that is it. No contact, no nothing!!

Of course I get the complete opposite also where someone provides their life history and more as a cover of the email. TMI!!

We have become an emailing and texting society, so I have gotten use to working this way.  As someone, like many others, who receives at least 100 emails on a slow day and 200 or more on a big day staying up with emails is always a challenge.

By receiving a resume with nothing in the body or “my resume” only, that is the first impression I have of you. Remember the old saying; “You Never Get A Second Chance To Make First Impression.”

By providing at least some brief bio of your skills and what you are trying to achieve will work wonders.  Are you contacting me directly because you saw a security job on my blog or web site? Are you a passive job seeker just wanting to make first contact, or did you just get laid off and need to talk now!

If you don’t share with me the basics of your resume submission, then generally it gets put aside until I can address it later over the next week or two.

As you can imagine, it is not possible to call each and every person the day a resume comes in, but I do try and at least schedule a brief introductory conversation shortly thereafter depending on why I was sent the resume.

Be kind to your Security Headhunter, provide me with some details.

Wils Bell – President, Inc.
Security Recruitment Specialists
Phone: 407-365-2404
eFax: 407-956-4976


Why Can’t E-cruiter’s Be Honest

I got a call yesterday from a consultant I had on assignment  for over two years with a global client in Florida.  John (not his real name) was downsized in January of this year due to the slow economy.  Unfortunately, I had nothing else at the time that was a good match, however  within a month or two he got a call from a “staffing agency”  that indicated they had a 90 day contract available with a client local to his location. The contract should be renewed over and over again he was told. He interviewed and was offered the contract.

As the market has begun to come back,  John was getting more and more calls from other sources regarding new contract positions that he was qualified for,  if he was available for work. He called the e-cruiter at the “Agency” letting them know that he was getting calls about other contract opportunities and wanted to be sure his contract was being renew by the client.

(John is the kind of person that does NOT walk away from an active contact. He will stay with the client as long as they want him and his contract is valid.)

Well, when John spoke to the “agency” he was told congratulations. The client is very impressed with you and your skills. They HAVE  already renewed your contract for at least an additional 90 days. It has been signed, sealed and delivered.  As such John simply told all the others that were calling that he is not available since his contract has been renewed for at least 90 more days.

Last Friday the “agency” called and laid-off John. Seems his contract at the client expired and was not renewed since the project was being scrapped.  The e-cruiter explained that they themselves had been misinformed about his contract already being renewed. Apparently it had not been signed, sealed or delivered.

John knew he had been blatantly lied to by the agency. He knew he was nothing more than a commodity to them. They did not care about him or his ability to earn a living.  The “agency” was purely interested in keeping him from interviewing on other opportunities so they could keep him on contract.

John said to me, “Why can’t people be as honest as you are Wils? Most people in your industry just are not honest.”

As I have stated over and over again, there is no reason not be be honest with candidates and employers. The only thing that a true professional recruiter has is their reputation. Once it’s soured, you won’t get it back. If you ever talk to a person in my industry and you do not feel comforable with them or don’t have a sense of trust, run  the other direction.

By:  Wils Bell, President

LinkedIn Profile:, Inc.

Information Security Recruitment Since 1990
Phone: 407-365-2404
eFax: 407-956-4976


Breaking into the Computer Forensics Field

This article is being republished from Larry E. Daniel of  Guardian Digital Forensics on his Blog

I thank Larry for this and future post we may republish


I receive a lot of inquiries from folks wanting to break into the computer forensics field.  They typically ask what they need in terms of background, education, certifications, etc.The answer is; It varies.

Different companies and organizations will have different needs and different minimum standards based on where they are in size, growth and organizational life cycle.

For instance, a law enforcement agency with an established high tech crime unit may take on someone with minimum skills and train them from the ground up to perform forensic examinations.  Normally, this means that they already have someone who manages and directs their forensic activities.  On the other hand if they are trying to start up a forensic unit, they may be looking for someone with considerable skill and may draw from the rank of police officers first.

Private companies range from one man shops up to mega companies.  Smaller companies may need to hire examiners who require less time to cases than a bigger company that may have the luxury of hiring lesser experienced people and training them.

In the big companies it is possible to start out just doing acquisitions or standardized functions on cases such as setting up the case, copying the evidence and running the first few steps before an examiner takes over for the actual analysis.

There are always different paths to the same destination.  If you are a recent graduate of a computer forensics degree, then you have some educational background, but you probably don’t have much in the way of useful, i.e. practical experience in computer forensics in a lab environment.

In that case, I would recommend trying to find an internship with a forensic company or a law enforcement agency.  Preferably before you graduate so you can put that practical experience on your resume.

Different organizations may offer either paid or unpaid internships.  Since the intern is getting more out of the relationship than the company or organization, don’t be surprised if they only pay a stipend to cover your gas for the period of the internship.

If you are an experienced computer support person with a track record in network administrations, PC support and or IT security, your backgroun is a big plus.  However, you would still be pretty useless in a computer forensics lab until you are trained in the tools and processes.  My advice for those of you considering a career change is to get your hands on the tools and practice with them so you can demonstrate knowledge to a prospective employer.

Bear in mind that computer forensics people tend to be very highly motivated toward self learning and are constantly trying out tools and techniques to improve their skills.  Many tools are available for free or as trial versions.   You can even get a demo copy of Encase with the purchase of the Encase ENCE Study guide that will get you some hands on experience.

While many people think that computer forensics means firing up the forensic software and clicking away, that is not the case at all.   There are many things one must learn to practice forensics.  Both technical and legal.

If you are interested in the field and want a nice overview, I highly recommend “Computer Forensics for Dummies“.  It does a good job of giving a general overview of the field without being so technical you cannot understand it.  Bear in mind, reading that book will not make you an examiner, but it will give you enough information to dig deeper if you are so inclined.

On the topic of internships, I would like to see more companies and agencies offering them.  However, bear in mind that providing a decent internship experience to someone is time consuming.  Also, bear in mind that as an intern, you may get very little practical experience the first time around.  You may spend a significant portion of the internship doing guided learning specific to the field.  The positive aspect of doing an internship is that you get face time with a company or agency that may hire you permanently.  At the very least, you are bolstering your resume for future employment prospects.

I offer internships at my company because I want to help people get into the field and also it gives me a chance to have a good look at potential future employees.  I only take on two interns at a time and only pay a stipend for the intern period.  But, in exchange, I try to make it the best experience I can for the interns and allow them to get some practical experience along the way.

I encourage my fellow examiners to do the same as I believe it will make the field stronger and also provide opportunities for aspiring computer forensics examiners.

By: Larry E. Daniel
May 26, 2009