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I work on the information security team at my company. We are currently looking to hire a senior security architect, a role that will require at least 7 - 10 years of previous hands - on experience designing, testing, and implementing IT security frameworks and controls. Our company operates in the regulated insurance industry, and security is fundamental to what we do as we interface with sensitive customer financial and private health data.

Today, my manager was discussing with me the interview panel to interview applicants or this role, and I was somewhat surprised to see a new, junior member selected to be on this interview panel. This person is fresh out of college with only about 1.5 years of cybersecurity experience. I have about 5 years of experience in the InfoSec profession.

Our team will primarily focus on the technical expertise of the candidates and I am not sure whether the limited experience of the new junior person is sufficient to adequately assess the technical competency of forthcoming candidates for the security architect role. The architect will have a prominent role, working with myself, other more senior members of the team, and management under the CISO to design and maintain security safeguards. Example of work can be seen here and here

Generally, it has been my experience that the skills needed in cyber come from broad industry exposure, many years of experience, along with a certain degree of intuition. I hate to see our team suffer due to ineffective hiring.

Question

  1. Would it be appropriate for me to push back a bit with my manager due to newcomer's limited prior job experience?

  2. How can I communicate my concerns about a lack of experience in a colleague for a particular task without coming across as rude or presumptuous?

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    I don't see the harm in having him in the room and letting him ask a few questions. Are you worried they'll actually give him a significant say in whether or not the candidate gets hired? – AffableAmbler Feb 27 at 3:05
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    "Today, my manager was discussing with me the interview panel " - and you did not mention your concern then? – Mawg says reinstate Monica Feb 27 at 8:19
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    Maybe the junior is just there to learn? – Mawg says reinstate Monica Feb 27 at 8:19
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  1. Yes, it would be appropriate if you think it wouldn't add value.
  2. Be curious and ask questions. Your supervisor might have great ideas as to why the junior person might be of, or gain, great value form being in the room.

As an aside, junior people are excellent value in interviews.

You can ask them to explain concepts/patterns, etc. to the junior person. You can confer with the junior person afterwards to see how they felt about the way the person talked to them, explained the concept, checked for understanding, etc. Your senior staff are the mentors for the more junior people on your team. You want your team to look up to them, want to learn from them, and be able to learn from them.

You get insight in to how the person interacts with those who are obviously junior to them. Do they treat them respectfully? Do they ask questions to gauge where that person is at before launching in to their explanation?

They get insight in to the hiring process, get to observe people who are more experienced in interviewing, to feel like their opinions matter (they should, they actually work for you), that they are valued, and that the company is positioning them for growth.

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    Now I see this question in new light. Great answer – Gabrielle Feb 27 at 4:32
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    I'll also add that a junior person needs to get training interviewing new people too. What better way than to sit in on an interview? – jcmack Feb 27 at 7:12
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    This is a great answer. It's often the case that I'll see interviews for senior roles conducted by similarly senior roles, who often then have little direct contact in their daily jobs. Meanwhile the people who will be working directly with (or under) those roles end up having no say in the hiring process. Obviously I'd give the junior's opinion on any technical appraisal of the candidate less weight than the senior, but it still seems like a process that could be useful. – delinear Feb 27 at 15:35
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Would it be appropriate for me to push back a bit with my manager due to newcomer's limited prior job experience?

It highly depends on how you approach that pushback. Just saying (or coming off as) "I don't think this person should be on the interview panel, they are inexperienced" could backfire. You don't know the hiring process strategy they are going for, so starting right off with that is not going to land well.

You can, however, ask why this person is on the panel. If the answer doesn't satisfy your concerns, that is when you can make an actual argument as to why you think they shouldn't be on there. This is much better then leading with it because it shows that

  • you don't presume to know better from the outside

  • you are interested in the success of the interview process.

As an aside, different people are often on interview panels for different reasons. There's nothing wrong with having a bright junior on there, not really to assess technical competency, but more for interpersonal reasons. For instance, these are things that could really interest the manager making the hiring decisions:

  • Can the candidate answer an appropriate question by a junior team member in terms they can understand (communication is important)?
  • Does the candidate treat even junior panel members respectfully?
  • Are there personality clashes between existing staff members and the candidate (this is why interview panels usually feature a broad slice of people the new hire will be working with)?
  • Are there special observations the junior member can share that others didn't notice because of a difference in perspective (this is also why panels usually feature broad slices of people from the company - everyone has a different perspective. Representing more perspectives leads to more informed hiring decisions)?
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It's perfectly fine to include every member of the team !

They'll have to work with that candidate if hired too.

The more junior people will learn a lot from this, at the same time can be evaluated how they behave in such settings.

They may have input others didn't consider or miss.

Your manager hardly will hire someone or not based solely on that juniors recommendations!

Your position is inappropriate.

Going with this to your superior will most likely shine a negative light on you.

  • Are you insecure in your standing?

  • Do you have personal issues with that team member?

  • Are you a bad team player?

  • Do you have an elitist mindset?

  • Are you so full of yourself that you think juniors are unworthy of such a process?

  • Why do you question this decision and why does it bother you?

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