Last week, a recent hire on the IT Security was let go, due to reluctance to support company culture on data security / personal conflict. I work in IT Audit, and interface with coworkers on the IT Security team almost daily. Our teams frequently cross-interview each other's candidates.

The position has been re-opened, and I am slated to participate in several preliminary interviews later on this week. I could ask the candidate directly through behavioral style questions ("give an example when...what did you do?"), but I feel such an approach is focused on a particular instance, and the candidate may not answer honestly.

I am more interested in the general perception of the candidate toward a particular subject, in this case, risk and security. It was unfortunate he was let go, as valuable time / energy was spent on someone who did not work out.

How can I screen candidates to avoid a similar situation in the future?

Additional Information: In case this is seen as a duplicate to my question here, that question was focused on behavior in a specific circumstance, but I am more interested in general attitude in this question.

Also, while one should ideally set aside personal bias at work, prior experience / attitude / perception can color one's actions.

  • 1
    "the candidate may not answer honestly" ...what do you expect a candidate to say? "I lost my temper and launched into a racist tirade against my manager but I really learned from the experience of being fired for cause."? What does "honestly" mean to you? The whole point of interviews is to present yourself in the best light possible, which is why behavioural questions (and frankly interviews in general) are usually not enough on their own.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 8:48
  • 2
    I'm not sure what to make of your entire question actually. If you want to screen for security-conscious people you ask them a security related question or even an open-ended "What's your take on X"? Your last phrase is also rather puzzling. I'm not sure how this isn't just "How do I interview people?" which is obviously too broad of a topic. Finally you should probably realise and accept that bad hires happen. You're never going to prevent that outright, no matter how effective your hiring process is.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 8:53
  • I don't quite understand what "company culture" has to do with data security. Or do you mean company policy? Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 10:05

2 Answers 2


Also, while one should ideally set aside personal bias at work, prior experience / attitude / perception can color one's actions.

If you let a staff member go because of this issue, then it's obviously not personal bias. If your company has certain regulations, or even expectations, about how certain data is handled then it's absolutely right you make sure any new member of staff is on the same page.

I'd start off with quite an open ended, non-leading question about the topic you're concerned about, for example "Tell me your thoughts on...". Then, you can explore their answer based on what they've said. You might want them to offer examples of times they've come across the same issue, or explain at a higher level the possible impacts of it.

Once they've answered the question, I'd then outline your stance on the issue and ask if they're comfortable with it. If they're not, for whatever reason, then this is their chance to realise that this job may not be for them.

By the way, it's hard to answer this when we don't know what the thing is!


I can think of three things you could do:

  1. You are asking your candidates "what did you do?", but to get a better insight you could try asking "why did you do that?" after making the first question. This will let you see the actual reasons/motivations they have on handling that particular subject.

  2. Try asking more questions related to that subject of interest, so you can cross-validate the answers given on previous ones. You could also rephrase your question like "when X happens we do Y... what do you think of that approach?". So you can see if he/she analyses the situation in a way that matches the company's accepted way.

  3. If it is possible, you could even have them write a short essay on the subject of interest. This will definitely give you a greater understanding of the knowledge and practices that candidate has. If writing is not possible have them speak those ideas instead. Make sure they stay engaged on their answer and also try asking follow-up questions; the more they elaborate on the answer the more meaningful information you will be getting.

  • 8
    Asked to write a short essay in an interview? I would be long gone.
    – John
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 8:06
  • Thats why I wrote if possible... ;)
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 13:24

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