Thursday, August 11, 2016

My Biggest Weakness

Most job interviews ask the question "What is your biggest weakness". Some can give answers that aren't really weaknesses at all, but reworded strengths to get around answering the actual question. After working not only in infosec, but the technology industry for so long, I know exactly what my biggest weakness is. For the most part I can not speak in absolutes (see what I did there). I can't tell a customer "Yes our product will catch this ransomware", "Our customer service will handle your case this way each time", or "This blinky box will fix this issue". The only way I can speak in absolutes is when I have all of the data from a specific incident and can prove that it would happen with hard facts. Science yo.

Part of me thinks that this behavior is one of the larger results of my lack of self confidence in what I do day to day. The other part of me stands firm and says "No, that's bullshit. You don't KNOW for a fact that it will do X, because you don't have all of the data. Telling the customer that is being honest and not blowing smoke up their asses". We all constantly have Sales Engineers giving us flashy sales presentations on how their tech is the best in the market and always been, while we attempt to disseminate the actual technology from the sales and marketing pitch.

I've always been trusted by my peers and leadership to offer up point blank and blunt honesty when asked. I've given that on interviews as my biggest weakness before. Honestly it can be a weakness and not speaking in absolutes is a subsection of that. I'm not going to tell you a lie to make our company or myself look any better than we are in reality. I've turned down some amazing career opportunities due to the lack of confidence I have in a company or product. I knew that I wouldn't be right for the role because I'd have to bullshit my way around the true facts of the technology too often.  Giving the answer of "I can be too honest sometimes." in an interview can steer the conversation in a few ways. I've been asked to give an example of times when I was too honest and it bit me in the ass. Actually that doesn't happen extremely often, but it can rub people the wrong way or make them think I'm not as good at what I do as the next person. I may or may not be better than the next person, but at least you'll know what I'm telling you isn't sugar coated.

I'd like to think I'm not too harsh or a ballbuster when stating the facts, but I do know that I can come off like that to certain personality types. I've been told to speak in absolutes for everything before, and the first time I've felt comfortable doing so is when writing my book. The reason? Because I've researched the hell out of every piece of it. My biggest fear is letting other's down or misinforming someone that is reading it. I am able to speak authoritatively because I've had the time to do the research and come up with enough information to put it forth in the writing. This is something I constantly struggle with, as well as overwhelming self doubt on a regular basis, but continue to work on daily.

Either as a customer or practitioner, where do you stand on the matter? If you're paying for a service or looking to get a service, do you have red flags that appear when someone guarantees you a product will do something? I think in this day and age you should. Every piece and part of our moving industry changes daily, there isn't a piece of software or hardware out there that is guaranteed to work 100% of the time. When there is a 100% is when I'll be comfortable phrasing sentences with "This WILL" or "EVERY TIME".