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Today we're excited to introduce a key leader in Rapid7’s sales organization: Eric Erston is Rapid7's senior vice president of sales for the Americas region. He has extensive experience in a variety of sales roles, including leading go-to-market functions for mergers and acquisitions. Prior to joining Rapid7, Eric served as senior vice president of global sales at EnerNOC. From 2000 to 2015, he held senior sales leadership positions at RSA; most recently, he was hailed as Global VP of Go to Market, Identity and Risk Management. He's sold enterprise security solutions to companies of all sizes and is a great example of someone whose sales career has grown from individual contributor roles to diverse leadership experience. Here's his story on how he got started, why he's excited about Rapid7, and what advice he has for those starting out in sales!

 

Let’s start with the basics. Did you always know you wanted a career in sales? How’d you start down this path?

I knew I wanted to be selling things, and by age 8, I was building and selling custom BMX bikes. From there it took an undergrad degree in Accounting to help me realize that wasn’t the path for me. I fell into sales shortly after college and have loved it ever since. Being a sales guy during the first dot com bubble in 1999 was an amazingly fun ride and solidified my love for the discipline.

 

Boston is full of hot exciting cybersecurity companies. Why Rapid7?

When choosing a company to work for it's important to look at 3 major elements:

  1. Product: Is the product or solution set totally sound? Is it market-leading?
  2. Market: Are you market-constrained? Is the product market fit correct?
  3. People: Are the people key differentiators for the company in the market?

 

Rapid7 was a big yes in all these areas. I enjoy security and IT operations, and I wanted to be with a company that delivers foundational elements of most end users’ programs as opposed to “nice to haves.” I didn't want to go to the company with the next “shiny” object; I wanted to be with a company with a track record of delivering value to customers and driving growth from solutions that exist today, not roadmap promises. The security and IT operations fields are full of technology but short on value delivered by vendors, so there’s huge opportunity for a company like Rapid7 to fill that value-provider hole. Plus, security has become such an important area for both the public and private sectors; in addition to being exciting, it's something you can really believe in and connect with.

 

What do you think the most exciting opportunity is for Rapid7 right now?

I'm hard-pressed to pick just one! The two things that really excite me are the Rapid7 Insight platform and our PACT Partner Program. The Insight platform is the first of its kind in security: a collection of products that deliver value individually but are also engineered together in a cloud-delivered solution that provides both efficiency and effectiveness to customers—that's a sales person's dream! And Rapid7's PACT Partner Program fires me up because it's different. It's built from the ground up with end users and partners at the forefront, so it's all about value for the constituents. I've never seen a program that is designed to do anything except push the vendor's product, but PACT is unique, and it's going to bring value to the whole ecosystem. Working with partners is a win-win when you engage with them the way we do.

 

What have been some of your biggest challenges since you started at Rapid7 in January?

Fortunately the biggest challenge we face is the one all growth companies face which is how to keep the best of what got us here while making needed changes so we get to where we want to be...all without messing things up! We have an amazingly effective go-to-market engine at Rapid7, and we've pioneered what I refer to as 'Modern Sellers', but we need to continuously develop and expand our capabilities and approach. We pride ourselves on delivering high value to our ecosystem, and we do it by offering a unique sales model and a unique set of solutions. To maximize our impact, we work hard to start with the right talent and then invest heavily in enablement to ensure we're focused on outcomes for our customers and partners and not just more sales. It's a challenge, but the rewards are worth it, and frankly, it's the only way to be great in today's market.

 

What’s it like to be on the sales floor at Rapid?

It’s sort of like watching the Stanley Cup playoffs. Just when you think the game can't get any faster and the competition can’t get any more intense, the players find a way to amp it up. We have an amazing group of talented professionals, and the teamwork and camaraderie are unparalleled. I'm continuously impressed by the collaboration, knowledge sharing, and genuine excitement that our people show each other. When someone is successful, the feeling spreads across the floor and everyone celebrates. It's a really cool phenomenon.

 

What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learned during your time in sales?

Even when you think you're on top of your game you can make some really dumb mistakes—and they can be costly. Sometimes mistakes are the result of being sloppy or shortcutting, but sometimes they come from running too fast and not sticking to the process. A good buddy of mine always says, "The process will never let you down," and he's right. Process might not tell you what you want to hear, but it won't let you down! And of course we can avoid nonstop pain by adhering to the fundamental rule: Surround yourself with great people!

 

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to someone looking to start a career in sales?

Find a good mentor—someone who’s seen different markets and enjoyed meaningful success but also lived through down times. Technology sales has changed a lot; that's why we focus so intently on finding and developing Modern Sellers. Perspective from someone with experience can be invaluable for a young sales professional.

 

Last question: What’s your favorite sports team?

I'm a pretty big Bruins fan, but I have to admit not much beats the 1995 Red Wings and the early 80s Oilers in my book!

This post is a Q&A with John O’Donnell, Director of Sales at Rapid7. For more information about career opportunities with Rapid7, visit https://www.rapid7.com/company/careers.jsp.

 

 

Q: What separates Rapid7 from other security or software companies in the area?

A: The diversity we have here separates us from the competition. Our teams are created by integrating people from all walks of life and then submerging them in the ever-changing and exciting cybersecurity industry. The belief is that you will change your career five times in life and once you move into your second career your goals often shift to loftier financial goals. However, without the proper experience it can be hard to make that transition and achieve those goals. Rather than focusing on direct experience, Rapid7 has created a work environment where people create a mosaic. So no matter what dream you were following before, we help our employees grow together to create success together.

 

Unlike other companies that are challenged by slower growth, Rapid7 has more opportunities for its employees to grow and further their careers. We have a 90 percent promotion rate from the Business Development Representative (BDR) program to Account Executive roles and are proud to say that nine out of 10 current managers started as either an AE or in the BDR program.

 

Q: What kind of advantage can someone expect to have starting in Q4 or the end of the year at Rapid7?

A: By starting in Q4, you can be in a position to ramp up more quickly and experience more volume of activity during the busiest time of the year. While some may be reluctant to start at the end of the year because of the anticipated learning curve, by starting in Q4 you have the opportunity to hit the ground running, go through the enablement program and be part of the excitement during a peak time of year. Essentially, you’ll be able to shadow and align with peer members of the Rapid7 sales team and collaborate on many opportunities as businesses close out the year and finalize their investment in cybersecurity software.

 

Additionally, you’ll get more exposure as the team builds out the strategy and sets goals for the new year. This will allow you to understand the expectations for Q1 while also having gone through training and being exposed to the busier time of year. By the time you attend the global sales kickoff in Q1, you’re already trained and have the opportunity to make the most of a full year. By investing your time to training during Q4 you’re really investing in your career and creating the opportunity to have a significant financial impact at the end of the sales year. The possibility of something happening (like a bonus or a deal coming in) could have someone waiting forever, but there comes a time when you need to close the door, open a new window and look forward.

 

Q: What can a new Account Executive expect during the initial ramp up period?

A: The enablement program at Rapid7 is split into a few weeks of training. The first two weeks are classroom training where Rapid7 specialists from other departments give lessons that focus on sales methodology to product line information to the overall competitive and industry market. The next few weeks are meant to expand on the classroom training by focusing on heavy collaboration and role playing to get comfortable speaking to products and services. The final two weeks are spent getting involved in day to day tasks with managers, directors and team leads. However, training is ongoing at Rapid7 with leaders providing industry updates, marketplace trends and skills sharing.

 

Q: How does Rapid7 support new AE's to help ensure success?

A: In addition to ongoing enablement and training, each new hire is assigned a mentor – someone that’s separate from the enablement team, manager or director. Your mentor will meet with you throughout the day and have an end of day meeting to review overall successes, challenges and outlook for the next day. Outside of the daily mentor meetings, there are scheduled one-on-one meetings with managers or team leads for coaching sessions as well as regular team meetings to talk through successes and challenges. Because we focus on getting new AEs ramped up quickly and efficiently, most new hires are able to close their first deal within 60 days.

 

Q: How are territories broken out for new AE's and what does a typical day look like?

A: We’ve developed a scoring system to make sure territories are properly defined based on the number of prospects and past experiences with Rapid7. Territories can be entire states or cities within, but the scoring metric makes it fair for all team members. On a typical day, the team starts with either a team meeting, training or industry perspective during the morning session. After that, the team goes into reviews with security engineers for meetings or calls scheduled for the day. The rest of the day consists of following up with current customers, prospects and opportunities they are currently engaged. The focus is to help our clients understand the technology, industry and making sure they are comfortable with creating a meaningful partnership with Rapid7.

 

Q: What attributes do the top performing AE's at Rapid7 have?

A: Our top performers have an entrepreneur mentality and approach their territory as their own individual business within Rapid7. The most successful people here get submerged within the security community. They attend networking events and focus on understanding the industry to provide clients with cutting edge insight on what the bad guys are doing to influence the space and how Rapid7 technology and services can provide value to their business. The top performers are the true definition of a rock star: they are able to perform, have a huge fan base and their dedication and passion to keep that fan base happy is second to none.

 

In my opinion, the most successful AEs at Rapid7 have the drive not to fail. They are passionate about their career and their lifestyle. They are looking to work hard and have the understanding that through that hard work they will advance their career and achieve their goals.

 

In November of 2013, I got an email from a Rapid7 Talent Scout saying she thought I’d be a great fit for a “unique opportunity” they had.  It had many of the same elements as other recruiting emails you receive and promptly ignore. I didn’t ignore it, however, despite the fact that I actually loved my current job, boss, and co-workers.

 

Maybe it’s because her email was well-written and hinted at something big that was coming soon from Rapid7 (but forced me to take a call with her learn more).  Maybe it’s because, working in Boston, I knew Rapid7 was always ranked as a “Top Place to Work” every year.  Maybe it’s because, working in the cybersecurity industry for many years, I knew Rapid7 was the rare combination of well-established but still enjoying hyper-growth – and considered one of the “cool kids” in a cybersecurity market that’s exploding (projected to be $170b by 2020).

 

I’m not sure of the exact reason why I took the initial call to learn more, but I can tell you exactly why I took the job; I’ve never met so many smart, competitive, well-qualified, and fun-loving leaders as I did during my interview process.

 

The fact that I was going to be on the team that would become the tip of the spear for the most important thing Rapid7 was working on – entering a new market within security which is projected to become 60% of the average company’s security spend – was icing on the cake.

 

Three years later, we’re a real force in this critical emerging market within cybersecurity – Incident Detection and Response.  We’re already seeing massive growth, yet we’ve only begun.  The plan is to build on our early successes and amplify it, in large part by making major investments in people.

 

How often do you find a startup that’s growing within an extremely well-funded and established company? Somewhere between hardly ever and never. Enjoying the benefits of startup culture and earnings without the risk is rare indeed.


If you want to be a part of this truly “unique opportunity,” please feel free to reach out to me!

 

Ready to learn more now?  Visit our careers page to check out opportunities now and be sure to check out the video below.

 

David Muller is the Sr. Director of Global Talent Acquisition at Rapid7.

 

When you’re networking for a job, don’t just focus on your next career move – think longer term.

 

With hundreds of open jobs and talent scouts actively recruiting, both passive and active candidates in today’s market have no shortage of options. This incredible talent demand can have huge benefits to your career, but if you aren’t thoughtful about your approach to job seeking, you can adversely impact your future jobs searches in a

large, unintended way.

 

Job seekers I speak with often share stories of being on the receiving end of countless LinkedIn messages, promises of huge salary ranges, amazing office perks, flexible work options and of the prospect of doing exciting work at amazing companies. How can that not sound appealing?! And yet, if you focus on those superficial (and yes, also important) elements, you’ll often miss out on the bigger picture. Many people admit they rarely reflect on how their searches were planned, executed and nurtured. This concerns me. Boom times like today don’t just offer opportunity for roles; they also provide the chance to build your job search infrastructure for the future. Let me explain.

 

Those of us who’ve been in the workforce through several downturns can tell you that even people with the most marketable skills will struggle when job supply is down. Usually those with the

best networks get access to jobs, period. When I say “networks,” I am not speaking about the 2,500 virtually anonymous “connections" you have in various social media channels. I mean the networks you have invested in, spent time with, solicited and offered advice and feedback - the personal and professional relationships and connections you have nurtured.

 

I am not suggesting a downturn is coming. However, I am suggesting that how you approach the inquires made of you - starting today - can pay off in a big way down the line. Consider these three scenarios, in which maintaining a relationship can pay off down the line:

 

1. You interviewed with a hiring manager but chose not to pursue the role. The hiring manager you interviewed with could be hiring at a company for a role you do want down the road, OR could be someone you want to recruit yourself. Did you handle the interaction in a way that would make a future email or call seem natural?

 

2. An Agency Recruiter reached out multiple times. Did you thank them for their outreach, or just ignore the messages? This agency recruiter could be the lead recruiter at the next hot start up - are they going to consider you for a job or even return your call?

 

3. A former coworker reaches out for help in their search and asks for an informational interview with your boss. Do you blow them off or help facilitate? The shoe could be on the other foot down the road, so how would you want to be treated?

 

Now, I totally get that this goes both ways. There are likely examples of companies and talent scouts not owning their side of this equation by not following up with meaningful feedback (or any feedback at all). This represents a massive candidate experience fail that will have a substantive impact on future candidate flows…but that is an entirely separate discussion.

 

What I am saying is that a thoughtful, measured approach can set the tone for those you interact with and build a network of relationships that if nurtured, will grow stronger over time. And that’s what will produce better career opportunities in the long run.

Katherine A. Hayes is an Inbound Marketing Intern.

 

Starting out in your career is daunting. It seems as though every decision you make is going to impact the rest of your life. I’ve been lucky enough to find a company dedicated to my future and wants to see me grow: Rapid7. Starting my career out here is a decision I’m proud of, because working here has really pushed me to try new things and to do my utmost to succeed at what I do. For anyone else thinking about starting your career here -- you should! -- below are my top seven reasons why Rapid7 is such a fantastic place to work.

 

1. LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES

What I am most happy about with my job at Rapid7 is that it isn’t a typical first job. I am not filing papers or fetching coffee for my bosses. Instead I am contributing valuable work that makes me feel as though I am making a difference. When Rapid7 says they value continuous learning it is truly demonstrated. Walking into my job as an inbound marketer I didn’t know much about marketing beyond what I had been taught in school and what I had done at short summer internships. After a few months of working here I can say that I am pleasantly surprised by how much I have been taught. I have been taught how to code, design website pages, run extensive keyword research, use video making software, and so much more.

 

2. INDUSTRY

When I was job hunting the idea of being in cyber security seemed intimidating—I had never worked in tech and knew next to nothing about cyber security. I have since realized how amazing working in the technology industry is—I'm working in an environment that is focused on constantly innovating. This means that I have to consistently push myself to innovate, and think outside of my comfort zone. I have learned so much about the technology field in general, and cyber security in particular. The mindset tech forces me to adopt has changed the way I view problems, and I know that it is a skill set that I apply in my personal life and will forever use in my professional life as well.

 

3. CULTURE

While we all work hard, we also know how to have fun. I have been able to participate in Flannel Friday, I am learning the art of ping pong from my boss, and I am writing this blog post while sitting on a purple medicine ball. Rapid7 knows that people are what make a company great, and because of this they treat their people well. We have a kitchen fully stocked with snacks, we have fun office events, and we are encouraged to form meaningful relationships with one another that will last for years. Rapid7 treats their employees well, and because of this employees are dedicated to making great work for the company in return.

 

4. VALUES

The company’s values—teamwork, meaningful customer partnerships, disciplined risk taking, continuous learning, and individual excellence—are at the core of what we do every day. First-hand I've seen these values in action, whether it’s by giving the green light to ideas very different than what we usually do (such as Rapid7’s Threat Hunt video game/webcast series), encouraging all employees to attend monthly management training sessions, or hosting events for employees to interact outside of work, whether it be bowling, happy hour, or a Celtics game. The fact that Rapid7 commits so much to their values shows that it is a company that truly cares, which is a great company to work for.

 

5. PEOPLE

Part of the reason I love my job so much is because I get to interact with people who are not only interesting, funny, and kind, but truly passionate about the work they are doing. The people I’ve been lucky enough to work with bring so many different experiences to Rapid7. People on my marketing team have intense digital backgrounds, have worked in different agencies, and have extensive consulting experience. On top of this many are from all over the world. I interact daily with our teams in Singapore, Reading, and Austin, and have the opportunity to meet people from all over. Having such a diverse group of people with such enriching life stories is one of my favorite parts of working here.

 

6. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

There are ample opportunities here around every corner. This past January we had our Global Kickoff conference, where employees came together to learn about the different aspects of our business, emerging trends in 2016, and to hear amazing speakers share their expertise. Another example is the book club in the marketing team, where we focus on a different business book each month and discuss themes relevant to how we operate, and marketing in general.  Even in my initial interview it was apparent that people here like to share knowledge and help others grow. I was discussing with my now-coworker how I had my own blog, but was unclear how to set up analytics tracking. The next day he had emailed me a long message detailing what steps I should take, and let me know that if I had any questions he would be more than happy to help, even if I decided to work elsewhere.

 

7. LOCATION

I work at the Boston office, right in the heart of downtown Boston. I love being in Boston, and enjoy working at an office that is so immersed within the city, a quick walk to Chinatown, South Station, Faneuil Hall, and the Boston Common. But Rapid7 doesn’t end at 100 Summer Street. We have offices all over the world, in cities like Singapore, Reading, Austin, Belfast, Seoul, and Los Angeles, just to name a few. I love knowing that I have the opportunity to work with people all over the world, and knowing that because of this Rapid7 offers an opportunity to work, if only for a few days, in many parts of the world. Being an avid fan of travel, the opportunity this presents is exciting to me.

 

I could not have asked for a better company to jumpstart my future with than Rapid7. Between the people and the experience, the culture and the values, and everything else that makes Rapid7 the company it is, I have had opportunities I never even imagined, and know that I am on a path that will lead me to success.

I’ve spent the better part of the last ten years interviewing talent scouts across the globe. I continue to be amazed at how many of them market themselves as having found the “secret sauce” for recruiting success through their vast knowledge and discipline demonstrated via use of the tools and tricks. Most of the time, I come away from interviews having learned something new or insightful. That said, I rarely hire a candidate who frames their skill set in this way.  Why? It doesn’t align with my vision for the team nor where my partners see value.

 

So what’s the “secret sauce?” Mission-driven hiring.

 

Very few recruiting tools are collaboration based. This creates the need for a requirements session (to review necessary skills, key words, competitors) between the talent scout and the hiring manager.  It’s then followed by resumes to review, interviews, calibration and so on.  In addition to cheapening the value a professional recruiting organization can bring, this tools-driven, process-heavy approach actually makes the recruiting team’s role more difficult. It doesn’t adequately involve the people with the most relevant networks for the job the hiring manager and their team.

 

We’ve all seen it; top talent is elusive and becoming increasingly passive in their job search. The reality is that even the most capable recruiting organizations can’t reach every qualified candidate for every role. Acknowledging this fact isn’t a sign of weakness, but rather the first step in becoming a practitioner of mission-driven hiring. This approach positions the talent scout to become a true business partner.

 

In mission-driven hiring, managers are considered a de facto member of the recruiting team; engaging through social networks, calling former colleagues, pushing their teams to view recruiting as a vital part of their roles.  Strong hiring managers, partnered with a talent scout, keep their teams focused on the candidate’s experience.  With talent scouts managing the process, hiring managers can operate with the confidence that their hiring partners are taking ownership of talent rather than just passively waiting for a magic recruiting machine to push out an endless stream of top-tier candidates.

 

On the surface, this notion of partnership might seem obvious, but getting results isn’t easy.  It takes discipline and consistent attention to get hiring manager support, buy-in and participation.

 

Want to cultivate a Mission-Driven Hiring mentality within your organization?  Here are a few steps:

 

  1. Know Your Business.  You become a credible advisor and effective partner when you understand the products, services and competitive factors that drive your business. Hiring managers will pay attention when they know you are paying attention and looking at the bigger picture.
  2. Understand What Top Talent Looks Like. Make sure it is clearly understood by all, and be relentless about keeping your hiring teams focused.
  3. Communicate Honestly and Effectively.  Operate with transparency and integrity about status and results.  Hunting for unicorns is hard work.  If a search is taking longer than expected, be honest with yourself and your partners, take accountability. Managers will respond positively to your openness, and in turn build a partnership based on trust.

 

Creating an organization with exceptional talent is tough work.  Even the most seasoned talent scouts can’t go it alone.  Creating high functioning partnerships with hiring managers and teams doesn’t just foster solid teamwork.  It creates the foundation for an exceptional company.

I’m often asked about candidate experience and how Talent Scouts can best prepare candidates for interviews. I view it as a very simple equation:

Talent Scout Prep + Candidate Prep = Informed, Productive and Hopefully Very Successful Interview.

 

As Talent Scouts, we know what we need to do to execute on our piece of this equation.  However, it raises the question: What can candidates do to ensure they are truly prepared before an interview?

 

Here are five things candidates can do ahead of an interview and dramatically increase chances of landing the role they seek.

 

  1. Demonstrate depth around self-awareness: Come prepared with examples not just of your successes, but of times you failed as well. By admitting to one or two of your past mistakes and being able to articulate both what you learned, how you’ve adapted to move forward in your career, you achieve immediate credibility. Think deeply – missing a deadline, for example, although not something to characterize as a win, demonstrates no depth. Think about behaviors, actions, values you lost focus on and resulted in under-performance versus something you were accountable for.  Think about the HOW and reflect on it.  The point: We all have career missteps.  Interviewers want to know you can take accountability for them, your resilience and how you learned from them.
  2. Ask About and Understand The Behaviors The Company Values. Ask how things get done in this organization when it’s at its best. How does it act when under pressure?  What are the core behaviors the company expects of you as a leader?  As an individual contributor? Ask about how they celebrate wins, communicate and handle disagreements? Seek to understand, and then ask yourself how these behaviors align with what you know about places/environments you have been successful - and not so successful in. Be honest with yourself (see #5)
  3. Create A Strong Set of Questions to Ask Your Interviews.  Ask the things you truly want to know about.  The team, the management style of your potential boss, the future plans for the company.  Be mindful about your questions.  For example, don’t ask, “What keeps you up at night” to anyone, EVER:  What keeps most people up at night is paying the bills, their spouses and children, their health… Of course work is often top of mind for any committed employee, but it typically prioritizes after personal life “stuff” so avoid questions like this. If you want to understand about challenges such as potential missed goals, resource needs, and gaps in plans just ask. However, remember to ask the questions thoughtfully. While you might be seeking information, a poorly worded question could offend your interviewer. Getting an impact answer is less likely to come from the question “What has been screwed up” versus “Tell me about the goals that your team and this role are accountable for. Would love to hear your perspective around what is going well and potential areas of opportunity that might impact my work in this role”.
  4. Be Prepared To Acknowledge You Are A Work In Progress. Nobody likes a know-it-all, but leaders especially don’t like a candidate who comes off like they think they are. It’s important to highlight your strengths, but the top employees who deliver the best work tend to be hyper aware of gaps and learning opportunities. Employers want to know you are a high aptitude person with a proven track record, but also understands the importance of continuous learning. In almost every interview I’ve done with a high aptitude, get it done type people, the candidate has spoken at length about what skills they want to continue to develop, and the proactive steps they are taking to master them. They nail the interview almost every time. You want to be one of these people.
  5. And Finally, Be Honest. I’m not referring to egregious lies like claiming to be a director when you were really a manager; that’s an integrity issue. Being honest means being candid about your career priorities and goals are, your current and expected compensation expectations, what types of environments you thrive in, etc. These are invaluable experiences you’ve gathered, which when all added together define your optimal working situation. By sharing these insights and adding color to them, both you AND the interviewers will build an understanding about whether the company and role are in alignment with you and your priorities…all moving you to more quickly determine if this is in fact the IDEAL role for you. This takes courage, you might lose an opportunity due to misalignment, but be honest and you will ultimately end up in the role that suits you best. 

 

These suggestions are done in conjunction with all the standard prep: Take the time to research the company and it’s products. Has the company in the press lately, why? Who are the their competitors? Don’t feel the pressure to understand each and every nuance but you do want to come prepared with a grasp of the basics. In addition, research the LinkedIn profiles of those you are interviewing with – where did they go to school? What has their career track been like? Any similarities to you? Does their profile offer an insight around the type of manager or partner they might be? There's insightful information out there, you just need to take the time to look.

 

Now go get ‘em.

With over 90 open jobs and hundreds of active candidates, Rapid7 is adding new team members on a daily basis. One of our biggest challenges is making sure the quality of our hires remains high as numbers increase. High volumes of interviews coupled with eager managers and recruiters, and the business need to move at an accelerated pace, can often result in small, inadvertent concessions in quality. Being mindful of this challenge and helping our organization scale while maintaining an incredibly high bar is the challenge of Rapid7 TA and TA teams everywhere.

 

So how does a TA leader begin to address this challenge?  Do you add bigger and better tools? Skills tests? Behavioral assessments? Do you turn your interviewing managers into robots with standard interview questions and over mechanize the process?  Or is there an alternative which keeps the focus on transparency and candidate experience while hunting for that stellar talent and fit? There are benefits and restrictions to every approach.

 

Here at Rapid7, I try and keep the teams focus on the latter. I do this for the simple fact that if candidates know what to expect and when to expect it they can better prepare for the process. Prospective candidates will be prepared in terms of understanding what we value and the required skills needed to do the job, as well as gain a better understanding of “rewarded behaviors.” As a result, we find they will either passionately connect with us OR say “this isn’t for me” and self-select out.  Our goal is that early in the process, prospective new team members know what we understand skills needed and what it truly means to be a culture fit. As a result, they can spend their interviewing time sharing relevant experiences and helping us to get to really know them as people, rather than working through canned responses to our questions. Knowing what to expect lessens interview anxiety and allows the candidates a better opportunity to bring their “A game” to the interview.

 

If you are interviewing with Rapid7, here is what you should know ahead of time: All candidates, no matter how senior or junior– no surprises, no trick questions: prepare, then crush it.

 

Attitude:  Do you demonstrate a high level of collaboration? Do you actively seek constructive feedback to better your game? Do you engage others with good intentions? Are you focused on searching for a solution rather than dwelling on the problem? We are trying to gain an understanding of how you will engage within a team and if you value accountability.

 

Aptitude:  What is your appetite for learning? Do you ask a lot of questions? Do you have the ability to learn things quickly? We look for people who have an interest in continuous learning and growth, and the ability to do so.   We also look for strong leadership Those who have a vision, engage others and are willing to take disciplined risks are highly valued.  

 

Cultural Fit: How do our Core Values resonate with you? Think about how they apply to you. We live by these. If you don’t connect with them, chances are Rapid7 isn’t a good fit – regardless of your skills and background. 

 

Skills: Of course, we all need to bring some basic skills to the table.  Come prepared to talk us through your background, and help us understand your experiences.

 

Successful candidates come prepared – you have reflected on these key areas and can speak to the relevant parts of your background that might make you a fantastic candidate. Most importantly, you are thoughtful in the examples you share, and areas you choose to highlight to help us get to know each other better.

 

Interviewing is all about understanding skills and the potential capabilities of a prospect. Of course, a rigorous assessment of skills is critical.  However, you’ll find at Rapid we place just as much emphasis on your attitude, aptitude and culture fit.  We believe that if you know what to expect before walking in the door, you can better prepare to share without the anxiety of a “trick” question that might be coming down the line.

 

For us, an interview provides the forum for you to share what you are capable of and believe in. We feel our approach allows for a transparent and honest result for both of us.

allaboard.jpgIf you think about the goal of the interview process, it’s about getting to a point somewhere down the road where both sides (candidate and company hiring) can say “this works for me,” and then come to an agreement of terms. That’s it, boiled down to its most simple form. And not unlike many Talent Acquisition leaders, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how to make that simplest form come to life for the majority of our interactions while keeping quality high.

 

It’s easier said than done.

 

In the case of Rapid7, we focus more on cultural fit than specific skills, which can take some time to get right. We look for super smart, good attitude/high aptitude, focused, collaborative listeners who connect with our core values and we challenge them daily and move quickly – sugar coat this and you can end up with people who don’t fit or worse yet, are caught off guard after starting and realize they’ve made the wrong choice. DISASTER. We’re doing better in this process and continue to look for the right balance, but decided the time try something new was now.

 

(Image above shows the café before everyone showed up – out of respect for our guests’ privacy, we didn’t want to post photos during the event.)

 

Why not just throw it all out there and see who engages?

Okay, that’s a little bit dramatic, but it does describe our thinking for the Employee Referral and Networking night, which we had at our Boston office on August 12 – an event all about honesty, conversation, feedback and direct sharing but without the pressure of an interview. Don’t be mistaken – you hear some of the terms above, and no doubt an interview comes to mind; however, the event was meant to be anything but that and done so quite deliberately.

 

From the start, participants from the Rapid7 side understood that there was to be no mention of specific roles unless our guest requested, the focus of the interactions was to be driven by what our guests deemed to be important (if that meant jobs, then so be it). Also, if we didn’t have the answer, we tracked down someone who did — no bullshitting.

 

In addition, the questions from our speaker panel were meant to share personal stories about how certain leaders connected with the organization and what they did to help others (hires within their org) connect in their own unique way.

 

In my view there are 3 keys to a successful networking event for those of us on the recruiting side:

 

  1. No BS: Your guests are in process or considering a career move and want information – do whatever you can to provide that information, address concerns, and above all be honest about opportunities in your organization's overall offering.
  2. Hold on the pushy recruiter routine: There is a time to gather hot buttons and push hard for a close. The Networking event is not it. Recruiters should be facilitators, troubleshooters, seen but heard less than others from the organization who are in attendance. Your time will come – sit back for a bit
  3. Lead with your most important resources: Employees with a particularly strong social presence? Industry leader? Leading work that resonates with your target audience – build the event around them, get them sharing their story, get others their with perspectives on their story.

 

I personally learned a lot from holding this event.

First, our employees – free of specific talking points and jobs to sell — embraced the opportunity to have a few drinks and chat about their roles, what it is about Rapid7 that they have stuck around for, and most importantly, their view of the talent needed to take this organization forward.

Second, our guests shared that the bare minimum of presentations and a formal agenda allowed them to engage as they wished worked for them.

We missed an opportunity in not providing a tour of the site – we were trying to be respectful of those working during the event, and this represents a lost opportunity. Next time, we’ll start later and offer tours.

Otherwise, overall it was an event with good food, great beer, better conversations — all in an attempt to try something different.

 

@dmulls16