How to Hire a Hacker

Article by Amy Stokes-Waters, CCO, Capture the Talent

Cybersecurity skills are in high demand. The industry is booming. Even amid layoffs at tech giants like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, adverts are flooding social media looking for more tech bods in the security space.

At the same time, we’re seeing an influx of talent reskilling into cyber. Bootcamps are popping up left, right, and centre.

A quick Google search reveals over half a billion results when we type in ‘Learn Cybersecurity’. Content is out there and people are consuming it. Voraciously.

Selecting the Right Candidate

This is why matching up talent with the roles we’re hiring for can be extremely difficult. When every candidate we see has their Bachelor’s or Masters in Cybersecurity, certifications coming out of their ears, and a shit hot CV, how can we determine who is the right person to bring on board? How can we be sure they really do have the skills required for the job at hand? How do we know if they’d fit in our team?


Well, if you ask Quorum Cyber, an Edinburgh-based MSSP, it’s through using a Capture the Flag event to assess the technical capabilities and impact skills of candidates.

For the second year running, Quorum have engaged with training provider Capture the Talent to create a fun and engaging 48-hour event that tests skills across a number of domains including OSINT, Cryptography, Forensics, Web App Hacking, Steganography and more.

Alongside testing technical abilities, the team at Capture the Talent also use an informal group chat setting to get to know the candidates in more depth and monitor how they interact with each other, work together, and communicate.

This allows Quorum to get a rounded view of applicants and identify strengths and weaknesses in a recruitment process that candidates actually enjoy.

Comfort Zone

When participating in a recruitment process, we know that candidates often feel stressed and anxious. Feedback so far has shown that a CTF-style recruitment event has lowered stress levels for candidates and has allowed them to have fun.

One candidate, Amy Harvey, explains her thoughts on Quorum’s recruitment process:

“I really enjoyed this CTF, it was brilliant having the opportunity to work on it individually and even better that you were unable to view the scoreboard.

This meant I wasn’t comparing myself against others and solely working at my own pace. It’s definitely been a real confidence booster and shown me what I can truly achieve when I put my mind to it.”

Amy Harvey

Case Study: Quorum Cyber

What They Wanted

Quorum wanted a recruitment event that was fun for candidates, cyber-specific, and effective at baselining technical abilities and soft skills of candidates looking to join their graduate scheme.

What They Got

The event went better than we could have hoped for. We turned candidates into a community and the picture we were able to build up on each participants strengths and weaknesses and how they engaged and interacted with others taking part was brilliant and exactly what we were after.

And How It Went

From the very first meeting with CTT it was clear that they were experts in their field, really understood what we were after and shaped the event to bring out the best in those taking part, ensuring that they had a great time, whilst showing us what their capabilities were.

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