What hiring managers are looking for with Hans van der Linde

In our sixth interview, we sat down with Hans van der Linde, Head of Sales and Marketing as well as the Intelligence Desk at Hensoldt Analytics. Hans gave useful tips on how to stand out as a candidate and told us what he thinks is absolutely necessary for working in the open-source intelligence domain.

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1. Where do you work now and what are your day-to-day tasks?

I have been leading the Sales and Marketing Team at HENSOLDT Analytics since last year, July 2021 to be exact. Initially, I had been exclusively taking care of the global sales and business development activities. However, very quickly after I joined the company it has become clear that our ambitious growth goals in Europe and beyond required a much closer collaborative effort between our sales representatives – the customer-facing group – and the in-house marketing team. So I took charge of the merged department. 

The Intelligence Desk is part of that team as well. Our OSINT analysts support a whole range of projects and tasks across research, fulfilment, and product development in addition to working alongside sales and marketing. As they are the power-users of the OSINT Media Mining System, their work and input across a variety of business areas is extremely valuable.  

2. How can candidates stand out right away?

The best way to stand out when applying at HENSOLDT Analytics is to communicate your passion for learning. The industry we work in, defence and military, is challenging to navigate and set in its ways. However, innovation and pushing boundaries is what keeps HENSOLDT Analytics at the forefront of open-source intelligence solutions. We cannot improve our product to address the challenges our customers are facing if we don’t continuously develop ourselves. Our analysts use our OSINT system daily, which is an ideal process to both learn and improve our system.

We listen carefully to the feedback of the Media Mining System users, which we use to develop new features and additional components of the system in-house. But we also need feedback from subject matter experts, who are aware of what is going on in their field and who suggest ways of staying ahead and anticipate our customers’ needs. So, a person, who is keen on learning within their area of expertise, comes forward with ideas and solutions, and has the drive to see them through, is highly encouraged to apply.

One of the additional prerequisites for our employees is that they thrive in an international work environment and are curious about expanding their horizons. At HENSOLDT Analytics, we have people from various professional backgrounds and numerous countries. Once we tried to count the number of languages spoken at the company and got to 22, but I am sure we still missed some.

3. What does the recruitment process look like at your organization? How many steps are there?

If someone is interested in applying to one of our open positions or sending us a speculative job application, they should go through the official HENSOLDT Analytics website. Then, our HR team will get in touch with the applicant and schedule a first interview with the department’s manager. What usually follows is a second round with either the prospective colleagues joining in to get a better feel of the person that might become their future colleague, or with our managing director. Ideally, this all happens in person at one of our office locations - Vienna or Munich. 

4. What kind of skillsets are you looking for when hiring for an intelligence analyst within your company?

We are looking for people who will hit the ground running and dive deep into the OSINT Media Mining System. Our OSINT solution is a complex multi-component product and its role is to empower users to monitor key open-source channels and derive actionable intelligence on a specific topic. Our OSINT analysts are brand ambassadors of our system and they showcase what it can do. This has to be paired with a detail-oriented approach when writing use cases and reports, as well as an aptitude for reading between the lines and understanding the information our analysts come across, including its context.

Other than that, we work in a fast-paced environment. Someone who enjoys challenges and is able to immerse themselves in a team and work side-by-side on completing their tasks will find their place here.

5. What kind of character traits do you find beneficial during interviews? Is there any behaviour that can be an advantage for the candidate?

First of all, be yourself. At the end of the day, we are looking for someone who will feel at home in our team and hopefully stay with us for a long time. An interview is a two-way process – the candidate is also interviewing us to see if we fulfil their expectations. Therefore, my advice is to be relaxed, have an open mind, and figure out if this relationship could work out.

In addition to that, coming prepared goes a long way. Find out more about HENSOLDT Analytics and the HENSOLDT Group, browse our channels, and see what we have done so far. 

6. Do you have any advice regarding salary negotiations during the hiring process? And dos and don’ts?

This is a tough one because it depends on so many factors: the seniority of the person, the position they apply for. Do your research and understand what the average salary for the role is. Consider what is asked of you and what you bring to the table. Ask for what feels fair to you and be open to further discussion. After all, we are talking about negotiating so you might need to compromise. 

7. Would you be able to share any outstandingly positive interview experiences you have gone through as the hiring manager or person responsible for recruiting? What blows you away during an interview?

I think that what always left a very positive impression on me is people who show that they care about this opportunity. They fulfil the requirements, are prepared, and, most importantly, ask a lot of questions. We received a large volume of applications for some of the positions in the past and it’s easy to spot people who apply without reading the job descriptions. Those people won’t be invited to an interview.

8. What would you recommend to recent graduates or newbies? How can they best prepare for their first interviews? Are there any resources you can recommend?

These days, there are many free learning resources at your fingertips. With a can-do attitude, it is possible to embark on a journey of life-long learning, which is absolutely necessary for working in the open-source intelligence domain. If you are able to demonstrate this attitude during the interview, and have maybe even completed some OSINT courses, you are already off to a great start.

Regarding the recommendation of resources, it really depends on what you want to specialise in. Is it a general OSINT position you are applying for? Then make sure to know the most common investigation methods, their limitations, and mention your workflows. If you are interested in more specialised positions, maybe head over to online learning platforms such as Coursera or Udemy and complete a GIS course, or a Python course for data science.

[note: this interview has not been edited]