The 8 Personality Traits to Succeed in Cybersecurity

A computer monitor in a dimly lit room shows rows of code. The photo accompanies a blog about personality traits of successful cybersecurity professionals.

Cybersecurity threats are on the rise. With the rapid increase of security breaches, company hacks, and data leaks, cybercrime has become one of the most significant threats to global business. Skilled cybersecurity professionals are key for the safety of companies and governments, but there is a talent shortage of 3.4 million workers. The demand for talent in this space is at an all-time high, and there are some unique personality traits that recruiters and companies need to look out for.

At Hogan, we have helped some of the world’s top IT and cybersecurity firms recruit the right individuals. Our science-based assessments and decades of validated research found that there are eight personality traits best suited to a successful career in cybersecurity.

Personality Traits for Cybersecurity

  1. Modest – Those who tend to excel in cybersecurity typically prefer to avoid the spotlight. A successful cybersecurity agent is not egotistical or fame hungry and instead favors a more low-key lifestyle. After all, most of the well-known names in cybersecurity are notorious cybercriminals.
  2. Altruistic – Cybersecurity professionals should want to help people. While they are working all day with systems and programming, protecting and helping people is at the core of this profession. They should work well with others and avoid isolating themselves. Fighting threats will require cooperation and trust between colleagues as they are striving together toward the same security goals.
  3. Composed – The enterprise systems they are protecting from attacks are always under threat. Cybersecurity agents naturally need to have a sense of urgency, but it is crucial that they stay composed handling cyberthreats. Unnecessary outbursts when the pressure is rising can be counterproductive and shift their attention away from what is at stake.
  4. Scientific – The perfect cybersecurity professional wants to solve problems using data and analytic skills. Cybercriminals are increasingly sophisticated in their attacks. Data security requires individuals who are highly technical and value evidence-based decision-making.
  5. Inquisitive – The world of cybersecurity is ever-changing. When threats are prevented, new ones emerge. These can require a completely different set of skills than the ones needed previously. A successful cybersecurity candidate is imaginative, curious, and creative. They need to figure things out quickly, show motivation to learn, and be open to new ideas.
  6. Skeptical – “Trust no one” would be a useful motto for a cybersecurity worker. To get ahead of the game and prevent attacks means sometimes having to think like a hacker. This means maintaining suspicion about what’s going on, because in a world of constant threats, naiveté can be a dangerous thing.
  7. Responsive – Things can go wrong quickly. A data security breach might be as simple as someone in the company opening a phishing email and exposing sensitive information. It is thus very important for a cybersecurity worker to be open and responsive to criticism and avoid being passive-aggressive.
  8. Diligent – In a high-pressure environment with a firm’s security at stake, a successful candidate needs to be detail-oriented and constantly pushing projects to completion. One small oversight could lead to attacks, so cybersecurity specialists need to scrutinize every detail. They also need to value achievement and making an impact.

Ryne Sherman, PhD, Hogan’s chief science officer, adds: “Traditional recruiting practices often overlook personality and focus on education, experience, and technical skills. While these are important, it is crucial to remember that personality traits play a huge role. A candidate with the suitable personality can be easily trained into the right role. This is especially true in the cybersecurity world where companies struggle to find the experienced individuals they need. To recruit top talent, companies should direct their attention to the power of personality.”

Want to learn more about personality tests? Check out The Ultimate Guide to Personality Tests