Landing a job in the cybersecurity field can be challenging. But with the proper preparation, you can ace any type of interview.
In this guide, we will discuss different interviews for cybersecurity-related jobs and how to prepare for them.
We will also provide examples of questions potential employers might ask you during a cybersecurity interview.
So whether you are applying for a position as a penetration tester or a security administrator, read this guide carefully!
Why should you prepare for a cybersecurity interview?
The cybersecurity industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. With cyber-attacks increasing every year, organizations pay top dollar for talented cybersecurity professionals. This means that there is a lot of competition for jobs in this field.
According to Temi Akinwumi, a well-prepared candidate is more likely to succeed in any interview, regardless of the role. This entails researching the company and anticipated questions, brushing up on relevant skills, and maintaining a professional and genuine demeanor.
By following these tips, candidates can increase their chances of acing their next interview and landing their dream job.
LinkedIn’s AI-powered and community-driven also recommends that you start by optimizing your profile and highlighting your cybersecurity experience, certifications, and endorsements.
They also emphasize the importance of actively participating in cybersecurity groups and discussions, which can give you insights into current trends, challenges, and common interview topics.
Research the company interviewing you
Before you walk into the interview, take some time to research the interviewing company. This will show the interviewer that you are interested in the company and know about their business.
It is also an excellent opportunity to learn more about the company’s culture and what they are looking for in a candidate.
Some things that you should research about the company include:
- The company’s history
- The company’s mission statement or values
- Recent news articles about them
- Their specific products or services
You can find this information on the company’s website, in annual reports, or by searching for news articles online.
What kind of interviews should you expect?
There are several types of interviews that you might encounter when applying for a job in cybersecurity.
The most common types of interviews are behavioral, technical, and case-based.
- Behavioral interviews focus on your experiences and how you handled certain situations. The interviewer wants to know how you would react in a similar situation in the job you are applying for.
- Technical interviews test your knowledge of specific cybersecurity concepts and technologies.
- Case-based discussions are like behavioral interviews, focusing on particular cybersecurity scenarios. The interviewer will ask you how you would handle a particular situation.
What types of questions will potential employers ask?
Some common questions that they might ask you during a behavioral interview include:
- Tell me when you had to deal with a problematic cybersecurity customer or user.
“I once had to deal with a customer who constantly demanded more and more from our team. I had to be very patient and calm with him while also ensuring that he understood what we were doing and why we couldn’t always give him what he wanted. In the end, I diffused the situation and kept the customer happy.“
- Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond to complete a cybersecurity project.
“I once had to complete a project in a concise time frame. I ended up working long hours and weekends to get it done. But it was worth it because the project was a success and our team received high praise from our manager.”
- Tell me about a time when you made a cybersecurity mistake and how you handled it.
“We all make mistakes. It’s part of being human. But what’s important is how we handle those mistakes. I once made a mistake that almost made some of our company’s data vulnerable to an attack. However, I quickly realized my mistake and took steps to prevent this situation.
Then, I went to my manager and explained what had happened. She was grateful that I was honest and took steps to fix the problem.“
Some common questions that they might ask you during a technical interview include:
- What is the difference between symmetric and asymmetric encryption?
“Symmetric encryption encrypts information and sends it to specific people. To decrypt the communications, all users need a single key. When sending and receiving encrypted communications, asymmetric encryption uses a public key and a private key.”
- What is a zero-day exploit?
“A zero-day exploit is an attack that takes advantage of a software vulnerability that has not been patched or fixed yet. The attacks can be hazardous because they can give the attacker access to sensitive data or systems.”
- How would you respond to a DDoS attack?
“You can take several steps to respond to a DDoS attack. Of course, the best way to respond to this type of attack is to prevent it. However, if an attack occurs, you need to confirm that there indeed is a DDoS attack. Then your next step is to analyze the attack.
For example, you need to determine the logical flow of the DDoS attack and the infrastructure affected by it. Once you have this information, you can take steps to mitigate the attack. This might include blocking IP addresses, rate-limiting traffic, using a traffic scrubbing service, increasing bandwidth, or even blocking traffic from certain countries.
After taking steps to mitigate the attack, you need to monitor the situation and ensure that the attack has stopped. If the attack is still ongoing, you might need to take additional steps. Finally, review your systems and procedures to see if any changes need to be made to prevent future attacks once the attack is over.”
Some common questions that they might ask you during a case-based interview include:
- You are the CISO of a company. You discover that one of your employees has been downloading non-work-related content. What do you do?
“If I were the CISO of a company and discovered that one of my employees was downloading the content, I would first have a conversation with the employee. I would try to find out why they were doing it.
If the employee was just making a mistake, I would give them a warning and have them sign a document stating that they understand the consequences of their actions. But if the employee was doing it for malicious reasons, I would end their employment immediately.”
- You are the CISO of a company, and you discover that one of your employees has been sharing sensitive information on social media
“The first step is to identify what kind of information was shared and how sensitive it is. If it’s just some innocuous data, I would talk to the employee and remind them of your company’s policies.
However, suppose the information is more sensitive or might lead to a security breach. In that case, I’ll need to take more serious action.
No matter what course of action, though, it’s essential to document everything thoroughly. This will help you if you need legal action or if the employee tries to file a grievance. It will also help you prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.”
- How do you prevent a brute-force attack?
“Brute force attacks use a combination of guesswork and automation to break into password-protected items. To prevent these types of attacks, cyber security professionals should:
- Create unique login URLs for different user groups
- Analyze log files and keep track of server logs.
- To prevent automated assaults, add a CAPTCHA as part of the login procedure
- Utilize two-factor authentication
- Limit access to specific IP addresses
- Stop login attempts (after a certain number of failed login tries)
- Remove the root user’s access via SSH”
- If you were a hacker, how would you go about stealing data from a company?
“There are many ways to steal data from a company. Still, one of the most common methods is to exploit security vulnerabilities. Hackers will often scan for systems that have known vulnerabilities and then try to exploit them.
Once they gain access to a system, they can either steal sensitive data or plant malware that will allow them continued access in the future.”
Questions to ask your interviewer to show your expertise
By asking questions, you can show your expertise. You also gain valuable insights into the organization you are interviewing with.
Asking questions shows you are interested in the company and its security posture. It also allows you to gauge whether the company is a good fit for your skills and goals.
Some questions that you might want to ask your interviewer include:
- What are the biggest cybersecurity threats you are currently facing?
- What is your incident response plan in the event of a breach?
- What type of security measures do you have to protect your systems and data?
- How often do you test your security controls?
- What are your thoughts on [insert hot topic in cybersecurity]?
Cybersecurity is a rapidly evolving field, so it’s essential to be well-prepared for job interviews. Employers are looking for candidates with both technical expertise and a commitment to lifelong learning and adaptability.
To stand out in this competitive market, you need to be thoroughly prepared. This includes practicing your interviewing skills with tools like Pramp and Interviewing.io, staying up-to-date on industry trends, and developing both technical and soft skills.
In addition to demonstrating your technical knowledge, it’s also important to show your passion for cybersecurity and your commitment to protecting the digital world.
As the cybersecurity field continues to grow, those who are prepared to meet its challenges head-on will be in high demand. Remember to equip yourself with the necessary skills and knowledge, stay calm and prepared, and seize the opportunities that lie ahead.
Frequently asked questions
Begin by researching the company’s cybersecurity practices, reviewing the specific job description, brushing up on your technical skills, and practicing common interview questions. Understanding the company’s culture and values can also give you an edge.
Common topics include network security, cryptography, intrusion detection systems, malware, firewall configurations, and cybersecurity tools and software. The depth of questioning often aligns with the role’s requirements.
Yes. Beyond technical knowledge, employers often value communication, problem-solving, teamwork, and adaptability. Demonstrating your ability to explain complex technical concepts in simple terms can be a significant advantage.
This depends on the job. For instance, a penetration tester might be asked about specific testing methodologies, while a security analyst could be questioned on incident response strategies.
It’s common for employers to incorporate practical tests, especially for technical roles. This could involve analyzing a piece of code, solving a mock security challenge, or proposing solutions to a hypothetical scenario.
Inquire about the company’s cybersecurity framework, team dynamics, tools and technologies in use, professional development opportunities, and the challenges the cybersecurity team currently faces.
Popular cybersecurity forums, blogs, and platforms like CyberSeek, InfoSec Institute, and ISC^2 offer valuable insights, discussions, and interview tips.