Cybersecurity Interview 101



A job interview is just as much a chance for the interviewer to delve deeper into your personality as it is for you to demonstrate what makes you the ideal candidate for the role in question. When it comes to cybersecurity, who you are and how you handle certain scenarios is equally as important as what you know and your level of experience and expertise within your field. 

Preparing for interview, there are several key areas that you are likely to be quizzed on so it is your duty to anticipate those types of questions in order to avoid generic responses and stand out from the crowd. Firstly, remember when applying for cybersecurity jobs you will be expected to demonstrate a deep knowledge of a wide variety of technology, an intellectual mind with a thirst for exploration and learning, as well as being someone to depend upon. 

Unlike interviews for other industries, the person sitting across from you is less interested in having your autobiography spelled out for them as they are in your insights into cybersecurity, which will likely prompt the question 'Tell me about your home network?'. Getting to grips with who you are as a cybersecurity analyst, the next point on your interviewer’s list will move on to what value you could add to their organisation. Questions directed at unearthing your thoughts on the role and how you would approach it may be communicated in such a way as to ask what you perceive the goal of information security to be within an organisation? Your answer will not only reveal your brand of risk-evaluation but also whether you are someone to be trusted. 

As the interview progresses, you can expect the questioning to become more technical as the interviewer looks to ascertain your cybersecurity credentials. A question that makes you contemplate the margins between threat, vulnerability and risk will really expose how deep your understanding goes when it comes to the nature of cybersecurity. Having the insight to understand that attackers can get through when a risk has been left unidentified is what an interviewer is looking for in this scenario and may prompt a further line of questioning to better get your take on what you deem to be more important to focus on, threats or vulnerabilities?  

With the interview now in the realms of technical discussion, attention may be paid to the particular type of server used by the business you are interviewing with. A question about your methods for securing a server aims to dig deeper into your thought processes and decision-making ability. Whether Windows, Linux or another brand of server, expect this line of questioning to be specifically targeted at your experience, as the interviewer assesses your depth of knowledge and expertise in cross-domain risk mitigation. Terms such as filtered ports and closed ports and your preference for each in relation to firewalls may come into play so be prepared for every technical term and piece of industry jargon to arise. 

Network based discussion will bring matters of DNS monitoring and “man in the middle” attacks to light in order to evaluate your acknowledgement of weaknesses present in domain name services as well as to garner your insights on encryption. A cybersecurity professional is expected to recognise the differences in how network-related protocols function before they can understand the risks, so knowing the difference between encoding, encryption and hashing is something your interviewer will want to see demonstrated as well as your ability to differentiate between SSL, TLS or HTTPS as offering the highest level of network security. 

Questions on implementation issues regarding encrypting and compressing data during transmission should elicit a response that shows you know which order those actions should occur in (compress then encrypt to level out the “noise” given off by the latter). While the subject of application and user security will bring up cross site scripting and the types of defence against this sort of attack as the interviewer aims to separate the wheat from the chafe when it comes to discerning the makings of a strong cybersecurity candidate. 

User authentication will generally follow these types of questions with the expectation that your answer will include something along the lines of two-factor authentication. More than that however, they want to know that you are au fait with application-related issues when it comes to implementing the aforementioned two-factor authentication for a public facing website or indeed as part of cloud services. This of course invites the question of what risks are likely whether in the cloud or on a physical premises, the particular measures needed for securing services in the cloud and the unique risks involved in the use of cloud based services. 

From the technical issues to those concerning the people staking a claim in the cybersecurity of your potential business, managing stakeholder expectations and demands effectively is something else your interviewer may touch on. How you answer in terms of managing conflicting requirements from stakeholders as to the deployment of systems either to the cloud or on site says a lot about your interpersonal style. 

Expect the culmination of the interview to test your wider knowledge of cybersecurity and your dedication to keeping yourself informed of its constantly evolving state. Be prepared not only with a credible news source for your cybersecurity news, ie. specific websites or mailing list subscriptions, but make sure you have the knowledge to back it up. Know those sites inside out because proving you are trustworthy is as easy as authenticating those assertions with the facts and figures from actual discussions on those websites’ forums. 


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