It and Cybersecurity Interview Questions

50 Essential IT & Cybersecurity Interview Questions to Prep for an Interview

You probably know to practice common interview questions before your interview, but you might not know that cybersecurity interview questions are unique. Cybersecurity interviews are more technical and tailored to the IT industry. Practicing generic interview questions found online will never be as effective as practicing specific cybersecurity interview questions that may actually be asked by your interviewer. Generally, you’ll face 3 types of questions:                

Cybersecurity interview questions

As the Chief Information Officer at Envera Health and now a mentor at Pathrise, I’ve interviewed hundreds of candidates throughout my career. I’m looking for succinct answers that demonstrate cultural values and soft skills. Candidates that were familiar with cybersecurity interview question format and common questions consistently outperformed others candidates and landed the job. That’s why I’ve worked with Pathrise to make a list of common Cybersecurity interview questions asked during real cybersecurity interviews. Practice these questions to go into your interview with confidence and impress your interviewer.

Technical Cybersecurity Interview Questions

To prepare for technical interviews, practicing real cybersecurity questions aloud as if explaining them to interviewers will be the most helpful. You should also review core cybersecurity principles. Even if you aren’t given a technical question, referencing core principles will prove to the interviewer that you’ll make an impact in the role.

Technical cybersecurity interview questions:

  1. Explain the three way handshake?
  2. What is hashing? 
  3. What is encryption? 
  4. How are hashing and encryption different?
  5. What is Port Scanning?
  6. What are Black Hat, White Hat and Gray Hat Hackers?
  7. Explain a firewall as if I am a non-technical executive.
  8. How can you define Blue Team and Red Team basically?
  9. Explain the concept of defense in depth and how it applies to cybersecurity.
  10. Explain the concept of zero trust.
  11. Explain asymmetric vs. symmetric crypto?
  12. How do HTTPS certificates work?
  13. What is an event viewer?
  14. What is the difference between vulnerability, risk and threat?
  15. Could you share some general endpoint security product categories?
  16. Explain the Cyber Kill Chain?
  17. Explain True Positive and False Positive.
  18.  How do you know if you have been attacked? Explain the indicators of attack (IOAs)?
  19.  Explain each layer of the OSI model?
  20.  Explain the difference between OSI and TCP/IP model
  21.  How can you protect yourself from Man-in-the-middle (on-path) attacks?
  22.  With which event id can failed logons be detected?

Cybersecurity

Behavioral Cybersecurity Interview Questions

For behavioral interview questions, many job seekers don’t prepare beforehand, or just glance over questions without actually practicing their responses. They’re confident that they’ll be able to communicate an answer in the moment. But planning to “wing” your questions is risky and ineffective, even if you glanced at questions beforehand. Interviewers are often seeking extremely specific answers that align with their values and mission. Using the STAR method with correct interview etiquette will help you land the job.

Behavioral technical cybersecurity interview questions:

  1. How do you keep yourself updated with information security?
  2. Tell me about your favorite past cybersecurity project.
  3. What motivated you to pursue a career in cybersecurity?
  4. Describe a time when you encountered a security incident or breach. How did you respond to it, and what lessons did you learn from that experience? 
  5. How would you approach assessing and mitigating the risks associated with a new software or system implementation?
  6. How do you approach communicating complex technical security concepts to non-technical stakeholders?
  7. Describe a time when you had to work collaboratively with other teams or departments to implement security measures. How did you ensure effective communication and coordination?

General Behavioral Interview Questions that Appear in Most Interviews

Some simple behavioral questions will come up in every interview in some form. You can be certain that your interviewer will ask you to tell them about yourself, talk about conflict, and work with others. Since these will almost definitely come up, you can prepare an example from a real-life work scenario to answer the question with the STAR method.

General behavioral questions:

  1. Tell me about yourself.
  2. Tell me about a time you solved a conflict at work.
  3. Share an example of how you were able to motivate employees or co-workers
  4. Do you prefer to work with a team or independently?
  5. Describe a situation where you had to lead a group that had difficulties. How did you handle it?
  6. Have you handled a difficult situation with a coworker? How?
  7. How do you collaborate with others?
  8. If there was one obstacle or issue that you could foresee that might prevent you from hitting a deadline, what would it be?
  9. Tell me about a time you went beyond what was expected.
  10. If you know two improvements need to be made but can only make one, how would you prioritize?
  11. What do you do when you are procrastinating?
  12. Talk about a time when you had multiple requests from different people in the company. How did you handle them?
  13. How do you defend your opinion to team members and stakeholders?
  14. How would you handle a situation where you were getting a lot of negative feedback in the middle of a presentation?
  15. How do you make a case for your vision and opinion?
  16. What advice would you give someone younger than you who is trying to come up in the field?
  17. What do you do if you disagree with your boss?
  18. What was the biggest takeaway from your current job that you’ll carry throughout your career?
  19. Why do you want to change jobs?
  20. Talk about your approach to solving complex problems.
  21. Do you find that you often get overwhelmed at work? How do you combat that?
  22. Who has influenced you in your career?

Preparing the questions before you arrive at your interview will make sure you don’t freeze up and give you the confidence you need to lead the conversation. It is also essential to prepare questions to ask at the end of an interview to end the leave the best impression.

Cybersecurity and IT are often considered among the best jobs for career changers due to the high demand and competitive salaries. However, competition can be fierce, especially for cybersecurity roles at top companies like Cisco or Microsoft

Pathrise is a career accelerator that helps people land their dream job in tech. Our expert mentors work 1-on-1 with you to help you optimize your resume, ace interviews, and negotiate a higher salary. On average, our fellows double their interview scores and get 3x more interviews. It’s free until you land a job.

Apply today.

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Jason Conley

Jason is an IT Innovator & Leader with more than 20 years IT experience from Fortune 500s to Startups. Experienced in every major Industry and Sector in the market, specializing in Healthcare, Financial and Public Sector. High technical expertise allows me to effectively understand all project & institutional requirements from beginning to end with the business knowledge to see beyond the technical portion of projects.

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