10 questions to expect during your cybersecurity job interview

SOURCE: Jung Yeon-je / AFP
Job interviews in the tech sector can be nerve-racking without the right preparation.

By Shekinah Kannan 

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According to The US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Information Security Analyst’s Outlook, cybersecurity jobs are among the fastest-growing career areas nationally. The BLS predicts cybersecurity jobs will grow 31% through 2029, over seven times faster than the national average job growth of four percent.

Today, more than ever – with breaches becoming increasingly common – companies are prioritising the development and maintenance of a team of technologists and cybersecurity experts who understand how perpetrators think. 

While it’s essential to have the right cybersecurity expertise, acing the cybersecurity interview questions can be a challenge on its own as candidates will need to prep themselves for technical and non-technical interview questions that will demonstrate their knowledge and passion for the field.


That said, the right preparation is key if you wish to show your competency in handling sophisticated threats. Answers should be to the point and succint, best explained in your own words. While questions will vary from interview to interview, here’s a cheat sheet on the questions you could expect in a cybersecurity interview – starting with the basics:

How would you define cybersecurity?

Simply put, cybersecurity revolves around the protection of hardware, software, and data from cyber-attackers.

What is cryptography?

The practice and study of techniques for securing information and communication. It is used to protect data from third parties or adversaries not meant to access it.

What is a Black hat, white hat and grey hat hacker?

Black hat hackers hack without authority while white hat hackers are authorised to perform a hacking attempt under a signed NDA. On the other hand, grey hat hackers are white hat hackers which sometimes perform unauthorised activities.

What is a Firewall and why is it used?

A Firewall is a network security system or device that monitors incoming and outgoing network traffic. It then decides whether to allow or block specific traffic based on a defined set of security rules. They are mainly used to protect the system/network from viruses, worms, malware, etc. 

What is a VPN?

For starters, it stands for Virtual Private Network. It is a network connection method used for encrypted, safe connections. In cybersecurity, it is used to protect data from interference, snooping, and censorship.

What is the difference between IDS and IPS?

Intrusion Detection System (IDS) detects intrusions. Meanwhile, with an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS), the system finds the intrusion and prevents it. Although they work on the same basic concept, the placement is different.


How do you keep yourself updated with the latest information security news?

This question demonstrates your passion for the field. Use this opportunity to show your interviewer how you’re staying abreast of the latest happenings in the field, highlighting websites or forums that you use. This could also be a time for you to briefly highlight the latest trends or incidents that have intrigued you, which could speak volumes about your interest.

How is your home network protected?

Do you walk the talk? Cybersecurity professionals should be someone who follows the best practices to protect their data. That said, whether you frequently change the password on your home router, have segmented the home network for different uses, or have enabled a two-factor authentication on your apps – now would be a good time to share.

Do you know any coding languages?

Information security professionals are not expected to know how to code. However, basic knowledge of HTML and JavaScript can be extremely useful when working on web application attacks. Python can also come in handy for automating tasks. If you’re familiar with any of these, or if you’re in the process of upskilling, you should let your interviewer know.

Why are security teams and professionals like you needed in businesses today?

There are plenty of case studies of cyber attacks that have occurred, so use this time to describe what you’ve learned from them. The swift shift from office to work from home is also a prime example of how many companies have limited cybersecurity measures in place, fuelling the need for better measures to protect their valuable and sometimes sensitive data.