40+ Cybersecurity Interview Questions

Your organization’s cybersecurity experts are your best line of defense against cyber threats and breaches, but hiring the right people for the job can be a challenge. Are you vetting your candidates the right way?

To help you assess your candidates with confidence, we’ve put together a list of more than 40 cybersecurity questions to use in your next interview. Let’s get started!

Related: 7 Tips for Conducting Effective IT Interviews

Cybersecurity Interview Questions: Covering the Essentials

Whether you’re interviewing an entry-level cybersecurity analyst, an experienced security architect, or anything in between, it’s important to cover a range of topics that assess the full scope of their knowledge, skills, and experience.

Your interview questions should touch on things like:

  • Background, experience, and goals
  • Basic security topics like malware, networks, and effective risk management
  • Standard security policies and compliance
  • Industry trends and news
  • Penetration testing and vulnerability assessments
  • Implementation of security strategies and solutions
  • Soft skills like collaboration and communication

Cybersecurity Interview Questions on Background and Dedication

Before you assess a candidate’s skills, you should spend some time inquiring about their background, work experience, and other factors. Here are 11 questions to get you started:

  • Can you tell me a little about your background?
  • How many years of experience do you have in cybersecurity?
  • What motivated you to pursue a career in cybersecurity?
  • Why is cybersecurity an essential aspect of every business?
  • How do you stay on top of industry news, trends, and threats? Can you provide an example of a
  • time when you applied this knowledge to a task?
  • Are you proficient in any software, tools, or security platforms?
  • Do you have experience with penetration testing?
  • What are your long-term career goals in cybersecurity? How do you plan to achieve those?
  • How do you continue to develop yourself professionally? Can you describe any certifications or training programs you’ve pursued?

RELATED: 23 of the Best Security Architect Interview Questions

Cybersecurity Interview Questions on Soft Skills

Soft skills are often overlooked in the hiring process, but they could mean the difference between a good candidate and a great one. And for cybersecurity candidates specifically, they need these skills to communicate effectively with stakeholders, to solve problems, to adapt to new technologies and threats, and to manage emotions in high-pressure situations.

Here are some interview questions that touch on these abilities:

  • How do you communicate technical information to stakeholders without a technical background?
  • How do you work with team members who have different technical backgrounds and skill levels?
  • What tools or methods do you use to manage your time and meet deadlines?
  • How do you respond to constructive feedback? How do you go about offering constructive feedback?
  • How would you communicate the dangers of oversharing personal information on social media to someone who isn’t familiar with security best practices?
  • What three qualities are most important for an expert in cybersecurity? How do you demonstrate those qualities in your professional life?
  • How do you manage stress?
  • Tell me about a time you failed to meet a deadline. How did you remedy the situation?
  • Can you describe a time when you had to make a quick decision in response to a cybersecurity incident or threat?
  • Have you ever had to think creatively to solve a security issue? If so, what was the outcome?
  • What are your strengths when it comes to cybersecurity? Do you have any weaknesses?
  • How do you ensure that your team’s cybersecurity goals align with overall business objectives?

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Cybersecurity Interview Questions on Technical Skills and Knowledge

After you’ve asked your candidate about their background, goals, and soft skills, it’s time to dig into their technical capabilities with some (or all) of these cybersecurity questions:

  • What are some of the biggest security challenges that professionals in the industry face?
  • If you were a cybercriminal, how would you attempt to gain access to my personal information?
  • Can you explain the concept of Defense in Depth? How can teams best implement this approach in their security practices?
  • What is your understanding of network security?
  • Can you explain the different layers of the OSI model?
  • Can you explain the three components of the CIA triad?
  • What’s the difference between a threat, a vulnerability, and an exploit?
  • How do you evaluate and manage third-party security risks?
  • Do you have any strategies for implementing effective malware prevention while minimizing impact on system performance?
  • Explain the four main types of VPNs and when to use them.
  • Can you explain the difference between a virus, a worm, and a Trojan horse?
  • What’s a man-in-the-middle, or an MTM, attack? How do you prevent it?
  • What are some other common cyberattacks? Explain each and give examples.
  • What are the differences between the risk management frameworks NIST and ISO?
  • How would you secure a cloud-based infrastructure?
  • In your opinion, how often should companies perform security audits?
  • Can you give an example of a situation where you had to balance the confidentiality and availability of data?
  • How do you prevent brute force attacks?
  • Say the mouse pointer on your computer screen starts to move on its own. How would you handle that?
  • How would you go about securing a server?

Get Started on Hiring Cybersecurity Today

Hiring cybersecurity talent can be tough, but with the right interview questions on hand, you’ll be well on your way to building a top-notch team of skilled professionals.

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