30 Interview Questions for a Security Engineer (and Sample Answers)
To do well in a cybersecurity job interview, you need to show that you are skilled and know a lot about the industry. Interviewers want to know if you have the skills and experience to protect a company from cyber threats. They also want to know how well you will fit into a company. Getting ready for an interview in cybersecurity takes time and work. In this article, we answer many of the cybersecurity questions that employers ask during job interviews, so you can get an idea of how to answer them yourself. Questions for a Security Engineer
These questions are meant to help the interviewer figure out how interested you are in the job, what your background is, and what kind of person you are, as well as how well you will fit in with the company.
- Tell me about the schools you went to. What did you like best and what did you like least?
- Tell us something about yourself that’s not on your resume.
- In five years, where do you see yourself?
- What’s one word you’d use to describe how hard you work?
- If you got to work one day and saw that you had more than 1,000 emails in your inbox, but you can’t read and reply to all of them, how would you decide which ones to answer and why?
- What do you do really well? What is the worst thing about you?
- What is the best thing you’ve ever done?
- Tell me about a problem you overcame.
- What kinds of tech blogs do you read?
- What do you think your first 30, 60, or 90 days on the job will be like?
Questions about past work and history
These questions are meant to help the interviewer figure out how much experience you have, if your skills match the requirements for the job, and if your values match those of the company.
- Tell us about some of your accomplishments or credentials.
- Tell us about the big projects or things you’ve done well at work.
- If you do have a wireless access point, how do you keep it safe?
- What do you do when someone tries to play “man in the middle”?
- What are three steps you must take to secure a Linux server if you work with one?
- An executive calls you and tells you to break company policy and let them use their home device for work. What do you do?
- Do you want your firewall to have closed ports or ports that have been filtered?
- What are some of your favorite tools for assessing security?
- Why haven’t most companies fixed their vulnerabilities?
- What would you do first if you were hired as the head engineer or Chief Security Officer (CSO) at a large company?
These in-depth questions help the person who is interviewing you figure out how much you know about cybersecurity.
- How do you make sure a server is safe?
- Why is it important to keep an eye on the Domain Name System (DNS)?
- How are hashing, encoding, and encrypting different from each other?
- During a transmission, if you had to compress and encrypt data, which would you do first and why?
- What is the process of salting and what is it used for?
- Name three ways that a user can prove who they are.
- Why are usually internal threats more dangerous than external ones?
- What is the best way to deal with a cross-site request forgery (CSRF)?
- What would you look for if you wanted to know if a CSRF attack was coming?
- What are the benefits of bug bounty programs compared to other ways of testing?
Sample questions and answers for an interview
Here are some common interview questions for people who work in cybersecurity, along with tips on how to answer them and some sample answers.
Describe risk, weakness, and threat.
A good way to answer this question is to first talk about vulnerability, then threat, and then risk. Justify your answer with a simple example.
Example: “A system’s vulnerability is a weakness in its defenses, and a threat is an attacker who knows about that weakness and uses it.” Risk is the amount of loss that could happen if that weakness is used. For example, if a company leaves a server’s username and password as the default settings, an attacker could easily get into the server and steal the data. The risk is the amount of money that could be lost because of that data breach.”
How are symmetric and asymmetric encryption different, and which is better?
This is a big subject, so keep your answer short and to the point.
Example: “In symmetric encryption, both encrypting and decrypting use the same key. On the other hand, different keys are used for asymmetric encryption. Most of the time, symmetric is faster, but the key has to be sent over an unencrypted channel. Asymmetric is safer, but it takes longer. The best way to do it would be to combine the two: use asymmetric encryption to set up a channel and symmetric encryption to send the data.
What is Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), and how can you protect yourself from it?
To answer this question, you need to know how the countermeasures work and the different types of XSS.
What is a hacker with a white hat, a black hat, or a grey hat?
You don’t have to go into a lot of detail when answering this question. Don’t complicate your answer.
“White-hat hackers are allowed to try to hack your site as long as they sign an NDA. White-hat hackers who sometimes do things that aren’t allowed are called grey-hat hackers. Hackers who do not have permission to do so are called “black hat hackers.”
What is data leakage, and how can it be found and stopped?
This is a very important question that will show the interviewer how well you can protect the data of an organization.
“A data leak is when an organization’s data gets out in a way that wasn’t supposed to happen. Data can get out in a number of ways, such as through emails, lost laptops, leaked photos, or the unauthorized uploading of data to public portals. To keep information from getting out, you can use controls to stop people from uploading files to websites, send emails to the internal network, or print confidential information.
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