52 cybersecurity interview questions for your candidates

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52 cybersecurity interview questions for your candidates

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Cybersecurity is critical for reinforcing your organization’s preparedness to react to threats and protect its sensitive data efficiently. It’s vital for dealing with data breaches, should one happen, and mitigate risk.

It’s vital to entrust these responsibilities to the right professional. But how can you be confident you’re making the right choice when hiring your next cybersecurity expert?

The ideal way to choose the best person for the job is by administering skills tests and inviting the best candidates to an interview in which you ask a comprehensive set of cybersecurity interview questions.

Do you need some inspiration for your list?

You’ll find an extensive list of questions to assess candidates’ cybersecurity skills in this article.

Table of contents



15 general cybersecurity interview questions to ask candidates

This section features 15 general cybersecurity interview questions to ask your candidates and evaluate their general cybersecurity knowledge.

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  1. Why is cybersecurity crucial for businesses?
  2. Which skills are important for cybersecurity professionals?
  3. Explain what a hacker is.
  4. Why is DNS monitoring important?
  5. Name two types of common cyberattacks.
  6. Why is using public Wi-Fi risky?
  7. What can spyware do to an organization’s data?
  8. What can viruses do to a computer system?
  9. What are the benefits of a CryptoAPI?
  10. What does ethical hacking mean?
  11. Name three examples of social engineering attacks.
  12. What do antivirus sensor systems do?
  13. Explain what security auditing means.
  14. Are there any disadvantages of penetration testing? Give an example.
  15. What are physical threats in cybersecurity?



5 general cybersecurity interview questions and answers 

Here’s our selection of five of the most crucial cybersecurity interview questions from the ones above, together with sample answers to help you gauge applicants’ knowledge.

1. Explain what a hacker is.

Candidates should understand that hackers seek to find and exploit computer system weaknesses, using their thorough knowledge of network and IT systems.

2. Which skills are important for cybersecurity professionals?

Do your candidates know that knowledge of network and endpoint threat mitigation are two critical skills that cybersecurity professionals should have? Can they explain that knowledge of computer networks and cloud server security is also essential for a cybersecurity role?

3. Name two types of common cyberattacks.

Two types of common cyberattacks that your candidates should know include web application attacks and system-based attacks: 

  • Web application attacks are malicious attempts to compromise a web application’s security
  • System-based attacks are attempts to spread malicious software through the computer network via computer files

4. What do antivirus sensor systems do?

Antivirus sensor systems are software tools used to find, mitigate, and get rid of a virus that computers may have. These sensors carry out regular checks to increase a system’s security.

5. Explain what security auditing means.

Can your candidates explain that security auditing involves internal application and operating system inspections to spot any security flaws and vulnerabilities? Strong candidates will explain that line-by-line code inspections can help perform the audit.



29 cybersecurity interview questions related to terms and definitions

This section has 29 cybersecurity interview questions related to terms and definitions that your applicants should know.

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  1. Explain what cryptography is.
  2. Explain what cybersecurity is.
  3. Explain what symmetric encryption is.
  4. Explain what asymmetric encryption is.
  5. What is IDS?
  6. What is IPS?
  7. Explain the difference between IDS and IPS.
  8. What is the CIA model?
  9. Explain what hashing is.
  10. Explain the difference between encryption and hashing.
  11. What is a firewall?
  12. Explain what vulnerability assessments are.
  13. Explain what penetration testing is.
  14. Explain what traceroute is.
  15. What is HIDS?
  16. What is NIDS?
  17. What is SSL encryption?
  18. What is an accidental data leak?
  19. What is an intentional data leak?
  20. What is a system hack?
  21. Explain what brute force attacks are.
  22. Explain what a VPN is.
  23. What is a DDOS attack?
  24. What is an XSS attack?
  25. Explain what SSL does.
  26. Explain what TLS does.
  27. Explain what cognitive cybersecurity is.
  28. Explain the advantages of a VPN.
  29. Explain what phishing is.



5 critical cybersecurity interview questions and answers related to terms and definitions

This section has five critical cybersecurity interview questions related to terms and definitions, along with answers to help you assess your applicants’ knowledge.

1. Explain what cybersecurity is.

Knowledgeable candidates should be able to explain that cybersecurity is the process of protecting software and hardware from hackers and cyberattacks. For example, the process ensures that attackers cannot access sensitive information or exploit system vulnerabilities.

2. Explain what cryptography is.

Can your applicants explain that cryptography involves securing digital information and data transmitted during communications?

Your applicants should know that cryptography ensures that only the recipient of the information and the sender can view the details of the message.

3. What is a firewall?

Applicants should know that a firewall is a network security system that monitors and controls the network’s traffic. Do your applicants know that firewalls mitigate remote system access and help prevent virus or malware attacks?

4. Explain what a VPN is.

VPN is an acronym that means virtual private network. Your applicants should know that VPNs create secure, encrypted connections when the client’s data is sent to a different point.

They should be able to explain that the data first goes to the VPN, gets encrypted, and gets decrypted at a second point in the VPN. The data then reaches the other device.

5. What is SSL encryption?

SSL, short for secure sockets layer, is a security technology that creates an encrypted link between browsers and web servers. Candidates may explain that SSL encryption works by protecting sensitive information used in online transactions.



8 cybersecurity interview questions related to cybersecurity processes

This final section contains eight questions related to cybersecurity processes that your candidates should know and understand.

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  1. How do you set up a firewall?
  2. How do you secure servers?
  3. Which methods would you use to prevent a brute force attack?
  4. How do you prevent identity theft?
  5. When should you complete patch management processes?
  6. How would you prevent a DDOS attack?
  7. How would you prevent an XSS attack?
  8. How can you implement two-factor authentication?



5 vital cybersecurity interview questions and answers related to cybersecurity processes

Here are five of the essential interview questions related to cybersecurity processes, along with answers you should listen for.

1. How do you set up a firewall?

Applicants may explain that the following process is involved in setting up a firewall:

  • Secure the firewall by updating the firmware or completing the required configuration measures
  • Set up firewall zones and plan a structure 
  • Create access lists to invite and grant access to verified users
  • Test the firewall to ensure it is configured to block the intended traffic 
  • Maintain and continuously update the firewall

2. How would you prevent a DDOS attack?

Candidates may outline the following four methods to prevent DDOS attacks:

  • Using services that work against DDOS attacks
  • Using firewalls and configuring routers
  • Implementing load balancing methods
  • Monitoring traffic spikes

3. How would you prevent an XSS attack?

Can your candidates explain that preventing cross-site scripting attacks requires a few steps?

Applicants should be able to give some of the following examples:

  • Using services or tools that work against XSS
  • Implementing XSS filters
  • Validating and sanitizing user inputs
  • Using special character encoding techniques

4. How can you implement two-factor authentication?

Applicants should know that implementing two-factor authentication involves selecting an additional method of verifying a user’s identity. One example of such a method is smartphone verification.

Your applicant may also mention that authenticator apps are on the rise and help organizations minimize the use of verification codes.

5. How do you prevent identity theft?

A few key methods that candidates may mention when responding to this question include:

  • Using strong, unique passwords
  • Avoiding sharing confidential data online
  • Using the most up-to-date browser versions



10 tips for using cybersecurity interview questions effectively

To use the cybersecurity interview questions in this article effectively, take a look at our ten tips below.

image listing 10 tips for using cybersecurity interview questions effectively

1. Use cybersecurity interview questions after skills testing

Make skills testing the priority when assessing the skills of potential cybersecurity professionals for your organization. Invite candidates to complete a skills assessment of up to five tests to thoroughly evaluate their skills and knowledge.

Make sure to include a Cybersecurity test, along with other role-specific skill tests, cognitive ability tests, or personality and culture assessments.

When you’ve received applicants’ cybersecurity skills assessment results, invite qualified candidates to an interview. You can then use the cybersecurity interview questions from our article to learn more about your applicants.

2. Have a list of skills to check during the interview

You may have a list of skills that the role requires and have included them in the job description. Make sure you have that list of skills with you during the interview.

You can compare your requirements and your candidates’ responses and ensure that you select candidates whose cybersecurity knowledge and skills best align with your needs.

3. Talk about your organization’s vision and mission

The interview stage is an excellent chance to promote your organization’s vision and mission to potential new hires.

During the interview phase, you can talk about your organization’s goals, so prepare for this by brushing up on its culture, mission statement, values, and vision. Talking about your organization can be the pivotal point that sways a candidate’s decision to join your company.

4. Get to know your candidates’ career goals

At the beginning of the interview, ask your applicants about their career goals to determine whether their ambitions align with what your company offers.

This way, you’ll be able to find out whether your candidates have the necessary passion, commitment, and desire to progress in their careers.

Learn whether they are interested in any training opportunities and get a better understanding of their career so far to determine their level of motivation.

5. Ask applicants general cybersecurity interview questions first

Ask your candidates a few general cybersecurity interview questions first, before working your way up to the more challenging questions. This method will help you understand more about your candidates’ experiences in cybersecurity and general knowledge before you test their technical knowledge.

6. Avoid bias by asking the same questions in the same order

Fair interview processes are vital and can enhance the candidate experience.

Ensure that you ask all cybersecurity interview questions in the same order for all candidates. However, you can ask follow-up questions if you feel this will give your applicants a chance to give you more information.

7. Use consistent metrics when reviewing candidates after the interview

Using consistent metrics to review your candidates can also help you avoid bias. When you use skills tests, you’ll receive ranked results of the assessments, which will help you evaluate candidates’ skills efficiently.

You can also use scoring sheets to evaluate your candidates’ answers during interviews and compare scores to skills assessment results. 

8. Prepare for your applicants’ questions

Let your applicants ask their cybersecurity interview questions about your organization to enhance their candidate experience.

Be prepared to provide thorough, honest answers, as this can be a pivotal moment that helps a candidate decide whether they want to accept your job offer.

9. Provide feedback to applicants to enhance the candidate experience

When you disqualify candidates who don’t meet your requirements, let them know why. Giving them this information will help you enhance the candidate experience even more. 

10. Use candidates’ responses and test results to create a tailored onboarding program

Candidates’ responses to your cybersecurity interview questions provide useful information to help you build tailored training sessions for your new hire and address any potential gaps. Their questions about training opportunities can help you further inform your onboarding strategy.

Hire an expert with the right cybersecurity interview questions

There are quite a few challenges to hiring the right expert to join your cybersecurity team. You need to make sure that the chosen applicant is the best fit for your organization, which isn’t easy.

At TestGorilla, we recommend skills testing before proceeding with interviews. Then, during the interview stage, you can use the right cybersecurity interview questions to evaluate your candidates more thoroughly.

Now that you have these interview questions, you’ll have no problem hiring a professional. All that’s left is to visit TestGorilla’s test library to find the most reliable skills tests available – and start building your first assessment.  Get started for free today and start making better hiring decisions, faster and bias-free.

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