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Once you’ve passed the initial screening process and secured that all-important interview, it’s time to close the deal. These 10 tips will put you on the right track.
September 18, 2023
6 minutes. read
The cybersecurity sector lacks 3.4 million professionals global. But that doesn’t mean employers have lowered their standards. While there are plenty of opportunities for ambitious job seekers, it pays to be prepared.
We have already collected five reasons to consider a career in cybersecuritylook at how to get started safelyas well as answers to questions about what the job of a security researcher is like. This time, we’ll share 10 general ways cybersecurity job seekers can impress during their interview.
What to expect
Succeeding in the interview will likely require a combination of technical knowledge, problem-solving skills, and the ability to communicate your expertise effectively. So, once you’ve passed the initial screening process and gotten that all-important interview, it’s time to close the deal.
The first thing to remember is that, depending on the role, there will likely be multiple rounds of interviews. These may start with a human resources representative, then continue to the hiring manager and your future boss. There may also be an interview with potential colleagues, and somewhere along the journey some sort of practical assignment will likely be set.
Also remember that because cybersecurity is a multidisciplinary field, interviewers can assess a range of skills and knowledge areas. You may want to tailor your preparation to the specific position you’re applying for, whether it’s a security analyst, penetration tester, or security engineer.
Indeed, preparation is essential. The HR interview will often focus largely on job requirements and mindset, while the hiring manager will want to go into detail about your technical abilities and how you will fit into the team. Peer interviews are a great opportunity to show your enthusiasm for the role and the organization, and to ask pointed questions to learn more about the culture. An interview with someone high up in the company, perhaps even a senior manager, will come last and this is the time to prove that you are the right culture fit and hungry for the role.
10 Best Tips for Success in an Interview
) Do your research
This may seem obvious, but the first step is to understand the company you are applying to. Visit their social media pages and website and look for information about the organization’s culture, values and mission, as well as its core product offerings and any industry awards or recognition. Go into detail here: It could make all the difference if you are able to demonstrate your knowledge of the organization.
) Be comfortable talking about your experience
Experience can make the difference between a great candidate and an equally good candidate. But it is important to highlight this experience as much as possible to a potential employer. The starting point here is your CV. Learn it from top to bottom, and get comfortable sharing how various roles and projects helped you gain this all-important experience. They don’t even have to be in paid positions: anything relevant can be mentioned during the interview.
) Think of practical examples to show your abilities
An interview is the perfect time to bring your CV to life and demonstrate what you have accomplished in the past. Just as an artist would bring a portfolio of their work, a cybersecurity professional might bring a laptop to show their interviewer examples of past work to showcase their skills. Particularly memorable are examples where you led a project from start to finish.
) Prepare your certifications
In a competitive job market, having relevant certifications can give you an edge over other candidates. If you have IT training or have any industry-recognized certifications, be sure to mention them, especially if they are relevant to the position and are up to date, even if they are just ‘an entry level.
Be prepared to discuss the knowledge and skills you gained from earning these certificates – interviewers may ask specific questions related to the content covered on the exams. Which brings us to the next point and some more general advice.
) Rehearse answers to some common interview questions
This is another no-brainer and an exercise where having an interview partner really helps. Research some frequently asked questions for candidates in your position and rehearse some detailed answers. Even if the exact same questions don’t come up during the interview, this will be a great way to organize your thoughts and help you build confidence and fluency during the actual interview.
Questions can be role specific (what is the difference between symmetric and asymmetric encryption? what is a zero day?) or more general (what excites you most about your work here?). There is no substitute for putting in the hours: the more you and your partner can practice, the better prepared you will be.
) Be prepared for the unexpected
When it comes to interviews, it always pays to expect the unexpected. This is why it is important to try to prepare as much as possible, but also to be agile enough to deal with rare twists and turns. It may be that when you arrive or sign in, you will be greeted by not one but several interviewers.
Be open-minded to different interview formats; this will vary depending on the role, employer or interviewer. Senior leaders, in particular, may want to go a little off-script to see how you respond.
) I have questions to ask
Many people view this as an afterthought. But it can be a great way to differentiate yourself from the rest of the group, demonstrating genuine interest and understanding of the organization and the role. It’s also a useful way to find out more about the role. After all, interviews are also an opportunity for the candidate to check whether the position and the company suit them.
) Keep it conversational
It’s in the questioner’s best interest to put you at ease, so they can really get to know you and see what you’re capable of. The nerves get in the way. So try to remain as conversational and confident as possible, to let the interview flow rather than getting stuck in a rigid question-and-answer format. This will also indicate to the interviewer that you are in control of the material.
) Be courteous and honest
Among the basic rules of good housekeeping etiquette, there are a few that are obvious. Be polite and honest, and do not disparage any former employers. Humor can be subjective and is therefore generally a bad idea in such situations.
0) Dress Smart and Be Friendly Online
Most of the positions you’ll be interviewing for today will be remote, so slightly different rules apply. Do a background check before the call and test your technology to make sure it works. Remember to look at the camera rather than at yourself on screen. And, it goes without saying, dress smartly but don’t wear anything distracting.
Some people are naturally better at interviews, but with lots of practice and enough background research, anyone can set themselves up for success. Good luck.