“How To” Cyber Blog Series: Part III

How to Prep for the Cyber Job Interview

During pre-interview screening and the interview itself, employers whittle down their list of job candidates to those with the strongest technical knowledge as well as exceptional management and engagement skills. It’s critical to be able to articulate your knowledge and skills with various stakeholders across several interviews.

So, much like actors in plays and movies, doing well in a job interview means research, review, and practice. Let’s explore tips for preparing for the cybersecurity job interview.

Research the Employer

Search the Internet to learn about the organization for which you’re interviewing. What products and/or services does it offer? What is its organizational structure and key personnel? It’s also important to research key industry challenges the company faces, as well as its competitors. The purpose is to be able to relate aspects of your cybersecurity experience with the organization’s needs during an interview.

If you have the interviewer’s name and title, search LinkedIn and the company website for background information. When employers interview for cybersecurity leadership positions, they usually bring a team of stakeholders to the table. Ask ahead of time who will be attending so you can learn about their roles and responsibilities around cybersecurity. Also, find out whether you attended the same schools or worked for the same companies in the past.

You may also want to know whether the organization is financially healthy, and how employees feel about working there. If it’s a publicly traded company, its financial statements or annual report should be available on the company’s website. Check Glassdoor or a similar site for reviews by current and former employees, or reach out to cyber professionals on LinkedIn who have worked for the company to get their insights on company culture and values.

Review the Job Description and Your Resume

Thoroughly review the job description and be prepared to address questions related to anything mentioned. Then, compare your resume to the job description. If your resume doesn’t paint a complete picture of why you’re an excellent candidate for the job, create a list of experience and background examples to discuss during an interview.

Practice Interviewing Skills

Interviewing skills are soft skills, like listening and speaking. Recent graduates of Mission Critical Institute-sponsored programs emphasize the importance of rehearsing for interviews before the real thing. Work with a friend or associate, or just answer anticipated questions out loud, to yourself, to prepare for responding during an actual job interview. Practice answering typical questions such as “What aspects of your education and background have prepared you for this job?” and “Why are you the best candidate for this position?” completely yet succinctly (in under two minutes).

Some interviewers like to ask oddball questions to see how you react, and how well you can think on your feet. Research the Internet or ask friends about unusual or unique questions they were asked during the interview; some good examples are here and here.

Then, prepare a list of questions you’ll want to ask during the interview. One of the big ones is salary, but it’s best to hold off on that until you’re contacted for a second interview. (You’ll learn more about asking about salary in the How to Ace the Cybersecurity Job Interview blog post.)

Dress for Success

Have at least three interview outfits ready, if possible. You’ll likely want to wear a different outfit for successive interviews with the same organization, and make sure everything is clean and pressed.

Also, you can’t be late for an interview, so visit the location beforehand so you know how to get there, where to park, and so on.

The Day of the Interview

Work out, do yoga, meditate – do something that’s healthful and relieves stress. Bring extra copies of your resume, and business cards (if you have one), and arrive early.