5 Simple Ways to Prepare for IT/Cybersecurity Interviews

January 28, 2019 | Views: 3240

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Interviews can be complex – from the scheduling the meeting or call to the actual meeting to the follow-up. Candidates, recruiters, and hiring managers all play key roles in this somewhat difficult-to-navigate process.

As a candidate, your role entails several elements, not the least of which is preparation.

The Scouts (formerly known as the Boy Scouts), which was founded in the UK in the early 1900s has a simple motto: Be prepared. These two little words mean much to many and, in this article, we’ll provide 5 simple ways – both practical and abstract – to prepare for your IT/cybersecurity interviews.

Let’s get moving! According to an article on CIO magazine, you should:

1. Dress – and talk – the part
With the shifts in business culture today, selecting the appropriate dress for an interview isn’t as straightforward as it used to be. The culture of information security might include a CISO with a mohawk and others whose [image is far from suit-and-tie. But, even if you’re a kilt-and-Vibram kind of person, be aware that a job interview is still a semi-formal event. Eve Adams, senior talent acquisition expert at Halock Security Labs notes, “I’ve had candidates do Skype interviews sitting in hotel bathrooms, roll into on-site interviews wearing jean shorts and t-shirts, and use language I won’t repeat during technical screenings,” she says.] (CSO Online).

Others relayed similar, [surprising experiences with candidates. “[A] recent college graduate came in dressed like they were about to go to a rave. They hadn’t bathed in a few days. [The candidate] was selected for non-continuation of the hiring process,” says] Martin Fisher, director of information security at WellStar Health System (CSO Online).

“[For a] face-to-face interview, don’t be afraid to ask your contact ahead of time what the dress code is,” advises Shawn Moyer, partner and chief researcher at Atredis Partners. [“Dress a notch or two above the norm, but don’t go too far. As a consultant, every time I wear a suit and tie to a t-shirt-and-jeans startup, I get asked if I’m a lawyer or an undertaker,” he says.] (CSO Online).

2. Know the business
Almost universally, experts stress how important it is to research the organizations with whom you’re interviewing. Fisher [says it’s important to at least know something about the business and/or the industry of the interviewing company. “Research what’s going on in that industry when it comes to regulatory compliance and information security,”] he says (CSO Online). It’s important to study the internal language the enterprise uses (read their website) and know the basics of the enterprise itself — its mission, size, and its client types (when possible). Record and remember (bring notes with you if you’d like) to show your interest in the organization.

3. Put a shine on your soft skills
When it comes to interviewing well: personality matters. “You can be the greatest pen tester on earth. You could write flawless code in your sleep. You could be god’s gift to mankind when it comes to fuzzing. In most cases, that’s a plus, [yet] if you can’t articulate yourself or work with other people, you are not going to make it,” says Ian Amit, director of services at IOActive, Inc. Amit recalls candidates who looked quite [good] on paper, but in person they didn’t have what he felt it took to build solid relationships. “They were too uptight, wound-up, or [had a] blah personality,” he says.

4. Don’t just answer questions intelligently, ask intelligent questions
Adams says it’s highly important to ask intelligent questions of the person who contacted you about the job, be it a recruiter or hiring manager. Ask questions such as, [“What are the major security challenges the organization is facing? What’s the next problem you’re trying to solve in the security sphere: compliance, secure coding, or infrastructural issues? Does the organization plan to expand or streamline its security team,” she says. Questions like these not only] (CSO Online) show your keen interest in the role for which you’re interviewing but will also help you discern whether the position is a good match for you and your needs.

5. Show your passion and don’t fake hard technical skills
Many interviewers look for an understanding of the OSI model and TCP/IP. They also seek information on how candidates are advancing their knowledge. They may ask what blogs and resources candidates read/watch/listen to. Finally, they may want to know where a candidate’s passion lies in technology. Additionally, candidates should be ready to answer technical questions; and show technical proficiency and creativity in solving technical challenges as they relate to the job description.

Whatever you do, don’t fake it. It’s one of the worst moves a candidate can make, says Amit. “I immediately disqualified candidates for faking it. I’m dangerous enough in multiple fields of practice to know BS, and I’ve had candidates, who after taking a hacking course or watching some online video, thought they were uber-hackers. If you don’t know something, don’t try to make up for it with [fluff],” he says.

As you make your first or fiftieth foray into the IT/cybersecurity interview process, remember The Scouts motto: Be prepared. But, also remember not to over think interview preparation, which can get you stuck in preparation paralysis. Make the most of the time and resources you have and then go for it. And as always, focus on an ultimate goal of creating peace in the world – even as you prep for your next interview.


Source:
10 ways to prep for – and ace – a security job interview

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