When hiring IT security professionals, recruiting managers are looking to find the best of the best. Most people, including those transiting into cybersecurity roles, think that having technical expertise (hard skills) is the main requirement for the cybersecurity profession; however, this is inaccurate. For instance, hard skills, such as familiarity with attack and defense techniques and tools and knowing how computer networking and cloud deployments operate, are critical to understanding the cyber-attack surface of your organization. This knowledge will allow you to determine the best security solutions to defend against potential cyber threats. However, the technical competencies are not enough alone to succeed as an IT security professional. Many cybersecurity roles involve managing other people or a security team and communicating with different parties (e.g., third-party suppliers, cloud and Managed Security Service Providers) to ensure the smooth running and security of computer networks and IT systems. Working in highly complex and geographically disparate IT environments requires a mix of hard and soft skills for any cybersecurity professionals, especially for those aiming to play managerial roles.
This article will list the most common soft skills questions a cybersecurity specialist expects to answer during a job interview.
Top Seven Soft Skills Cybersecurity Interview Questions
1. What Type Of Security Solution Do You Have At Home?
This question pertains to the applicant's depth of security knowledge. For instance, most people are using wireless network connections at home. You must demonstrate your security competency by including the following best security measures to strengthen Wi-Fi networks in your answer:
- Change the default login credential of the router control panel.
- Make the Wi-Fi connection network name hidden (SSID - Service Set identifier), so it will not appear nearby people.
- Turn on wireless network encryption.
- Configure the router to use a VPN service, so all connections travel through an encrypted tunnel when communicating online.
- Turn on the router firewall.
- Disable remote administration option with home router.
- Use MAC Address Filtering, so only specific devices can connect to the router.
- Keep router software updated.
2. Suppose You Have Discovered A Major Data Breach. How Will You Communicate This To Top Management?
Data breaches are inevitable; however, we can lower its impact to the maximum by having a robust incident response plan. The applicant should mention the steps taken after a data breach occurs. They should first begin executing the predefined incident response procedures to avoid wasting any time, then inform the following people in order:
- CIRT (in house team or external team if outsourced to a third-party provider)
- Corporate legal officer
Next, notify top management of the data breach. The applicant should mention that they will communicate to top management, investigate the incident, know its precise impact on organization data, and will work to prevent further damage to organization proprietary data and customer sensitive information.
3. What Is Your Major Source Of Cybersecurity News, And Why You Choose It?
This question focuses on where the applicant receives information on the latest security news and breaches. For instance, reading different security blogs and following well-known cybersecurity professionals on major social media platforms is one option to answering this question. We can also add some popular security news sources, such as:
- Schneier on Security
- Dark Reading
Cybersecurity news sources
- The Hacker News
- Security Week
4. What Organizational Tools Do You Use To Help You In Managing Your Daily Work?
The interviewer wants to understand how the applicant organizes their time and work. A good answer is to mention the names of popular tools a user utilizes when working on multiple projects to manage time and enhance work efficiency and performance. Here is a sample list of the best organizational tools used in different contexts.
- Google docs: Share and edit documents (MS Offices) with different users remotely.
- Trello: Collaborate and manage projects, and organize tasks.
- Zotero: Helps me organize my research.
- Evernote: Note-taking and task organizer. It contains rich features for managing time and assignments.
- FreeMind: Free online mind mapping software.
- Draw.io: Free diagramming software.
5. What Type Of Challenge Did You Encounter When Working In A Team Environment And How You Overcome/Manage Them?
This question focuses on problem-solving and whether the applicant can create solutions in a team environment. The applicant must demonstrate the benefits and challenges while working within a team. However, the group work also involves many challenges, such as:
- Cybersecurity risks of remote workers: Remote workers will use their computing devices and free public hotspots to connect to their organization's network. The applicant can mention that it is easier for cybercriminals to break into the work device of an employee because they are less secure compared with their working devices. Also, the applicant can suggest solutions to mitigate threats, such as ensuring all team members follow proper IT security measures. For instance, all remote members should use a VPN connection to access remote corporate resources. Also, having an IT security policy that governs using personal devices for work purposes should be set in place.
- Problems with role allocations: Sometimes, when working in a team, we face the problem of team members doing the same task, resulting in redundancy. Dividing tasks precisely on each member can prevent this problem.
- Team members may not possess the same level of skills: The primary purpose of creating a team is to bring together various employees with varying skills to accomplish a single goal. Of course, not all team members will possess the same skill level or proficiency to perform tasks. The interview can mention allocating tasks according to the talent and ability of each member.
6. How Would You Educate Others About The Risks Of Oversharing Personal Information On Social Media?
This question focuses on communicating with non-technical individuals. The applicant must demonstrate their ability to educate non-technical individuals on the risk of oversharing data and provide examples. Sharing personal information on the internet, particularly on social media platforms, can introduce various security risks to individuals and other organizations they work.
- Sharing photos inside your home will show potential criminals that your home contains valuable items that deserve stealing
- Sharing personal pictures from your vacation will inform the criminals that your house is empty.
- Sharing information such as your relative's names, your graduation, or your marriage date can allow hackers to guess your account password. For example, many people use the names of their pets and dates of birth as an answer to security questions.
- Sharing personal information about your habits (what you like and dislike, your political views, and your social activities) will allow cyber attackers to target you with customized phishing emails to steal further information to impersonate your identity.
7. What Are Your Communication Strategies To Have Efficient Communications With Your Security Team Member?
A good example answer to this question is implementing the following communication strategies:
- We should have multiple communications channels for internal and external notification and information sharing. Examples of a communication channel are Slack, Phone calls, SMS, bulk desktop notification system, and Email.
- Ensures all team members use the same technical language when developing the organization's incident response and data recovery plans. We can assure that there will be no confusion during incidents, and all team members will understand what is required.
Before accepting an interview for your dream cybersecurity job, it is essential to review your soft skills. Most cybersecurity professionals focus on hard skills during an interview and ignore soft skills. This article discussed the importance of soft skills for cybersecurity professionals and listed seven soft skills questions that you can expect to have during a cybersecurity interview.