9 Cybersecurity Interview Questions + How to Prepare

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Discover different types of questions you may encounter in an interview for a cybersecurity role and the steps to prepare.

[Featured image] A person in a blue shirt and wearing AirPods uses their laptop to discuss cybersecurity interview questions on a video call.

Cybersecurity interviews: what to expect in 2023

An upcoming interview for a cybersecurity position can be an exciting opportunity to advance your career in technology. While the format of a cybersecurity interview may vary from one organization to the next, there are some definite ways you’ll need to prepare for an upcoming interview, including researching the potential employer, reflecting on the value you can offer an organization, and anticipating questions that may come up. 

Hiring managers may ask you a variety of questions to gauge your technical skills, passion for this field, experience and qualifications, and cultural fit. You should be able to define core terms and concepts, weigh in on industry trends, discuss business concerns, and demonstrate your qualifications with ease. 

According to Gartner, cybersecurity trends to look out for in 2023 and beyond include platform consolidation to streamline cybersecurity efforts and requiring boards of directors to include someone with cybersecurity expertise [1]. Simplilearn suggests that cybersecurity measures will need to improve in response to worldwide trends like autonomous vehicles, cloud computing, and remote working [2].  


Keep reading to review different types of questions you may encounter. You’ll also find tips to prepare for the interview and resources to guide your job search. 

9 cybersecurity interview questions 

In the list below, we’ve included three categories of questions you might encounter in your upcoming interview:

  • Professional development questions to explore your long-term career plans. 

There are many general questions that may come up during your interview, such as “Why do you want to work here?” or “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” We’ve focused this list specifically on cybersecurity, so that you can leverage your experience in this field. 

Read more: Cybersecurity Terms: A to Z Glossary

Cybersecurity technical questions 

1. Why are cybersecurity teams essential for businesses? 

Employers ask this question to get a sense of your industry knowledge and how businesses operate. They can also gauge your understanding of the risks businesses face in terms of cybersecurity, as well as their obligations when it comes to protecting customer and employee data. 

Prepare your answer by reviewing different cybersecurity risks and threats that businesses need protection against and the measures a cybersecurity team can take to block these threats. For example, a cybersecurity team can help prevent phishing attacks by designing courses to train the company’s employees on how to recognize such attacks. 

2. How should a cybersecurity team be structured? 

Employers ask this question to gauge your awareness of how cybersecurity works within an organization and the hierarchy of different roles. Being familiar with a typical or ideal team structure can help you navigate your new role, collaborate well with colleagues, or even move up the ranks to a leadership position. 

Prepare your answer by reviewing different cybersecurity job titles, like ethical hacker or information security analyst, and how professionals in different roles work together to defend an organization against attacks and breaches. Be sure to research the cybersecurity department of the organization you want to work for. If the organization is just starting to build a cybersecurity department, it may be appropriate to offer your ideas on how to structure it. 

3. Why is Domain Name System (DNS) monitoring important in cybersecurity? 

Employers ask this question to assess your understanding of this aspect of network security and related vulnerabilities, so that you can help the company prevent attacks through this channel. 

Prepare your answer by reviewing DNS monitoring and its benefits, including tracking internet searches related to domain names, watching out for malicious activity, and finding vulnerabilities in a system. 

Read more: 10 Cybersecurity Jobs: Entry-Level and Beyond

Cybersecurity behavioral interview questions 

4. Can you give me an example of how you would explain a complex cybersecurity issue to people without a background in this field?

Employers ask this question to assess your mastery of cybersecurity concepts and ability to break them down for non-technical audiences, including managers, executives, leaders, and stakeholders. Communication and being able to bridge knowledge gaps is a crucial skill in this field. 

Prepare your answer by brainstorming potential cybersecurity issues that could affect coworkers or customers. These might include a data breach or software vulnerabilities. Practice explaining these issues in plain language to friends or family and ask them to let you know what’s easy to understand and what needs more clarity. 

5. Describe a time when you had to respond to a cybersecurity incident or breach quickly. How did you resolve the situation? 

Employers ask this question to gauge your incident response skills, how well you stay composed under pressure, and how efficiently you handle issues.

Prepare your answer by reflecting on a past response to a cybersecurity issue. What was your approach? What tools did you use? What steps did you take, including analyzing the issue and enhancing security measures? What were the results? 

6. How would you handle a situation in which an employee is not following a cybersecurity policy? 

Employers ask this question to gauge your ability to detect and respond to workplace cybersecurity issues, communicate clearly and effectively with coworkers, and maintain cybersecurity compliance company wide. 

Prepare your answer by reviewing different kinds of cybersecurity policies that a company might adopt, ways an employee could veer from a policy, and strategies for addressing the issue with the employee. For example, you begin a conversation with the employee about why they’re not following protocol—-perhaps it’s cumbersome or confusing—-and then offer a solution or additional training. 

Tip: Answer behavioral and situational questions using the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, and Result) to tell compelling stories about your experience and capabilities. 


Cybersecurity professional development questions 

7. How do you stay updated on the latest trends in cybersecurity? 

Employers ask this question to discover your methods of continuing education. Cybersecurity is a constantly evolving field, as new threats become apparent and new technologies emerge to block the threats. It’s crucial to be at the forefront of industry changes in order to be successful as a cybersecurity professional. 

Prepare your answer by making a list of courses and trainings you’ve completed, industry resources and news you subscribe to, and networking events you attend. What have you learned from these efforts to keep your knowledge and skills current? How do you apply your learnings to cybersecurity roles? 

8. What cybersecurity skills do you plan to add to your current skill set? 

Employers ask this question to get a sense of your immediate next steps in terms of career advancement and how your new skills might transfer to the job you’re applying for. 

Prepare your answer by identifying priority skills and why these are next for your professional development. For example, you might want to advance your skills in digital forensics and incident response, particularly using artificial intelligence and machine learning to find threats at scale. Be sure to review the job description for the position for any desired or required qualifications that you need more training to meet.

9. What are some of the biggest challenges in cybersecurity that you would like to address? 

Employers ask this question to discover the extent to which you feel driven to take on challenges, your problem-solving abilities, and your passion for the field as a whole.  

Prepare your answer by making a list of industry-wide cybersecurity challenges, such as the rise of cloud computing or increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks. Reflect on what these challenges mean for your career goals and for the position you’re applying for. For example, you might want to take courses related to challenges in cybersecurity or take on projects that put you right on the forefront of the challenges. 

Another question that may come up in your interview is, “How is your home network configured?” Employers ask this question to confirm that you use cybersecurity best practices to protect your home network. Setting up basic home network security reflects your commitment to cybersecurity in general and can demonstrate your preparedness for remote work. 


Tips for preparing for a cybersecurity interview

In addition to preparing to answer different types of cybersecurity interview questions, you’ll also need to prepare for the entire interview experience. Follow these tips to boost your confidence before and during the interview. 

Ask for details about the hiring process, start to finish. 

Be sure to find out what to expect from the first interview all the way to accepting an offer. That way, you can prepare for each step accordingly.

Here are some things to ask about: 

  • Going through multiple rounds of interviews

  • Completing work assessments or technical evaluations 

  • Getting a background check or security clearance 

  • Receiving an offer

  • Onboarding procedures after negotiating salary and accepting an offer  

Read more: 23 Questions You Can Expect in a Final Interview

Refresh your resume and other job search materials. 

Taking a few minutes to improve your resume, even with an interview already lined up, can make it easier to discuss your qualifications with your interviewer. Here are some ways to refresh your resume:

  • Add more action words to highlight your responsibilities and projects in prior positions 

  • Quantify your achievements to show their impact 

  • Add an objectives section to demonstrate your career aspirations 

  • List more technical skills that align with your desired role 

Reflect on your long-term career goals. 

Getting clear on what you want to achieve and why can offer several advantages. During the interview, you can have a more detailed discussion of your suitability for the role, what you hope to offer the organization, and your plans for professional growth. In addition, you can convey your passion for cybersecurity using goal-oriented language. 

Here are some resources to get you started: 

Explore cybersecurity with Coursera 

Taking online courses can be a great way to review for an upcoming interview, sharpen your skills, and explore career options. In addition, the concepts and tools you encounter in a course can provide relevant talking points for the conversation with a recruiter. 

Consider Google’s Cybersecurity Professional Certificate to learn programming languages, how to identify threats, and how to block cyberattacks.  

Article sources


Gartner. “Top Strategic Cybersecurity Trends for 2023, https://www.gartner.com/en/articles/top-strategic-cybersecurity-trends-for-2023.” Accessed July 20, 2023. 

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