Count on Being Asked These 3 Interview Questions

Posted by Pat Tovo

Tell me a little about yourselfIf you’re a savvy cyber security job seeker, you do everything you can to prepare for an interview. Research the company and the people you’ll be talking to. Think about the questions you want to ask. Polish your shoes. Map directions. And then you worry about what questions the recruiter and hiring manager will ask you.

Let go of that worry. Of course every interview will have its own twists and turns, but the truth is there are a handful of questions that most every hiring manager has gotten into the rut of asking. Practice and refine your success stories to answer these inquiries. Being prepared with your responses will put you at ease and have you sailing with confidence through the more specific skills-related questions.

Here are three of the most frequently asked interview questions:

Tell me a little about yourself.

Many recruiters will use this introductory question to get a feel for how you present yourself. Don’t take it lightly. It’s designed to ease you into the interview, to warm you up before the harder questions.

Focus on your experience and your skills that are pertinent to the job you’re interviewing for. Practice ahead of time a 45 second elevator speech that succinctly states who you are and what your qualifications are, keeping in mind to focus on things that are relevant to the position.

Don’t use valuable time talking about how you were a roller blade champ in high school or that your passion is making pies. That information isn’t relevant and doesn’t help the employer understand how you will solve their problems. Convey succinctly to the hiring manager information that shows how you’re a good fit for the job.

Say something like this:

“I have three years experience as a network security analyst working for both a large corporation and a smaller private company in a Windows and Linux environment. I’ve got a deep network routing knowledge of TCP/IP, and a knack for communicating complex tech issues to non-tech team members.”

The information you’ve communicated gives the interviewer clues about things they can ask you. “Tell me about a time where your ability to communicate a complex technical issue to non-technical co-workers made a difference.” That’s your opportunity to share one of your success stories that highlights an accomplishment.

Don’t say:

Anything that isn’t relevant to the job you’re interviewing for, and how you solve the company’s problems.

Side note:  If you do use adjectives like “significant” or make claims about accomplishments, you will need to be able to quantify these statements. For example, “I developed a management system for Acme that reduced costs by 10%.”

If an interviewer presses for more information on your personal life, pick subjects that you can translate to job qualities. For example:  “I volunteer with developmentally disabled children which has taught me patience and has helped fine-tune my communication skills.”  Or, “I like to participate in capture-the-flag competitions to test my skills and learn from others in the community.”

What interests you about this position?

This gives you the opportunity to directly spin your qualifications or your interest in the company. Employers want to know what motivates you, and how you will solve their problems. If it’s the job that excites you then focus on how your skills translate perfectly to the role. If you’ve always wanted to work for the company then tell the recruiter how you’ve always admired the organization and why.

Hiring managers want to see that you have taken the time to research their business. Preparation puts you a step ahead in dazzling recruiters with your professionalism and industry savvy.

Say something like this:

“I am very interested in this position because it directly relates to my pen-testing experience. It’s what I like to do, whether I’m at work or at home, and it offers me the chance to take on a larger role.”

Or this:

“I’ve been following Acme for over five years. I admire your product and your reputation in the community. You’re well known for hiring the best and I want to be part of a team where I can learn and contribute to the mission.”

Don’t say:

“It’s a much better commute for me,” or “I hear you pay well and have great benefits.” Sure a shorter commute is pertinent in a busy metro area like DC, San Francisco, Atlanta, and so on, but don’t let it be one of the first things out of your mouth. Again, focus on what’s relevant to the position.

Tell me about your strengths.

Yes, this is your chance to boast — do it with a light but confident touch. Be familiar with the job posting and the required qualifications. Hopefully you were able to network and find inside information that’s important, but not even on the job posting.

Direct your statements of strengths to be in line with the skills they are looking for. If you want to avoid coming off too big-headed, quote the praise you have received from past supervisors or co-workers. This is a good time to get specific with quantifiable achievements.

Say something like:

I like to continually learn new technologies and recently earned my CISSP certification, one of the key position requirements. Past supervisors have noted my ability to learn and adapt as a top strength.

Don’t say:

Well, a complete recap would take too long. (Sad chuckle.) Let’s say I consider myself a top analyst.

If you are prepared to answer these questions, you are well on your way to a successful interview. As an cyber security job seeker, take the opportunity to put yourself high on the list of preferred candidates. Aside from your technical abilities, recruiters will be giving high marks for your professionalism and solid communication skills. Now go knock ‘em dead.

Pat Tovo guides job seekers in conducting successful employment searches through targeted prospecting, effective resume writing, and polished interviewing skills. She enjoys facilitating workshops and working one-on-one in career counseling. 


This entry was posted on Monday, October 30, 2017 6:10 am

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