Cyber Security Engineer Interview Prep

Cyber Security engineers play a crucial role in protecting the systems of top tech companies against cyber threats and data breaches. Cyber Security engineer roles are in high demand since they offer high salaries and the chance to work on sophisticated security systems.

Landing a job as a cyber security engineer is difficult, but with the right guidance and tech interview prep, you could find yourself working as a Cyber Security Engineer at a FAANG company!

If you’re preparing for a Cyber Security tech interview, check out our technical interview checklist, interview questions page, and salary negotiation e-book to get interview-ready! 

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In this article, we cover key aspects of how to prepare for a cyber security engineer interview:  

  • Role of a Cyber Security Engineer 
  • The Cyber Security Engineer Interview Process
  • Cyber Security Engineer Interview Prep Topics
  • Cyber Security Engineer Interview Questions (Samples)
  • How to Crack a FAANG Cyber Security Engineer Interview
  • Cyber Security Engineer Role and Interview FAQs

Role of a Cyber Security Engineer 

The role of front-end cyber security engineers is to ensure the protection of large volumes of sensitive user data.

The role of back-end cyber security engineers is to assess risk regularly and test systems to ensure they run smoothly. 

The responsibilities of a cyber security engineer are:

  • Performing technical security assessments, design reviews, and code audits
  • Developing solutions to help neutralize security vulnerabilities
  • Researching to identify attack vectors against the company
  • Developing systems to address infrastructure and data security risks
  • Analyzing and improving scalability, efficiency, and stability of systems
  • Undertaking offensive security exercises
  • Developing code and conducting code reviews
  • Identifying security requirements for products, codebases, or systems
  • Interfacing with multiple teams; incorporating innovations
  • Advocating security and secure practices

Cyber Security Engineer Role Requirements

Below are the minimum qualifications required to qualify for the role of a Cyber Security Engineer at a FAANG company:

  • B.S. in Computer Science or a related field; or equivalent work experience
  • Experience designing and implementing security-enhancing features
  • Experience building large-scale distributed systems
  • 4+ years of software development experience
  • Technical depth in at least one of the following areas: Authentication, authorization, applied cryptography, key management systems, and public key infrastructure

Skills Required to Become a Cyber Security Engineer 

For the role of a cyber security engineer, recruiters tend to look for ‘T-shaped’ individuals, i.e., those possessing deep expertise in one domain and multidisciplinary knowledge across broader areas. 

  • Foundational Coding: C++, Python, PHP/Hack, Golang, and Java
  • Data Science
  • Data Structures
  • System Design & Software Architecture
  • Web application and Browser Security
  • Security Assessment
  • Security Protocols
  • Network protocols
  • Penetration Testing
  • Authentication and Access Control
  • Applied Cryptography
  • Oauth Authentication
  • Incident Response and Forensics
  • Binary Analysis
  • Project Management
  • Team Management
  • Leadership

The Cyber Security Engineer Interview Process

The FAANG Cyber Security Engineer interview process typically consists of three rounds of interviews: 

  1. Initial Technical Screen/Phone Screen Interview 
  2. On-site Interview 
  3. Behavioral Interview

The interview process will generally be conducted over a period of 6-8 weeks from the time your application is shortlisted.

Cyber Security Engineer Application Process

Most FAANG companies let you apply for cyber security engineer roles online. You can apply to top tech companies directly or via a recruiter. 

Before applying, ensure your resume is updated and relevant to the Cyber Security positions you’re interested in. Also, try to get an employee referral to boost your chances of having your application shortlisted. If you don’t know a FAANG company employee who can provide a referral, network via online or personal channels to connect with FAANG employees.

Phone Screen

If a recruiter shortlists your application, they will call you. This initial phone screen interview will be the start of your interview process. 

During the phone screen, you’ll be asked basic questions about your experience, skills, and career aspirations to determine if you’re the right fit for the job.

Technical Screen and Coding Interview

During the coding interview, you’ll be required to solve programming problems. You’ll be asked questions on data structures and algorithms. Cyber Security Engineer coding interviews are comparatively easier than coding rounds for most other tech roles. 

Onsite Interviews

The on-site interviews at FAANG companies comprise 5 to 6 rounds of interviews. Each of these interviews lasts for approximately 45 to 60 minutes. 

  • Coding Interview: This interview will feature algorithm and data structure questions. While coding questions in a cyber security engineer interview are usually easy to solve, they can feature different constraints to consider when arriving at a solution. Interviewers will test your ability to adapt to different situations and update your coding solution accordingly. Google stands out among tech companies for its difficult coding interview questions.

Pro Tip: Practice writing code on a whiteboard or paper as you may not be allowed to use auto-correction or in-line help during the interview.

  • System Design Interview: You’ll be asked to design a high-level, sophisticated security system in this interview. You may also be required to undertake more than one system design interview focusing on security features. 

Here are some guides to help with your System Design interview:
Amazon System Design Interview Questions
Facebook System Design Interview Questions
Google Systems Design Interview Questions

  • Cyber Security Design Interview: You’ll be required to develop a solution to a specific cyber security problem. Brush up on attacker tools and Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) for this interview.
  • Behavioral Interview: In this round, interviewers will test your self-awareness and your ability to collaborate across teams. You’ll be asked questions based on your experience relevant to the role you are interviewing for. 

To ace this round, read about the company and your prospective team and role. Study the career page of the company to gain relevant information. 

Here are some company-specific guides for behavioral interviews:
Amazon Behavioral Interview Questions
Facebook Behavioral Interview Questions

Cyber Security Engineer Interview Prep Topics 

Prepare these critical. concepts for your cyber security engineer interview:

Coding:

System Design:

  • Complex Architecture Systems and Platforms
  • Product Features

Behavioral Topics:

Cyber Security Topics:

  • Application Security
  • Basic Security Concepts
  • Source Code Analysis
  • Attacker Tools and Techniques
  • Types of Encryption
  • Password Storage
  • TCP vs. UDP
  • Malware/Exploits
  • OS Internals
  • SQL Injections
  • Web Vulnerabilities
  • XSS Types

Cyber Security Engineer Mock Interviews

Without proper practice and guidance, the chances of succeeding at your first cyber security interview are very low. To nail your cyber security engineer interview, practice as many interview rounds as possible before the interview. 

You can practice mock interviews by yourself, with peers, or industry professionals.  At Interview Kickstart, you can practice mock interviews with FAANG hiring managers and experts and get unique insights and feedback.

Whether you wish to become a FAANG+ cyber security engineer, a software developer, or an engineering manager, our mentors and coaches at Interview Kickstart are here to guide you through your interview prep.

Having guided over 9,000 software engineers through their tech interview prep to land their dream jobs, Interview Kickstart knows what it takes to crack FAANG interviews.

Cyber Security Engineer Interview Questions (Samples)

We’ve collated sample cyber security engineer interview questions to help you gauge the type of problems you should focus on during your cyber security interview prep:

  • Find all palindromic decompositions of a given string ‘s.’ (Solution)
  • Given a positive integer ‘n,’ return all strings of length ‘2*n’ with well-formed round brackets. (Solution)
  • Describe an Oauth authentication flow.
  • Reverse engineering of a given code.
  • Explain the most interesting bug you’ve identified in a bounty program
  • What are the different types of XSS?
  • What is the difference between TCP and UDP?
  • How would you prevent CSRF?
  • How would you test for SQL injections?
  • How would you detect an attacker technique?
  • How would you design security for a video-calling service from scratch?
  • How would you respond to an email highlighting a bug in an application?
  • How would you respond to a security incident with X and Y characteristics?
  • Find the vulnerabilities of a given code snippet.
  • Given an app, service, or network with A and B features, assess the security risks and make recommendations.

Check out our complete list of solved coding problems to help with your Cyber Security interview preparation. 

How to Crack a FAANG Cyber Security Engineer Interview

Here are some tips from experts to help you gain a competitive edge:

  • Research recent cyber security events faced by the interviewing company. 
  • Read up on the company’s preferred development tools.
  • Research the company’s current security focus areas.
  • Research recent patents filed by the interviewing company.
  • Participate in Capture the Flag (CTF) competitions to enhance your information security and teamwork skills.
  • Practice redesigning existing product features focusing on security.  
  • Practice solving coding questions on a whiteboard without a compiler. 
  • Practice mock interviews by yourself, with peers, or with professionals such as those at Interview Kickstart.
  • Practice thinking out loud and explaining your thought process to the interviewer. 
  • Time yourself when you practice system design questions. Your time management skills and how efficiently you come up with solutions under pressure will be closely assessed.
  • Practice answering questions about your short and long-term career goals; for example, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” These questions will feature prominently during different stages of the interview process.

Want more insightful hacks to nail your technical interview? Read FAANG Interview Tips for Software Engineers and sign up for our free webinar.

Cyber Security Engineer Role and Interview FAQs

Q. What skills do I require to become a cyber security engineer?
To become a cyber security engineer, you should be adept at: 

  • Risk Assessment
  • Threat Evaluation 
  • Security Protocols
  • Penetration Testing
  • Authentication and Access Control
  • Applied Cryptography
  • Development Tools and Attacker Tools 
  • Incident Response and Forensics

Q. How long is the cyber security engineer interview process?
A typical cyber security engineer interview process at a FAANG company takes 6-8 weeks to complete after your application is shortlisted.

Q. How much do Cyber Security Engineers make?
The average salary of a Cyber Security Engineer in the United States is $1,01,534 per year.

Ace Your Cyber Security Engineer Interview

To ace the Cyber Security Engineer interview, you need to strike the right balance between demonstrating domain knowledge and presenting yourself as the perfect cultural fit. 

Our panel of FAANG+ experts can guide you through the process with our professionally structured tech interview prep programs. 

Interview Kickstart’s Cyber Security Engineering Interview Course is taught by an expert team of instructors, experienced hiring managers, and tech leads from FAANG and other Tier-1 tech companies.

Sign up for our free webinar today to gain the competitive edge you need to crack even the most challenging interview!

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