Incident Responder Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 31 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The role of an incident responder entails reviewing the security measures of a digital network or system and recognising any flaws that could pose a security threat. Incident responders serve the critical function of protecting a company's digital assets, so a potential employer typically wants to test a candidate's competency during the interview. Learning more about common interview questions for this role could help you prepare your answers for an upcoming interview. In this article, we discuss potential incident responder interview questions that you may encounter, including sample answers to help you prepare your own.

What's the purpose of incident responder interview questions?

Employers tend to ask incident responder interview questions to discover how much a candidate knows about cybersecurity and how they test and maintain a digital security system. Their knowledge can involve running tests where the incident responder attempts to exploit their employer's security measures. The incident responder can then create additional security measures that prevent malicious hackers from exploiting the system in the same way. Incident responders may also develop a protocol that members of the company follow in the event of a security emergency. This prepared plan can ensure that the company mitigates its losses.

Employers also want to discover the candidate's interpersonal skills. Incident responders often compose reports on the state of the company's digital security system to present to the appropriate management team members. This can help inform decisions on how the company maintains its security protocol. Incident responders typically also work alongside other digital security professionals. This can involve collaborating on security tests, developing lines of fast communication in case of an emergency and communicating the state of the system's security.

Interview questions about working in a team

To begin the interview, a hiring manager may ask you questions relating to your ability to work with a security team. You may work with a group of security professionals to protect your company's data, so they may want to learn more about how you work with others in your profession. The following are some interview questions that gauge your ability to work on a security team:

Tell me about your experience working on a security team.

This common opening question is very simple and open-ended, so you could take this opportunity to make a good impression on the hiring manager immediately. The hiring manager may ask this question to learn about your personality and working style. You could talk briefly about positive experiences you've had performing your role in conjunction with others. If you have any joint accomplishments in this field of which you're most proud, you can reference them briefly to intrigue the hiring manager.

Example: 'I've been working on cybersecurity teams for about four years now, and I appreciate the ways we can accomplish more together. At Alpha Company, my team and I managed to complete a full system security check in just one month. This is typically a job that requires multiple months, so I believe we worked very well together.'

Related: Examples of Cyber Security Roles (With Salaries and Skills)

How would your past security team members or supervisors describe your work ethic?

The hiring manager may ask this question to understand how you view your past work relationships and how you believe colleagues viewed you. They may want you to try and observe your work ethic in this field objectively. Offer a response that you feel is authentic to how your prior team members and supervisors would actually describe you, and try to offer a balanced response that addresses both your successes and the areas you could improve. Honesty is especially important if you include your previous supervisor as a reference, as the hiring manager can compare their responses to yours.

Example: 'I believe my former security team members would say that I'm a very thorough team member. I would very carefully review the code for our security measures three to four times throughout the process of creating it. Though I think they might also describe my work ethic as a bit hectic and stressful. I may neglect the feelings of others when I'm fixated on improving security measures. I hope that this is something on which I can improve at this job.'

Related: How to Become a Cyber Security Analyst (Duties and Skills)

Do you have any questions for me about our cybersecurity?

The hiring manager may provide you with an opportunity to ask any questions you may have regarding the position to assess how well you've researched the company. This could be a helpful method of clarifying the job's description, but asking good questions could also convince the hiring manager that you're prepared for the interview. Research the job description thoroughly, taking notes on any unclear aspects of your expectations regarding cybersecurity. You could even research previous employees' reviews of the company for more insight into what your job might entail.

Example: 'I was curious about one aspect of the job description. I remember reading that I can attend a monthly hackathon to improve my skills as an incident responder. Could you elaborate on what this seminar involves?'

Related: How Much Does a Cyber Security Specialist Make? (With Roles)

Interview questions about your background and experience

Given the highly technical nature of this position, the hiring manager likely wants to learn more about your prior work history and the skills you've accrued. This is where you can offer the most objective evidence of your qualifications for this position. To help prepare your responses, you can review these common interview questions:

Where did you receive your training?

The hiring manager may ask this question to learn more about your credentials to ensure you're qualified for the position. You can briefly talk about the school you attended and mention the degree you received. If you had any additional training or certifications, this could make you a more attractive candidate than your competition.

Example: 'I attended Alpha University and received a degree in computer forensics. Last year, I started attending professional development courses that the university offers to achieve an Ethical Hacker Certification. I completed the course six months ago, and I attached my certificate to my resume.'

Related: What Does a Software Developer Do? (With Skills and Salary)

Tell me about a time you're proud of that you resolved a security issue.

The hiring manager may ask this question to learn more about your priorities in the workplace and the security-related accomplishments you consider to be exceptional. If you referenced an accomplishment earlier in the interview, this could be your opportunity to expound on it. Consider highlighting the ways that you could perform similar accomplishments in your potential new position.

Example: 'As I mentioned earlier, I helped Alpha Company handle a security threat that they'd been fighting for a few months prior to my arrival. Apparently, they received many phishing threats through the company email. To resolve this, I established a robust spam filter that helped to remove the problem.'

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Do you usually work as an independent incident responder or as part of a team?

The hiring manager may ask this question to understand your prior teamwork experiences as an incident responder and your preferences. If you've worked on a cybersecurity team before, you can mention this fact. But if you prefer to work alone, you could also mention this and your potential employer may accommodate you.

Example: 'In my last position, I worked on a small team with three other security experts. Typically, we only interacted during our weekly meetings. I'm used to working on my own and presenting my work to the appropriate team members.'

Interview questions about your past performance

A hiring manager may want to learn more about your practical performance in this position. These questions tend to seek goal-oriented answers since your potential employer likely wants to learn more about how you can contribute to their company. For more on these performance questions, you review the following list:

What types of security breaches have you encountered in your career?

The hiring manager may ask this question to learn about your experience. This question involves recounting a specific occasion in which you performed your work. To answer this question comprehensively and succinctly, consider using the STAR method of responding. First, describe the situation with an appropriate amount of detail. Then, outline the task and the actions you took to complete it. Finally, describe the result of your work.

Example: 'When I started working at my previous position, I noticed a significant security exploit in our network. Without realising it, the company allowed unauthorised users to access the database, and hackers were stealing company information. It was my responsibility to improve security, so I redesigned the authorisation system to be more strict. After implementing two-step authorisation into our login procedure, we quickly dissuaded the hackers from trying to break in again.'

Imagine there's an outage on an operation-critical system. What do you do?

The hiring manager may ask this question to test your working knowledge of your profession. They may likely want you to give them an impromptu answer, so considering what to say in advance can help you offer a comprehensive answer.

Example: 'If a vital security measure wasn't functional, I would halt all sensitive information sharing. I would post an apology to the employees that we were suspending internet access momentarily until we fixed the issue.'

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