IT Security Interviews Exposed: Secrets to Landing Your Next Information Security Job

Posted on by Ben Rothke

My full review of IT Security Interviews Exposed: Secrets to Landing Your Next Information Security Job is on Slashdot

Information security is a hot career area and is among the strongest fields within IT for growth and opportunity. With excellent long-term career prospects, increasing cybersecurity vulnerabilities and an increase in security & privacy regulations and legislation, the demand for security professionals is significant. Even with a bright future, that does not necessarily mean that a career in information security is right for everyone. 

What differentiates an excellent security professional from a mediocre one is their passion for the job. With that, IT Security Interviews Exposed is a mixed bag of a book. For those that are looking for an information security spot and have the requisite passion for the job, much of the information should already be known. For someone who lacks that passion and simply wants a security job, their lack of breadth will show and the information in the book likely won't be helpful, unless they have a photographic memory to remember all of the various data points. 

If you find information security challenging and either want a job in the field or are looking for a better job in the field, the book will be quite valuable. But for those looking for a hot security job, their lackings will likely show through on in interview, even with the help of this book. 

As to the actual content, chapter 1 provides a good overview of how to find, interview and get a security job. The chapter contains many bits of helpful information, especially to those whose job seeking skills are deficient. A good piece of advice the author's state is that one should never pay a fee for headhunting services. There are many people that call themselves recruiters, but are nothing more than fax servers who charge for the service. The burden to pay is always on the hiring firm, and a job seeker should be extremely suspicious of anyone requesting a fee to find them a position. 

I would hope that in future editions of the book, the authors expand on chapter one. The chapter itself in fact could easily me made into a book in its own right. As part of the job search process, many job searchers often do not ask themselves enough fundamental questions if they are indeed in the right place in their career. Such an approach is taken by Lee Kushner, founder and CEO of the information security recruitment firm LJ Kushner and Associates. Kushner formulated the following 7 questions that every information security job candidate should ask themselves: 

1. What are my long and short term plans? 

2. What are my strengths and weaknesses? 

3. What skills do I need to develop? 

4. Have I acquired a new skill during the past year? 

5. What are my most significant career accomplishments and will I soon achieve another one? 

6. Have I been promoted over the past three years? 

7. What investments have I made in my own career? 

The other 9 chapters of the book all have the same format; an overview of the topic, and then various questions and interviewer may pose. The reality that these topics of network and security fundamentals, firewalls, regulations, wireless, security tools, and more, are essential knowledge for a security professional. Anyone trying to go through a comprehensive information security interview and wing it by reviewing the material will likely only succeed if the interviewer is inept. Anyone attempting to mimic the questions and answers in the book in a real-world interview will immediately be found to be a sham if the interviewer deviates even slightly from the script, which should be expected. 

What really separates a good candidate from a great candidate is hands-on, practical and real-world security experience. Such a candidate won't need a question and answer format to showcase themselves in an interview. Their experience should shine, and not their ability to rattle of security acronyms. 

If a company is serious about hiring qualified people, the interview process should not be about short technical questions and acronym definitions. It should entail an open discussion with significant give and take. Having a candidate detail their methodology for deploying and configuring a firewall should be given more credence than their ability to define the TCP the three-way handshake. 

Ultimately, the efficacy of the book is in the disposition of the reader. For the security newbie who wants a crash course in security in order to quickly land a security job, heaven help the company that would hire such a person. While one should indeed not judge a book by its cover; this book's cover and title may lead some readers to think that the book is their golden ticket to a quick landing into a great career. The breadth of information that a security professional needs to know precludes and short of cramming or quick introductions. Those with a lack of security experience attempting to use this book to hide their shortcomings will only embarrass themselves on an interview. 

On the other hand, for the reader who has a background in information security who wants an update on network and security fundamentals, they will find IT Security Interviews Exposed a helpful title. The book contains a plethora of valuable information written in a clear and easy to read style. In a little over 200 pages, the book is able to provide the reader with a good review of what they know or may have forgotten. Used in such a setting by such a reader makes the book a most helpful tool for the serious security professional looking to advance their career.

Ben Rothke

Senior Information Security Manager, Tapad


identity management & governance

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