IAM Interview Questions, Answers And Best Practices
Updated 30 September 2022
A career in identity and access management (IAM) can involve several areas of technology and policy governance. When interviewing for a role in this field, hiring managers typically hope to learn about the technical skills and specific IAM knowledge of candidates to keep an organisation's user access secure. Learning more about the interview questions for a role in the IAM field can help you prepare and increase your chances of impressing the employer.
In this article, we share IAM interview questions you might encounter along with some sample answers, review the importance of IAM, explore types of digital authentication for IAM, and identify best practices to implement IAM.
IAM Interview Questions
Here are some IAM interview questions and sample answers that can help you prepare:
How do you monitor user activity with IAM?
Monitoring user activity and roles is typically one of the common responsibilities of an IAM manager or associate, so hiring managers might like to know about your experience with this task. Consider citing your specific duties in previous roles related to monitoring activity, including violations, standard processes and tools you might have used.
Example: 'At my last job, we automatically set new users up with specific access to tools based on their roles. Sometimes, users requested access to different tools if they were working on certain projects. With weekly audits, we would verify everyone had the appropriate access, though we noticed once that an entry-level employee had full access to all systems, so we manually revoked access to ensure compliance.'
Can you describe a unique IAM project that required your involvement?
Hiring managers might want to know about the unique projects you've worked on in prior roles. To showcase your skills, you can briefly describe the project, your role and how you contributed to its success.
Example: "I managed a project where we redesigned all the user roles and access requirements for our global organisation of over 5,000 employees. I worked with leadership teams to define what categories we could create, designing a hierarchy of access levels for senior management, management and employees. We completed the project within a year, and I negotiated stricter access for most employees to ensure higher levels of security."
How do you educate other employees on the importance of IAM?
Though IAM is a specific role, it often requires involvement from many employees in an organisation. Hiring managers might like to know how you can educate and influence others to understand and comply with company policies. Consider sharing a specific example of how you educated employees, like how you created documentation or hosted information sessions, and the outcome of these events.
Example: 'In my last role, I hosted hour-long training sessions during new employees' onboarding periods to review our policies immediately. With any updates to company policies, I drafted and sent company-wide emails and hosted information sessions for managers so that they could answer any questions for individual employees.
How do you manage changing technologies in the field?
As positions in IAM are a part of technology departments, hiring managers might ask about how you adapt to new technology. This can include adapting to cloud technology, user management tools and a company's proprietary systems. You might share a specific example of when the company you worked for upgraded or changed technology and how you adapted.
Example: "When my previous company switched to a cloud-based identity and access management system, I immediately registered for a cloud certification program. Although a lot of the functionality was the same, learning about connectivity, space issues and automated access tools the cloud offered helped me understand the new functionality and mentor my colleagues."
What is an IAM manager's role in compliance and regulations?
IAM managers often oversee compliance with governmental and company data and security policies. Hiring managers might want to know how you collaborate with other departments, like legal teams, to understand your role in keeping the company's technology secure. Consider sharing your values and specific experiences that show you understand how to govern in this area.
Example: "The IAM team is wholly responsible for technology security with user access and roles. In my previous role, I worked with the legal department to draft new company policies and oversaw the information hub on our company portal. Together, we conducted monthly audits to ensure employees and the IAM team followed the appropriate practices when granting, requesting and managing access."
Related: What Is The Role Of A Manager?
Importance Of IAM
IAM is important, as it creates added protection for the company's network. Business owners and managers can use IAM to control who has access to which applications. Businesses can also customize IAM systems and make them as simple or as complex as needed for user access, depending on their requirements. IAM is crucial if there are several teams with people in different roles. Once the organisation decides which employees have access to certain information, only the users they choose can access company applications and systems. This technology is also useful to reduce external threats and keep sensitive business data safe.
Types Of Digital Authentication For IAM
Organisations can use different types of digital authentication while implementing IAM, including:
Setting a unique password is the most common type of digital authentication. You can set a password using a string of numbers, letters or special characters. Creating a strong password can help protect the business against the threat of cyberattacks.
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is another type of digital authentication that uses multiple ways to identify a user. As MFA uses multiple security layers, it is more useful than password-based authentication. For instance, you may use a password, fingerprint, facial recognition or other codes to secure your system.
While MFA adds a second layer of security, it also has its pitfalls. It is time-consuming as users require more time to log in to a system. Further, it can be expensive to implement different layers of authentication. Even if the organisation implements MFA, there is often a risk that the employee may lose a company laptop or SIM card.
A digital certificate, or public key certificate, is similar to a handwritten one except the former uses careful encryption to lock it. The digital certificate contains the user's or device's information and users can digitally sign in or provide other authorisation details. As employees may leave companies and companies may go out of business, organisations might want to renew these certificates frequently to help ensure that it is still being held by the desired authority.
Biometrics use physiological characteristics to verify an individual. This includes facial feature recognition, eye scanners or fingerprint scanners. Databases can save these physiological characteristics, and they can be used to verify the user when they want to access their system. Private corporations use biometrics, along with governments, militaries and airports.
Organisations that need additional security also may use advanced levels of biometrics, such as those based on the brain and heart. This can be cumbersome and have poor accuracy levels. Usually, companies prefer miniature and portable biometric systems that save costs, especially if they require to be deployed on large numbers of employees.
Best Practices To Implement IAM
Consider the following best practices while implementing IAM for an organisation:
Define IAM goals
The first step to implementing IAM in an organisation is to understand what the business needs. This includes understanding how many employees require IAM, mapping current IT requirements against future one and framing a budget for IAM needs. Developing a strong foundation for IAM can help to understand where the business stands and what it requires to safeguard itself against cyberthreats.
Implement a strong password policy
Ensure employees across the organisation are using strong passwords to protect their systems. Remind them often to avoid using simple passwords that can make company data vulnerable to external threats. It is also important that employees change passwords at regular intervals. If needed, managers may also organise training sessions to help fellow employees understand the importance of setting strong passwords.
Multi-factor authentication is one of the most important ways companies can keep their systems secure. Enforcing several levels of authentication ensures users go through multiple stages of verification before they can access company documents. This helps ensure that even if someone breaches one level of security, there are others to get through to access information.
Eliminate unnecessary credentials
Another way companies can ensure IAM implementation is to remove the credentials of any employee who has quit the workplace or anyone who does not need IAM credentials. You can eliminate their passwords, access keys and all other levels of security. For example, it is important that a company that has created IAM credentials for an employee who has changed teams remove those credentials immediately if they are no longer needed.
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