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Network Engineer Interview Questions

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  1. What resources do you use to stay on top of innovations in the industry? See answer
  2. Have you coordinated with development teams and other stakeholders while deploying network resources? See answer
  3. What safeguards do you put in a network design to limit data loss? See answer
  4. Can you draw a network topography you worked on before and explain the design to me? See answer
  5. What is the largest size network you have engineered? See answer
  6. Can you walk me through your troubleshooting process when you aren’t getting the expected performance out of your network configuration? See answer
  7. How have you scaled networks to accommodate an organization’s changing needs? See answer
  8. You’ll likely need to explain complex technical ideas to coworkers and clients without the same level of technical knowledge as you. How will you ensure they understand what you’re saying?
  9. How can you improve the networking processes at our company?
  10. Are you willing to seek professional development to broaden your knowledge of the electrical industry?
  11. Can you help field supervisors get the information they need to be proficient and aid the customer?
  12. Do you know how to use a spanning tree?
  13. Can you explain a VLAN trunking protocol?
  14. Are you comfortable managing upset clients?
  15. What is an OSPF protocol?
  16. Do you prefer to work on your own or as part of team?
  17. What do you do when you’ve tried every solution and the network still won’t function properly?
  18. What are your preferred tools for troubleshooting a network issue?
  19. A client wants a faster network. What would you suggest they do?
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8 Network Engineer Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

What resources do you use to stay on top of innovations in the industry?

A:

The technology industry is fast-paced, and new network solutions could significantly improve your infrastructure. The network engineer should have the initiative to continually learn about the latest and greatest technology. You’re not looking for any particular resource in the applicant’s answer, simply that they do stay on top of things.
What to look for:

  • Dedication to learning
  • Reasons for choosing the resources
  • Ability to stay on top of trends

Example:

“I participate in a local network engineer Meetup group, read Network World and use an RSS reader to consolidate several news sources that frequently cover network innovations. “

Q:

Have you coordinated with development teams and other stakeholders while deploying network resources?

A:

Cross-collaboration between teams and departments is a common trend in the business world. The available network resources can significantly impact an organization’s software development and other projects. The applicant should provide an answer that makes you feel confident in their ability to communicate and work with multiple people.

What to look for:

  • Strong communication skills
  • Ability to coordinate
  • Experience working with other teams

Example:

“I have five years of experience working in a DevOps team. I worked hand in hand with the developers to ensure that they have access to a network that supported what their applications needed to perform.

Q:

What safeguards do you put in a network design to limit data loss?

A:

Data loss can cause systems to stop and productivity to grind to a halt. This risk is a common one that the network engineer should be prepared for. Look for an answer that goes into detail on the type of safeguards they use and why they have selected them.
What to look for:

  • Selection process
  • Understanding of data loss risk
  • Experience with this situation

Example:

“I build disaster recovery resources into the network plan and focus on high availability. Company data is safeguarded in several ways, such as regularly scheduled backups and distributed network storage locations.”

Q:

Can you draw a network topography you worked on before and explain the design to me?

A:

One of the primary duties of a network engineer is creating the network blueprints for your organization. The applicant should be able to quickly sketch out a diagram and explain their decision-making process behind that topography.
What to look for:

  • Well-illustrated design
  • Easy to understand explanation
  • Solid network design

Example:

“This network topography is what I implemented at a mid-size financial organization. I needed to keep security and availability at the forefront of the design, which is why I used this particular configuration to serve their needs.”

Q:

What is the largest size network you have engineered?

A:

This question allows you to gauge whether the applicant has hands-on experience with networks sized similarly to yours. They don’t necessarily have to be in the same industry or use identical technology to your organization. You’re looking for a general familiarity with the challenges and requirements that come with a company of your size.
What to look for:

  • Lots of details
  • Similar sized network
  • Hands-on experience

Example:

“I created and implemented networks for small business clients that ranged from a two-person operation to 200 people. These networks supported single locations and used a mix of on-premises solutions and cloud-based applications.”

Q:

Can you walk me through your troubleshooting process when you aren’t getting the expected performance out of your network configuration?

A:

This question gives you a first-hand look at the way the applicant approaches a complex problem. There are countless ways to approach this issue, and it’s valuable to see how the applicant goes about it.
What to look for:

  • Analytical thinking
  • Solid process
  • Willingness to ask for help

Example:

“The first thing I do is eliminate any low-hanging fruit. I’ll check for network outages, hardware failures, high network activity and other common causes of poor performance. Once I’ve ruled those out, I’ll use network monitoring and analytics tools to get more information about the cause of the problem. I’ll also reach out to network administrators and technicians to speed up the process if I run into problems.”

Q:

How have you scaled networks to accommodate an organization’s changing needs?

A:

It’s expensive to recruit talented network engineers, so you want someone who is suitable for the long term. As your organization grows and adapts to changes in the business world, your network should be capable of keeping up with new needs. Look for an answer that displays familiarity with various scaling methods.
What to look for:

  • Understanding of scaling methods
  • Experience with network scaling
  • Willingness to learn new scaling methods

Example:

“I worked with a startup company selling a product that went from 0 to 15,000 users in the first year. I started with a small-scale on-premises network capable of supporting the basic operations of the company to get them started. As we onboarded users, I integrated our on-premises resources with ACME Web Services so we could handle traffic spikes from successful marketing campaigns.”

Q:

You'll likely need to explain complex technical ideas to coworkers and clients without the same level of technical knowledge as you. How will you ensure they understand what you're saying?

A:

Network engineers must perform technical work and effectively communicate with internal and external stakeholders. The network engineer you hire should be able to handle technical tasks and clearly explain what's happening while doing so. Your candidate's answer should be easy to understand and provide concrete strategies for communication.

Look for these qualities in your candidate's answer:

  • Uses layman's terms
  • Provides communication strategies
  • Understands the importance of communication in the role

A quality candidate answer might reflect this example:

Example:

"Whenever I'm tasked with explaining a technical concept to a coworker or client, I do my best to ensure they understand. I do this by avoiding technical jargon whenever possible and using layman's terms to explain the devices and processes. I also try to use analogies or metaphors to explain what's going on inside the devices. If possible, I draw diagrams of the devices themselves so the person can better visualize how the system works. I think it's important to empower people with knowledge, so they take more ownership in their network system."

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    Last updated: Apr 21, 2021