Network engineers fulfil a vital role in business, with overall responsibility for the connection of computer systems in their places of work. This is a demanding role where problems often need to be solved at very short notice, but it is well paid and provides a lot of opportunity to experiment and improve upon established set-ups. With this in mind, it is not surprising that many individuals look for opportunities in this area. This article is designed to help those facing the interview stage.

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Basic preparation.

As with any interview, it is important to be well prepared. This includes making oneself familiar with the hiring organisation and spending some time thinking about its probable needs. It is also important to be up to date on new developments in the sector. Candidates should arrive at the interview well rested and slightly early, smartly dressed and ready to engage. A firm handshake and confident eye contact can go a long way.

Typical interview questions for network engineers.

1. What types of network have you run in the past?

Although most candidates will only have experience with LANs, this common question provides an opportunity to talk about the issues involved in administering them on different scales and designing them to suit different environments.

2. Have you ever had to deal with a major security leak?

This is one of those interview questions where past troubles can actually be useful – especially if they were somebody else’s! It is not necessarily a bad thing to admit to a leak as long as it is possible to explain what was learned from it and say confidently that it won’t happen again. Candidates who have never had this problem can still take the opportunity to talk about how such problems can be resolved, explaining how they would respond quickly and effectively and demonstrating that they appreciate the value of the data they might be working with.

3. Would you be able to reduce the cost of our IT systems?

Candidates should beware of making unrealistic promises in response to questions like this. It is better to use the question to talk about costing, upgrading, and efficiency issues and to demonstrate a sound knowledge of the field. Companies rarely opt for the lowest bidder.

4. What IT training experience do you have?

Network engineers are often called upon to train other IT staff. This question may be asking about the different types of IT jobs the engineer is able to train people in, or it may be asking about the different ability levels for which that person can teach. It is fine for an answer to cover both.

5.What type of teams have you supervised in the past?

This question is usually intended to explore different types of computing work (such as software development or technical support) but it can be usefully expanded upon to talk about the different character of teams and thereby demonstrate the ability to get along in a variety of situations.

6. Can you keep our system from crashing?

Naive questions like this can pose a challenge because it is important to come across as sympathetic. It is also possible that there is an underlying system flaw no one knows about. The best response is usually to focus on how fast a crashed system might be brought back online.