Network engineer job interviews are usually much different than programming job interviews. While programming job interviews focus on syntax and code engineering, network engineers are asked more general questions about design and architecture. Usually, at some point, both jobs mingle together, but you will need to study one area of the IT field. Both fields require a lot of studying, but it’s important to know network design, server architecture and protocols when you want to work in the field. Here are some common questions you might be asked in your interview.
1) Have you worked in heterogeneous environments and multiple server and client platforms?
The obvious answer to this question is yes or no, but you should elaborate if the answer is yes. Most networking environments use a combination of Windows and Linux servers and desktops. Usually, network engineers prefer Linux servers and work with Windows and Linux desktops. Occasionally, you might have some Mac desktops as well to work with.
2) What tools do you use to troubleshoot network issues?
You can use any tools to troubleshoot issues, but you should mention some internal typical commands that help troubleshoot standard problems. For instance, if the user can’t access the Internet, you might want to run a tracert on the problem. You could also use ping to see if the user can access internal areas of the network. Of course, there could also be hardware issues such as a bad network card or broken cable.
3) What are some basic ways to speed up network performance?
There are several ways to improve network performance. You can first make sure you disable peer-to-peer downloading and torrents. Some companies restrict media streaming such as YouTube and Pandora. You can also add compression to files to reduce the amount of bandwidth used. Another area where some network admins make mistakes is timed backups and large data transfers. Make sure your backups are done during slow network times, which is usually overnight when the office is closed.
4) How do you work with a development team?
Interestingly, most infrastructure and development teams don’t get along well with each other. When development teams and infrastructure teams get together to design large systems, they usually disagree with each other. There can be a lot of tension between the two departments. When you answer this question, make sure you give an answer that attempts to help a development team and facilitates progress instead of stifles it. You want to help developers complete projects while securing the network in the best way possible.
5) What things should you consider when you work with several departments and large infrastructures?
One main issue with larger businesses is security. If the business hosts its own web host servers, you must understand how to protect the internal network from outside Internet traffic. Other issues include user management and desktop audits and inventory. You must be able to manage several desktops and servers at once.
6) Can you work as a team?
Most network admins need to work as a team. The interviewer will ask you questions regarding team environment to make sure you are comfortable working with other team members. Some people cannot work in a team and need to be in their own environment. If the company has a large network, however, you will probably need to work as a team with other engineers.
7) How can you discover network topology?
There are many ways to discover network topology and most of the ways you know determine your experience in the field. First, you can ping random IP addresses. If you do a tracert, you can discover router IP addresses. You can install a network traffic packet analyzer to read some of the traffic that passes between segments of the network. You can run an SNMP scanner and attempt to find open systems. Even at a basic level, you can plug a laptop into open data ports to see if you can connect to various servers and other desktops.
8) How do you find answers to problems you can’t solve?
Every engineer will come across an issue that he can’t figure out. Network engineering is difficult, so no one expects you to have the answers at all times. However, it’s important that you know how to find answers when you need them. The first obvious answer is to Google. Google also leads you to some popular spots for network engineers and other IT people. Stack Overflow is a popular forum where you can ask, answer and read questions and answers. You can also find help in books and manuals that come with the hardware you purchase.
9) Troubleshooting questions
The interviewer can throw you any number of troubleshooting questions. For instance, you might be asked what you would do if a customer can’t get access to VPN. Some simple answers are checking the username and password and the software on the client’s computer. You might also be asked to tell the interviewer what you would do if a user can’t access the network. You would check the cable, username and password, and the network card configurations. There are usually no right or wrong answers as long as you know how to troubleshoot common networking problems.
These are just a few popular engineering questions. You will also need to answer questions about your personality. This is especially important when you work in a team. Network engineers must work with clients in the office, so most team leads want you to be able to be friendly with customers and coworkers.
The best answers to personality questions are to be yourself. Answer question honestly but in a friendly way. The personality questions are some of the hardest questions for engineers to answer, because most engineers are quiet and reserved.