Pursuing a career in network engineering? Great choice.
Network Engineers are in high demand as companies rely on them to establish and maintain networks within their organizations. Plus, with salary expectations averaging $82,408 in the U.S., there's no better time to enter the field.
Still, the role requires skill and expertise — so you'll want to be well-prepared to showcase the full extent of your abilities when you walk into your interview. While you can't know every question you'll face, going over some common ones will give you a solid foundation and a sense of what to expect.
So, to help you prepare, here are 10 Network Engineer interview questions.
1. What is a network typology?
Your answer should include a physical description of a company's computer network, including where the different systems are located and how they're connected.
2. What is your experience as a Network Engineer?
If you've previously worked as a Network Engineer, summarize your experience. If not, discuss relevant skills and projects and how they'll relate to your day-to-day activities on the job.
Looking over your resume will help you prepare for this question. Note the highlights so you can be ready to talk about them if asked to do so.
You'll also want to include information that's not listed on your resume. Otherwise, it may sound like you're just repeating those details. Instead, discuss what you learned in previous positions and how those experiences relate to your current skill set. You can also mention any relevant courses you've taken or certifications you've earned.
3. How do you troubleshoot network issues?
Troubleshooting is a crucial part of being a Network Engineer. Employers want to know your process for diagnosing and solving problems as they occur. For example, you could discuss using a top-down approach that begins with the ping utility, then moves to traceroute if the issue isn't solved.
Other problem-solving methods include:
- Investigating the IP configuration
- Using NSlookup to locate a DNS issue
- Using the Netstat utility to diagnose further
- Checking and double-checking utilities like Route, PathPing, Speedtest, and the IP Network Calculator
4. What is a network?
While this one may seem obvious, how you answer is important because it can demonstrate how you'd explain it to someone unfamiliar with tech terminology.
One way to describe a network is multiple computers connected via an optical fiber (or another type of cable) to share hardware, software, and data. These devices communicate with one another to make this possible.
5. What is a node?
A node is a point at which you establish a connection. This network component is how you'll send, receive and forward electronic information.
A device connected to your network can also be a node. For example, if your network consisted of two computers, two printers, and a server, there'd be five nodes on your network.
6. What is a router?
A router connects two or more network segments, and it transfers data from a source to a destination via data packets. When data is forwarded from one router to another, the network address is read, and the destination network is identified.
7. What is the OSI reference model?
OSI stands for Open System Interconnection and defines the communication of applications on a network. The OSI model helps you understand the relationship between existing networks and defines how networks communicate.
8. What are the layers contained in the OSI reference model?
There are seven layers in the OSI Reference Models:
- The physical layer converts data bits into radio signals.
- The data link layer is where packets are encoded and decoded into bits for node-to-node transfer.
- The network layer transfers data sequences from one node to another.
- The transport layer transfers data between nodes and acknowledges successful transmissions.
- The session layer establishes and terminates local and remote application connections.
- The presentation layer transforms data into a form that's accepted by the application layer.
- The application layer interacts with the application to enable tasks like email, data transfer, etc.
9. What's the difference between a hub, switch, and router?
A hub broadcasts data to every port on the network and is the least complicated of these devices. Switches are similar to hubs but are more efficient by dynamically creating connections and providing data only to the port requested.
Routers come in all shapes and sizes and are the most complicated of these three devices. Their purpose is to route network traffic.
10. How do you explain network issues to someone who doesn't understand computers?
As a Network Engineer, you'll often have to describe technical issues to people who aren't familiar with the terminology. When this occurs, use layman's terms. Drawing diagrams can be extremely helpful when describing a problem and possible solutions.
The questions above are a great start, but consider reviewing the information and procedures you've learned before going into your network engineering interview. If you already work in this field, think of ways you can add value to the new organization and set yourself apart from the other job candidates.
Need more help preparing for interviews? Check out our Career Center.