10 Questions to Ask at a Networking Job Interview

We've covered the questions to ask when interviewing someone for a networking job. Now find out what questions to ask when you're the one being interviewed.

By Elizabeth Harrin | Posted Sep 24, 2015
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It’s the end of your interview for a fantastic enterprise network admin, network engineer, or other IT job. The interviewer turns to you and says, “Well, that’s all the questions we had for you. What would you like to ask us?”

Leave a great impression and find out whether it’s the right job for you with these 10 must-remember-to-ask questions.

1. Where do network engineers get promoted to in this company?

The response to this question will tell you a lot about career paths in the organization. If your interviewer describes job families and routes for promotion and gives you examples of where system administrators have started and ended up, then you can be comfortable that they promote from within.

If they seem flustered by the question, then your chances of leaping up the hierarchy to CIO might be limited.

2. What qualifications do other people in the team have?

The door doesn’t automatically close if everyone else has CCNA and you don’t. Knowing what qualifications your soon-to-be colleagues have can tell you what sort of environment you are entering, what jargon everyone else will be using, and what you might have to brush up on in your first weeks so you quickly fit in.

3. What professional development do you offer?

Even if your skills are up-to-date today, there will be other toolsets to learn in the future. Find out what the company offers in terms of time off to attend vendor presentations, seminars, or formal training.

4. What percentage of employees work remotely?

This question has two parts to it. First, if you want to work remotely, it lets you know what their policy is on flexible working and whether they have the tools to support it for the systems job you’ll be doing.

Second, it gives you an idea about the sort of network and security challenges you might face with a highly mobile team (or not, if they all stay at their desks).

5. How do you measure success?

What you’re trying to find out here is how the performance of the team is measured. Is it to do with hard statistics like availability, breaches and response times? Or does it also include an element of customer satisfaction. If so, how do they work that out?

You can expand the discussion to talk about how you will be measured on a personal level, through setting annual objectives and reviewing these regularly, or some other scheme.

6. Will I be involved with projects?

Enterprise admin is a rewarding job, but many professionals find that they get a sense of satisfaction out of being involved in IT projects too. Even when the networking part is small – providing the specifications for a new server or advising on the security elements – it can be great to be part of a wider project team and understand how your role fits in to the bigger picture.

If you think you’d like to get involved with IT projects, ask your interviewer what sort of projects are coming up and how resources are chosen to work on project teams.

7. What’s your biggest technical challenge right now?

It could be IoT, SDN, or something small and routine. It’s always useful to find out what problems the company is facing. Don’t be put off if they mention a few things. Organizations should always be striving to improve, so they should have a list of areas that they are working on.

Do be wary if they say that everything is under control. What haven’t they uncovered yet? And why do they need someone else on the team if they can handle it all?

8. Why are you hiring?

If the last network LAN administrator got promoted or took a fantastic job at a competitor firm, then high fives all round.

If he’s taken early retirement due to stress and the team have been short staffed for months, then it’s probably not going to be the laid-back, casual culture you were hoping for. However, if a high stress environment where you can turn around a struggling team is your thing, this could be the perfect job for you!

9. What do you think is the most important skill for someone in this role to have?

You’ve talked about the skills you do have; now find out what they rate as essential. It’s interesting to hear the answers, especially if you have been interviewed by two or more people. The responses give you an idea of what team management feel is critical to succeed, and they can be quite wide-ranging.

Many interviewers will list technical skills, but also listen out for the soft skills that you’ll need to demonstrate in your first few months if you want to make a good impression. These could be things like the ability to work in a team, being able to pick up new skills quickly, communicating technical ideas to other colleagues in ways they can understand and so on.

10. What are the next steps?

Finally, bring the conversation to a close by asking what happens next. Find out when you can expect to hear back from them and whether there is going to be a second round of interviews, practical or theoretical tests, or a presentation. If you ask that now, you’ll be more prepared when they do call you back and ask you to go in. Equally, you’ll also have a timeframe in mind for when you will know their decision. Many companies are very bad at letting candidates know the outcome of job interviews, so if you have an idea of when they are going to make the decision and you don’t hear back, you can conclude that you haven’t been their first choice.

Never forget that an interview is also your opportunity to find out if the company is right for you. Making the move to a new IT team is a big decision. You need to be sure that it’s going to work out, because there is no going back once you’ve handed in your notice at your last job.

You only get a few opportunities during your job search to check that the work environment, team and job responsibilities fit your career aspirations, so make the most of your interview and turn the tables on your interviewer!

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