As technological innovations and the digitization of info continue to pervade the business world, it’s become especially important for companies to rely on their network engineers.
Network engineers are technology professionals responsible for constructing, planning, and managing internal networks to ensure they’re fully optimized for your company’s use.
Here’s how to interview network engineer candidates to find the best ones for your org.
What does a network engineer do?
Network engineers maintain high-availability digital infrastructures in order to support the databases, networks, and on-site or cloud-based information of an organization and its users.
Here are some of the responsibilities of a network engineer:
- Working under the guidance of a CIO and other administrative leaders to discuss long-term goals and policies
- Taking on the more advanced tasks of developing and maintaining quality networks (unlike IT technicians, who focus on day-to-day tasks)
- Creating and implementing wireless and physical networks
- Working either internally with a company or as an outside consultant
- Monitoring the security systems and firewalls
- Working with managers, team leaders, and other engineers to finish tasks
- Having a deep understanding of all the hardware and software that helps networks functions
- Managing more executive responsibilities than a network administrator
When to hire a network engineer
“If your business requirements include high-security, complex or mission-critical physical or virtual networks, you might need a network engineer,” said Marc Dantona, Senior Director of Security and IT at Lever.
“If your business has grown and needs a highly available network that services hundreds or thousands of users, depending on size and scale, hiring a dedicated network engineer might be in your near future.”
Interview questions to screen network engineers
Because network engineers are required to have both a deep understanding of network infrastructure as well as some executive experience, it’s important to find a well balanced candidate to fill your role.
Below are some interview questions you can ask candidates to gauge their qualifications.
- Why did you get into network engineering?
- Tell us about your experiences in the field. How will they translate into our company?
- What’s the largest network you’ve managed?
- Tell us about a specific troubleshooting experience that helped solve a difficult problem in your network.
- What resources do you use to stay on top innovations in the industry?
- How would you begin scaling an organization’s network?
- What managerial or executive experience do you have?
- This position will require you to align your technology experience with our company’s long-term vision; how has your experience thus far prepared you for this?
Network engineer intern interview questions
Interns are a great way to provide support to your IT team and network engineers, field potential candidates, and surround yourself with new talent in the industry.
Whether your goal is to provide short-term support to your teams or try to attract young, talented candidates, you want to make sure that these individuals are ready for the tasks of a network engineer intern and understand some of the basics of IT, network maintenance, and digital infrastructures.
Below are some questions to help you evaluate the strengths of your intern candidate.
- Why do you want to be a network engineer?
- How has your previous work experience or academic work prepared you for this role?
- What IT related accomplishments are you most proud of?
- What do you know about our company and what we do?
- Have you ever managed a network on your own?
- How do emails, websites, and accounts connect within a network?
- What are the hardware building blocks of any network?
- Do you work well with others?
- How do you organize, protect, and control traffic flow of a server?
- How is a network engineer different from a network administrator?
Senior network engineer interview questions
Senior network engineers will be expected to have a plethora of experience and mastery of the technical knowledge surrounding network engineering.
You’re looking for someone who won’t require a lot of onboarding and who you can rely on to step in, understand the goals of the company, and integrate into your system with relative ease.
Below are some key interview questions to ask for senior network engineer candidates.
- What was the largest network that you built from the ground up?
- How has your experience prepared you for a senior position?
- As a senior network engineer, we might rely on you to manage a team of engineers. How do you see yourself in a leadership position?
- You will be expected to follow current innovations in AI, cloud, network automation, etc. What’s your strategy for keeping up with these trends?
- How do most routing protocols work and in what situations don’t they work?
- If there were an issue with networking data planes and control planes, what are the first steps you would take to identify the problem?
- Provide them with a complex networking scenario and ask them to walk you through their protocol on a white board.
- A team member isn’t understanding how to properly troubleshoot an issue; how would you handle the situation?
Network analysis interview questions
As a network engineer, your new hire will need a strong foundation in network analysis.
Network analysts are computer professionals who help prepare computers integrate into certain networks, enabling the computers to connect with the rest of the network so they can share information and receive updates.
Because your network engineer is going to need experience and technical knowledge of network analysis, be sure to have these questions ready for your interview.
- What kind of experience with network analysis do you have?
- Why is network analysis important to a company like ours?
- What kind of things are you looking for in a routine network analysis maintenance check?
- What kind of networks have you designed in the past?
- What would your first steps be if your network was under the threat of a virus or cyber attack?
- At what stage of scaling would you require a team to work under you? How big does a network have to be to justify the hiring of a team of network engineers?
- Provide them with a hypothetical network and ask them what kind of hardware would be required to maintain that network.
- Provide them with a hypothetical project and ask them what kind of data would be used in that particular instance.
Final thoughts: Network engineer interview questions to ask
The essential questions for your network engineer interview should probe your candidate’s level of expertise, capabilities to work under pressure, and their ability to understand the long term goals of the company.
As someone taking on executive responsibilities, you want to make sure you strike on the right balance between technical prowess and long-term vision, and these questions will help ensure you have a strong interview question foundation to establish these qualities.
Learn how Lever customers streamline their interview processes and ensure they advance and hire only top talent using our complete ATS + CRM solution. Schedule a call today.