30 network engineer interview questions to prep you for success10 Oct, 20236 min
Congratulations, you’ve managed to be invited to an interview for one or potentially several...
Congratulations, you’ve managed to be invited to an interview for one or potentially several of the network engineer jobs you’ve applied for. Now’s the time to put in the preparation time and consider some of the network engineer interview questions you could be asked and how to answer them. But what are some of the top network engineer interview questions and answers we hear you ask?
Well, in this guide, we will go into detail about how to prepare for network engineer interview questions, including some example responses you could give to help you land your desired role. So, come with us as we explore our 30 network engineer interview questions to prep you for success.
Before we jump into the guide, here’s a list of the 30 network engineer interview questions and answers we’ll cover in this piece. Feel free to use this contents section as a way to click on the questions you’d like to know more about.
Tell us a bit about you and your background
Why did you choose to become a network engineer?
What relevant network engineering qualifications do you have?
How long have you worked as a network engineer?
What is your preferred area of expertise within network engineering?
Why did you apply for this particular network engineer job?
What network engineering skills do you possess?
What network engineering skills could you improve upon?
What are the common hardware and software networking problems?
How would you manage multiple networking projects?
Tell us about the biggest network you’ve engineered
How would you go about troubleshooting an issue with a network?
What knowledge do you have of network protocols?
How would you assess a client's needs when optimising a network?
What experience do you have with project management?
How would you translate technical ideas to non-technical people?
How would you describe network topology?
How would you handle a difficult situation with a client?
What are the OSI layers?
What is a node?
How would you describe what a router is?
How would you put in place network security procedures?
Please can you define what DNS means?
Explain what a proxy server is
What are the different types of networks?
What is a private IP address?
How would you describe what anonymous FTP is?
How do you keep updated with network engineering trends?
What bracket of network engineer salary are you looking for?
What does career progression look like for you?
1. Tell us a bit about you and your background
We kick off our list of 30 network engineer interview questions to prep you for success with arguably the most common question you’ll be asked. This question gives you the opportunity to tell your potential employer a bit about you, from your interests to how you got to where you are in your network engineering career, whether you’re a graduate or senior network engineer.
Keep your answer concise without rambling off-topic, and remember it’s important to keep linking back to the role and any previous positions you’ve had within the space that are relevant to the network engineer job you’re applying for.
2. Why did you choose to become a network engineer?
This next question lets you show off your passion and enthusiasm for the network engineering job you’re interviewing for. An interviewer will be looking to see what motivated you to become a network engineer and how eager you are to progress in your network engineering career.
When looking at how to prepare for network interview questions like this, here’s an excellent example of a response:
“Since I can remember, I’ve always had a love for computers and tech in general. My passion continued into my early adulthood when I attended university to earn a computer science degree before jumping into network engineering. Since I began my career as a network engineer, I’ve been driven to help solve complex issues and scale networks for innovative businesses.”
3. What relevant network engineering qualifications do you have?
Here you can list any qualifications or certifications you’ve gained on your network engineering journey, whether through university degrees, network engineering courses or an apprenticeship course you’ve completed. Although you may put all this down on your CV, this network engineer question allows you to expand on the qualifications you’ve achieved, why you enrolled on these courses, and what you learned.
4. How long have you worked as a network engineer?
Of course, these types of network interview questions answer themselves, but it also allows you to talk through your journey. Some interviewers will be looking for a certain level of experience, potentially 5-10 years, for more senior network engineer jobs. An interviewer may look for relevant work experience for entry-level network engineer jobs, such as an IT support role or other qualifications. However, this should all be specified in the network engineer job description you applied for.
5. What is your preferred area of expertise within network engineering?
As mentioned, throughout the interview, you should keep referring back to the specific network engineering job you’re interviewing for. However, many employers will want you to have either some experience or awareness of all aspects of network engineering. So, when answering this question, mention all the areas of network engineering you have knowledge and experience in and your preferred area you specialise in.
If you’re looking for network engineer interview preparation for these questions, here’s how you could respond:
“While I find every aspect of being a network engineer enjoyable, there is one particular area where my passion and expertise truly shine when I interact with clients and support with troubleshooting their server issues. I love the challenge of dealing with server and configuration problems and coming up with solutions that allow the client to get the most out of the network they’re using.”
6. Why did you apply for this particular network engineer job?
Network engineer interview questions and answers like this require you to research the potential employer to genuinely understand the organisation's mission, vision, and values. You probably did this before applying for the role, but refreshing your memory to prepare a response to this question would be a smart move.
Here's how to prepare for network engineer interview questions like this:
"I'm really eager to take on this network engineering job and be a part of what looks like a creative and collaborative team. The prospect of engaging in some of the projects you've worked on excites me and is something I'm motivated and ready to be a part of. I genuinely believe this environment will enable me to make a more significant impact and forge meaningful connections in my network engineering career."
7. What network engineering skills do you possess?
As part of your network engineer interview preparation, it’s important you can communicate to the interviewer the various network engineering skills you possess, as this is likely to be asked during the interview.
When answering this question, you could mention the more technical skills you’re equipped with, like your ability to troubleshoot hardware and software various types of network infrastructure issues as well as soft skills like organisational skills and your ability to manage projects on time.
Here’s one response you could give when answering these types of network engineer interview questions:
“I have the technical, analytical, and problem-solving skills to troubleshoot network problems and resolve issues quickly and efficiently with little to no downtime for the end user.”
8. What network engineering skills could you improve upon?
Interviewers don't ask these types of network engineer interview questions to catch you out or make you think you're not suited for the role; they clearly think you have the potential if you've reached the interview stage. Instead, an interviewer will ask you this question to gain insight into what areas of network engineering you feel you could improve so they can determine how they can support you, potentially through training and development.
Here’s how you could respond to this question:
“Although I have a deep knowledge of network engineering, I would like to improve on my ability to present and translate complex ideas and processes to non-technical shareholders in a way that they will understand and benefit from.”
9. What are the common hardware and software networking problems?
As a network engineer, you’ll be expected to deal with various hardware and software-related network problems. When answering this type of question in your network engineer interview, you could list some examples we’ve provided below or respond based on your experience with hardware and software networking issues.
Common hardware networking problems
- Faulty hard drives
- Damaged network interface cards (NICs)
- Hardware initialisation issues
- Inaccurate hardware configuration
Common software networking problems
- Issues related to client-server interactions
- Conflicts arising from application compatibility
- Errors in configuration settings
- Protocol mismatches that cause communication problems
- Security concerns and vulnerabilities
- Challenges related to user policies and rights management
10. How would you manage multiple networking projects?
Network engineers are known for their time management and organisational skills and typically have the ability to manage multiple projects at once while organising their workload independently and meeting the goals of their employer or clients they work with.
So, when asked this type of question, here’s how you could respond:
"With my experience as a network engineer, managing multiple projects has become second nature to me. I rely on a project management programme to ensure my workload and various projects are completed on time and within budget. I take this approach as it allows me to keep on top of all my deadlines and meet the needs of the business and end users' needs."
The ability to manage multiple projects is also a transferable skill applicable to other professions. So if you’re coming into network engineering from a different background, you can still answer this question but specify where you gained your experience.
11. Tell us about the biggest network you’ve engineered
Interviewers will typically ask these types of network engineer interview questions as they'll want to know if you have experience designing, implementing and troubleshooting networks similar to or the same size as the networks they and their clients use.
When it comes to these types of network engineer interview questions and answers, here's an example of a response you could give:
“Among the networks I've designed, implemented, and provided troubleshooting support on, the biggest one I worked on was with my former employer. This project involved interconnecting numerous locations across the country, providing seamless communication for their employees working both onsite and remotely around the world - the latter of which involved me setting up secure VPNs to enable safe access to the network from remote locations.”
Even if you have yet to work on networks of the same scale, this won't necessarily mean you won't fit the employer's requirements. Your enthusiasm and other credentials will always be taken into account.
12. How would you go about troubleshooting an issue with a network?
Troubleshooting issues is a common responsibility of network engineer jobs. Therefore, it shouldn't come as a surprise to you when we say this question should become a key part of your network engineer interview preparation. Here, the interviewer will expect you to talk them through how you would typically troubleshoot a networking problem.
We've created another example response for how you can answer this question effectively:
"When tasked with troubleshooting a network issue, I follow a systematic approach that begins with identifying the problem at hand and formulating a working hypothesis as to why the problem has occurred. I'll then validate my theory by executing relevant procedures or implementing specific codes.
Throughout the troubleshooting process, I carefully look into the outcomes and make necessary adjustments until I successfully pinpoint both the root of the problem and the appropriate solution. This methodical approach allows me to tackle network challenges effectively and efficiently with minimal downtime for the end user."
13. What knowledge do you have of network protocols?
Industry-standard protocols such as WANs, wireless LANs, VPNs, and TCP/IP are part of the fundamental expertise a network engineer should be equipped with. An interviewer will ask these types of network engineer interview questions to understand your level of technical knowledge within this core area.
To know how to prepare for network engineer interview questions like this one, check out our example response:
“With extensive experience in working with TCP/IP, I have honed my skills in resolving technical issues remotely by accessing the IP addresses of the user. I also possess expertise in installing and configuring wireless LAN technology, enabling seamless internet or intranet access within office spaces or designated areas.
Moreover, my proficiency extends to deploying secure VPNs for multiple businesses, ensuring their data remains safeguarded and accessible only to people with the necessary authority.
I recognise how these networking protocols represent fundamental components of standard technology crucial to a network's day-to-day functionality.”
14. How would you assess a client's needs when optimising a network?
Your potential employer will consider its clients one of the business's most important assets. Therefore, they'll want to know you have their client's needs at the forefront of everything you do. When answering these types of network engineer interview questions, the interviewer wants you to explain how you would collate and analyse the client's requirements concerning their network.
As part of your network engineer interview preparation, here’s how you can answer this question:
“When tasked with creating or enhancing a customer's network, I adopt an inquisitive approach. During the initial stages, I invest time in asking a multitude of questions to gain a comprehensive understanding of the client’s needs and expectations.
Once I’ve gathered and clarified all this information, I’ll then proceed to formulate a solution that aligns with their specific needs. I’ll use this process to ensure that the end result meets or exceeds the client’s expectations and provides the best possible network solution tailored to their specific goals.”
15. What experience do you have with project management?
Employers will expect you to have some experience in project management, particularly if you're interviewing for more senior network engineer jobs. Network engineer interview questions like this are asked to assess your capabilities in managing a team of network engineers or across the business's broader IT department.
Here's how you could answer this question:
"Whenever I undertake the design or implementation of a project, I wholeheartedly invest myself in its success, leading me to fully commit to project managing the assignment. My familiarity with project management software allows me to efficiently coordinate tasks and track progress from teams of 5-10 people.
Crafting formal project proposals is another aspect I thoroughly enjoy, as it allows me to meticulously plan and outline the project's trajectory. I relish the challenge of leading projects, drawing upon my leadership skills to guide teams towards successful outcomes.
I successfully managed the following projects in my previous role, further enriching my experience handling diverse endeavours." (You could then go on to provide an example of how you'd managed a specific project).
If you're applying for an entry-level network engineer job or have yet to gain project management experience, you could put this down as an area of your skill set you would like to improve.
16. How would you translate technical ideas to non-technical people?
Network engineer jobs often require candidates to have the ability to communicate ideas, processes, and protocols to the wider business, from other tech-savvy employees to non-technical minds, in a way that is translated and understood across the board. Interviewers often look for candidates that possess the ability to tailor their approach to different audiences with an ability to simplify complex tech jargon.
Knowing how to prepare for network engineer interview questions like this is simple, especially after reading our example response.
"I always strive to adapt my communication style to match the knowledge level of the person I'm speaking with, whether it's a colleague or a client. I do my best to employ simple terms and easy-to-understand language when conversing with individuals outside the networking domain. I often use analogies when translating complicated topics to people, as I find this approach makes things simpler for others to grasp intricate ideas."
17. How would you describe network topology?
These types of network engineer interview questions are designed to test your technical understanding to ensure you're suited to the network engineering role they're looking to fill. Keep your answer brief and to the point.
Here's an appropriate response to give to an interviewer if they ask you this question.
"Network topology refers to the organisation of components within a communication network. This structural representation illustrates nodes, devices, and network connections, which can be physically or logically arranged to demonstrate their interrelationships.
For example, in a mesh topology, every device within the network is directly interconnected with each other device, creating a comprehensive and redundant network structure. As a result, every device in the mesh topology must possess a minimum of two network connections to facilitate seamless communication and ensure reliable data transmission.
Engineers can design and optimise networks by understanding topology to efficiently meet their intended purposes."
18. How would you handle a difficult situation with a client?
There may be occasions where a client you're supporting poses a difficult situation for you to deal with, perhaps when troubleshooting a network issue. In these scenarios, you may be under immense pressure to resolve the problem in a short amount of time and be faced with a frustrated client.
By asking network engineer interview questions like this, the interviewer wants to know how you deal with a difficult situation like this. You could answer this question by giving a real-life experience you've had, but if not, we've provided an appropriate response you could give.
"First, I would express empathy and sincerely apologise for the client's unfortunate experience. My next step would be to actively listen to their concerns, asking relevant questions to gain a deeper understanding of the situation. I'd maintain a composed and respectful demeanour, even in the face of the client's anger or frustration.
I would take full responsibility for the situation, set realistic expectations and propose a solution that addresses the client's needs and preferences. After resolving the issue, I would follow up with the client to ensure they were satisfied with the resolution and implement measures to prevent similar incidents in the future.
Taking this comprehensive approach aims to foster positive client relationships and reinforce the commitment to exceptional service.”
19. What are the OSI layers?
Here is another more tech-focused question you may be asked during your interview. As part of your network engineer interview preparation, here’s how you can answer this question in a concise way that demonstrates your knowledge.
“The OSI model consists of seven layers:
- Data link layer
- Network layer
- Presentation layer
- Transport layer
- Session layer
- Physical layer
- Application layer.”
20. What is a node?
Types of technical network engineer interview questions like this can be answered in this simple but effective way that tells the interviewer you know what you’re talking about.
“A node is a point or junction where connections occur, representing a computer or device within a network. To establish a network connection, at least two nodes are required to interact with each other.”
21. How would you describe what a router is?
Knowing how to prepare for network engineer interview questions which require you to demonstrate a level of technical expertise to the interviewer, like the one above, can be answered like so.
“A router is a hardware component responsible for facilitating communication between various networks and devices. The key functions of a router encompass managing interactions between distinct networks, determining the optimal paths for device communication, as well as forwarding and filtering packets to ensure efficient data transmission.”
22. How would you put in place network security procedures?
Ensuring networks are protected and secured from the various threats out there in the ever-evolving tech landscape, now more than ever, businesses expect network engineers to have the skills to protect their organisation and that of their clients from potential attacks that could pose financial and reputational harm to a company.
Therefore, it’s highly likely you’ll be asked this type of network engineer interview question and here’s how you can answer it.
“There are multiple effective approaches to achieve ensure your network is secure. First, I would ensure that all work computers and devices are installed with a reliable and up-to-date anti-virus programme. Secondly, I’d recommend setting up and configuring appropriate firewalls to bolster network security. I would also consider implementing user authentication protocols to help enhance the protection of the network. By combining these measures, a highly secured network can be established.”
If you’re entering a more entry-level network engineer job, you may only be expected to demonstrate your knowledge of network security. So at the very least, it’s worth having an understanding of this area of network engineering.
23. Please can you define what DNS means?
Here’s how to answer another type of network engineer interview question an interviewer could ask to support their judgement of your technical know-how.
“The Domain Name System, commonly known as DNS, serves as a network service primarily responsible for converting host names into TCP/IP addresses for seamless address resolution.”
24. Explain what a proxy server is
Many prominent enterprises and institutions leverage proxy servers to optimise network performance and security in today's technology-driven landscape. So, if you're applying for network engineer jobs at major organisations, this question is more likely to come up during the interview.
Therefore, it would be wise to consider how you would respond to this question as part of your network engineer interview preparation. Below is how we'd recommend responding to this more technical question.
"A proxy server takes on the responsibility of accessing and retrieving data on behalf of users, much like how a DNS server caches website addresses. Additionally, it keeps a record of websites, distinguishing between those that are whitelisted or banned, thereby shielding users from easily avoidable viruses."
25. What are the different types of networks?
Whether you’re an experienced senior network engineer or coming into the industry as an entry-level network engineer, there are various types of networks to be aware of. These types of networks include:
- WANs (wide area networks)
- LANs (local area networks)
- MANs (metropolitan area networks)
- PAN (personal area network)
- GANs (global area networks)
- WLAN (wireless local area network)
- SAN (storage area network)
- DAN (desk area network)
- CAN (campus area network)
- VoIP (voice over internet protocol)
During an interview, your potential future employer may ask you to list some of the types of networks listed above or provide detail on a specific type of network.
Here’s how to answer the question if the interviewer asks you to describe what WAN is.
“WAN, which stands for Wide Area Network, refers to the interlinking of computers and devices across vast geographical distances. It facilitates the connection of networks spread across different regions and countries, enabling seamless communication, and data exchange.”
The answer we’ve provided above can be tailored to any type of network.
26. What is a private IP address?
Here's our recommended way to respond to this type of network engineer question that an interviewer may ask you to further understand your technical expertise.
"Private IP addresses are designated for use within intranets and serve as non-routable internal network addresses on external public networks. The purpose of private IP addresses is to prevent conflicts within internal networks, ensuring smooth communication and operation.
Additionally, the same range of private IP addresses can be reused for multiple intranets, as they remain isolated, enabling efficient and secure utilisation across various internal network environments."
27. How would you describe what anonymous FTP is?
Our final type of more technical network engineer interview question you could be asked can be answered straightforwardly, allowing the interviewer to evaluate your network engineering expertise.
Here’s how we’d advise answering technical types of network engineer interview questions like this:
“Anonymous FTP provides a method for granting users access to files on public servers. Those permitted to access data from these servers can do so without the need for personal identification, but instead they’ll log in as anonymous guests.”
28. How do you keep updated with network engineering trends?
Top talent in this space always keeps themselves up-to-date with the latest network engineering trends, including the latest technology developments, protocols and best practices.
An interviewer may ask you this question to evaluate how interested you are in progressing in network engineering, so be sure to brush up on the latest trends before the interview.
Here's how to prepare for network engineer interview questions like this one:
"I recognise that staying up-to-date with the latest network engineering trends, products, and technologies is essential to my career, especially given the rapid pace of the IT industry. To achieve this, I actively engage in various online professional groups where we exchange ideas and explore new concepts. I also stay informed by subscribing to multiple podcasts and attending an annual IT conference.
Additionally, I try to enrol on the latest courses and certifications and complete them in my own time to keep my knowledge of network engineering up-to-date."
29. What bracket of network engineer salary are you looking for?
If you’re asked this question during your interview, be sure to give a respectful and realistic answer. To construct your answer, do some research into the salary brackets of a network engineer, taking into account the following:
- Your level of experience
- What you’re currently earning
- Your location
- Whether the role is a contract or permanent position
- If the role is onsite, remote or a combination of both
- Other offers you’ve recently had
- What other companies are offering
- The size of the organisation and what you could realistically expect them to offer you
To give you an idea of what to expect salary-wise from your potential future employer, here’s what you could earn as a network engineer, according to Glassdoor.
Entry-level network engineer salary: £34,000
Average network engineer salary UK: £45,000
Senior network engineer salary: £61,000
Here’s how you could answer this type of network engineer interview question:
“Based on my level of experience as a network engineer and research I have conducted around the position you’re offering, I would be grateful for you to offer me ‘X’ for this position.”
Of course, the employer may have stated the network engineer salary they are offering or a bracket based on your experience. Don’t be afraid to negotiate what the employer is offering, but like we say, be respectful if doing so.
30. What does career progression look like for you?
The final question of our 30 network engineer interview questions to prep you for success requires you to do some real thinking about your personal development and where you want to get to.
Of course, whether you’re applying for entry-level network engineer jobs or senior and executive roles within the field, each candidate is different and will have their own idea of what career progression looks like to them. The interviewer will know this and may ask this question to better understand your motivations and why you’re pursuing this particular role within your company.
When you’ve provided an answer to this question, your future employer will be able to put measures in place to support you with your network engineer career progression, potentially through training or development.
Unlike other questions listed in this guide, we're not going to give you the answer to how to prepare for network engineer interview questions like this. Why? Because we feel you're the only person that can answer this question if you truly want to progress in your network engineering career.
Rounding up our 30 network engineer interview questions
Now you know the top 30 network engineer interview questions to prep you for success, you’re one step closer to nailing that all-important interview and reaching the network engineer jobs you’ve been dreaming of.
One last piece of advice we can give you is to read our guide on how to transition into a network engineering job for more information on how to become a network engineer.
Power your future with the best networking engineering jobs
So, don’t waste any more time. With the 30 network engineer interview questions and answers embedded into your brain, get in touch with a member of our enterprise networking team and discover the range of network engineering jobs we can offer you to help power your future today.