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Network Administrator Interview
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28 Questions and Answers by William Swansen
Updated October 10th, 2020 | William Swansen is an author, job search strategist and career advisor who assists individuals from all over the world.
Job Interviews     Careers     Computer Science    

Question 1 of 28

What do you know about the network topology our company uses?

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Answer Examples

1.

What do you know about the network topology our company uses?

The interviewer has already asked you what you know about their company. Now they are asking you what you know about their network infrastructure. Many job candidates will not have done their homework and will need to ask the interviewer some questions to qualify this. However, as a well-qualified candidate, you should have done your research and already have a good understanding of their network topology. You can find this information on their website, in public documents they have released, from other job search sites such as Glassdoor, and by conducting informational interviews with some of their employees. You can also ask qualifying questions of the interviewer once you begin to describe the topology.

William's Answer

"While preparing for this interview, I did a great deal of research on your organization and the network topology you use. As I understand it, you have both a WAN and a LAN infrastructure and WiFi throughout the campus. Cisco manufactures the majority of your equipment, but you also use a few pieces of hardware from other suppliers. Your network monitoring software is the SolarWinds suite, which I have a great deal of experience with. As best I can tell, you have had very few network outages or security threats. Is this accurate?"

2.

Tell me about a difficult challenge you faced as a network admin.

This is a general question which the interviewer may ask early in the interview to begin the conversation, learn more about your background, and collect some information they can use for subsequent questions. When discussing challenges, your answer should align with the challenges the organization with which you are interviewing may be facing. You can learn about these by researching the organization, its network infrastructure, and any challenges it talks about. Resources for the research include its website, public financial documents, or discussions in user forums. Once you discover these, you can answer this question by describing a similar challenge and the ways resolved them.

William's Answer

"One of the biggest challenges I have encountered in my career as a network administrator is overcoming vendor lock-in. Many organizations similar to yours will elect to implement technology from a single vendor whose products and solutions are leading edge when they choose to work with them. However, this industry evolves quickly, and other solutions come to the market regularly. It is often difficult to transition between the older solutions, which are vendor proprietary and newer ones, which have better features. I've overcome this by choosing to work with open source systems and ensuring that the vendors are compatible with other products before selecting them."

3.

What have you done in past situations to contribute to a teamwork environment?

You may feel that this question is similar to one you have already answered. In fact, this is the case. Interviewers will ask you multiple questions about similar topics throughout the interview. This helps them correlate your answers and ensure that you are responding consistently throughout the interview. It may also be an attempt to discuss the topic in more detail. The best way to respond to this is, in the same manner, you responded to all their questions about this topic.

William's Answer

"IT organizations are made up of disparate groups with common goals. We each have our own specialties within the IT infrastructure. This enables us to maximize our efficiency and effectiveness. It also requires us to work together in a team environment. We need to make sure our actions are coordinated so that each contributes to a common goal without interfering with the others. I've become very effective at doing this and have done it many times in my previous positions."

4.

Can you describe what a firewall is, and how it is used to secure a network?

This is a technical question. You will recall that technical questions ask you to define a topic or concept and then describe how it is used and the job for which you are interviewing. Technical questions should be answered directly and briefly, allowing the interviewer the opportunity to ask follow-up questions.

William's Answer

"Firewalls are devices that sit outside the network and prevent unauthorized users or traffic from entering the network. Firewalls can be customized to either allow most traffic, which improves performance or restrict most traffic, at the expense of performance. Networks can have multiple firewalls on different segments or set up in a hierarchical configuration."

5.

What is one of your weaknesses, how does it impact your work, and what are you doing to improve it?

Even more difficult than talking about our strengths during an interview is discussing our weaknesses. Nobody likes to admit they have a weakness. However, we all do. Being self-aware and able to identify a weakness allows you to address and correct it. Two approaches to discussing weaknesses are talking about those not related to the work you do or discussing a weakness that can be resolved and which you are working on. Since this question specifically asks about how it impacts your work, you'll need to use the second option.

William's Answer

"One of my greatest work-related weaknesses is trying to do everything myself. This often slows down the process and results in projects taking longer than they should. I recognize this and am working on my delegation skills. This was difficult for me at first, but I'm gaining confidence in the people I work with, and I'm becoming more comfortable handing off tasks I used to do myself."

6.

What experience do you have implementing security features in a network?

Network Security is second only to the performance of the network. Some people may even argue that it is the primary element you need a focus on. As a network administrator, you should be able to discuss your skills and experience implementing the security features of a network. You may want to talk about specific technologies and provide the interviewer with examples of how you have successfully done this in your previous positions.

William's Answer

"When designing a network infrastructure, one of the key elements I focus on is security. If the network is not secure, performance is irrelevant because bad actors can penetrate the network, compromise information, and insert malware, which causes additional damage to the organization. I have a great deal of experience in implementing network security features. This includes creating firewalls, managing user authentication, tracing packets within the network to assure that they are legitimate, and managing both vulnerabilities in threats as they emerge."

7.

What is the difference between a network gateway and a firewall?

This is a follow-up to the previous question. As mentioned earlier, you can anticipate follow-up questions any time you provide the interviewer with an answer. Follow-up questions indicate that the interviewer has a specific interest in the topic you are discussing or wants to get more details from you. This is a signal that the topic is important, and you should discuss it in more depth when answering the interviewer's questions. You may even want to ask them questions about the topic to determine if they are experiencing any issues with it.

William's Answer

"As previously discussed, a firewall is either hardware software that controls which data packets are allowed to enter the network as well as what users are permitted on the network. A gateway, on the other hand, connects two disparate networks and allows them to communicate with each other. Gateways and firewalls can be configured to work with each other. Can I ask if your organization is experiencing issues with connecting networks or preventing unauthorized users access to your network?"

8.

During downtime, how do you keep busy as a network admin?

Your first inclination when asked this question may be to respond that you don't have any downtime. However, every profession has some time when there are no immediate demands on the person's time and attention. You should prepare for this question by having 2 to 3 different activities you can perform if you're not immediately needed to monitor or fix issues related to the network.

William's Answer

"While it is rare, I do occasionally experience downtime when the network is running well, and there is no need to actively monitor or fix anything. During these times, I keep myself busy by updating my knowledge about network technologies, disposing of unused equipment safely and securely, networking with other members of the organization whose assistance I may need in the future, and participating in some fun team building events with my coworkers. All of these activities directly contribute to my ability to manage a high-performing and secure network infrastructure."

9.

Tell us about a time when you influenced the outcome of a project by taking a leadership role.

Organizations love to hire leaders. Even if the role for which you are interviewing is not a leadership position, the hiring manager will want to know about your leadership experience and your ability to assume a leadership role when necessary. This question was asked in the form of a behavioral question. Behavioral questions present you with situations and ask how you would respond or have responded. The best way to answer a behavioral question is by using the STAR framework. First, state the Situation. Next, briefly describe the Task you needed to accomplish. Discuss the Actions you took, followed by the Results you attained.

William's Answer

"At my previous company, we were presented with a network security issue which nobody seemed to know how to resolve. We had to address this as quickly as possible to prevent any damage to the organization's information. I assumed a team leadership role, calling everyone together and brainstorming the issue. We came up with several ideas about how to fix the problem, which I assigned to each member of the team. Within a few hours, we identified the issue and came up with a resolution. We implemented it, and the network was secured."

10.

What experiences do you have working with other IT professionals?

The ability to collaborate and work with other professionals in your industry as a key talent every professional need to have. This is especially important in the IT industry. There are many moving parts in IT infrastructures, many of which are controlled by other organizations or groups within the company. When responding to this question, you should discuss your ability to collaborate and your communication skills, which help you to do this effectively.

William's Answer

"When working as a network administrator, I need to be able to collaborate with other groups within the IT organization. These include hardware, software, security, and several others. I've learned that the best way to accomplish this is to develop relationships with members of these other groups. This helps us to better work together when an issue arises that needs input from all of us."

11.

Why do you want to work for us?

This is a follow-up to a previous question. During an interview, the hiring manager will ask similar questions. The purpose of this is the calibrate your answers and make sure that you are consistent throughout the interview. Answering truthfully, keeping your answers brief and to the point, and aligning your answers with the needs of the organization will help you be consistent during the interview.

William's Answer

"There are several reasons I want to work for your organization. The first are some of the points I made earlier. Your industry leadership, use of cutting edge technologies, and the quality of the people who work here are very compelling. Another reason is I feel I can learn a lot from the other members of your networking team and advance my career within the organization. While I'm already qualified for the position we're discussing, my goal is to contribute to the organization's success, so I am recognized for my achievements and given the opportunity to work in more advanced and challenging positions."

12.

What is the difference between IPS and a firewall?

You probably recognize a trend here. The interviewer is asking technical questions comparing different types of network devices & technologies to each other. The purpose of questions like these is to test your knowledge about networking technologies. They are likely asking about technologies that are currently employed on their network. Continue to answer these technical questions as you have throughout the interview.

William's Answer

"An IPS is an intrusion prevention system. This is a passive device that constantly monitors your network and identifies possible intrusions, creating a log of them. Firewalls are active devices or software applications that detect intrusions and take actions to prevent them. These two technologies can be used in tandem to provide a higher level of security for your network."

13.

Why did you choose a career in network administration?

And an interviewer will typically ask this general-purpose question early in the interview to start the conversation, learn more about your background, and collect some information they can use for future questions. This provides you the opportunity to not only discuss your motivations for becoming a network administrator but also to guide the conversation towards an area you are comfortable discussing.

William's Answer

"As a child, I was always interested in technology. I was fascinated by how different devices could communicate with each other and share information. My interest continued throughout my high school and my college years. I knew very early that I wanted to work in this industry, but I was unsure of exactly which role. When I was exposed to network technology, I knew I had discovered the area in which I wanted to work. I focused on networking and took classes related to this technology. I also volunteered while still in school to keep our church's network up and running. This interest, education, and experience all led me to become a network administrator."

14.

What types of networks are you experienced working with?

This is another operational question. The interviewer is interested in discovering if you have direct experience working with the types of networks they employ within their organization. You should know which networks these are based on the research you did about the organization and as technologies before coming to the interview. If you don't have experience in all of the network types, emphasize the ones you are skilled in, and then discuss how you will be able to learn about the other ones quickly if hired.

William's Answer

"I have direct experience working with networks of virtually every type. These include WANs, LANs, and wireless networks. I've also worked with public, private, and shared networks. I have good relationships with most of the leading network hardware and software vendors and can call on them if I have questions or encounter a situation I'm not familiar with. I am very confident I can deal with any network issue which may come up."

15.

What is your greatest technical strength and how do you use it while managing an organization's network infrastructure?

When asked about your strengths, you should reply with the items related to the job you are interviewing for. When looking for a job or participating in an interview, it is not the time to be humble. This is the one opportunity you'll have to describe your qualifications to the hiring manager. You should take advantage of it. However, do not embellish or overstate your strengths. If you are hired, the manager will expect you to perform the job based on the information you provided. If you elaborate, your performance may fall short of expectations.

William's Answer

"One of my greatest strengths is attention to detail. I am very patient and will take the time to examine all the details of the task I am working on. This helps me identify anomalies or locate the source of an issue I am trying to fix. I often see things that other people miss, and this has helped to save our organization time and money."

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28 Network Administrator Interview Questions
Win your next job by practicing from our question bank. We have thousands of questions and answers created by interview experts.

Interview Questions

  1. What do you know about the network topology our company uses?
  2. Tell me about a difficult challenge you faced as a network admin.
  3. What have you done in past situations to contribute to a teamwork environment?
  4. Can you describe what a firewall is, and how it is used to secure a network?
  5. What is one of your weaknesses, how does it impact your work, and what are you doing to improve it?
  6. What experience do you have implementing security features in a network?
  7. What is the difference between a network gateway and a firewall?
  8. During downtime, how do you keep busy as a network admin?
  9. Tell us about a time when you influenced the outcome of a project by taking a leadership role.
  10. What experiences do you have working with other IT professionals?
  11. Why do you want to work for us?
  12. What is the difference between IPS and a firewall?
  13. Why did you choose a career in network administration?
  14. What types of networks are you experienced working with?
  15. What is your greatest technical strength and how do you use it while managing an organization's network infrastructure?
  16. What monitoring tools are you most familiar with?
  17. What areas outside of basic networking administrating job functions, do you have experience with?
  18. Why are you the best candidate for us?
  19. What do you think sets our company apart from our competitors?
  20. What have you done in the past year to become a better Network Administrator?
  21. What is a transparent firewall?
  22. Some people work best as part of a group - others prefer the role of an individual contributor. How would you describe yourself?
  23. How does subnetting add security to a network?
  24. It is critical our network remain online all the time; how will you test and troubleshoot the network to make sure this happens?
  25. How do you keep up with new network technologies?
  26. Have you ever experienced a network crash? How did your team restore the network?
  27. What do you know about our organization?
  28. Have you ever had a problem at your last job that you couldn't solve yourself? How did you go about solving it?
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