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Why this matters:

This question can help you assess a candidate’s ability to handle complexity. The larger the network, the more moving pieces there are — and the more opportunities for problems and vulnerabilities. You need to know that your candidate has experience with a network of your size, or at least demonstrates the potential to work with one competently.

What to listen for:

  • Experience configuring complex networks
  • Flexibility to adapt to the changing workflows that comes with growth
  • Understanding of a business’s need to upgrade network systems and foundations

Why this matters:

Network administrators not only need technical knowledge and expertise, but strong collaboration and leadership skills as well. Here, the candidate should provide examples of how they helped to coordinate necessary resources, lay out a plan, handle setbacks, and ultimately see a project through to completion alongside others.

What to listen for:

  • Description of knowledge and expertise relevant to a particular project
  • Experience effectively interacting with multiple levels of the organization
  • Ability to work independently without supervision, as well as supporting team members

Why this matters:

The challenge of scaling is one every network administrator encounters. Your candidate should be able to talk you through how they assess the situation, and what techniques they would employ to expand without decreasing functionality. This will require a clear understanding of the company’s current technical needs, as well as the ability to account for future growth.

What to listen for:

  • Technical knowledge of quantitative and qualitative aspects of scaling
  • Clear description of the step-by-step process for evaluating a challenge
  • An understanding of metrics like cost, efficacy, and budget that may be important

Why this matters:

Increasingly, companies are seeing the benefit of integrating systems administrators and development teams. You’re looking for either specific hands-on experience in this type of cross-functional working partnership, or indications that the candidate is interested in and capable of working fluidly on a multidisciplinary team.

What to listen for:

  • Expressed commitment to strong collaboration and communication
  • Past experience serving on a team with good dynamics
  • Interest in combining software development and IT operations

Why this matters:

A large part of a network administrator’s role is knowing how to analyze and troubleshoot network issues, and improve functionality and efficiency. With this question, you’ll gain insight into the candidate’s eye for detail and problem-solving skills. The best network administrators are proactive about implementing fixes and strategizing ways to prevent further issues.

What to listen for:

  • Specific examples of issues the candidate has diagnosed
  • Competent network troubleshooting knowledge or experience
  • Critical reasoning skills and a proactive approach to mitigating and preventing risk

Why this matters:

Network and connectivity issues are a constant source of frustration for companies. Every system and network poses its own unique challenges. The key here is to press the candidate for specific and varied examples. What tools did they use to test? How did they isolate the error? And how was it ultimately resolved?

What to listen for:

  • Demonstration of knowledge pertaining to network and connectivity issues
  • A logical process for evaluating the root cause and severity of malfunction
  • Communication and teamwork skills in working on resolution with the organization

Why this matters:

Today, IT is integral to every facet of a business, so network administrators need to be able to communicate the value of what they do to a nontechnical audience. A strong candidate can make complex terminology simple and understandable to a layperson. They should also be able to back their recommendations with solid data that leaders will respond to.

What to listen for:

  • Examples that emphasize open communication delivered in nontechnical terms
  • Research abilities to gather all relevant facts before attempting to persuade
  • Experience communicating ideas to different levels of the hierarchy

Why this matters:

Great customer service is at the heart of every successful business — especially in the digital age. Network administrators invariably find themselves providing on-call support when issues arise. Can your candidate acknowledge and validate a client’s concerns? And are they able to earn back any confidence that’s been lost?

What to listen for:

  • Empathy, patience, and professionalism in treating clients respectfully
  • Evidence that the candidate has experience improving or saving client relationships
  • Interest in acquiring new skills in conflict resolution and customer service

Why this matters:

Organizations must remain current with network infrastructures to be able to host the latest technologies, as well as update security protocols as needed. New innovations that could improve your organization’s systems pop up daily. Excellent candidates are passionate about staying on top of the trends that influence their work.

What to listen for:

  • Examples of industry websites, resources, and thought leaders the candidate follows
  • Evidence that the candidate is deeply passionate about their chosen field
  • Expressed eagerness to keep learning and growing
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