Why this matters

For today’s businesses, interoperability is the name of the game. You want a network engineer who is experienced and comfortable with combining multiple systems and managing hybrid environments. This will help your new hire ramp up to full productivity faster and be able to handle a wider range of tasks.

What to listen for

  • Listen for descriptions of the different systems the candidate used in tandem.
  • Great answers will include examples of the common problems and frustrations they encountered—and how they solved them.

Why this matters

Increasingly, companies are seeing the benefit of integrating development and sysadmin teams. This approach brings greater efficiency to an organization’s IT efforts. DevOps means collective responsibility, which leads to better team engagement and productivity. Product knowledge is no longer scattered across different roles and departments, which fuels better process transparency and decision-making.

What to listen for

  • Specific hands-on experience in this type of cross-functional working partnership is preferable.
  • Look for signs that your candidate is capable of working fluidly in a multi-disciplinary team, where fast-paced communication and collaboration are paramount.

Why this matters

Fundamental shifts in the location of business processes and how they’re accessed is changing how we connect our locations together, how we think about security, the economics of networking, and what we ask of the people who take care of them. The larger the network, the more moving pieces—and the more opportunities for problems and vulnerabilities.

What to listen for

  • Answers should include a description of the infrastructure, how it grew over time, and the challenges of managing a network of that scale.
  • Ideally, answers will reveal experience with a network of your size—or a demonstrated ability to work with one competently.

Why this matters

Network and connectivity issues are a constant source of frustration for employees and companies. That’s just the nature of work in the digital age. The key here is to press your candidate for specific and varied examples. Every system and network poses its own unique challenges. What tools did they use to test? How did they isolate the issue? And how was it ultimately resolved?

What to listen for

  • Look for cues that the candidate is a thoughtful problem-solver who perseveres until they find a viable solution.
  • Top answers will include mention of how they communicated with the rest of the organization during the process.

Why this matters

Slow or unreliable IT systems can hold an entire organization back, so the best network engineers make it their mission to optimize network performance. You want to know how your candidate goes about identifying areas for improvement and securing buy-in from stakeholders to bring their ideas to fruition.

What to listen for

  • Look for signs that the candidate doesn’t just react to problems, but proactively implements improvements.
  • A strong answer will cover how they took the idea from conception to completion, including their process for spotting opportunities and escalating them to superiors.

Why this matters

Cybersecurity is more important than ever. How would your candidate protect against a data breach? Attacks from cybercriminals? Increased vulnerabilities due to the Internet of Things and mobile? You want a candidate who has a broad understanding of what it takes to keep a network secure, even as technology evolves.

What to listen for

  • Candidates should demonstrate an appropriate level of concern for security.
  • A good answer may touch on strategies like implementing strong passwords and having strict company policies about the use of public Wi-Fi.

Why this matters

Today, IT is integral to every facet of a business. You need network engineers who can communicate the value of what they do to a non-tech audience—especially when it comes to presenting ideas to an executive team. Here you’re looking for a candidate who can make complex engineering terminology simple and understandable to a layperson.

What to listen for

  • Answers should reveal an ability to describe complex technology in an easy-to-understand way.
  • Great answers will show that the candidate can clearly articulate the benefit to the business—and leads with it.

Why this matters

Great customer service is at the heart of every successful business—especially in the connected age. One wrong move and your brand could be torn to shreds on social media. You need to know that your new hire will acknowledge and respond appropriately to a client’s concerns—and earn back any confidence that’s been lost.

What to listen for

  • Look for evidence that the candidate has experience saving client relationships and turning sticky situations around.
  • Answers should show an ability to be patient and empathetic with even the most difficult of clients.

Why this matters

IT used to be a siloed department. Nowadays, tech underpins everything a company does, so you need to make sure your candidate has strong collaboration skills. Can they see a project through to completion alongside others? Do they play to everyone’s strengths? And did they learn anything from the experience?

What to listen for

  • Listen for specific examples of how the candidate coordinated necessary resources, laid out a plan for others to follow, and handled setbacks during the process.
  • Look for signs that they recognize the value of collaboration.