10 Key Interview Questions for Network Administrators

Getting ready for your first network admin interview? Here are technical questions to expect, along with the answers.

If you're not properly prepared, technical interviews can turn sour in a hurry. IT managers are looking for a good fit from a cultural perspective, but they also want to make sure you can handle tasks that require thorough understanding of specific IT functions. This is especially true for eager candidates who want to break into IT infrastructure roles such as network administrator.

In most organizations, the role of the network admin covers three primary areas: routing and switching, wireless LAN technologies, and security. The day-to-day care and feeding of a network often involves understanding the Spanning Tree Protocol, routing protocols, and network monitoring/troubleshooting tools. Competency in physical cabling is also useful as network administrators are often tasked with adding/moving various network components around, which requires them to connect/disconnect devices using copper Ethernet, fiber optics, DAC and various other LAN and data center physical connectivity options.

Wireless LAN technologies are an increasingly important skillset for network administrators. This includes knowing how to setup and secure WiFi SSIDs, but also how WiFi signals are propagated. Knowing wireless fundamentals such as frequency, wavelength, refraction, diffraction, and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) helps for troubleshooting common issues such as interference, physical obstructions and noise.

Finally, network administrators are required to have a solid background in IT security, at least from a network perspective. This includes understanding firewalls, intrusion-prevention systems, secure remote access, data loss prevention, and end-to-end data encryption. Even in large companies that have their own IT security department, it’s common for the network administrators to do much of the heavy lifting when it comes to designing, integrating, and managing network security devices.

If you’re getting ready for your first network administrator interview, here are 10 technical questions employers are likely to ask.

(Image: Dmitry A/Shutterstock)

About the Author(s)

Andrew Froehlich, President, West Gate Networks

President, West Gate Networks

As a highly experienced network architect and trusted IT consultant with worldwide contacts, particularly in the United States and Southeast Asia, Andrew Froehlich has nearly two decades of experience and possesses multiple industry certifications in the field of enterprise networking. Froehlich has participated in the design and maintenance of networks for State Farm Insurance, United Airlines, Chicago-area schools and the University of Chicago Medical Center. He is the founder and president of Loveland, Colo.-based West Gate Networks, which specializes in enterprise network architectures and data center build outs. The author of two Cisco certification study guides published by Sybex, he is a regular contributor to multiple enterprise IT related websites and trade journals with insights into rapidly changing developments in the IT industry.

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