28 Cisco Interview Questions You Need to Know

December 4, 2023

10 min read

A Black woman in a white top underneath a dark blazer uses a whiteboard to brainstorm for Cisco interview questions.

Practicing answering a few Cisco interview questions before your actual interview is a great way prep for the upcoming conversation.

If you have a Cisco interview coming up, you’re in good hands. Our comprehensive guide will walk you through the entire Cisco interview process, including what that looks like, easy ways to prep, the most common interview questions, and popular Cisco FAQs to consider.

Everything You Should Know About the Cisco Interview Process

Interviewing with Cisco Systems can be different for every applicant, but there are definitely some common threads among interviews. 

Here’s everything you should know about the Cisco interview process, including everything from the number of interview rounds to expect and whether or not you’ll be drug tested. 

Is it hard to get hired by Cisco?

Yes, it can be difficult to get hired by Cisco. It’s a very competitive tech company that only considers the best of the best for each position. The application process itself can be demanding as there are multiple components to juggle. 

How many rounds are there in a Cisco interview?

The number of rounds of Cisco interviews depends on the position. Usually, the process begins with a screening with a recruiter. Next, you might have a first-round interview with the hiring manager.

If you’re selected to move forward, you’ll have a second round of interviews that could include anywhere from two to four interviews. This round could also include technical and panel interviews. 

Depending on what position you applied for, you could also have live coding challenges that use virtual whiteboards so that you can problem solve out loud.  

All in all, you can expect three to six interviews, not including the recruiter screening at the beginning of the interview process. 

How long does it take to hear back from Cisco after an interview?

Like the number of interview rounds you could complete, the amount of time it takes to hear back from Cisco after an interview depends. However, most people report hearing back about 1 to 2 weeks after their interview. 

How long does Cisco take to hire?

It usually takes a few months for Cisco to hire. Most people report that the Cisco interview process, including the hiring process, takes around 2 to 3 months. Many people say it only took them a month total to get hired by Cisco. 

What skills do you need to get a job at Cisco?

There isn’t a specific skill set you need to get a job at Cisco, but there are definitely some skills that can benefit you as a candidate. Three critical attributes you should shoot for include strong communication skills, problem-solving skills, and analytical skills. 

Keep in mind that the specific skills you need to get a job at Cisco can depend on the job. The skills you would need as a hardware engineer might be different from the skills you’d need as a sales manager. 

Does Cisco drug test?

No, Cisco doesn’t drug test. Current and former employees report they weren’t drug tested as part of the onboarding process. It’s still a drug-free workplace, though.

During your time at Cisco however, if you work with a federal customer, there’s a chance you could be asked to take a drug test.

Preparing for Cisco Interview Questions: 4 Easy Ways

If you have a Cisco interview coming up, you should definitely start preparing. Luckily, putting in some interview prep work doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Here are four easy ways to prepare for Cisco interview questions and the interview as a whole.

1. Make sure you thoroughly understand the position you’re applying for.

There are many different available roles at Cisco, in a number of various areas. For example, you could work in engineering, professional services, sales and marketing, corporate services, and operations and support. All of these departments have a plethora of positions to choose from. Getting familiar with the role you applied for is a must. 

It’s important to familiarize yourself with not only the position, but also its requirements and duties. Not all Cisco interviews are the same and the Cisco interview questions asked can vary a bit based on the position. For example, someone interviewing for a software engineering position probably won’t get the exact same questions as someone who applied for a human resources role. 

Be sure to know the position you applied for inside and out, and be ready to tailor your experience to those job responsibilities. 

2. Answer a few practice Cisco interview questions. 

Cisco interviews — like any interview — can be nerve-wracking. To help ease your nerves and boost your confidence, try practicing answering a few Cisco interview questions with a virtual interview simulation. Yoodli is a perfect example.

Yoodli is a communication coach that can give you useful tips and pointers for your upcoming interview. It’ll prompt you with interview questions for you to answer and analyze your responses. 

Thanks to its AI analysis, you’ll be able to see exactly where you need to improve. For example, Yoodli will give you info and metrics like how fast (or slow) you’re speaking, how loud you sound, your filler word usage, and specific insights on your word choice, like whether or not you use inclusive language

On top of providing you with personalized data from your interview responses, Yoodli also gives direct, actionable suggestions and feedback that you can then implement to better your interviewing skills. For example, if you tend to use lots of “weak” words, Yoodli might suggest pausing to think about what you want to say before speaking. 

Because the interview simulation is so customizable, you can practice actual Cisco interview questions to prep for your upcoming conversation. You can also practice with Yoodli’s existing interview question bank. To give yourself a challenge, try changing the interview tone from friendly to serious and see how you can adjust your responses. The follow-up questions Yoodli provides, created using generative AI, can take you to the next level.

You can learn more about how Yoodli can help you ace your Cisco interview below:

Practicing Cisco interview questions is easy with Yoodli’s interview flow.

3. Be ready to show your enthusiasm for customer service.

Regardless of what role you applied for, you should prepare to show your enthusiasm for customer service, as it’s a key part of working at Cisco. It aligns closely with the company’s core values and is a skill the interviewer will expect you to have.

Besides that, demonstrating your passion for helping people can also: 

  • Set you apart from other applicants who might not have customer service experience, let alone an enthusiasm toward it
  • Show how much you care about technology’s impact on customers
  • Exemplify your effective communication skills
  • Highlight your ability to problem-solve

4. Take the time to research Cisco’s history and mission. 

Another aspect that can set you apart from other candidates when you’re answering Cisco interview questions is a solid foundation of knowledge about the company itself. To do so, you can explore Cisco’s website, social media pages, and any relevant news articles about the business. 

Taking the time to research the company can help improve your ability to answer Cisco interview questions by: 

  • Framing your anecdotes and responses around the company’s mission and values 
  • Linking your past experience to the needs of the company and expectations of the role

It can also help you ask insightful interview questions for interviewers at the end of your conversation. 

Cisco Interview Questions

Depending on what role you’re interviewing for, the Cisco interview questions you face can vary. Not all of the below common questions will apply to the position you’re interviewing for. 

That being said, here are some essential Cisco interview questions to practice, including technical queries: 

  1. Let’s say you have a technical challenge you’ve never seen before. What would your first steps be to solve it?
  2. What will you bring to Cisco?
  3. Consider this scenario: Cisco executives are considering moving into a brand new market that could have different technical requirements. If you were tasked with assisting or advising, how would you plan to adapt to the new market?
  4. Imagine you’re working during an important event and you notice you’re experiencing network congestion. What would your first steps be to pinpoint the issue and solve it? 
  5. In the Cisco router, what are the various types of memories used?
  6. Think about a time when you had to make a difficult decision before a tight deadline or while under significant pressure. What happened? How did you approach the situation?  
  7. Let’s say you had to face a difficult customer or coworker. How would you handle the situation? 
  8. What is a deadlock in operating systems and when and why can it happen?
  9. Why do you want to work at Cisco?
  10. Tell me a little bit about what you know about Cisco technologies, like SD-WAN, Meraki, or Cisco DNA Center. How does this tech help clients? 
  11. List the various types of network security threats and their respective strategies for mitigation. 
  12. What’s an IP access list?
  13. Can you explain the OSI model and its layers? Explain the various types of network devices — such as firewalls, routers, and switches — and how they work. 
  14. Think about a time when you had to explain a complicated concept to someone without the knowledge you have. How do you explain complex things without using technical jargon and be sure they understand you? 
  15. List some benefits to subnetting. 
  16. What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?
  17. Imagine one of our clients isn’t satisfied with a product we offer. How would you handle this situation and address their concerns while also building their faith in the company and its products? 
  18. Explain virtual memory. 
  19. What do you think is your biggest career accomplishment to date? What did you learn from it? 
  20. Why should we hire you?
  21. Tell me about a time when you worked as part of a team. What was your job and what did you contribute?
  22. The networking industry uses a layered model. Why is that?
  23. Give me a time where you went above and beyond to help a client. What was the situation?
  24. Can you explain what a diskless workstation is?
  25. Tell me about your method for diagnosing and resolving network issues. Give me a recent example of a complicated network problem that you fixed and how you did it.
  26. What’s recovery testing? 
  27. Think about basic routing protocols (RIP, BGP, OSPF, etc.) and explain them. What’s the difference between Layer 2 and Layer 3 switching?
  28. What’s a transparent firewall? 

Cisco Interview FAQs

If you still have more questions, don’t worry. Here are a few of the most common Cisco interview FAQs to consider. 

Does Cisco do a lot of layoffs?

Recently, Cisco has laid off thousands of employees. In November 2022, the company announced its restructuring plan, which came after Cisco opened up about eliminating about 5% of the workforce.

Cisco’s layoffs continued into 2023 and affected a wide range of types of employees. Whether or not Cisco will lay off employees in 2024 is still unclear. 

What laptops do Cisco employees use?

Of the more than 70,000 almost 50% of Cisco employees rely on a Mac as their corporate computer. Cisco engineers in particular have used Macs as their go-to system. Both the IT and sales team seem to appreciate using Macs as corporate computers, too. 

Does Cisco pay well?

On average, Cisco does pay its employees well. In terms of hourly salary, Cisco pays its employees about $60 per hour. For salaried employees, pay ranges between $75,000 to $236,000, depending on the role and your experience. 

What is the average age of Cisco employees?

The average age of Cisco employees is between 20-30 years old. Still, Cisco employs a wide range of employees of all ages. The company has about 79,500 employees total and 36% are 20-30 years old.

Of those employees, about 12% are between 18-20 years old, 27% are 30-40 years old, and 21% are 40 and older. 

The Bottom Line 

Cisco Systems is a large, well-known employer that hires for many various types of roles. It’s a great opportunity to interview with this company. 

Just be sure to tackle some Cisco interview questions ahead of time before your conversation with the interviewer. You’ll feel much more confident going into it and it can even boost your chances of getting the job.  



Start practicing with Yoodli.

Getting better at speaking is getting easier. Record or upload a speech and let our AI Speech Coach analyze your speaking and give you feedback.

Get Yoodli for free