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Cisco Systems Associate Systems Engineer Interview Questions & Reviews

Updated Feb 18, 2014
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Interview Experience 

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Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Average Interview

Associate Systems Engineer Interview

Anonymous Employee
Research Triangle Park, NC

I applied online and the process took 4 days - interviewed at Cisco Systems.

Interview Details – Interview process was very simple. I completed a phone screen with HR which was followed by a day-long interview onsite with a panel of managers. Many of the questions were not technical in nature but were sales situational in nature.

Interview Question – "I hate mini-vans but I want you to sell me one anyway."   View Answer

Negotiation Details – No negotiation. The salary was more than fair and the benefits package was above normal for my region and field of expertise.

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Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Difficult Interview

Associate Systems Engineer Interview

Anonymous Employee

I applied through college or university and interviewed at Cisco Systems.

Interview Details – Initially had an on campus interview for screening and then I had an all-day interview with a series of meetings with many people. I had a few behavioral meetings, a role play with a case study, and a presentation with other interviewees where we had to build something. There were a lot of other interviewees at the time and we were all placed in the same prep rooms. I had to wait a few months before I got my offer. The ASE program was great - Cisco provided me a lot of training (both sales and technical). Make sure to explain why you think Cisco is great or a great place to work - that will be helpful.

Interview Question – Role play based on case study - make sure to spend time understanding any case study. Make sure to ask questions instead of jumping into "tell" mode.   Answer Question

Negotiation Details – This program did not leave room for negotiation when I was hired.

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2 people found this helpful

Accepted Offer

Neutral Experience

Difficult Interview

Associate Systems Engineer Interview

Anonymous Employee

I applied through college or university and the process took 2 months - interviewed at Cisco Systems in November 2013.

Interview Details – The process is just like what everyone has described here.

Round 1: WebEx (Interview)
Hardest part is the question they ask where you have to explain a complex topic to either an old person or a child. For my case, I was asked to explain what an FPGA is to a 5 year-old.The rest of the questions are your typical (tell me about yourself ) questions.

Round 2: Video Response
2-minute video response to a given topic. I did not do any video editing and focused only on the the content of the video. It worked for me and got me to the final round.

Round 3:
The big day, filled with all the activities mentioned in other reviews here. What I didnt like about this day was having 2/2.5 hour gap between the activities. If they fly you there however, you will have the activities almost back to back, depending on when your flight leaves. I was local, so I got to be there all day, from 8am to 4:30pm. Breakfast and luch are provided. They start the day with a simple technical test on the give material, followed by an interview. My interview was pretty technical and when I asked the other candidates, I was told that their's was not technical at all, so it all depends on who interviews you. Every room has two assessor in it.
You will do the sale meeting roll play after the interview which is the most important activity throughout the day. MAKE SURE YOU PREPARE for it or I guarantee you will not do well. Dig as much as you can from the customer and keep track of the time.
Last activity is your presentation which you need to prepare in advance.Therefore, practice for this part goes without say saying. BUT, don't sound like a recording, make sure you interact with your audience.

I owe it to this site to do a review since the reviews here helped me tremendously.

Interview Question – Sell a project you have done at school.   Answer Question

Negotiation Details – No negotiation.

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2 people found this helpful

No Offer

Neutral Experience

Very Difficult Interview

Associate Systems Engineer Interview

Anonymous Interview Candidate
Raleigh, NC

I applied through college or university and the process took 3 months - interviewed at Cisco Systems.

Interview Details – I got the initial interview through an on-campus recruiting service near their office in Raleigh. The first round was a video interview: I had to make a 2-minute video answering the question: What does "The Network is the Platform" mean for Cisco's customers? After making it past the first round, I was invited to a Skype interview with one of their current ASEs. It consisted of some behavioral questions, some technical questions about Cloud technology (e.g., what are some of the risks associated with moving to cloud computing?) as well as one quick brainteaser. I completely over thought the brainteaser question, but was able to send a follow-up email to the interviewer giving a better and more succinct answer to the question. After this, I was invited to their superday at their office in Raleigh, where I was asked to prepare for a Technical Assessment, a Role Play, a Presentation, and individual and group interviews. I was given documents and materials to prepare for each, and the interview lasted all day: from 8-5. The interviewers were all very nice and willing to answer all of my questions, and in one of my interviewers they even asked to see a short film I entered in a contest that I included on my resume.

My tips: Practice your behavioral questions. Get a solid 10 stories that are easily adaptable to several situations. Other than that, have your technical questions down SOLID. Although they do have a strong training program, they want experts in networking. If you haven't taken a class on networking, I would memorize their manual from front to back. Other than that, be yourself and be likable - they want to have people who fit well with the company culture and who can meet clients without losing face for the company. One mistake I made: In the role-play, I was asked repeatedly to give a price estimate for one of their services, even after saying I wasn't sure. They pushed, and I gave in: I guessed. DON'T DO THIS. Don't say anything unless you're ABSOLUTELY sure (in the roleplay at least). This was the biggest feedback item I was given. They don't want you giving clients false information. I was contacted about two weeks later (after about 2.5 months of the interview process) to say I hadn't been given an offer.

Interview Question – What are some risks associated with moving to Cloud Computing?
Several difficult questions on networking.
  Answer Question

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2 people found this helpful

Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Difficult Interview

Associate Systems Engineer Interview

Anonymous Employee
San Jose, CA

I applied through an employee referral and the process took 3 months - interviewed at Cisco Systems.

Interview Details – You can apply at any time for an Associate Systems Engineer position in the US, but they typically only do two interview days each year, sometimes only one. They typically occur around October-November and April-May. Applicants for the Sales Associates Program must be less than 2 years out of college as well, so if you're beyond that, talk to a recruiter about other opportunities available.

Leading up to the interview day, there are typically two steps to trim down the applicant pool: a short 2-minute video submission on a given topic, and a virtual video interview with someone. These may be reversed depending on when/where you apply. The video interview is typically with someone who has gone through the training program before, and it's fairly informal.

About 20-30 applicants are invited to the interview days on-site at either North Carolina or San Jose if you're applying for a US position, and typically last from about 9am to 4-5pm. A couple activities to expect are a written technical skills test, a behavioral interview with 1-3 interviewers, a role-playing sales interview, and a presentation on a topic they give you in advance. If you make it through all of this and are extended an offer, you should hear back in a week or two.

Overall I felt the interview was a good test of skills needed for the job/training program. If you enjoy the interview process, you will probably enjoy the program. If you felt the interviews or questions were silly, this probably isn't a good job for you.

Interview Question – The most unexpected part for me was during the presentation. Don't be surprised if someone intentionally stops paying attention (i.e. starts checking their e-mail on their phone). They want to see how you handle it.   Answer Question

Negotiation Details – There's not much salary negotiation to be had in this program. Each year the training group's salary is set, and it's the same for everyone. Your re-location package might be up for debate, but I felt mine was generous and didn't argue it.

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Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Average Interview

Associate Systems Engineer Interview

Anonymous Employee
Raleigh, NC

I interviewed at Cisco Systems in November 2012.

Interview Details – So far application process has been great. I did a short video introducing myself and then had a 1 hour phone interview. They said it would be a half hour interview but it went well and he kept asking questions. I am flying to Raleigh this week for an all day interview session.

Interview Question – Personally, I thought all of the questions were pretty predictable. They want to know what you have done, what you want to do, and how hard you will work. They asked a few generic technical questions like how does a cell phone network work, but nothing to bad. Just relax and you will be fine.   Answer Question

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1 person found this helpful

No Offer

Negative Experience

Difficult Interview

Associate Systems Engineer Interview

Anonymous Interview Candidate
Research Triangle Park, NC

I applied through college or university and the process took 2 months - interviewed at Cisco Systems in November 2011.

Interview Details – 1. simple phone interview
2. video presentation
3. all day event at the cisco headquarters

Interview Questions

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No Offer

Negative Experience

Average Interview

Associate Systems Engineer Interview

Anonymous Interview Candidate
Raleigh, NC

I applied through college or university and the process took a day - interviewed at Cisco Systems in September 2010.

Interview Details – We were a group of 50 individuates. We were divide into groups of 5 and every group would interview with 3 groups. We had one presentation, one simulation (selling a product to a client) and one technical interview.

The only thing I didn't like was the fact that different groups interviewed with different people and they could've scored interviewees differently.

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2 people found this helpful

Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Difficult Interview

Associate Systems Engineer Interview

Anonymous Employee
Research Triangle Park, NC

I applied through college or university and the process took 3 months - interviewed at Cisco Systems in September 2010.

Interview Details – My first attempt to get this job took place in 2008. Unfortunately the ASE program had stopped hiring briefly for a few years. However, I was determined enough to keep in contact with the recruiters so that when the job did finally come up again in 2010 I was one of the first candidates to be interviewed. Persistence really pays off, trust me.

The first round of interviews was a 1-on-1 phone call with a former ASE within the company. This was more to feel you out, see what kind of a person you were and if you'd be worth the company's time. After passing that interview you are brought in for a full day of interviewing. This is the difficult part.

The full day interview consists of a couple of 1-on-1 or group/panel interviews where you have to give a prepared presentation on a topic they give you, a technical interview, and a roleplay where you act out the part of a salesperson (as if you had the job already) and the interviewers are the customers. (This interview process is nearly the same for ASR candidates as well.)

My suggestion is to prepare a LOT for these interviews. Cisco is an amazing company but they really only take the best people. You have to be a little technical but you really have to be a fun, engaging person. They're looking to make sure you can talk to customers and communicate your point. They want someone who can build a relationship with customers and sell solutions/products that will create a lasting relationship for Cisco.

Interview Question – Roleplaying with a customer. You are a Cisco salesperson and you are coming in to a first-time meeting with a customer and have to create a rapport with them, then 'sell' them on a Cisco technology, and get enough of a buy in to have a future meeting.   View Answer

Negotiation Details – The negotiation phase is a bit difficult. For me at least they had standardized the salary, and despite negotiating on my part I was unable to raise it at all. Obviously it starts out pretty high, but I did have to take a pay cut for this job. My benefits are incredible though, so take it as you will.

I would suggest talking to the recruitment team about any questions you have, and make sure you can get the best out of the deal. Salary may not be negotiable but some other smaller things are. Plus, as an ASE or ASR you will be interviewing again internally for Cisco in about a year, so keep in mind you can negotiate there as well.

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3 people found this helpful

No Offer

Negative Experience

Very Difficult Interview

Associate Systems Engineer Interview

Anonymous Interview Candidate
Research Triangle Park, NC

I applied through college or university and the process took 2 weeks - interviewed at Cisco Systems in November 2010.

Interview Details – I talked to Cisco reps at a career fair at my University. Then I had an interview on campus the next day. The campus interview was very easy- why do you want to work here? tell me about yourself?- type questions. I was referred for the Associate Systems Engineer position. For this position, I first had a phone interview. The phone interview was very easy - similar type questions to the campus interview. He also asked me to describe something technical to him. About 1-2 weeks later I received an email saying I had been selected to move on to the next round. The final round was an all-day interview at Cisco's RTP office. It consisted of giving a technical presentation on one of their three product categories, doing a sales simulation for which we were given some preparation materials to study, and a technical assessment (for which we were given about 60 pages of technical material to learn).

There were approximately 80 people that interviewed for about 20 slots over a span of two days. On the day I interviewed there were about 50 other people interviewing for the same position. There were about 25-30 Cisco employees performing the interviews, and interviewees were randomly assigned to the different interview stations. The employee to which you were assigned had a large effect on your performance. For example, during my technical presentation, my interviewer interrupted me after about 2 minutes and asked me very difficult technical questions that had nothing to do with my presentation (e.g. How would you explain the internet to your grandma? What's the difference between Linux and Windows? What's the difference between and IP phone and a regular phone?). I never got the chance to finish my actual presentation. Other people said their presentations were very easy and they weren't asked any questions.

The sales simulation was pretty easy, but that was probably because I had nice interviewers. I took notes, and they said that was a good thing. The technical assessment was very difficult. Although I had spent a lot of time learning the material, and I had a good idea of the question they were going to ask (since I was last and I had heard other people discussing it), I was ill-prepared. Again, however, I think this depended a lot on the interviewer. When I talked to people afterward, they said I was asked much more difficult questions than they had had. The interviewers kept saying throughout the day that you didn't need to be a technical expert and that it didn't matter if you knew everything, but that is not the impression I got at all. Instead of a general understanding and some major key points, my interviewer expected me to have memorized every single word of the technical material. For example, the guy asked me what year Ethernet was invented. I was also asked questions that weren't covered in the technical literature they gave us (like what typical wired internet speeds are and in what instances you should use fiber optic cable).

The rest of the day was spent taking tours of the office, learning about the different rotations you could have as part of that position, and listening to presentations about how great Cisco is. I was there from about 7am until about 6pm. I spent probably around 15-20 hours preparing for the interview. All the feedback I received throughout the day from my interviewers was very positive. About two weeks later I received a rejection email. All in all, it left a bad taste in my mouth about Cisco.

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