Cisco Systems
3.5 of 5 4,538 reviews
www.cisco.com San Jose, CA 5000+ Employees

Cisco Systems Interview Questions & Reviews

Updated Jul 9, 2014
All Interviews Received Offers

Getting the Interview 

28%
25%
20%

Interview Experience 

65%
23%
11%

Interview Difficulty 

Average Difficulty
1,056 candidate interviews
in

Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Very Difficult Interview

Senior Manufacturing Program Manager Interview

Senior Manufacturing Program Manager
San Jose, CA

The process took 2 days - interviewed at Cisco Systems in October 2007.

Interview Details – They were very intelligent and asked very good questions. The questions were very probing and required very strong responses. The questions ranged from how I delt with a situation and my understanding of business management. I was offered the job the next day.

Interview Question – I was asked to review a part of a presentation and tell them what I the message was.   View Answer

Negotiation Details – Cisco pays fair salaries so it was not an issue.

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1 person found this helpful

Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Very Difficult Interview

Customer Support Engineer Interview

Customer Support Engineer
Research Triangle Park, NC

I applied online and the process took a day - interviewed at Cisco Systems in January 2007.

Interview Details – Extremely difficult phone interview over an hour. 5-6 engineers on the phone asking technical questions across all subjects - Unix, Routing/Switching, Voice, Oracle, etc. In-depth discussions about protocols, RFC/IETF specifications, signaling flows. No trick questions but they quiz you on everything on your resume.

Interview Question – Describe the call flow when using XYZ protocol including supplementary service delivery.   View Answer

Negotiation Details – Easy.

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Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Very Difficult Interview

Software Engineer IV Interview

Software Engineer IV
Richardson, TX

I applied online and the process took a day - interviewed at Cisco Systems in March 2008.

Interview Details – On the Phone interview, I was aksed questions mostly from my resume and background. I was asked quesions on

1. Descrtibe RADIUS protocol in brief
2. Describe the differences between TCP and UDP
3. Describe the end-to-end callflow for one system you worked
4. Threads vs Processes
5. Task scheduling in vxWorks
 and some more questions based on my resume

In the main interview, I had 1:1 with four people spread over the day

1. Describe Pre-emption
2. priorirt Inversion and how to overcome it
3. Interrupts and ISRs
4. How do timers work in vxWorks
5. Semaphores
5. Linked list vs array
7. Trees, BSTs and when to use

And other questions were mostly to explain on white board what all I did in my last 10 years..and design details of that and why it was designed that way etc

Then some questions on the debugging tools I used like GDB

Interview Questions

Negotiation Details – It was farily strainght forward. I asked a figure, they quoted something. After 2 rounds to going back and forth, they agreed to what I was asking.

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No Offer

Negative Experience

Very Difficult Interview

Portfolio Manager Interview

Portfolio Manager

I applied through other source and the process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at Cisco Systems in March 2010.

Interview Details – 1 to 1 interview to assess your personality and job capabilities

Interview Questions

  • Can you improvise under pressure   View Answer
  • What is a difference between sales of hardware and services   View Answer

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No Offer

Positive Experience

Very Difficult Interview

Associate Sales Engineer Interview

Associate Sales Engineer

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

Interview Details – Initial communications began at an on-campus job fair, where met with the first interviewer for a preliminary screening and reading of my resume. After 10 mins, he wanted to schedule me for an hour long interview the next morning that consisted of behavioral questions. Almost two months passed before I heard that I was selected for final rounds. For the final round interviews, I was flown to Cary, NC for a full-day interview with five sessions. First, there was a presentation on a topic of my choosing from their limited topics (no powerpoint, but handouts encouraged and a whiteboard was provided). Second, there was a roundtable with people who have gone through the program where we can ask questions about their experience. Third, there was a technical assessment where two individuals questioned me on my technical knowledge. Fourth, the candidates took a tour of a data center testing facility. Lastly, we had a sales simulation to see how you are in front of a client.

Interview Question – What is the OSI Model?   View Answer

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No Offer

Neutral Experience

Very Difficult Interview

Sales Interview

Sales

I applied online and the process took 4 weeks - interviewed at Cisco Systems in November 2009.

Interview Details – I was asked about my background and information and skills that were important at that job. In addition, they asked how I expected not having a tech background would work in a sales position with the level of technology in which Cisco Systems sells. I assured them that I had the skills that were needed

Interview Question – We used our on software that is difficult to learn. How do you think you will do with this?   Answer Question

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1 person found this helpful

Declined Offer

Negative Experience

Very Difficult Interview

Software Engineer III Interview

Software Engineer III
San Jose, CA

I applied online and the process took 1 week - interviewed at Cisco Systems in August 2008.

Interview Details – interviewed at Cisco post-layoff at another big company where I worked for 3+ years. All the interviewing went well. I was interviewed multiple times over phone as team was geographically distributed, at least 13-14 interviews. I did "exceptionally" well in all interviews. .later recruiter left me 2/3 Vms and he started talking to me as if he is giving me bad feedback. he called me 2/3 times. I returned call, and apparently he wanted to extend me an offer. but he was talking as if he is not hiring but firing me. I declined the offer and still he would insist me fill the emplyment application and complete background check. which was insane. He wasn't extending me the right offer , just 2-3K above my salary back then and wanted me to go through emplyment background check,

next morning,
my so called prospective manager called me and was telling me he would get me hooked with other linux engineers in their company and clealry telling me that 6 months down the road I would need to look for another job as their BU would go restructuring and new reqs will get RIFed. and after hearing this, he would go on insisting fill the emplyment application?
Also, one of the engineers during interview said -"I am your ATM machine" and I felt like am with unrespectful background. at this statement. He further emails me In this economy "I should accept any job".
I declined the offer and stayed home until March 2010. than to be apart of such unrespectful maniacs.

I am young kernel engineer for last 10 years in silicon valley and being woman in hi-tech, always outnumbered by men.
Problem was they did not want me to extend offer but my interviewing went really well and I had told them laughingly, I record my interviews, they were not able "TO NOT EXTEND" me an offer.

couple of recruiter initiated conversations exactly matched word-to-word to my ex-manager's conversation with me at previous job the resemblance was striking as I used record all the conversations with my ex-manager during my performance reviews. I had also recorded my converstaion with this recruiter.
I knew the VP at previous job is the same VP of the group at Cisco, I was interviewing with.
Later I checked the vp and hiring manager both were fired, may be due to their own incompetencies.

most of the hi0tech companies now-adays do behind the scenes informal talks by traversing linkedin trees and finding your co-workers and manager's name. In bureaucratic companies this can potentially give opportunity to your ex-manager to take a revenge upon you. This back-door checks are Legally not allowed i.e. your prospective employers is allowed to check references with only those whose name you have listed on employment application. my advice is- remove Linkedin profile, This is for recruiters/HR and not you.
People/friends who want to give you a job are just 1/2 and they must be in your trusted close contact.

Interview Questions

Reason for Declining – bad offer and bad communication

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3 people found this helpful

No Offer

Negative Experience

Very Difficult Interview

Associate Systems Engineer Interview

Associate Systems Engineer
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.

Interview Questions

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6 people found this helpful

No Offer

Positive Experience

Very Difficult Interview

Associate Network Consulting Engineer Interview

Associate Network Consulting Engineer
Research Triangle Park, NC

The process took a day - interviewed at Cisco Systems in April 2011.

Interview Details – Was contacted through email about a phone interview for the position in about February. Has the phone interview a few weeks later. The phone interview went great. VERY BASIC technical questions. Spent most of the time on the phone talking about the company and the position. The guy interviewing me had already gone through the program so I just probed him for 30 mins.

Got an email back about a month later saying I had been invited to NC for the Assessment Center interview. A very important thing to note is that after my phone interview it was over a month before I heard back from them. I sent my recruiter an email asking about my status and that may have been the key to me being invited to NC....i dk.

The NC interview consisted of a GROUP presentation in which you have 15mins to study some new material and present. They look for group dynamics and how well you work together. There were 2 technical interviews on networking. They gave me a big packet to study after I was invited to NC. Everything in the packet was fair game. The key here is that "I dont know" is an acceptable answer. They just wanna see how much you do know and your capacity to learn and understand concepts. Over lunch they gave us another packet of abstract info to study for a solo presentation after lunch. The material was REALLY hard. They just want the see how much you picked up during the short time.

Throughout the day we had breaks such as a tour of the facility, a "day in the life" presentation, and a benefits presentation. I felt really confident about my performance because I prepared for weeks. I gave it my best shot but unfortunately the next day I was informed that I was not selected to move on. I have no bad blood or regrets about the process. I did the best I could.

The culture from my observations is that they hire A LOT of nerdy white guys. Out of the 75 or so employees I met during the process. Younger nerdy white males made up about 94%. I met like 3 women, a few people of indian descent and like 2 black people. I'm black so......i dk. The people I was interviewing against had big technical degrees from GA Tech, Penn State, RIT, Ohio State etc. I went to an HBCU so I felt that I was already at a disadvantage. The biggest thing I can say is prepare.....study, study, study. Cisco only wants the best....they kept saying that all day. They want people that fit the culture. All the people there are the same.....mostly nerdy young white guys. In my group there were 17 of us interviewing. We were the third and last group they were interviewing for positions. There were 2 other groups before us of about 20 people a piece and they were offering 24 positions. So thats about 8 positions a group. Overall it was a positive experience and i'm glad I got that far.

Interview Questions

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1 person found this helpful

Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Very Difficult Interview

TAC Customer Support Engineer Interview

TAC Customer Support Engineer
Diegem (Belgium)

The process took a day - interviewed at Cisco Systems in August 2009.

Interview Details – The phone interview was technical, with pointed questions on security protocols and in-depth networking knowledge. After passing that, I was invited for a day of interviews. There were 8 interviews in total, 6 technical, and 2 managerial. The technical ones consisted of troubleshooting on a whiteboard, analyzing network diagrams, doing netmask calculations, and explaining the analytical process out loud. The managerial interviews were just to see if you would fit in to the group. The technical interviews were quite tough, with very senior people asking you pointed question. What they were after was not always the right answer, but instead to see you troubleshoot and explain your thought process out loud.

Interview Questions

  • Given this network diagram, why is machine A not able to ping machine B?   View Answer
  • Given this network diagram, device A is receiving ICMP (type/code) messages (the type and code will vary by question or scenario). What could be causing these messages?   View Answer

Negotiation Details – A reasonable salary with benefits. If you have work experience, you can negotiate a better package.

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