Cisco Graduate Scheme: Application & Interview Tips
Cisco is a multinational organisation which specialises in the design and delivery of networking and communications technology systems covering five major brands: Linksys, Cisco, WebEx, IronPort and Scientific Atlanta.
Cisco, which employs over 66,000 people throughout the world, is based in California, but has offices in a number of different countries. There are plenty of national and international recruitment opportunities with Cisco that you can apply for.
The application process at Cisco is typically divided into four sections:
- Online application form
- Telephone interview
- Video presentation
- Assessment centre, which includes a technical interview
The Cisco online application form has been developed so that the recruitment team can obtain an overall picture of each candidate. They achieve this through the collection of specific information such as your educational background, including your degree subjects and any technical qualifications. You may also be asked to include any relevant certifications, particularly if you are applying for a network engineering or similar role. Include any work experience you have.
Work within a technical capacity, no matter how brief, will add weight to your application. In the career history section, provide a brief overview of the duties and responsibilities for each role, and try to include any specific details of any projects you have been involved in.
Some vacancies are quite specific about the experience and skills that they require, so do ensure that you have all of the skills before you apply. Progress through each of the sections in the application form carefully and complete them as fully as you can. If there is something that you are not sure about, call the recruitment team, who will be happy to clarify anything.
After completion of the application form, you may be invited to participate in a telephone interview.
This is a further opportunity for the recruitment team to learn more about you, your motivations for wanting to join Cisco and your competencies.
The interview lasts between 15 and 20 minutes, so is relatively short in comparison with other telephone interviews with similar firms. Your answers need to be as concise and informative as possible.
It is always advisable to carry out some research before the telephone interview, so you know about the role you are applying for in detail, as well as the company and its customers and solutions. The telephone interview at Cisco is an effective and fast way for employers to obtain an overview of your skills to see whether you are a good fit.
Furthermore, in your work with Cisco, there is a strong chance you will spend time discussing problems and issues with customers over the telephone, so the recruitment team want to see how well you can communicate.
Following instructions, asking questions and providing clear and concise answers are all qualities that the recruitment team will be looking for.
The interview will ask you questions whose focus will range from your reasons for wanting to join Cisco through to more specific questions about your application. Technical questions will also be asked about Cisco products and solutions, and the way in the company manages its customers. Be prepared to think quickly.
As Cisco is at the forefront of technological advances, they are constantly introducing new aspects to the recruitment process. Perhaps one of the most recent introductions is the requirement to provide a short video presentation, usually two minutes in length.
This will usually take place shortly after the interview. You will be sent a presentation topic before the interview, typically a week before the video presentation is due (depending on how quickly your application progresses). Topics can vary, but in the past have included Software Defined Networking.
Concision is key. When you are dealing with clients over the telephone, Cisco expects employees to communicate lots of information clearly and succinctly to customers, so as to troubleshoot and resolve technical issues effectively.
Assessment centres are usually the final stage in the application process. They are an opportunity for you to find out what it’s like to work for the company, and for the recruitment team to find out more about you in a workplace setting. The assessment centre for Cisco requires attendance all day as you progress through a number of activities.
Each of the tasks during the assessment day is designed to be challenging. Make sure you are sufficiently prepared before you attend. Review the information that you are provided with thoroughly (this will be sent to you a couple of weeks before you are due to attend). Check out the Cisco website, its YouTube channel and the web generally to find out information about Cisco solutions, services, architecture, as well as any new product launches. Not only should you explore the technical side of operations, but you should review the general business side of the organisation too.
Cisco is not looking for extravagant candidates. Its recruiters are looking for individuals who are practical, customer-orientated and solutions-focused. Conveying a professional attitude throughout the assessment day is absolutely essential.
Structure of Assessment Day
Typically, you can expect your day to follow this structure, or something very similar:
Breakfast with coffee and cookies
A first interview based on information that you have been provided within your invitation email.
A second interview with the hiring manager or chief of the training programme you hope to join.
Participation in a group discussion – you will be asked to create a checklist and devise a set of questions that you should ask a customer upon your initial meeting. Think about how you would approach a requirements-gathering activity and incorporate the same or similar questions.
A case study and a presentation or role play – you may be asked to complete two role plays, each of which will be 45 minutes in length. You might assume the role of a customer service advisor or systems engineer and be asked to speak to a customer with a technical issue. It will be your responsibility to diagnose and resolve the query within the time provided.
A tour of the business, including its computing centre.
A technical Interview – technical interviews are slightly different from regular interviews, in that they are developed to test specific skills in a certain area. Candidates should therefore refresh their technical knowledge of the field they have applied to work within prior to attendance at the assessment centre.
The Cisco assessment day may vary slightly depending on which role or programme you are applying to. In addition to the relevant preparatory work you need to make sure that you take along relevant documentation, including two copies of your CV, one of which will be collected at the start of the day. You may need to show your assessors the other copy throughout the day.