Cisco Graduate Scheme: Application & Interview Tips

Cisco Graduate Scheme: Application & Interview Tips

Updated March 1, 2022

Written by the WikiJob Team

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.

Application Process

The application process at Cisco is typically divided into four sections:

Online Application

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.

Telephone Interview

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.

Video Presentation

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 Centre

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Cisco offers a variety of short and long-term internships, summer internships, co-op programs and apprenticeship programs to qualified full-time students.

You can browse the Student and New Grad page for opportunities and work out if Cisco is a good fit for you.

It divides its business into eleven different sections for you to look through – the Apprenticeship section is a great place to start if you want to get work experience from your freshers year at university.

It’s a competitive company to work for, so make sure you create the best application you can if you want a job at Cisco as a fresher.

Once you apply for a job at Cisco you should get an email right away as confirmation that your application has been received.

The recruitment and interview process is thorough so you'll only be contacted regarding the next steps if your profile best matches Cisco’s needs for the job.

It can take four to eight weeks to get hired at Cisco – although internship applications do tend to work on a tighter timescale than that for graduate jobs.

If you have been waiting three weeks or longer and haven’t had an interview or assessment scheduled, it might be worth following up with Cisco and asking for feedback.

If you’re applying for a job at Cisco as a student, it’s typical to ask a professor or advisor if they are happy with you putting them down as a reference.

Be sure to ask in advance so that they do not get a surprise request.

If you have been employed before, it’s expected that you would put a previous employer as a reference when applying for a new job at Cisco. You might also ask a colleague that you worked with well and who could vouch for you.

Be sure to thank the people you ask to write your references, as it takes a bit of time and effort for them to do so.

When filling out your Cisco job application, take lots of time and check it through thoroughly. Make sure you have all the information to hand as you fill out the application – for example, you may be asked to include any relevant certifications, particularly if you are applying for a network engineering or similar role.

Be sure there are no mistakes and that you understand what each question is asking. Get a second pair of eyes to help you if necessary – a friend or family member can help you check that everything has been filled out correctly.

You may be invited for a phone or virtual interview at first if you’re applying to Cisco’s graduate program. These can be short (around fifteen to twenty minutes). They are an effective and fast way for employers to obtain an overview of your skills to see whether you are a good fit.

Often these are followed up with interviews in person when you are applying for the Cisco graduate program. These longer interviews might take place in the context of a full assessment center, where they will also give you other tasks, such as tests, depending on the role you are applying for.

New hires at Cisco are often paid generous starting salaries. Cisco’s salary and compensation package is competitive for the marketplace, especially for its Graduate Program.

The high-performance culture at Cisco financially rewards innovation, collaboration and achievement – and employees can purchase Cisco stock at a discount too.

Bonuses are given annually and you get to pick a prize or experience that recognizes your Cisco anniversaries on your first and fifth years – and then again every five years of service after that.

Cisco internships are a great chance to develop your skills and get started in your career, but they can be competitive to get.

Cisco’s advice for prospective interns includes being authentic in your application and taking the time to research and properly understand the job and the company.

To improve your chances, make sure your resume is up to date and tailored to the role you're applying for – and optimize it with keywords. Cisco recruiters will match your resume with available opportunities, so you can increase your chances of getting an internship if you have a top-notch resume.

Cisco’s internship programs are in high demand and it is a great name to have on your resume. Interns at Cisco are paired with a manager, mentor and intern class so there are lots of growth opportunities there.

The internship program also features chances to mingle, with coffee chats and game nights to get you networking with other influential people.

There are free training sessions you can join to increase your skills too and the internship programs are designed to help you build on your interests so you can focus on the areas you are particularly curious about.

The Cisco Graduate Program interviews are an opportunity for the recruitment team to learn more about you and your motivations for wanting to join Cisco.

Do plenty of research on the role you are applying for, as well as the company, its customers and solutions.

If you are applying for a technical role at Cisco, you may be tested on specific skills in a certain area, so you should refresh your knowledge of the field.

As always, it’s good to practice mock interviews beforehand so ask friends or family members to help you rehearse and build your confidence for the actual Cisco interview.


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