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Cisco: everything you needed to find about working and getting a job

Cisco (Cisco Systems, Inc.) is one of the world’s leading telecommunications equipment manufacturers headquartered in San Jose, California. The main product lines of Cisco include backbone routing, collaboration solutions; switching and services; video technology; virtualization and cloud solutions.

Cisco is headquartered in the United States in San Jose, with major regional offices in Amsterdam and Bangalore. At the beginning of 2020, Cisco had about 400 regional offices with more than 76,000 employees. Over the past years, the company has been employing over 5,000 employees worldwide annually.

One of the features of the company’s business model is a multi-level branched system of certification of computer network engineers. Because the exams in this system test knowledge of not only Cisco products, but also knowledge of network technologies and protocols, many organizations, even those working on network equipment from other companies, recognize the value of Cisco professional certifications. In particular, the Expert Level Certification (CCIE) from Cisco is one of the best known and respected in the computer industry.

Cisco working at plant in Cisco jobs

Working in Cisco

According to employee reviews Cisco is a good company to work at. Among the pros of working in Cisco its employees name:

  • wages better than average in the industry
  • good work-life balance, no need for overtime, no need to rush for most jobs
  • good corporate culture
  • considerable support during COVID situation
  • best technology and equipment to work with
  • friendly staff at all level
  • telecommuting is possible for most jobs

But there are some cons as well:

  • frequent management changes and business direction changes
  • limited growth opportunities for most locations except the head offices
  • too many middle and lower-level managers competing for their own careers neglecting their teams

Most of Cisco employees all over the world say that in 2020 the company is lagging technological/cloud advance because of too many managerial switches and reorganizations. Cisco’s advance strategy for many years has been acquiring of smaller companies without proper technology investment in its own assets. Also, many employees say that Cisco’s oversized management impede productivity and growth. Management communication could be better. Many employees report micromanagement and a lot of useless metrics and reporting.

Having said that, over 85% of Cisco employees say that they love their company and recommend it for employment.

working in Cisco

Pre-employment selection process at Cisco

Cisco pays extremely close attention to human resources management. The Cisco job selection process focuses on ability, knowledge, skills, experience, and various other related factors.

In order to be hired by Cisco, candidates must go through a three-step selection process:

  • Online aptitude tests
  • Technical interview
  • HR interview
  • Management interview

On average, you will need 2-3 weeks to get a job in Cisco. The COVID situation slowed down all processed but still Cisco actively recruits new employees all over the world. As of November 2020, there about 1,000 open vacancies at Cisco in all countries. Most of the jobs are available in the USA, China, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Turkey, Russia and Brazil.

Cisco london working job

Cisco internships for students and graduates

In addition to the usual local internships for students, since 2012 the company has been conducting the Cisco International Internship Program (CIIP).

The program provides paid living and employment at Cisco headquarters in San Jose, USA for one year. Students of accredited universities who are fluent in English, as well as demonstrate outstanding success in their studies and extracurricular disciplines, can take part in the internship. Depending on the needs of the hiring managers, interns can fill the positions of software engineers, network engineers, data analysts, project managers, and so on.

cisco production jobs

Cisco psychometric aptitude tests

Cisco uses psychometric aptitude tests from the well-known CEB SHL assessment company. The first part of the test is general aptitude tests. It includes numerical reasoning and verbal reasoning tests by 10 questions in each of these sections. The second part of the test consists of 30 technical test questions. So, the standard Cisco aptitude test consists of:

  • 10 numerical reasoning test questions (15 minutes)
  • 10 verbal reasoning test questions (15 minutes)
  • 30 technical test questions (30 minutes)

Cisco general aptitude tests

As we mentioned above, Cisco uses SHL aptitude tests to assess general aptitude of applicants. And usually just 20 questions are used of numerical and verbal ability. But we recommend you always asking your HR agent in advance about the types and number of questions due for your position. It is absolutely possible that for your position Cisco HR managers may use other types of aptitude tests like abstract reasoning tests and personality tests. You can practice any possible pre-employment aptitude tests on

Cisco labs jobs

The general aptitude test consists of numerical questions based on tables, graphs and diagrams, as well as verbal multichoice questions. Read more about CEB SHL numerical reasoning and verbal reasoning tests in our articles:

SHL psychometric tests

Numerical Reasoning Tests: what they are, examples, solutions and tips to pass them

Verbal reasoning tests: what are they and how to pass them

Cisco technical test

The technical aptitude test includes 30 questions concerning different topic like computer networks, programming, databases and electronics. This test checks your general knowledge of these topics so you need to have at least general understanding of these things to score high.

The questions of technical test at Cisco can be like following:

Which of the following devices you can use to make a hard copy of a document?

  1. Laser printer
  2. Matrix printer
  3. Typewriter
  4. All of the above

Answer: 4

What is BCD?

  1. Binary Coded Decimal
  2. Bit Coded Decimal
  3. Binary Coded Digit
  4. Bit Coded Digit

Answer: 1

Which of the following is true for the Java programming language?

  1. A Java program can contain several classes with main methods.
  2. Java applets don’t use or need the main () method.
  3. Both answers are correct.
  4. Both answers are wrong.

Answer: 3

Where are microprocessors used?

  1. Computers
  2. Digital systems
  3. Calculators
  4. All of the above

Answer: 4

In general, the level of complexity of aptitude and technical tests from Cisco is average. Candidates who score higher than 70-75% are admitted to the interview stage.

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Job interviews at Cisco

An interview at Cisco consists of three separate interviews with different representatives of the company and on different topics. You need to be prepared that these interviews will be spaced out in time and take up to 2 weeks. This is almost always a live conversation in the company’s office, although in 2020 during the COVID and in some special situations they are made by phone or Skype.

Many Cisco employees say that job interviews are quite lengthy and tough in this company. You need to be prepared to spend 2-3 hours and answer many questions concerning your knowledge, experience, motivation and personality traits.

Technical interview

This round asks questions related to specific technical areas. Questions may be based on specific knowledge of the company and technologies that must be performed in the position for which you are applying. Perhaps you will be asked to discuss a task related to technical problems that you may encounter in a real environment.

Management interview

During the management interview, the hiring manager will be interested in the competencies that you should have. This will help him/her understand how you are able to analyze the situation and act in difficult situations. The purpose of this interview is to identify your potential for further development in your position. Among other things being equal, Cisco will prefer a candidate who shows the ability to get along well with all people, avoid conflict, and has the potential for leadership and possible managerial job.

HR interview

The final step in selecting a candidate for Cisco vacancies is an HR interview, as it helps determine the personality traits of the candidate. Questions can range from your background, qualifications, industry experience, courses taken, strengths and weaknesses, salary expectations, friends, family, and more.

Sample Cisco interview questions

Technical interview:

  • If you don’t have operator size in C, how do you know the size of an int?
  • How do I write a macro to set the nth bit?
  • Can you use a variable in a file using extern that is defined to be static and global in the base file?
  • When we declare union in C, how is union size allocated in memory?
  • What is the borderline problem in the size distribution of structures?
  • Write a program for an inversely linked list.
  • What is the difference between user and kernel space?
  • What is a real-time OS and how is it different from other operating systems?
  • Define signal and interrupt handling.
  • What is a balanced binary tree?
  • What is a microprocessor?
  • What do you mean by the sliding window protocol?
  • Write a C program to print numbers to words like 123 (one hundred twenty three).

HR interview:

  • Are you ready to move?
  • How do you react to conflicts at work? Give examples.
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Are you ready for a one-year internship at the head office of our company?
  • Why do you want to be part of CISCO?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • Are you willing to work 10-12 hours overtime if needed?
  • Do you have any questions you want to ask us?
  • What are your non-working interests?
  • What are your plans for development within Cisco?
  • How have you contributed to the activities at your university?
  • What are your expectations from this job?

job interview

Read more about the secrets of a successful interview in our articles:

How to answer the question: “Why do you want this job?”

10 tips for a successful job interview

2 most common job interview mistakes

8 smart questions for the employer at your job interview

3 easy ways to stand out in a job interview

Cisco is an exciting and challenging place to work. If you want to work in this company – prepare for aptitude tests and interviews and you can guarantee your success!

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