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Cisco aNCE Program: Stage 2

Congratulations! You are probably reading this because you have passed the first stage of the interview process for the aNCE program or you’re just a curious person. Nevertheless, I wanted to share what I encountered during stage 2 so that you have the best chance of success when you have your interview.

If you pass this stage you will be invited to one of the Cisco offices to take part in an Assessment Day so you need to make sure you perform well. This interview is approximately 45 minutes long so ensure you are in a quiet area where you won’t be disturbed. My interview was conducted via Cisco Webex, no video was required but your requirements might be different so ensure you are smartly dressed for the occasion should they ask you to turn on your camera.
So what is the interview blueprint for stage 2?
In no particular order…
  1. Speak about yourself and any certifications you have
  2. Speak about Cisco – why you would like to work for them and what you know about them
  3. Answer some technical questions
  4. STAR method questions
  5. General interview questions
The details and tips for success
Now that you have an overview of what to expect, I’ll now delve into more detail about each of the points mentioned above and provide you with some tips that could help secure your position to the next stage.
Speak about yourself:
This is sometimes easier said than done, you need to ensure you sell yourself and do it well. The person interviewing you will more than likely have your CV in front of them at the time of the interview so make sure you can elaborate on what is on your CV and if it makes it easier, have a copy in front of you too.
When I had my interview, I was asked about my certifications, my degree and the result obtained from my degree.
Speak about Cisco:
You will be asked what you know about Cisco and why you so desperately want to work for them, make sure you have the answers. Cisco wants to see that you know more than just the name and that they manufacture hardware. You need to know about the current market and where Cisco is placing itself within that, you need to know the challenges Cisco has recently faced and you need to know Cisco’s competitors at least for the job for which you are applying for.
This is an interview of a lifetime for me, I have worked with Cisco products and within Cisco as a contractor so I know a lot about Cisco and how they operate so when I was asked the question “What do you know about Cisco?” I made sure I went into detail about Cisco. I think the approach I took was to speak about WHAT Cisco was as a company, WHERE they are now in the market and where they want to be in the coming year. I also knew Cisco’s competitors for the services delivery team I applied for and I made sure I expressed my passion for wanting to work for such an organization.
Technical questions:
If you are applying for the aNCE program chances are you have come from a technical background. So one would assume that its only right that technical questions are going to present themselves in an interview with Cisco. Not to worry though, if you have done your homework and studied topics you feel you will be tested on you should breeze through this section. Having applied for the position and got to this stage there is no doubt you have already received and had a good read of the job specification. In the job specification you are not required to have any current certifications so rest assured you won’t be tested to that level however it is good practice to ensure you have done some revision on foundational networking and you are tech-savvy.
During my interview I was asked a series of questions, these questions included general networking/computing questions and some software-related questions. I was able to answer all the questions and I was told at the end of this section which questions I answered correctly and which I didn’t. For those interested in my result, I managed to get nearly all of them correct which was a relief.
One thing I would like to mention is that I did extensive studying days before this interview and I wasn’t challenged on most of what I went over but one of my favourite sayings is: I would rather be over-prepared than underprepared.
STAR method questions:
Some of you may have heard of this method however for some of you it might be new but not to worry because I’ll explain it here so you can go into your interview with confidence.
STAR is short for – Situation – Task – Action – Result
So how does this fit into the interview and the questions you will be asked? In the interview, you will be asked questions that ask you things like “Describe a time when you worked in a team and there was a conflict between yourself and another team member and tell me how you overcome conflict to complete the task.” If we look at that example we can see that we are being asked about the SITUATION, the TASK and the ACTION. When you have given your example, if not prompted to do so, you will need to let the interviewer know what the RESULT was of that situation.
At this particular stage, I found some of the questions challenging because I had to think back to certain situations however I also believe that having a good work experience background and being involved with projects helped me answer the questions.
For more information on the STAR method please see the link below.
General interview questions:
In every interview I have ever been to, I have found that companies have a pool of questions they use to understand more about the way an individual thinks and Cisco isn’t an exception.
The questions asked in this section are nothing you can prepare for, I believe they are purely used to understand how you think and if you have the right mentality for the company you are interviewing for. One example would be: “Is the customer always right?”.
I didn’t find these questions challenging, I answered them truthfully based on my life experiences and work experiences and you should do the same. At the end of the interview I was told I had successfully passed this stage and was also given feedback, I will now plan for the next stage so look out for my next post.
I hope that you have found this post interesting and useful. I wish you the best of luck in your upcoming interview. If you have any questions, leave a comment and I will respond as soon as possible.
If you have already completed this stage and made it through to the next round, let us know your experiences.
Note: aNCE has been renamed to Associate Consulting Engineer (ACE) and engineers would join the Customer Experience (CX) organisation.


Kelvin is a Cyber Security professional with years and experience working with organisations in different verticals, both large and small. He enjoys contributing to the Network Wizkid knowledge base and he also creates technical content. Kelvin enjoys learning new things and often does this by working on achieving new technical certifications. He holds many professional certifications and academically, he has achieved a Bachelors and Master's degree in both Computer Networks and Cyber Security.

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