Evaluating Your Potential Employer (As A Network Engineer)

Evaluating Potential Employer

When you’re looking for a new job in networking, the interviewing process can be stressful, and at times, quite intimidating.  This is especially true for those of us that are just starting out, fresh from university.

We’re so often consumed with a desire to be found adequate that we focus on doing whatever it takes to be liked by the interviewers evaluating us. In the process, we forget that the interview always goes both ways.

What does that mean?  Well, while the interviewer is scrutinizing your resume, and dissecting your responses to their questions, you are entitled, and indeed obligated, to evaluate the company you will potentially be working for.

Now, this may sound a little bit presumptuous since the interviewer conventionally has “the upper hand.” 

However, approaching the job search process, and the interview itself, in this way not only gives you more of a sense of control but also puts things a little bit more into perspective.

In this article, we’ll examine some of the aspects involved in evaluating your potential employer, and we’ll discuss why it’s essential to include this evaluation in your job search and interview process.

The Job Search

Searching for a job can be a very stressful process.  Believe it or not, consciously choosing to do your own evaluation of your potential employers can be helpful in alleviating some of the pressure you may experience. 

The Traditional Approach

When you’re in the market for a new job, the tendency is to feel that you are in a disadvantageous position, and that all the potential employers you are interacting with are approaching the situation from a position of authority. Traditionally, this is the logic behind the process. 

They have something you want (a paying job), and you must be good enough to be the one they choose to give it to. 

You must have the level of expertise they are asking for, and you must ensure that you present yourself in a way that showcases your abilities well, to make yourself appear to be the best choice among all the candidates. 

That way of thinking will make any interviewee sweat under the collar.

A More Balanced Approach

Now the logic behind this described process seems sound, and the argument presented in this manner may convince most people that this is indeed the way things are.

However, when you are in the process of finding a job, focusing only on what your potential employer wants can be a significant obstacle at best, and downright catastrophic at worst.  

One of the most important elements of professional success is job satisfaction.

That means that you owe it first and foremost to yourself to analyze, examine, and scrutinize your potential employer with the same intensity and passion with which they evaluate you

Analyze every aspect of the company so that you can determine if you will be happy there, among other important factors.

They may have something you want (a paying job), but you too have something that they want.  You bring to the table a set of skills, both technical and interpersonal, as well as education, and experience. 

All of these are very valuable to your potential employer, otherwise, you would not be talking with the interviewer.

Know that you too come to the interviewing table from a position of authority, with assets of your own. So, understand that the situation is somewhat more balanced than it is traditionally made out to be.

Maintaining a balance

Now I want to make it clear that I am not advocating that you come to the interview and express confidence that borders on arrogance, nor am I suggesting you ask for too much or make unreasonable demands. Remember, one of the keywords in this process is balance.

What I am saying is that you can come to the table knowing that the people interviewing you have chosen to talk with you because you have skills, capabilities, and characteristics that interest them, and that they may want to acquire by hiring you.

So, you see, you too have something they want.

Some practical advice

Ok, so you realize that the playing field is more level than your interviewers may have made it out to be.  But what does that mean practically when it comes to evaluating the organization?

How then should you approach the interview so that you can take advantage of this more level playing field?

Advantages of this approach

First of all, it is important to identify the advantages you obtain when you come to the table ready to both be evaluated and to evaluate:

  • It gives you a sense of control – Realizing that you have the authority to analyze and even turn down an employer empowers you in a way that gives you some control of the process.
  • Increases self-confidence – This in turn increases your confidence, and it can become very evident during the interview.
  • Helps you correctly measure your worth – Knowing your worth as a network engineer is an important aspect of being able to effectively balance the power in the interviewing process.

How to evaluate

So, when it comes down to it, when you’re sitting across from the interviewer, how should you perform your evaluation?

Ask questions – In order to evaluate the organization, you must find out more about it, and to do so, the easiest way is to ask questions

Don’t ask questions just for the sake of asking them but choose relevant questions about the job position and the organization as a whole that will help you to further your evaluation. 

Preparing them beforehand will help in asking more appropriate and pertinent questions.  This will not only allow you to make a more informed decision but will also indicate to the interviewer that you are looking for more than just a paycheck

Evaluate your interviewer – During the interview, the person interviewing you is the representative of the company. 

They are the personification of your potential employer.  Use this person and your interaction with them to gain a perspective of the kind of people employed at the organization.

You have something they want

Obviously the more you bring to the table, the more balanced the interviewing process is. 

A candidate with over a decade of experience, and an arsenal of certifications and training, will obviously be in a better position than someone just out of university.

Nevertheless, the important point here is that even if you’ve just got your degree and you have only a four-month internship under your belt, you still have something they want.

Never, never, never go to an interview believing that it is a one-sided affair.  Put them under the microscope as well, and let them know it, in a polite and civilized manner of course.


No matter where you find yourself in your career, whether you are just out of university or carry decades of experience, you always have the authority to evaluate your potential employer

Simply realizing this can change your perspective from a position of disadvantage to one of equal footing, or even better. 

And the knowledge that you have the power to turn down an employer if you find them inadequate has the power to give you a feeling of control, self-confidence, and ultimately a great advantage in the interviewing process.

Lazaros Agapidis

Lazaros Agapidis

Lazaros Agapidis is a telecommunications and networking specialist with over twenty years of experience in network design, architecture, deployment, and management. He’s worked with multiple wired and wireless technologies including IP networks, fiber optics, Wi-Fi, as well as mobile communication networks. He has developed training content and courses for multiple vendors, and has been directly involved with teaching telecommunications for more than a decade. Over the years, he’s gained valuable first-hand experience from working on various large-scale telecom projects from both the enterprise as well as the telecom provider point of view.

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