Mastering SIP Interview Questions: Unlock Your Path to VoIP Success

In the ever-evolving world of Voice over IP (VoIP) technology, the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) plays a pivotal role in enabling multimedia communication sessions over the internet. As a signaling protocol, SIP is responsible for initiating, modifying, and terminating multimedia sessions, making it a critical component in modern telecommunications systems.

If you’re aspiring to secure a role in the VoIP industry or looking to enhance your knowledge in this domain, mastering SIP interview questions is an essential step. In this comprehensive article, we’ll delve into the intricacies of SIP, providing you with a solid understanding of its concepts and equipping you with the knowledge to tackle even the most challenging SIP interview questions.

Understanding SIP: The Fundamentals

Before we dive into the interview questions, let’s lay the foundation by exploring the basics of SIP.

What is SIP?

The Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is an application-layer control protocol defined by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) for creating, modifying, and terminating multimedia sessions such as voice, video, and instant messaging. SIP operates independently from the underlying transport protocols, making it versatile and adaptable to various network environments.

SIP Components

SIP comprises two main components: User Agents (UAs) and SIP servers.

User Agents (UAs)

User Agents are the endpoints in a SIP network, representing the communication devices or applications that initiate and receive multimedia sessions. There are two types of User Agents:

  • User Agent Client (UAC): A UAC initiates SIP requests and sends them to the server or other UAs.
  • User Agent Server (UAS): A UAS receives SIP requests and generates responses accordingly.

SIP Servers

SIP servers are intermediary entities that facilitate the communication between UAs. There are three main types of SIP servers:

  1. Proxy Server: A Proxy Server acts as an intermediary, forwarding SIP requests and responses between UAs. It can perform routing, authentication, and other functions.
  2. Registrar Server: A Registrar Server is responsible for maintaining a database of registered user locations, enabling UAs to be reachable for incoming sessions.
  3. Redirect Server: A Redirect Server accepts SIP requests, maps the addresses into new addresses, and returns them to the client, effectively redirecting the request.

Now that we’ve covered the essentials, let’s dive into some commonly asked SIP interview questions and their answers.

SIP Interview Questions and Answers

1. What is media negotiation, and when does it occur in SIP?

Media negotiation is the process of exchanging media parameters required to establish a multimedia session between User Agents. It typically occurs in a two-phase exchange between the Session Description Protocol (SDP) offers and answers contained in the INVITE and 200 OK messages, respectively.

If the SDP is not sent in the INVITE request, it can be sent in the ACK request after receiving the 200 OK response.

2. What is a SIP dialog, and how is it identified?

A SIP dialog is a peer-to-peer connection between two User Agents (UAs) that enables them to exchange multiple requests and responses related to a single session. A dialog is identified by the combination of the Call-ID, From tag, and To tag header fields.

3. Explain the difference between a SIP transaction and a SIP session.

A SIP transaction is a request sent by a client and the final response received from the server. It is identified by the CSeq (Command Sequence) header field and the branch parameter in the Via header.

On the other hand, a SIP session is the exchange of media between two or more endpoints. A session is established after an ACK request is received following a 2xx (successful) response to an INVITE request.

4. How does a User Agent Client (UAC) detect looped or duplicate requests?

A UAC can detect looped or duplicate requests in the following ways:

  • The Max-Forwards header field value is decremented to zero.
  • The Expires header field value has elapsed.
  • The UAC finds its own IP address or host name in the Via header field of the received request, including any branch parameter.

5. What is the purpose of the SDP (Session Description Protocol) in SIP?

The SDP is used to describe the media parameters for a multimedia session, such as the type of media (audio, video, etc.), transport protocols, and media formats (codecs). It is typically exchanged between UAs during the INVITE and 200 OK messages to negotiate the media capabilities.

6. How can you determine if a call is on hold based on the SDP?

If the SDP contains an attribute a=sendonly or a=inactive, it indicates that the call is on hold. Another way to signal a hold is by zeroing the IP address or port number in the media descriptor (c=) of the stream.

7. Why is the ACK request considered a separate transaction in SIP?

The ACK request is considered a separate transaction because it is only retransmitted by the User Agent Client (UAC). If the response to the INVITE request was a 2xx (successful) response, the ACK is treated as a separate transaction. However, if the response was not a 2xx, the ACK is part of the same transaction as the INVITE.

8. Explain the difference between stateful and stateless SIP proxies.

A stateful SIP proxy maintains dialogue state and must be part of all requests sent on the dialogs it has established. It interprets and rewrites request messages before forwarding them.

On the other hand, a stateless SIP proxy does not maintain state. It simply forwards received requests to the destination and sends responses on behalf of the other end without interpreting or modifying the requests.

9. What are the mandatory header fields in a SIP request?

The mandatory header fields in a SIP request are:

  • To
  • From
  • Via
  • CSeq (Command Sequence)
  • Max-Forwards
  • Call-ID

10. What is forking in SIP, and what are the different types of forking?

Forking in SIP refers to the process of sending an INVITE request to multiple registered locations for a single user. There are two types of forking:

  1. Serial Forking: In this approach, the INVITE request is sent to one registered location at a time. If the first location fails to respond, the request is sent to the next registered location.
  2. Parallel Forking: In parallel forking, the INVITE request is sent simultaneously to all registered locations for the user. The first response received from any location is accepted, and the others are canceled or rejected.

11. What is the purpose of the “magic cookie” in SIP?

The “magic cookie” is a string of characters (z9hG4bK) that is used as a prefix for the branch parameter in the Via header field of SIP requests. This prefix helps identify and distinguish SIP requests from other protocols that might use a similar branch parameter format.

12. What is a Back-to-Back User Agent (B2BUA) server, and how does it differ from a SIP proxy?

A Back-to-Back User Agent (B2BUA) server is a logical SIP entity that acts as both a User Agent Client (UAC) and a User Agent Server (UAS) for different dialogues. Unlike a SIP proxy, which simply forwards requests and responses, a B2BUA interprets and modifies the SIP messages it receives before forwarding them.

B2BUAs maintain dialog state and are involved in all requests sent on the dialogs they have established. They can perform functions like media transcoding, protocol translation, and application-level gateway services.

13. How does SIP handle Dual-Tone Multi-Frequency (DTMF) signaling?

SIP can handle DTMF signaling in two ways:

  1. RTP Payload: DTMF tones can be transported as an RTP payload, providing accurate timing and alignment with RTP packets.
  2. SIP INFO Messages: SIP INFO messages can be used to carry DTMF information between User Agents.

Currently, there is no standardized solution within SIP for carrying DTMF signals, but several proposals and implementations exist.

14. Explain the difference between a SIP UPDATE request and a re-INVITE.

A SIP UPDATE request is used to modify session parameters, such as Quality of Service (QoS) or initial addresses and ports, before the final response to the INVITE request is generated. It allows for early negotiation of session parameters.

On the other hand, a re-INVITE request is used to modify the session parameters after the session has been established, such as adding or removing media streams, changing codecs, or modifying the session description.

15. What is the purpose of the Record-Route and Route header fields in SIP?

The Record-Route header field is inserted by SIP proxies (or B2BUAs) in a request to force future requests within the same dialog to be routed through that proxy. This enables the proxy to maintain state and provide services for the duration of the dialog.

The Route header field is used to force routing for a request through a specific set of proxies listed in the header field. It provides a way to override the default routing behavior and force requests to traverse specific proxies.

These questions cover a wide range of SIP concepts and scenarios, providing you with a solid foundation to excel in SIP-related interviews. Remember, practical experience and hands-on knowledge are invaluable assets when it comes to mastering SIP and its intricacies.


Mastering SIP interview questions is a crucial step towards securing a role in the VoIP industry or expanding your knowledge in this domain. By understanding the fundamental concepts, components, and protocols involved in SIP, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle even the most challenging interview questions.

Continuous learning and staying up-to-date with the latest developments in VoIP technology are essential for maintaining a competitive edge in this rapidly evolving field. Explore additional resources, participate in industry forums, and seek opportunities to gain practical experience with SIP implementations.

With dedication and a solid grasp of SIP concepts, you’ll be well on your way to unlocking new career opportunities and contributing to the ever-expanding world of multimedia communication over the internet.

SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) | Interview questions | Part – 2


What is SIP in interview?

A: SIP(Session Initiation Protocol) is a Signalling Protocol. It is. used to Initiate,Modify and Terminate session. It lies on Application. Layer.

What does SIP stand for in QA?

Session Initiation Protocol – SIP Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is a signaling protocol used for initiating, maintaining, modifying, and terminating real-time communications such as video, voice, messaging, and more between two or more endpoints on IP networks.

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