Hiring an IT System Administrator is a difficult task. You need to find someone who has the requisite skills for the position, while being the right personality fit for your company. The best way to weed out this person from your candidate pool is to ask the right interview questions. Read on for our favorite IT System Administrator Interview Questions:
What are the three attributes that make you a great systems administrator?
This question will allow you to see how self aware the candidate is. Someone who can speak well of themselves, and their accomplishments, is someone you want on your team.
What is your technical background?
Your IT System Administrator should be an expert in their field, and have the technical background to match. Become familiar with the certifications, and programs, that your new hire will need to know. Having someone who can come in with minimal to no training, and take over is more valuable than you know.
Let us say that you tried to fix a problem in the network, such as everyone's passwords no longer working, and your attempt fails. What would you do?
Your systems administrator should be able to look at this problem, and form a logical step by step process for how they would start to solve it. You also want to look for someone who is willing to experiment, and not afraid to fail. A systems administrator will often need to try multiple avenues before finding the solution, and a candidate who is not afraid to do some tinkering is essential.
The HTTP monitor says the website is down. You can telnet to the port. What do you do?
The answer to this question should outline exactly what the candidate would do to fix the problem initially, and how the candidate would make sure the problem wasn't a recurring one. A good systems administrator wants to fix problems for good, as opposed to having to continuously take care of them.
How have you used your OS knowledge to optimize networks in the past?
You are once again looking for the candidate's technical knowledge. A good answer to this question should include how they have managed data input and output, tracked files, and allocated resources such as RAM, CPU, and disk. However, these are just the basics. If they can provide a very specific example to how they have improved their past networks, this is ideal.
What do you do when your initial solution to a problem fails?
As previously mentioned, a systems administrator will often need to try multiple different solutions before finding the one that sticks. This process can be incredibly frustrating to many people. The perfect answer to this should include that the candidate realizes that this is part of the process, and moves on from it. Finding a candidate who can work well in this scenario is essential.
How would you handle a difficult client?
No one is immune from dealing with difficult people, not even systems administrators. People can often come to them with problems, and insist they be fixed immediately. Having someone who is collected enough to work with that person is essential for success. - via Charter Capital
Explain Domain Name System and reverse DNS.
Among all of the systems administrator questions, this one may seem like a very basic one. However, answering this question correctly can really distinguish the best candidate. The candidate should be able to explain that the DNS translates text to an IP address, and that there are root DNS servers that know which other DNS servers to ask to get an address. There are other ways to explain this, but the gist should be the same.
When you have to juggle different task of similar importance, how do you prioritize the work?
People will often ask their systems administrator to do a myriad of projects, and they can get extremely overwhelming. A great answer to this question would include parsing out the work into individual tasks, and then prioritizing level of importance from there.
What is the project you are most proud of?
This question will give you an idea of what your candidate has accomplished in the systems administrator world. It will also give you a glimpse into what operating system they are most skilled at, and how they go about completing projects.
These are just some of the questions you can ask during your systems administrator interview. Do you have any more? Have these worked for you?
Contact Baseplan Software Group, and let us know!