System administrators purchase, install, configure, and manage hardware and software in an enterprise data center. Many of them collaborate with other IT professionals to improve and optimize the infrastructure. To succeed, they need to have extensive technical knowledge and solid practical experience.
By brilliantly answering these 4 critical system administrator interview questions, or variations, during a job interview, you will have no trouble distinguishing yourself from other candidates.
What is your technical background?
Given the diversity of system administrator roles, the levels of study required to vary. As a rule, a system administrator position requires strong computer skills, so a master’s degree in computer science seems a minimum. Some companies need necessary certifications or certifications associated with a specific technology, such as Microsoft Certified Professional or VMware Certified Associate – Data Center Virtualization (VCA-DCV).
Although there are no fixed answers to this question, identify your gaps and be ready to discuss them. If you do not hold a specific certification, do you have a similar or equivalent experience? For example, if the ad refers to “VMware Certified Professional 5 – Data Center Virtualization” and you have a VCA-DCV certification, share your expertise and cite projects that required similar skills.
Before the interview, check that all your certifications are up-to-date and that your contact information stored in the certification provider’s database is correct. Potential employers do not hesitate to check certifications with Microsoft, VMware, and other companies. Obsolete, old, or contradictory information arouses suspicion.
Also, take advantage of this question to show your way of unlocking business value and ability. When describing your education and certifications, describe the role played by each degree and emphasize the strategic benefits that each educational investment has brought you.
What is your experience with operating systems and services?
Because system administrators are responsible for configuring, optimizing, and maintaining servers and devices, maintenance will inevitably address server hardware (operating systems such as Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2, hypervisors such as VMware vSphere) and the perimeter of network services that you have managed, such as Active Directory, Domain Name System (DNS), Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), Virtual Private Networks, and so on.
Employers like to get an idea of your knowledge and your mastery of the technologies that underpin their IT infrastructure. Formulate your answer as if you were describing a standard day. Talk about the tasks you do and all the specific projects you do: testing and installing OS patches or managing server upgrades to Windows Server 2012 R2, for example.
Do not worry if your experience does not exactly match each of the required criteria, because the secondary skills can be reinforced after taking office.
What is the most difficult problem you have had to solve so far?
This is a weighty argument that risks tipping the scales. System administrators must be troubleshooting pros, able to identify and resolve hardware, software, network, service, and application issues.
Some interviews provide a short troubleshooting test in which candidates must prove themselves against a common problem situation. Take an advantage of recent experience to highlight your diagnostic procedure and your expertise in this field. Using a single example, you can explain how to identify a problem, use system logs to narrow the problem, test performance with common tools like PerfMon, use PowerShell to query or modify configuration data, and any other subsequent step is leading to the resolution of the problem.
Show a potential employer that you are making sense and know how to use diagnostic tools to solve problems. And also present the restore features as quickly as possible. Highlight the methods used to ensure the availability of applications and services during the process: migrating workloads out of faulty server devices, for example.
We are currently virtualizing our server farm. How would you handle this process?
Do not be fooled by this type of question. While virtualization is a significant technological advance, system administrators must have a solid knowledge of hypervisors. So, highlight your expertise in the use of the most common hypervisors (such as Hyper-V or as VMware for example). Or you can also highlightthe management of mixed systems (physical and virtualized) as well as remote.
But do not stay here.
This question invites you to discuss strategy rather than pure technology. Explain how, as a manager, you would be able to justify, organize, and deploy new technology in the data centre. This is how IT can offer cost-effective and profitable services that will ensure the competitiveness of the company.
You have an excellent opportunity to showcase your managerial skills. Discuss topics such as evaluating hypervisors, identifying workloads to virtualize, decisions to test performance and protecting workloads. And this ultimately gets the most out of virtualization from the users’ point of view than that of the company.