Question lists like these aren’t just useful for adjusting your interviews, but also for self-checks and assessments. Each company, team, and project often require a slightly more specialized expertise, which often leads to narrower interviews and “tunnel vision”. Looking at other people’s interview questions helps to review and adjust the questions and address the gaps, resulting in a more rounded interview and expertise.
Here a couple of recent Q&As with astronauts. First comes the interview with Scott Kelly, with a whole bunch of questions around his time in space. And secondly, a few tongue in cheek answers from several space men and women. I found this answer by Barry Wilmore particularly entertaining:
“You never know true beauty until you see Earth from space, or true terror until you hear someone knocking on the space station door from outside. You look through the porthole and see an astronaut, but all your crew is inside and accounted for. You use the comm to ask who it is and he says he’s Ramirez returning from a repair mission, but Ramirez is sitting right next to you in the command module and he’s just as confused as you are. When you tell the guy this over the radio he starts banging on the door louder and harder, begging you to let him in, saying he’s the real Ramirez. Meanwhile, the Ramirez inside with you is pleading to keep the airlock shut. It really puts life on Earth into perspective.”
Following the recent post “10 Favorite Job Interview Questions for Linux System Administrators“, here is a more generic, but a much more comprehensive resource – “101 Most Common Interview Questions with Pass or Fail Answers“. It’s not as technical, but it provides a good summary of common interview questions, from the generic ones like “Why do you want to leave your current company”, through brainteasers like “How many gas stations are there in the United States?”, to stress and communication ones like “What did you do when you had a boss you didn’t get along with?”. The good thing is that you’ll find not only the questions, but also the suggestions on how to answer them.
Altogether, it’s a great resource to go through before your next interview. Most of these questions are very common, no matter which position you are applying to.
As someone who interviews a lot of people (mostly for the web development positions though, not system administration), I’m always looking for more ideas on what to ask the candidates. Today I came across “10 Favorite Job Interview Questions for Linux System Administrators“, which has a few of bits that I liked.
First of all, this GitHub repository is super awesomeness. It also links to a few other resources with more questions and ideas. Not only for sysadmin interviews.
Then, this one is funny, yet somewhat challenging:
2. Name and describe a different Linux/Unix command for each letter of the alphabet. But also, describe how a common flush toilet works.
It also checks that you know the alphabet.
9. Print the content of a file backwards.
“I like broad questions where each person could give a different answer depending on their depth of knowledge. My personal answer is 8 characters not including the filename.” – Marc Merlin, Google.
This one caught me by surprise. My immediate thought was “tac some_file“, but that’s obviously not enough. tac only prints the lines in reverse order. Which is not the same as reversing the file. Perl to the rescue, but I wonder what’s the most elegant way to do it without the scripting language.
As always, interview questions are not only useful for the interviews. They are a good measure of your own knowledge gaps and habit pitfalls. This time was no exception.
Slashdot runs the interview with Larry Wall, the creator of Perl programming language. There is a wide variety of questions. Some are technical – about Perl 6, comparison to other programming languages (Python, PHP), Perl in the browser, etc. Some are more generic – what kind of tools Larry uses, and what are his thoughts on English being lingua franca of the computer world. The answers are often funny, yet very insightful.
You can actually see how it all took shape in the git source code repository, except for the very first day or so. It took about a day to get to be “self-hosting” so that I could start committing things into git using git itself, so the first day or so is hidden, but everything else is there. The work was clearly mostly during the day, but there’s a few midnight entries and a couple of 2 a.m. ones. The most interesting part is how quickly it took shape ; the very first commit in the git tree is not a lot of code, but it already did the basics – enough to commit itself. The trick wasn’t really so much the coding but coming up with how it organizes the data.
So I’d like to stress that while it really came together in just about ten days or so (at which point I did my first *kernel* commit using git), it wasn’t like it was some kind of mad dash of coding. The actual amount of that early code is actually fairly small, it all depended on getting the basic ideas right.
And, of course: HAPPY BIRTHDAY GIT! The world is a much better place with you.
The Insider’s Guide to PHP Interviewing – some good questions for PHP interviews. These are useful for self-testing as well, not only when you are looking for a new colleague.
A list of helpful front-end related questions you can use to interview potential candidates, test yourself or completely ignore.
This looks pretty awesome, both in the query mode and in the editor.