Are you preparing for your dream job as a systems designer for a high-profile corporation?
If you have been granted an interview, you have already attracted the attention of the hiring manager. However, this is the point where the work really starts, making sure you ace that interview.
But before that, it is important to do some background research on the company, paying close attention to the company culture. It is also a good idea to brush up on technical terms that are likely to be used during the interview.
So, let’s take a look at some common systems administrator interview questions and the best ways to answer them.
- Personal or Behavioral Interview Questions
- Which of Your Characteristics Make You a Great Systems Administrator?
- Describe an IT Support Experience That You Are Particularly Proud Of
- What is the Most Difficult IT Support Issue You Have Had to Resolve?
- Describe a Time When You Failed to Fix a Problem
- What is the Most Annoying Support Issue You Have Been Asked to Resolve?
- What Would You Do if You Were Called to Fix a Server in the Middle of the Night?
- How Do You Approach an Issue You Have Never Encountered Before?
- What is Your Position on Security?
- Systems Administrator Interview Questions – Technical or Operational
- How Do You Resolve an Issue when a Website is Down?
- What is the Difference is between Active Directory and LDAP?
- What are the Advantages of Running a Process Run in the Background?
- Why isn’t it a good idea to Restore a DC that Was Last Backed Up Seven Months Ago?
- Describe Your Experience with Hardware Components
- Describe Your Troubleshooting Process
- How Do You Tackle Shadow IT?
- What is DNS, and How Does it Run in the Network?
- Not Feeling Quite Prepared Yet?
- Final Thoughts
Personal or Behavioral Interview Questions
The interviewer will usually ask a series of behavioral questions at the start of the interview. These questions are designed to find out more about you as well as how you approach your job. It is important to answer these questions honestly and give working examples whenever possible.
Which of Your Characteristics Make You a Great Systems Administrator?
This is a typical behavioral interview question that is used to break the ice. When preparing for the interview, you should make a note of the skills and attributes mentioned in the job description. This will guide you to the things to highlight when answering this and other interview questions.
When answering the question, discuss two or three of your strongest characteristics. You should go on to explain how these characteristics help you to do your job. Ideally, you should complete the questions with an example of the successful implementation of these in the workplace.
Describe an IT Support Experience That You Are Particularly Proud Of
This general question allows you to talk about your career background and achievements. You should choose an accomplishment that you worked especially hard to achieve and had a significant impact on the company. Outline the steps that you took to make sure the experience was successful and how it helped the company.
What is the Most Difficult IT Support Issue You Have Had to Resolve?
This behavioral question is designed to reveal how you work when under pressure. No matter how challenging a task may be, you are willing to go the extra mile to achieve it. Choose an example that you can explain confidently and outline the main steps you took to resolve the issue.
Describe a Time When You Failed to Fix a Problem
This question is gauged to discover how candidates respond to adversity. Certain tasks can be very challenging, and it may not be possible to resolve them straight away. However, dedicated systems administrators need to be able to persevere.
Choose an example that allows you to paint yourself in the best possible light. Briefly describe the problem and why it was so difficult to fix. Explain how you eventually managed to fix it by researching the issue, utilizing different tools, or seeking assistance.
What is the Most Annoying Support Issue You Have Been Asked to Resolve?
This is a tricky question that will tell the interviewer a lot about your personality. It is important to demonstrate that you have the skills and professional attitude to overcome any type of situation. Becoming annoyed with other employees over a technical issue will cause problems within the working environment.
What Would You Do if You Were Called to Fix a Server in the Middle of the Night?
This behavioral question allows you to demonstrate your dedication and professionalism. No matter how tempting it may be, you cannot simply go back to sleep. Most systems administrators are expected to be on-call at all times to resolve technical issues.
In many cases, you should be able to diagnose and resolve the situation from home. It is always best to start by making sure you fully understand the situation. Clearly explain the steps you would take to resolve the issue and express a willingness to go into the office if necessary.
How Do You Approach an Issue You Have Never Encountered Before?
No matter how experienced and skilled you are, you are sure to encounter new issues at work. The way you handle this tells the interviewer a lot about your character. Explain the resources you use to make sure that you will be able to resolve it.
What is Your Position on Security?
Security is a rapidly growing issue for all levels of network security. The interviewer needs to determine how you best follow the security practices. You need to acknowledge the importance of this and the steps you take to tackle it.
Systems Administrator Interview Questions – Technical or Operational
Systems administrators need to have a lot of technical knowledge to successfully do the job. When answering these questions, try to make your explanations of technical terms as clear and simple as possible. This will demonstrate that you can explain them to employees who do not have an IT background.
How Do You Resolve an Issue when a Website is Down?
This is an operational question that is used to determine how you do your job. The first thing to ascertain is whether you are able to telnet to the port. If so, explain why this is so important and take the interviewer through the process step by step.
What is the Difference is between Active Directory and LDAP?
You need to explain this technical question clearly and concisely. Start by giving a brief definition of the two different terms. Go on to explain how each is used and the key similarities and differences.
What are the Advantages of Running a Process Run in the Background?
A simple question for a systems administrator, and the key is making sure your answer is clear. Your confidence in answering the question will indicate to the interviewer that you are qualified for the job. If possible, try to give a working example of how you have done this in the past.
Why isn’t it a good idea to Restore a DC that Was Last Backed Up Seven Months Ago?
It is important to begin this question by explaining what DC stands for and what it does. Systems administrators should be aware that backup files must not be older than 180 days. Make sure that you explain this clearly as well as the danger of backing up an old DC.
Describe Your Experience with Hardware Components
To be considered for a systems administrator role, you should have a lot of experience with hardware components. Your answer should mainly focus on installing and replacing different types of hardware components. In addition to outlining your experience, try to illustrate your answer with a direct example.
Describe Your Troubleshooting Process
It is important to answer this question confidently and clearly. You need to outline your troubleshooting process simply. Start by outlining the recommended five-step process, which is knowledge, observation, deduction, action, and testing.
How Do You Tackle Shadow IT?
This question is being asked to test your knowledge as well as how you perform different essential tasks. It is important to begin this by explaining what shadow IT is. You should then give a clear example of how you perform this task, drawing from previous experience if possible.
What is DNS, and How Does it Run in the Network?
You need to start by explaining what DNS stands for. Answer the question as clearly and concisely as possible, sticking to three or four sentences. You should also provide a working example of how you use DNS as part of your job.
Not Feeling Quite Prepared Yet?
Well, then let’s start with some online books that are available for some added insight. We’ve found that Networking for Systems Administrators, Time Management for System Administrators, AWS for System Administrators, as well as the Practice of System and Network Administration are particularly helpful.
Next, you’ll need a great resume which is why I’ve put together the following guides on my Most Important Skills To Put On A Resume, How To List References On A Resume, Achievements To List On Your Resume, How To Write An Introduction Letter, and How To List Education On A Resume in 2023.
Lastly, why not have a giggle with a System Administrator by Day Ninja by Night: Funny Gift Journal or an I’m A Dad And A System Administrator Nothing Scares Me: Funny Blank Lined Journal as a novelty gift.
You are likely to find that the systems administrator interview consists of several stages. You will probably be given a short screening interview over the phone, followed by an in-person interview with the hiring manager. The third and final stage is likely to be a panel interview with the hiring manager, the CEO, and other professionals.
It is important to remain focused through each stage of the interview process and maintain a positive attitude. Answer each of the questions to the best of your ability and show that you have the skills to do the job. You also need to prepare a series of questions that reveal your research and interest in the company.
All the very best with your Interview!