1. System Engineer Frequently Asked Questions:

Are you a systems engineer or a systems administrator? Why?
How does a clock work?
How did they build the Great Pyramid at Giza in Egypt?
Do you admire any systems? Which ones? Why?
What is an example of a new issue in systems engineering / admin? What impact does it have on how you practice?
What do you think are common mistakes managers make when dealing with systems professionals?
What is an all-too-common example of unethical behavior for a systems professional?
Can you name a systems thinker from history? What do you admire about them?

2. System Engineering Job Interview Questions:

Difference between telnet and ssh?
What do you need to do to start a service at startup?
What are different levels of RAID and what level will you use for a web server and database server?
Whats your favorite shell and why?
Describe the boot process of the Linux of your choice in as much detail as possible?
What debugging steps will you take when your manager tells you that the website is slow?

3. Tell me name all the arguments you can to lS and what they are good for?

This is basically how I ask, "How much have you used Unix?" Nobody ever knows all of the possible answers, so if you keep following up with "Good. What else?", you get a good chance to see how they say, "I don't know." Or how they won't say that.

4. Tell me if the day after we hire you, our site goes down and the rest of the team is out sick from food poisoning. The CEO rushes in and asks you to fix it. What do you do?

This is basically a role-playing game with the interviewer as dungeon master. It is a good chance to see how they think about systems, what sort of questions to ask, and how they handle being uncomfortable.

5. System Engineering Cultural Interview Questions:

Where do you want to be in 5 years? How does this job/role fit into that vision?
What would your last manager say about you? The good and the bad? How are you working to improve or mitigate the bad parts?
When have you had the most fun at work?
Tell me about a time you have gone over and above the call of duty.
Which project is your biggest success and why?
Have you ever read a book that made a big impact on you? What was it and what did you learn?
Do you consider yourself weird? Why or why not?

6. System Engineering Teamwork Interview Question:

How do you balance customer service skills and technical skills?
Have you ever had to create a schedule for a project? What was the project? How did it go? Did you always hit your deadlines? If not, what did you learn from the experience?
How do you like to work? By yourself, as a team? At home? At work? What are the conditions under which you do your best work?
Tell me about a time when you 'wowed' a customer.
Are there any coworker behaviors that really drive you crazy? How do you deal with them?
What makes you a great teammate? How do you think you could improve your soft skills to be an even better teammate?

7. System Engineering Technical Working problems and Questions:

You have an application running on its own server and you want to host it at www.globalguideline.com/newservice
What do you need to do so that when users go to that url it will resolve to the right host.
Write a script that will ping each of the following websites (insert list of 3-4 websites of your choice) and report the time they take to respond and then output these response to the screen.
It should do this every 10 seconds for a minute before terminating.

8. Can you explain what was the last piece of software you installed on a server? How did you do it? Had you done it before? Do updates/installs always go this smooth for you?

This should be a gimme question for most candidates. You are just looking for someone who installs things often and can tell you about it. Ideally they have some stories when things haven't worked as well and can share an anecdote about incompatible versions or something else interesting.

9. Tell me what are the pros and cons of using a cloud like Amazon?

Not all roles will require knowledge of cloud computing, but I would expect all engineers to have some opinions on these technologies and know some of the basics of what is offered. And I expect both pros and cons.

10. System Engineering Troubleshooting & Debugging Interview Questions:

What is the worst mistake you have made at work? How did you fix it? What did you learn from it?
Someone says the website is slow. How do you troubleshoot the problem? What steps do you take? At what point do you ask for help?
Write a regular expression that can find all the [ phone numbers | websites | emails addresses ] in a file?

Download Interview PDF