[nSLUG] Interview questions

Robert McKay robert at mckay.com
Mon Oct 22 14:53:32 ADT 2007

On 10/22/07, Bill Davidson <billdavidson at eastlink.ca> wrote:
> Hi:
> I have always hated job interviews, but now I find myself in the
> unfamiliar position of having to conduct one.  I have been asked to
> handle the technical parts of a couple of interviews for Unix/Linux
> sysadmin positions.
> What are you favourite interview questions?  What best distinguish a
> competent or experienced dullard from someone with a strong and deep
> understanding of unix?  Is there some technical question you were once
> asked in a interview (or elsewhere) that made you stop and think?  What
> question could you be asked (or would you ask of another), the answer to
> which would summarize all the best qulities of a really good sysadmin?
> Or at the very least, what can I ask so that I don't look like an idiot?

After asking here, perhaps the first question should be "Are you
subscribed to the nSLUG mailing list?" :-)

Here are some fairly basic questions you could try...

Q: How do you kill a zombie
A: Zombies are already dead and merely exist as a placeholder for the
exit code (all other resources have already been released). The zombie
will disappear when it's parent wait's for it's return code.

Q: How do you kill a process in uninterruptable sleep?
A: You can't. It will receive the signal once it leaves uninterruptable sleep.

Q: How do you set a program's scheduling priority
A: nice

Q: How do you suspend a process?
A: kill -STOP <pid>

Q: How do you resume a stopped process?
A: kill -CONT <pid>

Q: What effect does the group sticky bit have when set on a directory?
A: Causes all files created in the directory to have the same group as
the directory.

Q: How do you increase the maximum shared memory segment size?
A: /sbin/sysctl -w kernel.shmmax=<newsize>

Q: How would you check the available free disk space on the root partition?
A: df /

Q: How would you find the amount of RAM in a system
A: free

Q: How would you find out what processor was in a system
A: cat /proc/cpuinfo

Q: How would you list all the network interfaces on a system
A: ifconfig -a

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