I was quite impressed by Joel's description of the hiring process, and we've been doing a lot of interviewing for System Admins lately. I put together a list of standard questions to ask during interviews, which has been quite helpful in judging a) how much technical knowledge people have, and b) (just as important) how good a match they are for the skills void we were trying to fill at the time. Here they are, for the next person who needs to perform a similar exercise.

  1. How many systems does your team manage (Linux, Solaris, Windows, etc.)?
  2. How large is your team?
  3. Which OS are you most comfortable/familiar with?
  4. Which Linux flavors are you most comfortable/familiar with?
  5. Which Red Hat versions are you familiar with?
  6. Are you familiar with kernel programming or configuration?
  7. Have you done any custom packaging or kickstarting?
  8. Have you used or managed Sun JumpStart?
  9. How much experience do you have with Sendmail?
  10. ... NetWorker? Version? Managing backups, or just configuring clients?
  11. ... LDAP? Brand & version? LDIF or just querying?
  12. ... firewalls (iptables, ipf, etc.)?
  13. ... network administration (Cisco, sniffing, etc.)?
  14. ... Apache httpd?
  15. ... Tomcat & Java?
  16. ... EMC (Clariion, PowerPath)?
  17. ... shell scripting, and with which shells?
  18. ... perl scripting?
  19. ... Veritas VM/FS? Versions?
  20. ... Veritas Cluster, or other HA? Versions?
  21. ... snapshots? In which products?
  22. ... load balancing
  23. ... Oracle (as SA, not DBA)?
  24. ... HPC?
  25. Please briefly explain the difference between RAID 1 and 5. What are layered RAID levels, and when are they appropriate?
  26. What sizable projects have you done recently?
  27. Why are you leaving your current employer / did you leave your last employer?
  28. Please give specific examples of some routine tasks you've performed recently.
  29. Have you done systems specification and design (servers, multi-server configurations)?
  30. Have you worked with customers directly, or primarily with/for other IT personnel?

It didn't make sense to publish a list of questions when I was involved in the interviewing process, but now that I'm leaving Rockefeller and no longer interviewing UNIX Admins for them, I can post my sample questions.