17 Active Directory Interview Questions And Example Answers

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 3 February 2023

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Microsoft's Active Directory (AD) is a tool used by networking specialists and IT professionals to manage computer networks and create useful networking solutions for companies. You may encounter questions related to Active Directory when you interview for network administration roles. If you are interested in a career in networking, it may be beneficial for you to understand the kind of questions interviewers may ask and how to best answer them. In this article, we provide some sample questions on Active Directory that you might encounter in a job interview and example answers for a few of them.

6 Common Active Directory Interview Questions And Answers

Consider these common Active Directory questions and their sample answers to help you prepare for your interview:

1. What is Active Directory?

Active Directory is a key technology for IT professionals who maintain or manage computer networks. You can use your response to show the hiring manager your practical knowledge of this technology. Keep your response brief, but highlight crucial features, specifications and functions.

Example: “Microsoft developed Active Directory as a technology to create directory services for different components of a computer or server network. You can use Active Directory to store data associated with users, computers, shared folders, printers and network information. Active Directory manages this information and provides access to administrators and users of a network.

I can use Active Directory to manage my network in the Windows domain via a centralised system of administration. Its authentication process for logging in and access control for resources enable me to manage my network safely.”

Related: What Does an IT Professional Do? Duties and Requirements

2. How would you react to a coworker's criticism about your use of Active Directory?

As a professional in network administration or network security, you may often manage conflicts professionally. Your response can show the hiring manager that you can function effectively on a team and handle interpersonal conflicts. You can describe the behavioural process that you would use to manage this conflict.

Example: “If a coworker criticises my use of Active Directory, I would try to understand their perspective in greater detail. I would ask relevant questions and encourage them to expand on their point or concern. This can demonstrate that I value their opinion and hence, enable them to talk freely and honestly to me regarding work-related matters. After understanding the concerns, I would brief my team leader about the conflict and ask for advice.

I may also try to understand the extent of their knowledge in Active Directory to identify potential areas for improvement and skill development. If they suggest or introduce new methodologies, workflows or tools which can speed up my work or improve its efficiency, I would request them to share their knowledge. I would then put these skills and resources to practise and develop my competence in the software."

Related: How to Provide Constructive Criticism in the Workplace

3. What are the key changes in the 2012 version of Active Directory?

The Windows Server 2012 version of Active Directory introduced several improvements to the technology, which an ideal job candidate may know to use effectively. Your answer indicates whether you know how this technology has developed. You can identify the major changes in the 2012 version and specify how these changes impact your usage.

Example: “The 2012 version of Active Directory introduced major changes in architecture and usage. Enabling the recycle bin function is easier in the new version, as there are many methods to use this function through the Active Directory Administrative Center.

The change in the fine-grain password format is another key change that allows me to set multiple policies for password creation in a single domain, which was not possible in the earlier version. The improved wizard in the domain controller promoter is another change that simplifies the installation process, as I can now see all the steps and get detailed results. The new capability of using the history viewer in the Windows PowerShell to see the PowerShell commands lets me keep track of my actions in the Active Directory Administrative Center."

Related: 10 PowerShell Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

4. What do the terms tree, forest, domain, schema and domain controller refer to in Active Directory?

An interviewer may want to understand how well you can use the features and characteristics of AD's architecture. Your response to this question can indicate that you have experience and expertise in using the elements of AD's architecture effectively. Try to provide a technical definition and define any additional technical terms that may come up in your definition.

Example: “In Active Directory, if a collection of domains are arranged in a hierarchy and share a namespace, they are collectively referred to as a tree. A collection of trees is referred to as a forest. Trees within the same forest may share many attributes and resources, like directory schema and configuration, global catalogue and logical structure.

When you create a class object in a forest, the schema is the component that provides a definition to the object. It creates and stores the rules, attributes and references for objects in the Active Directory database. Schema can be interpreted as a type of working drawing that creates different components together through well-defined properties, functions and relations.

A domain controller keeps the Active Directory database running during operations. It authorises and authenticates users based on the information in a particular database. Domain controllers are also responsible for replicating data across Active Directory databases.”

5. Describe LDAP and Kerberos.

LDAP stands for Lightweight Directory Access Protocol. Along with Kerberos, it is a major protocol for supporting Active Directory functions and services. Your answer can illustrate your knowledge and proficiency in using these protocols effectively. You can start your answer by defining the protocols and go on to explain how they work.

Example: “The Lightweight Directory Access Protocol or LDAP can be utilised to update and query Active Directory. Essentially, it allows me to talk to the directory and can be used in conjunction with other directory services like Apache Domain Services. There are two naming paths used by the LDAP protocol - Distinguished and Relative Distinguished names. Kerberos is an internal component of Active directory and can be used if you have Active Directory Domain Services installed. It authenticates all the users of a particular network.”

6. What is a PDC Emulator, and how can you find out if it is working?

Interviewers may ask you such questions to assess your knowledge of the fundamental components of Active Directory. Your answer can illustrate the extent of your expertise and experience in using these key components. Start with a definition and detail out the process that you use to verify its working status.

Example: “PDC stands for Primary Domain Controller. A PDC Emulator is a domain controller with specific and unique functions. For example, when there is a failed attempt at authorisation in a database, the information is sent to the PDC emulator which can then go through the latest passwords and verify user input to grant or deny access. The PDC emulator also maintains the clock for a system or database.

There are a few ways to check if the emulator is functioning as required. Firstly, you can try to verify if time is synced across a particular domain and see if users are able to lock their accounts without any issues. You can also check if the Backup Domain Controllers or BDCs for Windows are getting updates as required. If any of these conditions are false, then you can deduce that the PDC emulator is not working.”

Related: Top 50 Network Interview Questions and Answers

Additional Active Directory interview questions

Here are some additional Active Directory interview questions:

  1. Describe Authoritative restore and Non-Authoritative restore. How can they be used?

  2. What is SYSVOL, and how is it used in your work?

  3. Among admin groups, how are domain groups and enterprise groups different?

  4. What does system state data contain?

  5. What other folders in a computer are related to Active Directory?

  6. Define a lingering object.

  7. What do you mean by Tombstone Lifetime and how is it significant in Active Directory?

  8. Define Child Domain Controller.

  9. Define RID Master.

  10. What are the two fundamental components of Active Directory?

  11. In Active Directory, what do you mean by Infrastructure Master?

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.


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