Top 19 Apache Kafka Interview Questions With Sample Answers

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 30 September 2022

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.

Apache Kafka is an open-source, stream-processing platform that allows you to process large quantities of data quickly. It is a common tool for software developers and engineers, which is why you may expect questions about this tool if you have applied for a similar role. If you are preparing for a tech-related job interview, it might benefit you to learn how to answer interview questions about Apache Kafka. In this article, we list 19 Apache Kafka interview questions and provide sample answers to them, which you can use as inspiration while preparing for a job interview.

6 Apache Kafka interview questions with answers

A popular way to prepare for a software related job interview is to review common Apache Kafka interview questions and read sample answers to them. This way, you can understand why interviewers ask certain questions and how you can answer them. Here are six common questions about Kafka to consider:

1. What are some features of Apache Kafka?

During the first part of your job interview, the hiring manager may want to ask you more general questions about Apache Kafka. This allows them to determine your level of experience with it and decide what other questions they want to ask later in the interview. To demonstrate your technical knowledge and communication skills, answer in a concise and organised way by listing some key features and discussing why they are important.

Example: 'I think that some of the most important features of Apache Kafka are its scalability, data transformations capability and durability. Apache Kafka is scalable without downtime in four dimensions, which are event producers, processors, consumers and connectors. Thanks to the data transformations capability, it derives new data streams using the data streams from producers. When it comes to the durability, Apache Kafka uses Distributed commit log.'

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2. What is ZooKeeper? Is it possible to use Apache Kafka without it?

This question allows the interviewer to learn more about your experience. It also tests your problem-solving skills. When formulating your answer, make sure to explain your thought process to the interviewer, as it also demonstrates your work style, skills and experience.

Example: 'ZooKeeper is a highly functional software that acts as a centralised service and one that you can use to maintain naming and configuration data. It is also helpful for providing flexible synchronisation within distributed systems. ZooKeeper monitors Kafka topics, partitions and other elements.

ZooKeeper is necessary for connecting directly to the Kafka server. It is therefore impossible to use Kafka without it. Not being able to use ZooKeeper prevents you from servicing client requests.'

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3. What are some benefits and disadvantages of Kafka?

Your answer to this question tells the hiring manager if you have enough experience with the platform to work with it independently as soon as you start your new job. To prepare a good answer, list a few benefits and drawbacks of the platform. It is important that you discuss them objectively but show that you have experience taking advantage of the advantages and know how to work around the disadvantages.

Example: 'Some advantages of Apache Kafka include its low latency and high throughput. This makes it possible for Kafka to handle more messages of high volume and velocity. Thanks to one of its features, it provides resistant to node/machine failure within the cluster. With Kafka it is also not necessary to worry about multiple integrations because all the data that a producer writes goes directly through Kafka.

While Apache Kafka is a valuable tool with many benefits, it has some disadvantages that are not optimal for software development. One issue with it is that its performance decreases when you revise messages. This allows for few mistakes, which is unrealistic for our field. The programme performs exceptionally when fixing messages is not necessary. Another disadvantage of Kafka is that it does not have a complete set of monitoring tools, making it challenging to track the status of the programme.'

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4. What are consumers or users in Kafka?

Kafka, just like many software platforms and systems, has its unique terminology. An interviewer may want to ask you about some terms that the platform uses to determine if you can define what they mean. The way you answer this question also tells them if you have high potential for becoming a leader, since interns and less experienced team members may often ask you questions of this type.

Example: 'Consumers are client applications that subscribe to events that producers publish. In Kafka, each consumer is typically a part of a consumer group. This makes it possible for each group to subscribe to a specific topic and receive messages from a different subset of the partitions in that topic.'

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5. Explain what a partition is in Kafka.

Interviewers ask this question to further test your knowledge of Kafka. This particular question also goes more in-depth about Kafka, which means a good answer requires more experience. In this case, interviewers may look for a response that accurately and thoroughly describes what partitions are and how you can use them.

Example: 'Partitions are how you separate topics in Kafka. You can store and organise records in each partition. In Kafka, you attach an attribute to each record within a partition. Additionally, you can have several partitions in one topic. This is beneficial because it lets many users read the same topic at once. You can organise topics within partitions. This allows you to create groups of data in one topic among several brokers.'

6. How to start a new Kafka server?

Interviewers may want you to show them how you use your skills and knowledge of Kafka in practice. They may ask you more practical questions like this one or provide you with a computer or another device which you can use to perform various tasks and run commands. If that happens, make sure to explain what you are doing and what happens when you successfully enter each command. This way, you demonstrate your understanding of the system and how the platform works.

Example: 'Once you release and extract Kafka, it is necessary to start the Kafka environment by utilising ZooKeeper. To do that, you can run the command "$ bin/zookeeper-server-start.sh config/zookeeper.properties". Next, you run another command, which is "> bin/kafka-server-start-sh config/server.properties". This allows you to successfully start a new server in Kafka.'

Additional Apache Kafka interview questions

Apache Kafka is a complex platform, which means interviewers may want to ask you a round of questions about it during your software development interview. Here are some additional questions to review and prepare for:

  • Why do you want to work as a software developer?

  • How do you change retention time in Kafka?

  • What is fault tolerance in relation to Kafka?

  • What is the maximum size of a message that Kafka can receive?

  • What is Apache Kafka?

  • How do you start a server in Kafka?

  • Is it possible to integrate Kafka with other frameworks?

  • What are leaders and followers in Kafka?

  • What is the role of the Kafka Producer API?

  • When does QueueFullException occur in the Producer API?

  • What is multi-tenancy in Kafka?

  • How would you tune Kafka for optimal performance?

  • How do you view a Kafka message?

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Tips for preparing for a software developer interview

Reviewing questions and example answers to interview questions is one of various ways in which you can prepare for a job interview. Here are some other things you can do if you have applied for a role as a software developer:

Consider different types of questions

Interviewers usually ask aspiring software developers different questions about their personality, background, educations, skills and technical knowledge. You can prepare for them by carefully reviewing each type of questions. It is also beneficial to thoroughly research the company, as doing this may provide you with more insight into its history, plans, mission and goals.

Prepare your elevator pitch

A standard element of an IT or tech-related recruitment process is a phone interview. Typically, this is the first interview that a hiring manager may want to schedule with you if they feel like you might be the right candidate for the job. During the phone call, they are likely to ask you more general questions about yourself and your experience. Preparing an elevator pitch in which you would briefly discuss your background in relation to the job can impress them and show that you are ambitious and determined to get the job. As a part of the elevator pitch, you can also discuss a recent project you worked on.

Define your career goals

Knowing what you want to achieve in the field can help you present yourself as a decisive and serious candidate. It is important that you can meet the employer's requirements but also that the position is right for you. Defining your goals and making sure they align with that the company can offer you is a great way to prepare for an interview. For example, you can consider if there are any other programming languages that you would like to learn and ask about them in your interview to see if the employer can help you get additional training.

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

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