Interview Questions For System Administrators (With Answers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 7 December 2022

Published 1 May 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.

System administrators manage the daily operations of computer systems networks and ensure that the company's server and client systems perform optimally and remain secure. Job interviews for system administrators can include a variety of technical, analytical and soft skills-based questions. Reviewing some system administrator questions that interviewers commonly can help you prepare for the interview and increase your chances of success. In this article, we look at 12 common interview questions for system administrators and share their sample answers to help you prepare for the interview.

12 Interview Questions For System Administrators

Here are 12 interview questions for system administrators and their sample answers:

1. How has your previous system administration position prepared you for this job?

This question gives you the opportunity to describe your previous experience as a system administrator. You can explain what you have done to prepare for this job if you are an entry-level candidate or have other professional experience. You can also discuss the most significant learning from your previous system administration job that led you to apply for this position.

Example answer: "I have extensive knowledge of networks and hardware. I gained experience in troubleshooting network problems, backing up, restoring and recovering data at my previous job. Understanding the fundamentals of system administration has prepared me for any type of system administration task. I also have experience managing access, permissions and user management."

Related: How To Become A System Administrator: A Complete Guide

2. What are GPOs?

This is a frequently asked question during system administrator interviews. Usually, the hiring manager asks this question to assess your basic technical knowledge. You can start your answer with its full form and explain the concept.

Example answer: “GPO stands for group policy objects, which are the settings that control the work environment of user accounts and computer accounts. It can either be non-local or local, stored on a domain controller or an individual computer, respectively.”

3. Explain forests, trees and domains.

The interviewer often asks this question to ascertain your understanding of fundamental technical concepts in system administration. This question allows you to show your familiarity with domain and network objects. While answering, explain forests, trees and domains in simple terms.

Example answer: "All three, forests, trees and domains are logical divisions of an active directory network. Though a domain is a logical set of network objects that share the same active directory database. The tree is an adjoining collection of domains that originate from a root domain and share a common namespace. A forest is at the top of this hierarchy; it is a set of root domains that do not share a common namespace."

4. How do you work and accomplish tasks under pressure?

A system administrator may have to work in a high-pressure environment, particularly just before the launch of a project and when there are unexpected errors or performance issues. When asking this question, the hiring manager is usually trying to evaluate if you can carry out your job function when things become hectic, or the deadlines are strict. Before your interview, reflect on how you have performed in stressful situations. Use these assessments to answer this question clearly and explain real-life examples.

Example answer: “While pressure can be intimidating for many people, it works as motivation for me. When the workflow gets hectic, the pressure helps me to work at a quicker pace and accomplish my goals. Even in situations where things may have gone wrong and the team is under much pressure to make up for an error or miscommunication, I always stay patient, prioritise task and work to overcome the pressure with the team.”

Related: Different Types Of Interviews And How To Prepare For Them

5. Explain what IntelliMirror does.

Many system administrator interview questions can test the basis of your knowledge of the field rather than enquiring about your experience. In response to this question, you can define its usage and explain its benefits.

Example answer: “IntelliMirror helps reconcile desktop settings, applications and stored files for users. It is beneficial for users who frequently move between workstations and users who work offline. I have configured many such workstation environments on the server to enable users to manage their data."

6. What are the roles of flexible single master operations (FSMO)?

This is another question to assess your technical skills. This question has a clear and specific answer. But, you can also take this opportunity to show your knowledge in this area. Consider mentioning the role of forests in response to this question.

Example answer: “Some of the roles of FSMOs are that it serves as—schema master and domain naming master—both of which are available only on each forest. It also acts as infrastructure master, RID master and PDC.”

7. An HTTP monitor shows that a website is down, and you can telnet to the port. How do you resolve the issue?

The recruiter or hiring manager wants to assess your problem-solving, technical and analytical skills by asking this question. In your response, you can include a step-by-step process of how you would identify the source of the issue.

Example: “If the web page is up, I would work on figuring out what is wrong with the monitor. Among other potential issues, it could be flapping or perhaps indicate a system overload. I would make sure to identify the cause also so I can work to prevent it in the future.”

Related: Top 50 ASP.NET Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

8. What is the sysvol folder?

A hiring manager can ask this question to assess your understanding of managing domain controllers. While answering this question, explain what is a sysvol folder and focus on elaborating its purpose and use cases.

Example answer: “Sysvol folder is a type of shared folder that exists on all domain controllers (DC), and it stores important group policies information. In simpler words, it contains the domain's public files, and the users can access it. The file replication service permits the replication of the sysvol folder to DC. Its key feature is to provide policy and login scripts to the domain members.”

9. What is IP spoofing, and how can we prevent it?

This question helps a hiring manager to evaluate your knowledge of cyber-attacks and your approach to preventing those attacks. While answering, you can explain IP spoofing and then describe how to prevent it.

Example answer: “IP spoofing is a type of cyber attack that hackers may use to gain unauthorised access to a system. Here, the attacker sends the message to the computer via a false IP source that the message is coming from a trusted source or host. To prevent this, we can perform packet filtering on the network using specialised routers and firewalls that only allow packets with recognised formats to enter.”

Related: How To Become A Network Engineer: A Complete Guide

10. What is garbage collection?

A hiring manager can ask you this question to test your understanding of garbage collection and its purpose. You can define garbage collection and mention its uses in your response to this question.

Example answer: “Garbage collection is the process of cleaning up memory that is no longer in use. It is a form of automatic memory management. One of the most significant benefits of garbage collection is that it relieves the user from facing memory deallocation. Garbage collection is more common in higher-level programming languages, and it does not handle resources other than memory.”

11. What is the working of traceroute, and what protocol does it use?

Asking this question can help the hiring manager assess your technical knowledge of the routing system and network pathways. You can answer this question by explaining its use and how it works.

Example answer: “A traceroute is a network diagnostic tool used to identify the path that the data will take to reach its destination, without actually sending the data. It works by transmitting internet control message protocol (ICMP) packets to each router involved in the data transfer. The ICMP packets indicate whether the routers used in the transmission can effectively transmit the data. It uses ICMP protocol and also has the ability to use the first step of the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) to send the SYN requests for the response.”

12. What skills make you a strong candidate for the system administrator?

The hiring manager may ask this question to check your self-awareness and confidence. It also helps them identify your values, career goals and priorities. Consider providing an answer that aligns with the key requirements of the job description. Explain your strengths, soft skills and any attributes that correspond to the company's culture.

Example answer: "Being an analytical thinker, I always try to find the reason for any issue or errors to prevent it from happening again. I am also a strong communicator and can share clear and accurate insight. Possessing these characteristics helps me perform the system administrator role accurately and reliably."

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


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