60 Examples of UNIX interview Questions (With Answers)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 12 March 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.

The UNIX operating system uses a suite of programs to help a computer work and is designed to complete multitasking and multi-user functions efficiently. Developers and engineers use this operating system to deploy multiple applications for businesses to achieve their goals. Developers can benefit from understanding the business goals of their coworkers to help their colleagues execute projects that benefit customers. In this article, we outline the key questions you may need to know when interviewing for a UNIX position and provide three ways to prepare for your interview.

Related: What Is a Web Application? Definition and How It Works

Common UNIX Interview Questions

Here are some questions you may receive during an interview, with sample questions for each of them:

1. How do you handle stress when interacting with customers?

Stress is a multifaceted component of many positions, and employers want to know if you can perform the job responsibilities under pressure. This also gauges the interviewers' viewpoint on how you fit in the company's culture, along with your situational analysis when interacting with customers.

Example: “Communication is pivotal in working as a developer because it is important to get codes and sequences correct the first time. In the event I have a question for my manager or senior developer, I will ask and double-check if necessary. In my previous position, my manager held weekly meetings so we could communicate key questions and talking points relevant to our projects. This helped us stay on track and prevented lags in our workflows. Overall, over-communicating and getting it right the first time is essential to meeting business objectives and keeping customers happy with our services.”

Related: Customer Satisfaction: How To Measure and Tips for Improvement

2. What type of management style do you prefer?

The interviewer needs to know how you would prefer to communicate, especially in crisis-management scenarios. Your response should complement how you want to communicate with your manager and receive feedback on your work.

Example: “I am a hands-on learner when it comes to mastering new concepts and applying them. Having my manager ensure that I did my work correctly the first time gives me the go-ahead to repeat the process and troubleshoot when necessary. Once I have a better grasp of my work, then I feel more comfortable presenting and communicating with customers.”

Related: 10 Common Leadership Styles

3. What are the positive and negative managerial experiences you have had?

This is an opportunity to elaborate on your answer to the question above to align it with a real-world example. This answer can help the interviewer decide if you will work well with the hiring manager for this role.

Example: “My previous manager typically gave direct answers to feedback, but there were no action items on how to improve my skill set. While he made our goals and objectives clear, I was looking for how the accomplishment of our goals tied with career development. Based on the job responsibilities, I think this opportunity presents a chance for me to work with a manager who prioritises professional development in addition to reaching the company's goals.”

4. Why are you leaving your current position?

The point of this question is to determine what you are looking for in a new position. Employers want to see if you are a good fit for their company. Hiring and training new professionals can be costly and time-consuming, so employers assess your abilities to do well within the organisation before they hire you. Answer honestly about what you are looking for in a new position without going into detail about the negative aspects of your previous position.

Example: "I learned a lot at my previous company, but I am looking to continue to learn and grow in the industry with new clients and experiences. This position matches well with my current skill set and can present a welcome challenge."

Related: How To Answer the Question “Why Do You Want To Leave Your Current Job?” (With Sample Answers)

5. Name a few significant features of UNIX.

This question is to determine how familiar with the operating system you are. When answering this question, provide the most concise and accurate answer you can to show that you are comfortable using UNIX.

Example: "One of the most significant features of UNIX is that it is hardware-independent. It supports multi-user operations and has a hierarchical file system. Some other important features include UNIX Shells, pipes and filters, utilities and development tools."

55 Additional Interview Questions For A UNIX Role

Here is a list of more questions you may receive during an interview:

  1. Describe how to link two files in UNIX.

  2. Can you write a command that erases all files in the current directory?

  3. What is a hard link?

  4. Explain a symbolic link.

  5. Describe the purpose and function of pipes in UNIX

  6. Are you familiar with shell scripting?

  7. Can you explain how you would separate grep and egrep?

  8. Can you name the three standard streams in shell scripting?

  9. Explain your understanding of filters.

  10. How would you format a command in shell?

  11. What is Kernel?

  12. What are the key functions of Korn Shell?

  13. Can you explain the difference between multi-user and multitask?

  14. Explain a command substitution.

  15. What is inode?

  16. Describe the files systems in UNIX.

  17. If you have a file called orange in the directory called apple, and you add new material to orange, what changes take place in the directory and file?

  18. What is the difference between a relative path and an absolute path?

  19. Are directories important?

  20. What are the responsibilities of the shell?

  21. What are the variables of the shell?

  22. What are the network commands in UNIX that you use the most?

  23. Can you explain the difference between the cmp and diff commands?

  24. How would you combine two or more commands?

  25. How would you grant access to a superuser?

  26. Can you explain how to view a process while it is being executed?

  27. Explain the naming convention you use for files in UNIX.

  28. Under what circumstance would you use the tee command?

  29. What would you recommend to a user who wanted to use root as the default login?

  30. Can you explain the difference between the cat and the "from more" command?

  31. What is the process ID?

  32. What is the purpose of the enter or return key in a command?

  33. Can you give an example of a command syntax that displays files in the current directory?

  34. How would you find out which operating system you are using in UNIX?

  35. Explain your process for finding out if a remote host is alive or not?

  36. Explain how you would copy a file from one host to another?

  37. Can you explain the difference between swapping and paging?

  38. Can you find all the users who have currently logged in? What command would you use?

  39. What is a file?

  40. Have you ever had to change permission for a file? How did you do it?

  41. Can you name the different wild cards in UNIX?

  42. How often should you clean the disk space when monitoring usage?

  43. If you had to explain UNIX to a new trainee, how would you do it?

  44. How would you find a process and kill it?

  45. Can you run a program in the background?

  46. What is the usage or the command “rm –r *”?

  47. How would you list files and folders in alphabetical order?

  48. Explain FIFO.

  49. What are the seven different file types available in UNIX?

  50. How would you find today's date?

  51. Can you describe the function of the command "Gzip"?

  52. How would you display the last line of a file?

  53. Under what circumstances would you suggest executing processes in the background?

  54. How would you find a hidden file in the current directory?

  55. Why should we hire you?

How To Prepare For A UNIX Interview

You can follow these steps to prepare for a UNIX interview

1. Do your research on the company

Before you go in for your interview, do some background research on the company. Find out what their company mission is and some facts about their history, so you can be familiar with what they may expect of you as an employee. Doing your research can also help you come up with some questions to ask your interviewer, which can make you look interested and analytical.

2. Practise interview questions with a friend

If you are nervous about your interview answers, try practising with a friend. Have someone ask you questions and provide feedback to you. Thinking of generic answers to frequently asked questions can help you feel more prepared. You can think of the best way to present yourself, instead of relying on your instinctual answers during the interview. Preparing beforehand can also help you appear calm and confident when being interviewed.

Related: How to Prepare and Practise for a Mock Interview

3. Review your application materials

Your interviewer may have questions about your previous experience and your CV. Review your application materials before the interview so you can reference them when asking questions. Looking over your previous work can also help you remember examples of your experience you can use to showcase your skills. For example, if your interviewer asks you about a challenging experience, you can refer to an experience from your CV to explain overcoming challenges to deliver a superior product.


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