Curious about a Career in DevOps? How to Prep for Strong Interviews

Hired welcomes guest contributor Vyacheslav Nikitan, the Lead DevOps Trainer at NIX United, to share insights for those interested in a career as a DevOps specialist. 

Curious about a career in DevOps? How to Prep for Strong Interviews

Those who decide to pursue a career in DevOps do not always know what they want to do. They may not even be aware of the fundamental responsibilities of a systems administrator or a DevOps specialist. 

Basically, a DevOps specialist brings order to the software development cycle. They create processes and methodologies to balance needs and may surface tools to help. They facilitate the entire development lifespan from coding and deployment, to updates and maintenance.

In our field, the ability to independently search for missing information and constantly learn new things is essential and valuable. 

DevOps is a relatively new discipline. It has piqued people's interest for the past four or five years. Essentially, it is about IT for the sake of IT. DevOps specialists are involved in the automation and optimization of IT processes. 

Tasks are frequently related to automation, improvement, optimization, or the creation of something new from this perspective.

The direction of DevOps is toward modern technologies and approaches with diverse applications and utilities. So, if you're interested in this career, be prepared to constantly learn new things and keep up with what's going on in the DevOps world.

Our specialists must be versatile because the DevOps technology stack does not rely heavily on development technologies. They can work on various projects because DevOps principles are universal. 

As the IT industry continues to expand systems and migrate to cloud services, the demand for DevOps on these projects is increasing rapidly. At the same time, because the field is new, there aren't many experienced professionals available. 

For example, our team now requires approximately 20 DevOps specialists.

What do we pay attention to on a DevOps resume?

  • The first thing we look for in a resume is stability — how long the candidate has been with a particular team. 
  • We also consider the technology that the specialist is familiar with in practice. We must know how well a person understands certain technologies and whether they can be considered an expert in them.
  • DevOps specialists in our teams frequently communicate with foreign customers and client-side developers. As an outcome, the candidate should be fluent in English in order to communicate effectively.

Common interview topics and questions for DevOps specialists

You must be able to manually create infrastructure before learning how to automate infrastructure setup, deploy applications and their workspaces, and fulfill related duties.

That's the only way to fully comprehend how things work out there. 

We consider a variety of factors. We don't have control questions on which we make an immediate decision. Whether a candidate has sufficient skills or requires additional training is usually clear at the end of the interview.

Surprisingly, the simplest, most basic questions are frequently unanswerable by candidates. Few people realize how often ready-made solutions are obtained from the Internet. This is an indication of professional interest and trainability, in our opinion.

Even such basic questions often stump candidates:

  • How do I rename a file in the console?
  • Where do I look at logs in Linux?
  • How do you find a package in a repository?

Related: Looking to skill up? Hired partners can help with certifications, bootcamps, courses, and more!

Basic DevOp Specialist skills: what you need to know

  • The general OS structure and purpose of Linux directories
  • User permissions (OS user rights), groups, and access rights setup
  • Word processing, file management, process and service management, networking, timing, disk management, bash basics
  • Experience with Centos/Ubuntu package managers, installing packages from source
  • The principles of the web
  • Practical skills in installing and configuring nginx/apache web servers
  • Experience in installing popular CMSs such as WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal
  • The purpose, operating principles, and organization of DBMS MySQL, SQL queries, database backup and restore
  • The principles of mail and the purpose of mail protocols
  • Experience in configuring postfix/exim+dovecot+roundcube
  • The principles of DNS and the types of resource records and their purposes

Do I need to know how to write code for a career as a DevOps Specialist?

It is not necessary to know how to write code. However, it is a valuable skill for automating administrative tasks such as deploying an application, configuring the environment in which it must run, or configuring an entire infrastructure. DevOps coding skills will undoubtedly be useful in such situations.

Are you looking for a new role in DevOps or another tech subrole like engineering or data analyst? Complete a free profile and let employers come to you!

Useful resources to prepare for a DevOps Specialist interview

Linux basics:

Directory structure: 

Permissions:

Package management:

How the web works:

Web servers configuration:

Databases:

Mail: 

Vyacheslav Nikitan’s IT experience includes nine years as a system administrator and DevOps specialist. He works with AWS and Linux and trains newcomers in team settings at Nix United. 

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