Interviewing for VMware vSphere Support Engineer job role. Part 1: General IT awareness and interest in the technology

This is Part 1 of ‘Interviewing for VMware vSphere Support Engineer job role’ series of posts, which were described in my previous post here.

In this post I will summarize the questions I ask when I want to understand if candidate has basic understanding of IT and if (s)he is motivated to work with VMware technology. I will write down the question and, then, will add some comments on it. No answers though.

 

Now, I should mention that in my team we are interviewing all kinds of people. Some of the questions I am asking are really basic, and sometimes, if candidate is experienced enough (s)he is even confused by how simple those are. Still, I don’t think it’s a correct approach to ask for example “What is the default PSP for IBM SVC in vSphere 5.5” as the first question of an interview.  It is up to interviewer to identify the knowledge level of the candidate based on several basic questions.

 

General IT awareness.

So lets start with general IT awareness. Questions are simple here.

Note: This article just lists the question, it does not show in which order they should be asked. It is fully up to the interviewer.

 

Question: What is a VLAN?

Asking this question I do not expect the candidate to bring me the exact definition of VLAN from Wikipedia. What I expect is the candidate to explain in their words what VLAN is, how  she thinks it works and what are the use cases for using VLAN tagging.

Scenario:
There are 3 computers on the network:
Computer 1 – 192.168.1.153/255.255.255.0
Computer 2 – 192.168.1.178/24
Computer 3 – 192.168.0.168/255.255.255.0
Can these 3 computers communicated with each other? Describe all options.

Using this simple scenario I am trying to identify if candidate has basic understanding of networking.

Question: What is the purpose of Default Gateway?

Checking basic understanding of routing.

Question: Explain the difference between SAN and NAS.

You will be surprised, but most of the candidates are giving wrong answer to this question. Based on their response, I am asking my next question.

Question: iSCSI, is it SAN or NAS?

Not much to say here.

Question: What is RAID? What’s the difference between RAID0, RAID1 and RAID10

In the virtualization world, it is important to have good understanding of storage.

Question: What is the command to list contents of a directory in *NIX based systems?

This question checks, if the candidate has any experience with Linux. Knowing basic Linux commands is useful when working with the ESXi command line.

Question: Have you ever used vi editor? If yes, what is the key combination to save the file and quit the editor?

Checking experience of using vi editor.

Technology awareness

Now, together with general IT knowledge, we need to check, if the candidate is interested in Virtualization technology. These questions also help us understand, if candidate is motivated to learn.

Question: How were you preparing for this interview? What videos did you watch, articles or blogs read?

Goal of this question is to see if the candidate prepared well for the interview. If (s)he spent some time preparing it shows a certain level of motivation.

Question: How would you define Virtualization? What advantages and disadvantages it brings?

This question will show what the candidate learnt during watching videos and reading blogs.

Question: What other Virtualization technologies are there except VMware vSphere?

Checking if candidate is aware of alternatives.

Question: whats the latest version of VMware vSphere?

Checking if candidate is up to date with VMware technology.

Question: what other products of VMware you know except for VMware vSphere? What is the purpose of those? Have you used any of those products before?

Same as previous question.

Conclusion

These are question I use most to identify, if the candidate has general IT awareness. This is definitely not an overwhelming list of possible questions. But remember, these questions are supposed to help you identify the level of the candidate. That level will help you to decide level of technical questions you can afford to ask.

Note: Be careful with planning your interview. Answers to this questions can be very short and to the point, but most of the time those will take longer.

 

In Part 2, I will list technical questions I use, to interview Junior level engineers.

Update 1: Added reference to Overview post.

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Aram Avetisyan is an IT specialist with more than 15 years experience. He has rich background in various IT related fields like Cloud, Virtualization, SDN, Disaster Recovery, and so on. He holds several industry level certifications including but not limited to VCIX6-DCV, VCIX6-NV, VCAP-CIA. As VCI Aram is delivering VMware authorised courses. For his contribution to the community, he was recognised as vEXPERT in years 2014, 2015 and 2016.

About Aram Avetisyan

Aram Avetisyan is an IT specialist with more than 15 years experience. He has rich background in various IT related fields like Cloud, Virtualization, SDN, Disaster Recovery, and so on. He holds several industry level certifications including but not limited to VCIX6-DCV, VCIX6-NV, VCAP-CIA. As VCI Aram is delivering VMware authorised courses. For his contribution to the community, he was recognised as vEXPERT in years 2014, 2015 and 2016.

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7 Comments

  1. Pingback: Interviewing for VMware vSphere Support Engineer job role: Overview - The Virtualist

  2. Nice article, however I find those questions bit silly. I would ask them for L2 Admin. I am not sure what is for you support engineer. If you mean to ask those question for an Engineer than they are too easy imho.

    • Hello Wojcieh,
      Thanks for the comment. I understand your concern, I guess i need to mention in the post that this article is just part of series of articles. take a look on the overview which I posted last week. http://www.thevirtualist.org/interviewing-for-vmware-vsphere-support-engineer-job-role-overview/
      Idea is that these are just, questions to identify if the candidate is even worth to be interviewed. This is not the full interview.

    • The questions are indeed quite simple. But this is to span whole set of firms and situations – for some it’s common to attract junior applicants and offer up-skilling programs as the employee baseline is broad and experienced enough to afford it. Such a company may prefer hiring juniors for a better price with not so high expectations for held skills and experience preferring growth potential and motivation of the candidate instead.

  3. Pingback: Interviewing for VMware vSphere Support Engineer job role. Part 2: Junior engineer - The Virtualist

  4. Pingback: Interviewing for VMware vSphere Support Engineer job role Series on TheVirtualist.org - How2VM

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