5 DevOps Strategic Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

DevOps is often associated with leading-edge projects, mastering DevOps isn’t only about innovating on the ‘cool’ technologies faster, it is also about building the capabilities to perform modern application development across the board. DevOps is a thriving sector, but how can jobseekers prepare for a DevOps interview? Here are some questions to consider if you are apply for such a role:

1. “Can you describe a previous success within your DevOps experience?”

Being able to illustrate your big picture understanding of DevOps with a particular project or team experience is incredibly useful in an interview setting. It lets the hiring team know that you are the real deal, rather than someone who’s just littering their résumé with a bunch of DevOps-oriented catchphrases and hoping for the best.

Even if you have not had significant real-world DevOps experience, try to put your past experience in the best light and ensure that you can connect your individual contributions to the broader team and business.

Bring up projects in which you have been a key player. How did you help your team succeed? What technology and processes did you use? What value did this project bring to the business? Touch on the project as a whole but also emphasise your main contributions and how your team worked together.

2.“What skills have you learned to help you better succeed in a DevOps role? How did they help?”

At just about any career stage or experience level, hiring managers in DevOps environments tend to look for people who show a commitment to continuous learning and skills development. One tool might be the best solution for a particular process or problem today, but there is no guarantee it will still be right for a problem that arises tomorrow.

Take the time to reflect on how you have added new skills and experience over time, whether it was learning a new programming language, building a sandbox project to learn a new cloud platform or taking advantage of educational opportunities offered by a previous employer.

Be prepared to talk about any certifications or skills you have gained, why you did so and any results that may have come from it. The employer will want to know how dedicated you are to your professional development. It also shows that you went above and beyond to meet a challenge or fill a need for the business.

3.“If there is a new technology or process you would recommend for improving our DevOps strategy, how would you evaluate said improvement?”

Candidates may overlook the importance of measurement to DevOps, thinking it is something to consider after they get the job. But a high-functioning DevOps team is definitely going to want to gauge how you measure the efficacy of tools and processes.

DevOps transformation relies heavily on a team’s ability to implement new tech and processes. You should explain how you go about researching, evaluating and trying out new technologies and strategies, and how you would explain to stakeholders how this will improve the project and create value for the business.

It is pretty likely the interviewer is going to want to hear about how you would evangelise the value of DevOps to the broader organisation when necessary. They are also ensuring that, when it comes to things like selecting a new tool, you’ll be more thoughtful than throwing some spaghetti against the wall to see if it sticks.

4.“How would you go about diagnosing and fixing problems in production?”

You should expect questions on process and practice. The interviewer will want to know how you go about solving problems in your day-to-day job. Focus on the importance of metrics and using the proper tools to monitor the metrics that matter most to the organisation so you can act when necessary.

Candidates should talk about which performance metrics are important to them and why. They should discuss both user-focused timing and latency metrics, such as response time and Apdex score as well as application-wide quality metrics such as error rate and throughput.

They should know how to use their tools to alert them to critical conditions on these metrics, and then describe how they can use them to drill down to find out what specifically is causing the problem.

5.“How would you take our company’s DevOps strategy to the next level?”

If you are going for a mid-level or senior position, the interviewing team will likely ask for your thoughts on the next phases of its DevOps transformation. This is a big-picture question, but you will want to specifically connect your skills and experience to this particular position and organisation.

The hiring manager wants you to think strategically and apply your previous experience to the challenges they are facing. It would be beneficial to explain that you understand DevOps is a culture as well as an efficiency process, creating a collaborative environment across teams. Discuss any improvements you would make to the collaboration factor of their DevOps strategy in addition to any technologies you’d recommend to the team.

The importance of this question lies in the fact that successful DevOps teams and the executives and managers responsible for building them know that there is no completion date for a DevOps journey. It is about continuous evolution and improvement.

You will want a thoughtful answer that offers specific ideas on what that continuous evolution and improvement might look like for the particular team or company interviewing you.

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Source: Silicon Republic & Kevin Casey – Abridged version


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