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  1. #1
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    How do you test your SysAdmins to make sure they Know their stuff?

    So I know nothing about the backend of linux, security, hardening, all that shell/command line stuff. I'm slowly reading about it and its abit overwhelming.

    When you look to hire a System Administrator(not a company) what are some of the things you ask them to ensure that they really know their stuff?

    Do you have them run tests on a dummy server? What are some of those tests?


    I feel like I can put out a Hey I'm looking to hire, but knowing nothing of what I need really how am I to judge ones ability when I have none?

    Other than ask them to run tasks(of which I know none) and then cross check time it took for them and average tiem it would have taken say the Admins at Softlayer or WiredTree.

    Please dont recommend hiring a company. I know how to figure that one out. Just research on WHT. I'm asking about just hiring somebody, say off the Job Requests or Offers section here.

    And no I don't own a hosting company. Nor am I going to be starting one in the next week

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Find a friend that knows system administration and pay them to evaluate potential candidates (screen out the obvious candidates first to avoid wasting your friend's time and your money).

    Be sure that your friend is an expert in the area that you're hiring in (if you're hiring a Linux admin and your friend only knows Windows it won't do you any good).

  3. #3
    You could ask if they have any certifications that prove formal training.
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  4. #4
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    @HivelocityGM : you can buy any certificates at my country :p

    certificates didn't prove (s)he is a reliable person or not.

    @OP : why you're not asking them to installing webserver, dbserver, mail, and another. after that ask them to "attacking" that (dummy) server. like DoS, sqlinjection, brute force, etc. this is a good test. you know your sys admin is good or not,, and you know your server is good or not.
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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by cpservr View Post
    @HivelocityGM
    certificates didn't prove (s)he is a reliable person or not.
    You are right about that.
    Steve Eschweiler- Hivelocity- Director of Operations
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
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    When interviewing, I've used the following questions to get a fair idea of peoples ability. Give max 10 minutes to answer these for example

    1. What Linux command could be used to locate files that have been accessed within the last 24 hours, within the /home directory?
    Answer:

    i. Additionally, how could you delete the files that had been located (assuming that there are in excess of 200,000 of them)
    Answer:

    2. What Linux command would you use to list all current running processes and sort the output by memory and then cpu usage?
    Answer:

    3. List the Linux commands used to firstly partition an 80GB hard drive and secondly format the partition to the ext3 file system.
    Answer:

    4. A customers website, written in php has been compromised and a file has been downloaded to the /tmp directory. The file has been executed via the customers website and is currently sending udp packets outbound at a rate of 1000Mbps. There are 20,000 websites being served by the cluster.
    i. What do you do immediately?
    Answer:

    ii. What do you do (list commands as appropriate) to find website responsible for downloading the file to the /tmp directory?
    Answer:

    iii. Describe actions or steps that you could take to prevent this problem reoccurring.
    Answer:



    5. What MySQL or BASH shell commands could be used to repair a MySQL database table named test.test1 ?
    Answer:

    6. Describe a scenario where you would need to compile and install a custom Linux kernel, rather than using a distribution packaged Linux kernel.
    Answer:

    7. What commands would you use to compile a Linux kernel?
    Answer:
    8. A customer has a virus on their pc that is sending spam via the Linux mail cluster, at a rate of 10,000 emails per minute, which is degrading mail service for all other customers. What do you do to identify the customer responsible for sending the spam and also to mitigate the immediate problem you are faced with?
    Answer:

    9. How many hard drives do you need minimum to create a raid 5 array?
    Answer:

    i. How many hard drives are required in order to create a raid 10 raid array?
    Answer:

    ii. What is raid level 50?
    Answer:

    iii. How many io/ps is a 450GB FATA hard drive capable of?
    Answer:

    10. What does LVM mean?
    Answer:

    i. What would you use LVM for?
    Answer:

    ii. What commands would use to create a device using LVM?
    Answer:


    11. Assuming the DNS server is running bind 9, you have manually updated a dns zone file.
    What Linux command would you type to reload only 1 domain names dns zone?
    Answer:

    i. What would happen if you had forgotten to increment the serial number within the dns zone?
    Answer:

    ii. What is dnssec?
    Answer:

    12. Where would you go to lookup a particular RFC for reference to explain a problem to a customer or use for gaining further understanding?
    Answer:

    13. Name 3 protocols commonly used for network attached storage
    Answer:


    14. Write a BASH script/program to complete the following (order is not important)

    i. Find all files in /home named exploit.c
    ii. Create a directory named /store
    iii. Move all of the exploit.c files to the /store directory
    iv. Email the output from the script to yourself at [email protected]
    #!/bin/bash
    Last edited by StevenG; 03-18-2011 at 04:47 PM. Reason: email address change

  7. #7
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    May 2006
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    thats awesome thanks!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
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    Raleigh, NC
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    When I've hired the interview process is something like

    1) Phone Screen with me
    2) Another phone screen with other technicians
    3) Face to face interview

    During the face to face, that person would be speaking to myself and several technicians, be put through a Q&A, as well as a hands on practical test. I'll usually setup a virtual machine, create some issues, and then provide say 'trouble tickets' clients have submitted and ask them to resolve on the spot. That way you can tell if they can do more than just talk the talk

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
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    New York, NY
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    If you're not experienced in these areas yourself, then "quizzing" the candidates would probably be ineffective, and potentially insulting. I would look for an admin that already has a good reputation.
    Scott Burns, President
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  10. #10
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    Denmark
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    We setup a virtual machine with a few services and (intended) flaws, such as mysql misconfiguration, missing libraries, etc and the applicants had to fix all the issues to get a demo website running within a certain time..

    Worked pretty well
    Systems Developer/Programmer

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by bqinternet View Post
    If you're not experienced in these areas yourself, then "quizzing" the candidates would probably be ineffective, and potentially insulting. I would look for an admin that already has a good reputation.
    That is exactly what I want to avoid bq.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    HK
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    *

    Quote Originally Posted by hungry4knowhow View Post
    So I know nothing about the backend of linux, security, hardening, all that shell/command line stuff. I'm slowly reading about it and its abit overwhelming.

    When you look to hire a System Administrator(not a company) what are some of the things you ask them to ensure that they really know their stuff?

    Do you have them run tests on a dummy server? What are some of those tests?


    I feel like I can put out a Hey I'm looking to hire, but knowing nothing of what I need really how am I to judge ones ability when I have none?

    Other than ask them to run tasks(of which I know none) and then cross check time it took for them and average tiem it would have taken say the Admins at Softlayer or WiredTree.

    Please dont recommend hiring a company. I know how to figure that one out. Just research on WHT. I'm asking about just hiring somebody, say off the Job Requests or Offers section here.

    And no I don't own a hosting company. Nor am I going to be starting one in the next week
    If you already have one sysadmin, you can just ask him/her to interview with the new sysadmin.

    Otherwise, you can look at their work experience and do a background check with the previous employers.

  13. #13
    Join Date
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    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    681
    Quote Originally Posted by hungry4knowhow View Post
    So I know nothing about the backend of linux, security, hardening, all that shell/command line stuff. I'm slowly reading about it and its abit overwhelming.

    When you look to hire a System Administrator(not a company) what are some of the things you ask them to ensure that they really know their stuff?

    Do you have them run tests on a dummy server? What are some of those tests?


    I feel like I can put out a Hey I'm looking to hire, but knowing nothing of what I need really how am I to judge ones ability when I have none?

    Other than ask them to run tasks(of which I know none) and then cross check time it took for them and average tiem it would have taken say the Admins at Softlayer or WiredTree.

    Please dont recommend hiring a company. I know how to figure that one out. Just research on WHT. I'm asking about just hiring somebody, say off the Job Requests or Offers section here.

    And no I don't own a hosting company. Nor am I going to be starting one in the next week


    The guy at www.cuddletech.com had some podcasts about hiring sysadmins. While he is a unix guy (guru), too, it might still be helpful for you?

    But you'll have a hard time hiring them when they know lots more than you. What I did was split the interviews in half between in-depth technical questions and encouraging to talk about stuff they previously built. normally in the second part either they mention something that is really needing a lot of skill and virtue, or they don't. the latter are probably not the ones you'd wanna hire.

    In one interview they gave me some kind of trick question: They asked me if I had any kernel experience on Linux. I of course replied "no way I'd know C well enough to hack at the kernel!". The interviewer brought in two more people to the interview after that. I think they used this as a "geek detection" - geeks would assume you really mean kernel hacking, whereas some other people would brag about hardly having managed to compile it.

    Just the same you'd have to find some topics where you can have them explain stuff. i.e. inner workings of DNS is a standard questions that they're supposed to be able answer understandably.

    You could consider doing something like that, but probably it will be enough to find out if they ever did something challenging in their past. If they talk about it passionately, that's good. If they brag or you suspect they make something up on the fly, then worry.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by StevenG View Post
    When interviewing, I've used the following questions to get a fair idea of peoples ability. Give max 10 minutes to answer these for example
    Brutal quiz but I like it!
    If they can get 50% right then they are at least a decent start.
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  15. #15
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    Romania
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    whoa indeed great quiz, I'm not sure I can answer some of those questions :p good thing I don't have to hehe

    anyway, the option to ask help or to pt another technician to give a technical interview is probably the best.
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  16. #16
    Or you could simply hire Rack911 Pretty sure Steven knows a thing or two about Linux Sorry, I could not resist. Sort of an inside joke for folks who have been around WHT for a bit.
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  17. #17
    where can I find the answers to this quiz?

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenG View Post
    When interviewing, I've used the following questions to get a fair idea of peoples ability. Give max 10 minutes to answer these for example

  18. #18
    Local networking and linkedin is gold for finding higher valued employees.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by cpservr View Post
    you can buy any certificates at my country :p

    certificates didn't prove (s)he is a reliable person or not.

    No but certificates prove they know what they are doing, Am currently doing my certificates Via CompTIA.

    Their is also a number of ways to make sure that the certificates/qualifications of an individual are valid and current.

    Also providing false certificates or trying to gain employment Via false means this includings lying about any previous experience, etc you could well end up in prison

    Over in the US this is called "Resume Padding" or "Bloat Job"
    Last edited by Server Management; 08-23-2011 at 07:25 PM.

  20. #20
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    California
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    Quote Originally Posted by cd/home View Post
    No but certificates prove they know what they are doing
    Hate to burst your bubble, but that's not the case at all. Certificates prove one's ability to take a test, with very few exceptions.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeJohnson View Post
    Hate to burst your bubble, but that's not the case at all. Certificates prove one's ability to take a test, with very few exceptions.
    But in order to take the test you need an understanding of the subject which you are taking the test for...

    Try and gain any decent SysAdmin job over here in the UK without any qualifications, Its all too easy to "Bloat Job" or beef up previous experience, Hence the only thing which seperates you from the dreamers and the needy Company Directors is qualifications or else I wouldnt be spending thousands of pounds my self on CompTia course's in order to gain more higher ranking in this industry.

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