Top 20 System Administrator Interview Questions and Answers

In the modern world, no organization can maximize its production and maintain a competitive edge without using systems. For any system to operate optimally, it must be maintained and configured appropriately and this is where the role of a systems administrator comes in hardly.

System administrators or sysadmins ensure that a company’s client computers and servers remain secure and perform well. Thus, the most appropriate candidate for this role should be skilled and show a clear understanding of the technical feats needed to keep systems running smoothly.

But how do find the right candidate from among a multitude of applicants? It is all about asking the right questions and getting them answered correctly. Here are the top 20 system administrator interview questions and answers to help you get the most appropriate individual.

1. Describe your Daily Routine as a Systems Administrator?

The interviewer seeks to assess your familiarity with what a sysadmin does daily

Tip #1: Describe what a sysadmin is involved in on a typical day

Tip #2: Demonstrate that you are well-aware of your responsibilities

Sample Answer

As a sysadmin, my responsibilities include performing software installations and updates, creating user accounts, and providing system access control. Other duties include reviewing system logs, allocating storage to resources, optimizing and monitoring computer systems, creating backups, and ensuring data recovery measures are in place.

2. What Qualities Should A System Administrator Possess?

The interviewer wants to assess whether you understand the qualities that make a good sysadmin.

Tip #1: State several qualities that sysadmins should have

Tip #2: Demonstrate your understanding by explaining each point briefly

Sample Answer

A sysadmin should be a problem solver since the role is often faced with issues that need to be resolved. Keen intuition coupled with precise and quick decision making is very vital.

People skills are necessary as sysadmins deal with end users who don’t know much about IT. Such users need to be guided in a concise and clear manner.

Patience is another great quality in this role because it involves handling tasks that need concentration and much time to complete.

Besides, the willingness to learn and being a team player are other vital qualities in system administration.

3. What is Windows Deployment Services (WDS)?

The interviewer wants to understand your knowledge about WDS.

Tip #1: Define windows deployment services

Tip #2: Briefly describe how WDS functions

Sample Answer

WDS is a server role that offers the ability to remotely deploy Windows operating systems. It can be used to set up new computers in network-based installations so that each operating system doesn’t have to be installed.

4. What is the Advantage of Using RAID?

Here, the interviewer tests your understanding of data storage technology

Tip #1: Describe RAID by providing a clear definition

Tip #2: Explain the benefit of using RAID

Sample Answer

A RAID is a virtualization data storage technology that integrates multiple components of a physical disk drive into a single or several logical units. The advantage of using RAID is that it increases a system’s storage capacity, improves overall performance, and offers fault tolerance.

5. Define DHCP and Explain its Importance

Here, the interviewer wishes to test your understanding of the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol.

Tip #1: Provide the meaning of DHCP

Tip #2: Briefly explain why DHCP is used

Sample Answer

Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol or DHCP is a protocol that is used to automatically assign dynamic IP addresses to computers or other devices on a network. This means a device acquires a new IP address every time it’s connected to the network. The benefit of DHCP is that it reduces operation tasks such that a sysadmin doesn’t have to manually configure each device. Besides, the protocol optimizes the IP addressing plan meaning that unused addresses are made available to new devices or clients.

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6. What Three Attributes Makes You a Great Systems Administrator

The interviewer wants to know whether you have values that match with those of the company.

Tip #1: State three main attributes that make you the best

Tip #2: Make your answer prompt and precise

Sample Answer

I am curious and analytical. I always explore a problem to find out what really caused it. If the root cause of an issue is not identified and resolved, the problem will reoccur and hurt the business. Besides, I am a good communicator with the ability to share insights in a jargon-free language.

7. Is it a Good Idea to Restore a DC that was Backed Up 7 Months Ago?

Your technical knowledge about DCs is under test here and the interviewer seeks a candidate who is knowledgeable about DCs.

Tip #1: Provide a direct and clear answer

Tip #2: Support your answer by explaining it briefly

Sample Answer

Restoring a domain controller that was last backed up 7 months ago is a bad idea. This is because lingering objects are likely to be encountered that will lead to inconsistent data. The general rule is that backup files shouldn’t be more than 180 days old.

8. Briefly Tell Us About Your Technical Background

The interviewer is looking for an individual with relevant certifications and experience.

Tip #1: State your qualifications that are relevant to the systems administrator role

Tip #2: Mention your experience

Sample Answer

I graduated four years ago with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Besides, I have earned a CompTIA certification and also worked mainly in the area of server and PC installation. In my previous assignments, I have been esteemed for identifying faulty machines early on and providing lasting solutions.

9. What Are You Proud of in Your Working with Endpoint Systems and Offering Support to Users?

Here, the interviewer wants to assess your user support skills and the ability to resolve users’ issues.

Tip #1: Think quickly about the experience you have had with users

Tip #2: Demonstrate your user support capabilities and ability to resolve users’ problems

Sample Answer

I am especially proud of being able to identify users’ problems and resolve them effectively using appropriate tools. My clients as well as the users I have supported have often referred their friends to me to help them resolve their computer issues. I always resolve issues without taking much of my clients’ time.

10. What is an Active Directory?

The interviewer wants to assess your understanding of an active directory.

Tip #1: Provide the meaning of an active directory

Tip #2: Support your answer by briefly explaining how an active directory functions

Sample Answer

An active directory offers centralized control for network security and administration. It stores all settings and information in a central database and enables a system administrator to deploy and update software as well as assign policies. Server computers that are configured with an active directory are called domain controllers.

11. What is a Domain?

The interviewer is looking for an individual who is knowledgeable about domains and how they work

Tip #1: Provide the meaning of a domain

Tip #2: Ensure to be brief and precise

Sample Answer

A domain consists of a group of network objects that are organized logically and share the database of a single active directory. These objects include users, computers, and network devices among others.

12. Differentiate a Gateway from a Router

Here, the interviewer is interested in testing your ability to differential a router from a gateway

Tip #1: Provide the difference in a clear and precise manner

Tip #2: Make sure to be prompt and don’t mull over the answer

Sample Answer

Basically, a router is a layer-3 device that functions by forwarding data packets between networks. On the internet, a router directs traffic. On the other hand, a gateway is a network device that functions as an entrance to a network.

13. Which Port is Used to Perform a Ping Command?

The interviewer wants to assess your technical know-how regarding the ping command.

Tip #1: State the port that is utilized by the ping command

Tip #2: Demonstrate that you can use this command effectively

Sample Answer

The ping command utilized ICMP, which doesn’t use TCP or UDP communication services. In particular, it makes use of the ICMP echo packets and echo requests.

14. Explain the Proc File system

Here, the interviewer tests your familiarity with the Linux operating systems.

Tip #1: Describe the meaning of the proc filesystem

Tip #2: Let the interviewer know that you can use procfs

Sample Answer

The proc file system or procfs is a special file system in Linux operating systems that offer an interface to the kernel data structures. Although majority of files in this file system are read-only, some are writable meaning that they permit kernel variables to be altered. Besides, procfs have a hierarchy of special files that reflect the kernel’s current state.

15. What do you Understand by Forests and Trees in System Administration?

The interviewer examines whether you are aware of trees and forests as used in networks.

Tip #1: Provide the meaning of trees and forests

Tip #2: Ensure to demonstrate how forests and trees are related

Sample Answer

A tree consists of a collection of one or several domains or domain trees that are found in a contiguous namespace, which is connected in a transitive trust hierarchy.

On the other hand, a forest refers to a tree collection, which shares a common global catalog, directory configuration, logical structure, and directory schema.

16. What is the Difference between NTFS and FAT?

The interviewer evaluates your familiarity with FAT and NTFS.

Tip #1: Define FAT and NTFS

Tip #2: Provide a clear distinction between these two terms

Sample Answer

NTFS refers to the current file system utilized by Windows. This file system offers various features including security permissions, back up, and quotas so that one can fill up a disk.

FAT is an older file system developed by Microsoft that was chiefly used in Windows operating systems up to the XP version. FAT doesn’t offer most of the key features including security and back up that are provided by NTFS.

17. Differentiate an Antivirus from a Firewall

A sysadmin needs to be aware of tools such as a firewall and an antivirus and that is exactly what the interviewer is testing here.

Tip #1: Define an antivirus and a firewall

Tip #2: Ensure to provide the difference between them

Sample Answer

An antivirus is a program that is designed to protect a computer from viruses. Once installed on a computer, an antivirus monitors the system continuously to identify any threat from the internet, external storage devices, or other sources.

A firewall consists of a program that protects a system from hackers, intruders, or outsiders. Attacks from these sources may be viruses or unauthorized access intended to steal or destroy sensitive and valuable information. Firewalls come either as software or hardware. A software firewall is installed on a computer while organizations install a hardware firewall to safeguard all their systems.

18. What do You Understand by VOIP?

A competent sysadmin needs to be familiar with internet protocol. That is what the interviewer wants to assess here.

Tip #1: Describe the meaning of VOIP

Tip #2: Provide the impression that you are well-aware of this protocol

Sample Answer

VOIP is an acronym for Voice Over Internet Protocol. It is a category of software and hardware that helps people in using the internet as a medium of transmission for telephone calls. This is accomplished by forwarding data in packets through an IP instead of the traditional circuit transmissions.

19. Explain How a Tracert Works

Here, the interviewer test your understanding of a tracert and how it functions

Tip #1: Define a tracert

Tip #2: Describe the functionality of a tracert

Sample Answer

Tracert or traceroute consists of a command-line tool that can be initiated using a prompt. It is used to track the path taken by IP packets to their destination. A Tracert command tracks a route by sending ICMP echo packets to a given destination. In the end, the command helps you determine where the chain of connection stops.

20. As a System Administrator, is Team Work Part of Your Typical Day?

The interviewer wants to know whether your daily work involves working with others.

Tip #1: Provide a relevant answer concerning your daily activities

Tip #2: Make sure that your answer is satisfactory

Sample Answer

As a sysadmin, I would often provide technical support to teams and end-users. This may involve software installation, technical troubleshooting, or other technical duties associated with the role. Thus, I would not be engaged directly in teamwork. However, I would work with teams occasionally in developing and explaining technological strategies.


Asking these interview questions for system administrator would enable an interviewer to assess candidates and determine their level of familiarity with system administration. Besides, these system admin questions will help to know the level of experience of every candidate. This understanding is very vital in identifying the best individual for the system administrator position.

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