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Entry-Level DevOps Interview Questions (With Answers)

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DevOps is taking the engineering world by storm. More than 8 in 10 informational technology (IT) leaders say they use DevOps practices in the workplace, according to Puppet. So whether you’re applying for a DevOps engineer role or an engineering role at a company that uses DevOps, here’s your go-to guide for acing the DevOps interview questions.

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Coding DevOps Interview Questions

In the initial part of a DevOps interview, you may be asked to complete coding problems to demonstrate your hard skills. This will be a whiteboard test, which you solve in front of the interviewer, or as part of an independent take-home test.

“As with other coding interviews, the general goal is for the interviewee to demonstrate their technical approach and communication skills when presented with a new problem,” Kevin Allen, senior DevSecOps engineer at Nexient, says. “You should ensure you understand important coding concepts like breaking code into testable units, time complexity, edge cases, etc.”

To prepare, you can practice with sample coding problems, including ones in the Girls Who Code Technical Interview Prep Virtual Experience Program on Forage.

Before the interview, Allen also recommends getting your hands dirty and building a “CI/CD that delivers a service to a particular hosting platform. Consider best practices like automated testing, infrastructure-as-code, and trunk-based development. Public clouds like AWS and Azure often have free tiers that can be used for this.”

Technical DevOps Interview Questions

In addition to your coding skills, you’ll be expected to know DevOps and various related concepts. The best way to prepare for these questions is to “have a good understanding of the role and what it entails,” Zeeshan Arif, founder and CEO at Whizpool, a software and website development company, says. “If you have no idea what DevOps is, or why it’s important, then you’re going to be at a disadvantage.”

But it’s not just about stating the dictionary definition of each concept. “You can set yourself apart in interviews by highlighting your experiences with fundamental concepts beyond certain clouds or tools: networking, web service development, and agile methodologies,” Allen says. “This demonstrates that you can likely adapt as their organization and technology on the market changes.”

What is DevOps?

Since you’re applying for a DevOps role, this is one of the most critical questions to ace during the interview. DevOps, as the name suggests, is the combination of software development (dev) and IT operations (ops). In the workplace, it’s a practice that focuses on delivering high-quality software through a collaborative, iterative process. DevOps engineers deliver software through continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD), which involves constant development, improvement, iteration, and testing. 

>>MORE: Practice your DevOps and CI/CD skills with Blackbird’s Software Engineering Virtual Experience Program.

What is the DevOps lifecycle?

The DevOps lifecycle consists of multiple phases that lead to software delivery:

  • Continuous development: This first phase is two-fold. First, there’s planning, when the team discusses everything needed for the project, from client requests to resources to budget. Next, there’s coding, when the programmers write code per requirements discussed in the plan.
  • Continuous testing: The team tests the software (usually using automated testing tools) for errors. If there are any errors, they go back and rebuild the code.
  • Continuous integration: The team integrates the new code or code changes into a central repository. After integration, the code is tested again for errors and fixed if necessary.
  • Continuous deployment: The code is deployed to production, where users can see the changes on the site’s front end (user side).
  • Continuous monitoring: Now that the changes to the software are live, the team monitors the software’s performance and health.
  • Continuous feedback: Members of the DevOps team and external stakeholders like the client, product team, and leadership give feedback on the software.
  • Continuous operations: After monitoring performance and collecting feedback, the team updates the software as needed to maintain quality and security.

>>MORE: What Is a Security Engineer?

What are some DevOps KPIs?

KPIs are key performance indicators: how the team can tell how well they’re doing. Important DevOps KPIs include:

  • Deployment frequency: how often deployment happens
  • Deployment failure: how often a new application fails (e.g., bugs, trouble for users)
  • Change lead time: how long it takes to make a change (e.g., adding a new feature or fixing a bug)
  • Mean time to detection: how long it takes to detect an issue
  • Mean time to recovery: how long it takes to remedy an issue

How does DevOps compare to agile methodology?

Both agile methodology and DevOps aim to make the software development process faster, more adaptive, and more efficient. However, agile is a software development philosophy, while DevOps is a set of approaches that define team culture. Agile is a collaborative, incremental approach to development that relies on feedback and increases adaptability. DevOps is focused on continuous integration, testing, and delivery and bringing the software engineering and IT teams together.

The two concepts are not mutually exclusive. DevOps is not necessarily a replacement for agile but rather an expansion of its principles. DevOps teams might even use agile methodology in their development process.

>>MORE: Cognizant’s Ready, Set, Agile! Virtual Experience Program.

What is version control?

Version control is similar to Google Docs: it’s a software tool that allows you to track changes. This tool allows engineers to see code changes, integrate these changes with existing code, and access the code’s history when needed.

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What is configuration management?

While version control tracks and manages code changes, configuration management tracks and manages changes for all systems and software. This helps ensure systems remain consistent and allows the team to access the software development’s history.

What is trunk-based development?

Trunk-based development is a workflow process where a developer merges small, frequent updates to the main branch called a “trunk.” This is common in DevOps because it supports continuous integration and delivery.

What is infrastructure as code?

Infrastructure as code is an IT infrastructure that automates procedures for operations teams. Your policies and configures are written as code, making them easy to change, test, and deploy.

General DevOps Interview Questions

After establishing your knowledge of DevOps as a workplace practice and its concepts, the hiring manager will also want to learn more about your practical experience, including what specific languages and tools you use.

What programming languages do you use?

Before the interview, check out the job description to see what (if any) programming languages the company mentions. Then, if you know any of those, be sure to name them when answering this question. According to a 2022 survey, over half of software developers use JavaScript and HTML/CSS. Python, SQL, and TypeScript were other common programming languages.

You should generally know multiple languages, with a mastery of one and strong knowledge of two more. 

>>MORE: Practice your software development programming skills with Accenture’s Know the Code Virtual Experience Program.

What DevOps tools have you worked with?

Like the programming languages question, checking out the job description may help you answer this question. If you see specific tools in the description that you’ve used, be sure to call those out.

Some standard DevOps tools include:

  • Git: version control tool that helps track code changes
  • Chef: configuration management tool that turns infrastructure into code
  • Puppet: configuration management and deployment tool 
  • Ansible: configuration management tool that turns infrastructure into code
  • Jenkins: automation server for CI/CD 
  • Docker: orchestration tool for developing, shipping, and running applications
  • Nagios: continuous monitoring tool that can alert teams of technical issues

It’s essential to be honest about the tools you have and haven’t worked with, especially as a technical recruiter or hiring manager may ask you follow-up questions about them.

Talk about a project you completed successfully.

Interviewers ask this question in hopes of understanding how you approach problems. Because DevOps impacts and collaboration, focus on the relevant project players and how you work with others. 

“The questions I’ve been asked have centered around how I’ve handled issues of team morale when working with software development teams,” Arif says. “I’ve also been asked to describe how I maintain an open line of communication between developers, product managers, and non-technical stakeholders.”

Your projects don’t have to be from professional work experience — school projects where you had to work in a group, volunteer work, and extracurricular activities all count. (Learn how to write a resume with no professional work experience.)

How do you keep your skills sharp and up to date?

Because technology, methodology, and applications are constantly changing, there’s always more to learn in engineering. Hiring managers are looking for candidates who are proactive about upskilling. Be sure to share any personal projects you’re working on, open-source projects you’ve contributed to, or courses you’re taking.

DevOps Interview Questions: The Bottom Line

These interview questions can be intimidating, but you can nail the interview by practicing your coding skills, reviewing key DevOps concepts, and showing your workplace potential. 

“DevOps managers and teams are looking for people who have a passion for the work, are self-driven, and can work independently,” Arif says. 

Even if you’re unsure of the correct answer to a question, Arif explains that it’s important to show this passion and your critical thinking skills. “The best way to demonstrate this is through your interview answers — it’s all about how you respond to questions, rather than what you say.”

Prepare further for technical software interviews with Entry-Level Software Engineer Interview Questions (With Answers).

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