DevOps is taking the engineering world by storm. It’s the most popular software development methodology in the world — nearly half (47%) of software engineering teams used DevOps last year. So, how can you prepare for a DevOps interview? Whether you’re applying for a DevOps engineer role or a software engineering role at a company that uses DevOps, here’s your go-to guide for acing the DevOps interview questions.
Coding DevOps Interview Questions
In the initial part of a DevOps interview, you may be asked to complete coding problems to demonstrate your programming 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.”
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The key to answering these DevOps interview questions is practice. 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.”
Technical DevOps interview questions include:
1. 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.
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2. 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.
3. What’s the difference between continuous delivery and continuous deployment?
The difference between continuous delivery and continuous deployment is how software releases are made. In continuous delivery, teams make sure that software is always release-ready, but the actual release process requires manual approval. In continuous deployment, these releases are automated. Once a software passes automated tests, it’s automatically released (without the need for human input).
|Continuous Delivery||Continuous Deployment|
|Definition||Automate build, testing, and deploy process to have release-ready software. Someone must approve the software before deployment.||Automatically deploy changes to software once changes pass automated tests.|
|Software release frequency||Frequently, at manually scheduled times||Often, usually multiple times a day|
|Resources needed||Continuous integration, efficient testing||Top-of-the-line automated testing, effective documentation process|
|Scope||Entire application||Smaller changes to specific features|
|Benefits||Easier and faster software releases||Constant, quick improvements to software with minimal risk (as changes are small and easier to fix)|
|Companies found in||Organizations that want to release changes regularly||Organizations that need rapid changes and consistent (re: daily) updates to software|
4. 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
5. 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.
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6. What is automation testing?
Automation testing is when the testing of software — identifying any potential errors or bugs — isn’t performed by a human. Instead, a testing tool or service automatically checks the software for any issues. Automation testing can help speed up the software delivery process by quickly checking the software without the need for human interaction.
7. Can you explain the “Shift left to reduce failure” concept in DevOps?
“Shift left to reduce failure” is an approach to software development that refers to testing the software early in the development process. The “left” is considered the early stages of the software development process, while the “right” is the later part. Traditionally, software was tested more in the “right” part of the process, closer to the software’s release. The phrase implies that testing software earlier in the process helps identify errors faster and more efficiently than waiting later in the process.
8. What are some of the benefits of DevOps?
DevOps benefits both a company’s DevOps team and the output of that team. First, DevOps fosters a collaborative, communicative company culture because teams are constantly checking in with each other throughout the software development process; there are fewer silos. In terms of output, DevOps is beneficial because it allows for faster, more efficient software delivery. Other benefits of DevOps include:
- Scalable software
- Earlier error identification
- Faster time to market
- Risk mitigation
- Resource optimization
9. 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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10. What’s the difference between a centralized and distributed version control system?
A centralized version control system is, luckily, what it sounds like: there is one, centralized copy of the system’s code. Everyone commits changes to this central copy. Examples of centralized version control systems include CVS, Perforce, and SVN.
A distributed version control system doesn’t have a central server; instead, each person has a copy of all versions of the code on their systems. Examples of distributed version control systems include Git, Bazaar, and Mercurial.
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. What is infrastructure as code?
Infrastructure as code is an IT infrastructure that automates procedures for operations teams. Your policies and configurations are written as code, making them easy to change, test, and deploy.
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14. What’s the role of AWS in DevOps?
AWS, or Amazon Web Services, provides cloud-computing services and APIs that DevOps teams can use to streamline the development process. For example, AWS has services that can help automate continuous integration and deployment, manage infrastructure as code, and identify performance issues. These services help with automation, configuration management, and scalability — all factors that contribute to faster, more efficient DevOps teams.
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.
15. What programming languages do you use?
You should generally know multiple languages, with a mastery of one and strong knowledge of two more.
16. 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.
17. Talk about a project you completed successfully.
Interviewers ask this question in hopes of understanding how you approach problems. Because DevOps impacts 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.)
18. 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.
What Are Hiring Managers Looking for in DevOps Interviews?
DevOps 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.
Because you’re an entry-level applicant, the interviewer’s focus will be less on high-level technical skills. Instead, they’re expecting you to have basic coding skills and knowledge of DevOps concepts — and, most importantly, a willingness to try new challenges and build new skills.
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.”
Practice more interview questions about software engineering with Entry-Level Software Engineer Interview Questions (With Answers).
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