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I have been tasked with writing 25-30 questions for a position we are recruiting for (UK) but no one will tell me what skill level the person needs to have, which got me thinking..... Whats the best and worst questions to put in a recruitment exam. How about this for starters:
Ask about some file permissions stuff. This topic is very important if people are to administer systems in a secure way... it's a basic skill. Make sure they know what the sticky bit is and what it does... and what suid bit is and does... and what the umask is. Check they understand about the permissions on directories too...
Make sure they understand the difference between a symbolic link and a hard link, and check they know a hard link cannot span partitions.
The worst questions:
- "KDE or GNOME?"
- "VIM or EMACS?"
and to weed out the really bad applicants immediately:
- "Would you take advice from a paperclip?"
Seriously, if you don't know the skill level then making up the questions is a bit useless. Actually, it may be easier to just provide a (virtual) machine and a CD ROM and let the applicant set-up a LAMP server or desktop when you want to test skill. You'll see soon enough if (s)he pays attentions to security or configuration.
When I interview people for IT positions I try to ask vague-ish questions to see if they get the point which is that it is all about business and keeping our hotel guests connected. Too many of the ones who apply for jobs just want to sit in an office IMing their buddies and playing games online.
You did not give any details about your business or requirements, but if it supporting people then here's my two cents.
"How do you think that FOSS will make us more productive"
"How would you manage a transition to FOSS office applications"
"Could you explain to a died-in-the-wool Windows using boss the advantages of using Linux/FOSS in a *positive* manner?"
"How would you handle the permissions of a senior employee (i.e. me!) who has enough command line skills to be dangerous yet useful?"
"How do you see the release of Vista and OS X Leopard affecting office computing habits?"
"What do you think should be the minimum specifications for a secretary's workstation now and in two years?"
"What do you feel about password policies, how often should they be changed and should employees be able to set their own passwords?"
"Discuss and compare the films 'The Big Lebowski' and 'V For Vendetta' in 10 words or less"
(The last one is the kicker, if the answer is "LOL" the guy/gal is hired on the spot)