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Get a head start with these VMware admin interview questions

VMware is a top platform for enterprise virtualization. Potential administrators should have a strong grasp of the technology before an interview for the job.

If you're thinking about applying for a VMware administrator job, you're going to need to be prepared. VMware is one of the top platforms for enterprise virtualization. VMware administrators need comprehensive knowledge of VMware technologies and products. You can be a step ahead of the competition if you prep for these VMware admin interview questions.

We already reviewed three questions that potential candidates should be ready for. Here are three more sample questions that a candidate might face during a VMware administrator interview. Chances are that you'll field many other questions, but this can help you address some of the biggest ones. Good luck to you. Just make sure that suit is pressed and go easy on the coffee before you walk through that door.

How do you normally work with users, other IT staff or management?

This will certainly be one of the VMware admin interview questions that you hear. Traditional system administrators often faced siloed environments where the focus was on systems, and storage and networking was left to other teams which rarely intermingled with each other -- and almost never worked with application users. But IT is changing and virtualization is fusing those traditional siloed roles into ubiquitous IT staff that thrives on collaboration and customer service. A prospective employer wants to see that you're used to working outside of the box and interacting with a broad group of diverse people in a fluid environment where priorities can shift quickly between multiple projects.

You don't have to be Moses leading your IT team and users to the 'Promised Land,' but you should be out there on the field as a visible and contributing member of the team.

You don't have to be Moses leading your IT team and users to the "Promised Land," but you should be out there on the field as a visible and contributing member of the team. So, a strong VMware administrator candidate should demonstrate strong communication and collaboration within and across teams (which are often working at multiple distributed locations). Your communication should extend beyond IT peers to business users (the employees or customers actually using the applications that you're virtualizing and managing) as well as business management, such as the department heads and other stakeholders that own those applications.

For example, an employer might like to hear about a troubled process or broken practice that you recognized, organized a cross-discipline team to rectify, and led the effort to a successful conclusion which benefitted the business and its employees (or customers).

What was the most difficult VMware problem that you faced, and how did you resolve it?

This kind of question can have several different levels. Initially, this might sound like a simple troubleshooting question, and that's usually where this discussion starts. An employer can absolutely go beyond your knowledge of tools and daily routines and make a deeper dive into your monitoring and troubleshooting chops.

Problem analysis and resolution is a big part of the VMware administrator role -- especially when there's real business pressure to resolve issues quickly. So, the game here is to look at your reasoning process and judgment in receiving alerts, gathering information, analyzing the root cause, consulting with peers, and taking accurate corrective action without disrupting the affected workloads (any more than necessary) while working within established policy or process.

Don't restrict your response only to troubleshooting VMware platforms and tools. Feel free to tie in SAN, NAS and replication (storage) as well as switching and VPN (network) troubleshooting. And it doesn't have to be retroactive troubleshooting either. An employer might be even more excited to learn about your analysis and resolution of a bottleneck that had threatened the performance of an important application but hadn't yet been noticed by users.

At another level, this question can be used as a meaningful indicator of how well you might "fit in" to the prospective employer's IT or corporate culture based on the way that you follow protocols, find answers to your questions, provide responses or status updates to users, consult with peers and support application stakeholders and business managers.

How can you benefit this company (with VMware virtualization)?

This is one of the big VMware admin interview questions, and it can intimidate a fair share of hardened IT professionals. But don't get thrown off. You're probably well-along in the interview at this point, and if this line of questioning comes up, it probably means that you have the prospective employer's attention; that can be a good sign for your candidacy. The goal of this questioning is usually to get a sense of your "vision" for the VMware administrator role, and gauge how you see virtualization as a technology that can benefit the business and its customers or users.

The idea here is that most companies don't really need a button-pusher that's just going to sit in a cubicle, answer help desk tickets, review logs and provision VMs (though there is always some of that). A VMware administrator is expected to actively seek out opportunities to bolster existing practices, processes, procedures and technology deployments -- what might you be able to do with virtualization to improve things here?

You can talk about things that you've done (particularly projects that you've led) that the current employer might not have considered. As one simple example, you might discuss the way that you used VMware distributed resource scheduler (DRS) to migrate workloads and power down unneeded servers during weekends and other idle periods to save the company energy costs. As another example, you might have led the upgrade to vSphere 6 in order to take advantage of emerging features like long-distance vMotion so that the company could replicate workloads for enhanced disaster preparedness. In other words, tie the ambitious projects that you've worked on into the needs that the interviewer has expressed. If you can answer these VMware admin interview questions, the interviewer will connect the dots and it will show that you're the right candidate.

This was last published in February 2016

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