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25 Questions and Answers by William Swansen
Published February 13th, 2020 | William Swansen is an author, job search strategist and career advisor who assists individuals from all over the world.
Job Interviews     Careers     Computer Science    

Question 1 of 25

In network security, what is a honey pot, and how is it used?

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1.

In network security, what is a honey pot, and how is it used?

This is another technical question which the interviewer is seeking to understand whether you have used advanced network security techniques. If you are a seasoned ICT professional, you should have no trouble answering this question. However, it illustrates that you should be prepared for just about any technical questions you may be asked. You can do this by researching the organization and trying to gain an understanding of the technology they already use.

For exampl: "A honeypot is a system within an organization's network that is a decoy. Its purpose is to lure in cyber attackers and to detect, deflect or characterize their hacking attempts. This enables the network administration team to create defenses and counter-measures to hackers."

William's Answer #1

"A honeypot is a system within an organization's network that is a decoy. Its purpose is to lure in cyber attackers and to detect, deflect or characterize their hacking attempts. This enables the network administration team to create defenses and counter-measures to hackers."

William's Answer #2

"A honeypot is a computer which is inserted into the network with the intention to mimic a target of cyberattacks. It can be used to detect attacks or deflect them from other systems which are legitimate targets. It can also be used to gain information about how cyber attackers operate. A honeypot works by being an intentionally vulnerable hole in security. Usually, these devices will take the form of a virtual machine that has been deliberately weakened and placed in an accessible area of the network outside of the firewall and other defenses set up to prevent hacking."

2.

What is the difference between OLAP and OLTP? When is each used?

This technical question is requesting that you define the difference between two similar terms commonly encountered in an ICT environment. This type of question is used to separate senior ICT Administrators from individuals with less experience and expertise in the field. You may want to start by defining each term and then stating the differences between them as well as how the technology is used.

William's Answer #1

"OLTP stands for online transaction processing. It is a common data processing system used in an ICT environment. Examples of this include retail sales and financial transactions. OLAP stands for online analytical process. The key difference between these two types of technology it is OLTP consists of large volumes of short transactions. OLAP is characterized by smaller numbers of more complex and larger transactions."

William's Answer #2

"OLTP and OLAP or similar in that they both define online processes. OLTP stands firm online transaction processing. Examples of this include retail transactions as well as transactions related to finance, such as stock trading. OLAP stands for online analytical process. These are processes used to analyze large sets of data for decision-making and other functions. An example of an OLAP is Netflix analyzing your viewing habits and then making recommendations for other content."

3.

What source control tools have you used when managing an ICT network and why did you select these?

This is a strictly operational question which asks you not to define the tools, but only name them and describe how you use them to manage an ICT Network. Rather than list every tool you use, only identify the top three, providing the name and a brief explanation of the tool and its functions. The danger here is providing too much rather than too little information.

William's Answer #1

"I use several different control tools to manage ICT networks. The one I use the most and which has become the standard in the ICT industry is CVS. While this is easy to use, it is not as feature-rich as some other solutions. Another tool I use is SVM or Subversion as is sometimes called. It helps to monitor and control the versions of software across the network. It is also incorporated into some of the development languages. Occasionally I will use GIT because, unlike CVS or SVN, it is a distributed product."

William's Answer #2

"Like most ICT Administrators, I use several source control tools. These include SVN, GIT, and CVS. Each has unique features that make it useful in specific situations. While CVS is my default tool, I do use SVN because of its inclusion in many of the software development languages our team employs. GIT is more powerful and applicable in distributed environments. However, you need to be very experienced in order to use it."

4.

Define 'authentication,' and 'authorization,' and the tools that are used to support them in enterprise deployments.

Yet another technical question asking you to define some terms and demonstrate that you know how to work with the technology they involve. As with most technical questions, the best strategy is a straightforward answer defining the terms followed by a brief description of the tools used to manage them. The interviewer will ask you a follow-up question if they'd like some additional information.

William's Answer #1

"While both of these terms involve security and gaining access to a network, they are different in terms of their perspective. Authentication means to confirm your own identity, while authorization means granting access to the network for other users. Tools used for both authentication and authorization include APIs and LDAP servers."

William's Answer #2

"These terms are similar but different. Authentication confirms your identity to gain access to the system while authorization determines whether you are in fact authorized to have access to the resources. Authentication usually requires a username and password. Authorization and be done in a variety of ways which confirm the identity of the user who has provided their credentials through the authentication process. While these two processes differ, the tools used to execute them are the same and include APIs and LDAP servers."

5.

What is the role of the DMZ in network architecture? How do you enforce relational integrity in database design?

Another example of a hybrid operational and technical question. You are first being asked to define an ICT term, followed by an explanation of how it is used in the work you perform. The best way to address questions like this is to provide the definition and then give an example of how you would use the technology. Anticipate follow-up questions from the interviewer since this is very specific and topical.

William's Answer #1

"DMZ, which is short for DeMilitarized Zone, are buffer zones set up between public and private networks. The purpose of a DMZ is to maintain the security of the network and filter out any unwanted traffic. The traffic is screened using a firewall or another security appliance before it is allowed into the private network."

William's Answer #2

"A DMZ is a security strategy that helps keep unwanted traffic out if the client's private network. It is analogous to creating a small isolated network positioned between the Internet and the private network. While it is not 100% effective, it does provide the ICT administrators with one more line of defense, and additional time to detect malicious traffic trying to penetrate the network."

6.

Describe the elements of an N-tier architecture and their appropriate use.

Yet another example of a technical question in which the interviewer is requesting you to define the term and then explain its use. When working on the field of Information and Communication Technology, you should expect a lot of technical questions during an interview. The best way to prepare is to study up on the terms you typically encounter in this job.

William's Answer #1

"N-tier architecture which, is also called multi-tier architecture, separates the three components of software functions. These three components are the processing, data management, and presentation functions. They're separated from each other both physically and logically. The benefit of this is that the technology can be delivered in as fast a manner as possible and easily managed due to the distinct functions being segregated from each other."

William's Answer #2

"An N-tier architecture is one in which the three components of a software function are segregated into different layers. This improves the performance of the individual functions as well as the ability for the administrators to manage each of the functions. The top tier function is the presentation layer, the next layer is the logic tier, and the final layer is the data function. Structuring the functions in this manner also provides the shortest path for the data to get to the user after it has been queried or manipulated."

7.

Tell me about the project you are most proud of and what your contribution was.

This is a situational question which the interviewer is using to explore your capabilities and supporting Information & Communication Technology. They're interested in your answer, but they're also trying to learn more about your project management skills. Your answer should cover the project, your role, any challenges you overcame, and the results. Hopefully, you have researched the organization and have some understanding of their technology. If so, your answer should align with either project they've recently completed or ones they may be considering.

William's Answer #1

"One of the projects I am most proud of involved converting a company's telecommunications system from a PBX to VoIP. When planning and executing this project, I had to overcome several challenges, including resistance from the employees to have to learn a new technology as well as some technical issues which made the conversion difficult. However, I engaged each of the department heads in the planning process, soliciting their input and getting their buy in to the transition based on the business benefits the company would realize. My team and I completed the project one week ahead of schedule and on budget. The training we provided the company's users made for a smooth transition to the new system. Within three months, we realized the cost savings we had projected, and the company's productivity increased due to the technical features the VoIP system offered. Even the user resistance diminished over time."

William's Answer #2

"A recent project that I work on and that I'm proud of was an analysis of the company's data center operations to determine whether some of the infrastructure could be hosted offsite or moved to the cloud. The purpose of this project was to reduce the operating costs of the datacenter. However, we also had to consider other criteria, including system performance, reliability, security, and sustainability. The analysis was fairly complex and required me to collaborate with several organizations within the company, as well as hosting and cloud vendors such as AWS and Microsoft. It took over three months to compile the data, analyze it and produce a report. I recommended a hybrid hosting solution, which maintained a small hardware footprint on-premise, the majority of the infrastructure and applications moving to a cloud environment, and a hosted backup strategy. Not only did this meet all the criteria the company and established, but it also reduced our infrastructure operating costs by 20% annually."

8.

You have created a piece of code that didn't work in production. You found the bug during testing, and nobody else is aware of it. What would you do next?

While this appears to be an operational question, it is actually seeking to understand your level of integrity. There are several ways you can address this issue, but when answering the question be sure to respond in a manner that the company will find acceptable. As you probably have heard before there is the right way and there's an expedient way. While you might use the expedient way in real life, always answer a question like this in the right way.

William's Answer #1

"This has actually happened to me in one of my previous roles. I discovered a bug and knew it would take some effort to patch it. I could have probably done it without anybody noticing, however the time I spent correcting the mistake could have been used for more productive work. What I did was tell my manager and other project stakeholders about the bug and provide an estimate of how much time it would take to repair it. We discussed the impact on the rest of the project and decided to proceed, with complete transparency across the entire team. As it turned out, this had little impact on the overall project and we still finished on time and under budget."

William's Answer #2

"Developing code and creating applications is a team effort involving many people and resources. Anytime something negative or positive occurs it has an impact on the entire team. This is why the best course of action when you find a bug is to inform the group. Being transparent enables you to use the rest of the team and other resources to develop a solution to the problem, while not creating an issue that may delay the development or impact the quality of the work. In software development, honesty is always the best policy."

9.

You have been asked to research a new business application. You find two solutions, an on-premise solution, and a cloud-based one. Assuming they are functionally equivalent, which would you recommend?

At first, this appears to be a very simple question to answer. However, what the interview was actually looking for is not so much an answer but rather your rationale behind it. Either of these options is appropriate, as long as you can describe why you are recommending the one you choose.

William's Answer #1

"While both on-premise and cloud-based application hosting have their merits, I prefer to host applications on-premise. The reason behind this is that it provides the administrators with easier access to the applications and also assures a higher level of security due to no data being transmitted outside of the firewall. It is also likely to provide a higher level of performance. The drawbacks of this or that the licensing costs are probably greater and that were something to happen to the local datacenter, the information could be lost. Solutions to these points include negotiating an enterprise license with the vendor and having an effective disaster recovery plan in place."

William's Answer #2

"Based on my experience, cloud-based hosting is a more effective solution with the majority of applications an enterprise uses. The reason for this is that the cloud hosting companies such as AWS or Microsoft can ensure that their systems are running, and the applications are available nearly 100% of the time. They also make the effort to upgrade their hardware and networks on a regular basis to remain competitive. This alleviates the organization from having to do this for the on-premise infrastructure, thereby lowering the overall cost of supporting the application."

10.

What is the role of continuous integration systems in the automated-build process?

Yet another hybrid operational and technical question. By now, you should be starting to recognize these. As a reminder, the best way to answer these questions is to define the term and then provide an example of how it is used in your day to day work.

William's Answer #1

"Continuous Integration, or CI, is a development practice which helps to reduce errors and bugs while developing a new software feature or application. The CI and automated build server will recognize when a new piece of code has been developed. It will then run a test that will determine if the build was successful or whether it needs attention from the development team. This is an integral part of our software development process."

William's Answer #2

"Continuous integration, or CI, is a practice used by developers to ensure that the code they've built is correct before it is integrated into the software application on which they are working. The way we use CI is to require our developers to deposit their code into a shared repository several times a day. We then run build tests on the code to ensure that it was built correctly. This has been very effective at maintaining the integrity of our applications."

11.

Describe the difference between optimistic and pessimistic locking.

In this technical question, the interviewer is asking you to define the difference between two similar terms. Only the most experienced ICT qualified administrators will be able to address this. A good way to answer this question is to define each term, then provide an example of how the technology is applied.

William's Answer #1

"Pessimistic locking describes a process where a record is locked after the data is updated. This prevents anyone else from accessing the record. The lock can be released, and the record can then be updated. Optimistic locking, on the other hand, allows multiple users to open the same record and update it. The only time the record is locked is when someone is actively updating it. This is typically used for web applications in which collaboration is occurring."

William's Answer #2

"While these are both record locking technologies, their function differs dramatically. I pessimistic locking, when are user updates a record it is then locked. The record can only be updated again after the record is unlocked. Conversely, using optimistic locking, a record can be updated by one user and then other users can update it. The only time the record is locked is when a user is actively updating it. Optimistic locking is applied to applications where users are allowed to collaborate with each other."

12.

What criteria do you use to determine when to sunset an older technology?

This is an interesting operational question. Not only does it seek to understand how you manage technology in an ICT environment, but it also will help the interviewer gain some insight into how you balance cost and productivity. Many technology professionals chase the latest developments in their field and are willing to spend the organization's budget doing this. Others are overly budget conscious and don't upgrade products even when doing so may increase the organization's productivity. The key is finding a balance between these two strategies.

William's Answer #1

"There are several criteria I use when deciding when to sunset an older technology. The first is the cost of supporting the technology vs. the cost of upgrading it. Second, I consider the logistics of implementing a new technology including retraining the users. The final criteria I use is the impact on the organization, including downtime and any loss of productivity due to the transition."

William's Answer #2

"Deciding when to sunset older technology requires a careful analysis of the impact it would have on the organization. Criteria I use include the cost of continuing to support the older products and whether the manufacturers are providing regular upgrades and patches. The next thing I look at is whether the technology is still productive within the organization and if sunsetting it would impact the productivity in either a negative or positive way. The final criteria is the cost to upgrade the technology and if there are more effective ways to allocate the funds."

13.

What is clustering? Describe its use in an ICT environment.

It was mentioned earlier that you should expect the majority of questions you asked during an interview as an ICT Administrator to be either operational or technical. This is another example of a hybrid question that incorporates both of these features. Straightforwardly answer the question, with little embellishment. Anticipate follow-up questions from the interviewer.

William's Answer #1

"Clustering is connecting two or more computers in a manner that enables them to behave as a single data processor. The purpose of this is to create a parallel processing environment, perform a load balancing and establish fault tolerance."

William's Answer #2

"Clustering is the act of connecting two or more computers to make them appear and function as a single computer. This can be done with software such as Microsoft Cluster Server. The purpose of clustering is to increase performance, such as in the case of high-performance computing, provide failover and increased availability, or to create a parallel processing environment."

14.

What percentage of your time do you spend on the following: Network Architecture, Software and Hardware selection, Network Optimization (including upgrades,) User Support, and Administrative Tasks? How would you change this to better use your time?

This is an operational question in which the interviewer is seeking to understand your work habits and patterns. They may have some preconceived notion of how your time should be spent. A good way to respond to this question is directly and honestly. You should also be prepared for follow-up questions which will clarify what you're doing when performing each of the functions the interviewer has asked about.

William's Answer #1

"This is an interesting question, which I don't often think about. My best estimate is the following: I spend the majority of my time defining the network architecture and optimizing the network performance. Combined, these probably occupied 50% of my day. The next biggest component is user support which takes about 25% of my time. Administrative tasks probably represent about 15%, and the remaining 10% is spent on hardware and software selection."

William's Answer #2

"No two days for an ICT Administrator are identical, but were I to average things out, my time is probably spent in the following manner: I spend a great deal of time optimizing the network and reviewing the network architecture. These both directly impact the network performance and are the most important tasks I can perform. User support requires at least 25% of my time and often occurs adhoc when issues arise. The balance of my time is spent on administrative tasks and selecting hardware and software. Addressing network performance takes about 60% of the time, administrative tasks about 15% and hardware and software selection about 10%."

15.

When is the last time you downloaded an ICT utility from the internet to make your work more productive, and what was it?

This question is a hybrid between operational and technical. The interviewer will ask this type of question to confirm that you understand the importance of ICT Utilities, know where to get them, and to gain some information on the programs you prefer to use. As a seasoned ICT professional, you should be able to answer this question easily and give some examples of recent software utilities you've downloaded.

William's Answer #1

"As an ICT administrator, I'm constantly looking for new tools and utilities to use to maintain the integrity and performance of the networks I manage. I have a few go-to software programs that I use. These include the McAfee suite of antivirus programs, WinZip for file compression, Paragon Partition Manager for disk management, and Razer Cortex for disk cleanup. I usually obtain these directly from the manufacturer's website."

William's Answer #2

"System utility software as a key component when administrating and managing ICT network environments. I'm careful about the tools I use because I want them to be effective and affordable. In addition to the traditional tools from Microsoft, McAfee, and other providers, I use some very specific tools, especially for managing the network. These include SolarWinds Remote Monitoring and Management, Kaseya VSA, LogicMonitor, and Sensu. I have longstanding relationships with most of these vendors and even get the suit some of the products in their beta or pre-release form."

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Interview Questions

  1. In network security, what is a honey pot, and how is it used?
  2. What is the difference between OLAP and OLTP? When is each used?
  3. What source control tools have you used when managing an ICT network and why did you select these?
  4. Define 'authentication,' and 'authorization,' and the tools that are used to support them in enterprise deployments.
  5. What is the role of the DMZ in network architecture? How do you enforce relational integrity in database design?
  6. Describe the elements of an N-tier architecture and their appropriate use.
  7. Tell me about the project you are most proud of and what your contribution was.
  8. You have created a piece of code that didn't work in production. You found the bug during testing, and nobody else is aware of it. What would you do next?
  9. You have been asked to research a new business application. You find two solutions, an on-premise solution, and a cloud-based one. Assuming they are functionally equivalent, which would you recommend?
  10. What is the role of continuous integration systems in the automated-build process?
  11. Describe the difference between optimistic and pessimistic locking.
  12. What criteria do you use to determine when to sunset an older technology?
  13. What is clustering? Describe its use in an ICT environment.
  14. What percentage of your time do you spend on the following: Network Architecture, Software and Hardware selection, Network Optimization (including upgrades,) User Support, and Administrative Tasks? How would you change this to better use your time?
  15. When is the last time you downloaded an ICT utility from the internet to make your work more productive, and what was it?
  16. What is a cross-site scripting attack, and how do you defend against it?
  17. What do you do to ensure consistency across ICT development, quality, and production environments?
  18. What are the most important communications network performance metrics, and how do you monitor them?
  19. How often are you able to reuse code that you develop, and can you provide me an example of when you have done this?
  20. Describe a time when you were able to improve upon a network design that existed before you began working for the organization.
  21. Do you prefer to manage people or technology, and why?
  22. The CTO wants to know how much it would cost to bring in five more people on your team. They give you very vague requirements for the job they are looking for you to do. How would you react?
  23. What is the biggest ICT challenge you have faced, and how did you handle it?
  24. Given the problem of increasing latency on the network, what solution would you recommend? Explain your thought process.
  25. Describe the most innovative network upgrade that you initiated and what you did to convince the organization to implement this change.
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