Kubernetes job interview questions: How to prepare

Kubernetes job interview questions: How to prepare

Demand for Kubernetes skills is growing. Whether you're a hiring manager or a job candidate, these 20 questions will help set you up for success.

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February 19, 2019

Understanding the “when-where-why-how” of Kubernetes

Jones notes that while a candidate’s nuts-and-bolts knowledge is certainly important, he’s also interested in digging into the person’s ability to think about why the organization makes (or should make) certain decisions and the relationship between technical choices and business strategy. 

• Explain to me why you’d suggest that a company build their own Kubernetes cluster in the cloud versus using a managed service.

“In answering this, I’m looking for somebody who is going to ask probing questions about what the business is trying to achieve, and then come up with a recommendation based on the goals the business is trying to achieve,” Jones says. “Asking questions about features that the managed service may not support would be good.”

Other relevant technologies & approaches

“It doesn’t end with Kubernetes. There are now tools that sit on top of the system that can further add value,” Shemesh says. “Personally, I’d find it incredibly strange if an engineer who has worked with Kubernetes hadn’t at least done something with Helm.” 

Here are other examples from Shemesh on Kubernetes-relevant technologies and capabilities to ask about depending on their relevance to your current or future needs.

• What are Istio and Linkerd?

Service meshes are helping to realize the potential of containers by enabling teams to move them without disrupting external services like load balancing and application firewalls. (Going blank on this question might be a sign of a candidate who is greener than they may have initially let on.)

• What is a Kubernetes Operator? What are some use cases that make them valuable?

We’ve got you covered on this topic, job hunters.

• Do you have experience with 12-factor development?

If you’re hiring developers to build apps that will be deployed and managed with Kubernetes, Jones suggests asking about their knowledge of and past experience using 12-factor development

“If an engineer can give well articulated answers to even half of these then they’re probably worth considering.”

“We find that 12-factor applications tend to run pretty easily on Kubernetes,” Jones says.

[ Related read: Optimizing Twelve (12) Factor app for OpenShift ]

Shemesh notes that this list of questions isn’t exhaustive, but does a good job of covering core concepts and tools.

“If an engineer can give well-articulated answers to even half of these then they’re probably worth considering,” Shemesh.

If “half” that seems like a low bar, recall that Kubernetes still has that new-car smell – it hasn’t been around long enough to assume exhaustive knowledge is the norm.

Bonus advice for Kubernetes job hunters

Shemesh offers a five-point plan to build up hands-on experience for IT pros on the newbie end of the spectrum:

  • “Read as much as possible.”
  • “Create your own cluster.”
  • “Deploy your own application.” (Here’s a tutorial on how to run a simple Hello World Node.js app with Minikube.”
  • “Build a Helm chart and use it to deploy a non-trivial application that incorporates multiple Kubernetes components. It should include: PVC, Deployment, Service, Ingress and a ConfigMap.”
  • “Play around with Istio or a similar technology.”

Wang further advises that IT pros who want to build up their Kubernetes credibility for job-hunting purposes should make sure they study microservices architecture and the reasons it exists.

“Understand the use cases involved in moving from monolithic applications to microservices – why? What is the value?” Wang says.

Finally, Jones recommends both the Certified Kubernetes Administrator and Certified Kubernetes Application Developer certifications depending on the role you’re seeking.

Either certification “would greatly assist the candidate,” Jones says.


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