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Based on “Organizational issues” — sore spots of IT? I think it would be fair to say that system administrators need to determine if a place is worth working at. There is a similar well known test by Joel for programmers.

What are the 12 questions system administrators should ask at an interview in order to help them decide if it's a good place to work at?

Following Joel's rules:

  1. Questions should be platform and technology agnostic
  2. Questions should elicit a simple response such as yes or no

EDIT: Please post one question at a time so we can see what users are voting for.


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question - should we put each question in a separate answer so that we have a top 12 voted question/answers? – Brian May 29 '09 at 17:11
I think that's probably the best way to work it. – Nick Kavadias May 29 '09 at 17:22
The Joel Test uses yes/no questions, so maybe we should stick to those types instead of "how" or "describe" questions. – Doug Luxem May 30 '09 at 14:11
True. But the questions can also be phrased in such a way that "any other answer other than x" would also suffice. Each organization does things differently, and while Joel has been nice enough to provide a template, it doesn't mean that /everyone/ will follow the same /kind/ of template. – Avery Payne Jun 1 '09 at 17:04
2. and 4. are very similar – Nick Kavadias Jul 2 '10 at 5:38

69 Answers 69

Does your change control incorporate ITIL or MOF?


Is there an annual training budget?


Will I have time and resources to work on projects to increase support, rather than merely implementing new systems, and fighting fires.

IMO, everything else is secondary to this one. If you've got time (and possibly money) to implement new support processes/software and the like, you can fix all of the "Do you have?" problems. If you've got them all, and you spend your life fighting fires, you'll still have a hellish time.


In your experience, what has differentiated SysAds who were Great, versus ones that were merely "good" or "okay"?

  • does IT management exist solely to help the technical staff deliver?
  • are results rewarded?

Would you consider yourself using the latest tehcnology available, if not, why?

The reason I would ask this is that if they use new technology all over the place, they may be willing to change fast and are willig to make changes often. Of course, this is a maybe.


What sort of influence does the System Administrator position have over the direction, planning and purchasing of IT in the company?

  • How scalable is the current architecture?
  • How responsive is the monitoring system?
  • Can sysadmins automate tasks by writing code?
  • How is managed the team's knowledge?
  • Is IT a strategic issue for the company's business?
  • Does current IT management/processes conform to best practices / ISO standards?

How much do you pay? I will take care of rest.

Exactly the wrong question. Pay varies according to experience, among other things, but you want to find out what the company is like, what their practices are, and how much buy-in you have from management. – Kevin M Aug 7 '09 at 18:30
It is a very good question, but the LAST one to ask. – kmarsh Aug 18 '09 at 15:42

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