Most programmers know about the Joel test - 12 yes/no questions to quickly evaluate where a company stands in its development department. These questions are things like "do you use source control" and "do you have a spec".

What are the equivalent questions for sysadmins? What are the 10 or 12 yes/no questions that indicate the cluefulness of the employer?

4 Answers 4

  • Do you have a dedicated server room/colo?
  • Do you do backups?
  • Do you have a repeatable machine build?
  • Do you have a trouble ticket tracking system?
  • Do you have a firewall? How is its configuration tracked or backed up?
  • Am I expected to run cabling, or do you have a contractor/facilites mgr for that?
  • Who runs the phone system?
  • Where do you keep documentation on procedures?
  • 1
    Do you keep documentation (preferably on a wiki)? May 6, 2009 at 22:18
  • What is your pager/on call procedure? What does the current rotation look like?
  • What operating systems do you support for the desktop?
  • What is your work from home policy?
  • Do your system administrators also do network administration tasks?

What hours do you try to work, what hours do you normally work, what hours do you occasionally work. You can learn a lot from these answers.


The best advice is besides talking to the Employer, is to talk to the employees. While many companies are replacing them with automated phone systems, I used to be able to learn more about the company by talking to the receptionist then I did from the interview.

Also don't forget to Google the company and the company officers. A friend of mine took a job then discovered that the owner and CEO where under inditment on several federal charges. He left as soon as possible.

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