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Rackspace Systems Administrator Interview Questions & Reviews

Updated Jun 24, 2014
All Interviews Received Offers

Getting an Interview  

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Interview Experience  

75%
9%
14%

Interview Difficulty  

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1 person found this helpful

Declined Offer

Negative Experience

Difficult Interview

Linux Systems Administrator Interview

Linux Systems Administrator

I applied in-person - interviewed at Rackspace in February 2012.

Interview Details – The process was very welcoming and positive until the team/leads/members interviewed me. I found it a hostile and very dismissive experience. The team members berated, debated and questioned knowledge as if there was no way they could be wrong. After doing linux systems admin and engineering for over 10 years I left and never looking back. I was offered 3 possible jobs, but who would want to work in a hostile environment like that

Interview Questions

  • Explain why someone would want to use SKIM neutral signatures instead of strict.   View Answer
  • Explain mom preform and worker in apache   View Answer

Reason for Declining – Hostile co workers only interested in arguing and proving their superiority over potential candidates.


Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Very Difficult Interview

Linux Systems Administrator I Interview

Linux Systems Administrator I
Austin, TX

I applied online and the process took 4 months - interviewed at Rackspace in February 2014.

Interview Details – The first interview I had was on the phone, with the recruiter. She asked me basic questions about previous work history, current work experience - Nothing too difficult or technical here. She then bounced me around to another recruiter, who later set me up with another phone interview.

The second phone interview was with a manager from Austin Rackspace. So there was some technical discussion involved - basic Linux / bash, iptables, resource usage troubleshooting, how to find information about the system and so forth. This is not very difficult if you have relevant experience.

The manager, after determining that you are technically proficient enough, will set you up (through the recruiter) for a TrueAbility test. TrueAbility allows you to log onto a server set up exclusively for Rackspace technical questions (traditionally called a "break box" fix or test).

The server was Centos and the questions were mostly about Apache2, Postfix, PHP, and mySQL. Please be expected to identify / edit / fix each service's configuration files. You will also need to utilize basic bash / mysql cli skills in this test (for example, how to place all incoming TCP connections into a file; or, how to import/export databases from mysql cli).

I had one hour to work on this. As you are by yourself, you can Google as needed.

Each follow-up from Rackspace took about a week or a week and a half through the recruiter via email.
My new recruiter let me know that they'd like to see me in person. So, I was set up with my 4th interview in person, in the Austin office. Prior to this, you have to set up a "racker talent" online profile where you essentially fill in another official application.

This interview was by far the most difficult. It was three hours long, and consisted of two 1.5 hour interviews with three people each. The first section of people were all admins, higher tier. They had me sit on a company laptop which was hooked up to a TV in an interviewing office. From there, they had me enter screen and asked me some Linux quiz-like questions; their expectation is to have you display as much as skill as possible. Be prepared for scrutiny. They will ask you additional technical questions, i.e. to elaborate on a particular command, or to explain what something would be used for in a real-life situation.

If you are not familiar with x, but you bring up x anyways, they may prod you to make sure you REALLY understand what it is you're talking about. To some degree, I suspect they are trying to understand technical limits. Do your homework! And if you're really not sure, say so; we are all human, after all. I learned a few things after walking away from this interview for sure.

The second half of the interview was their HR team; they asked about customer relationships, and how you handle yourself in certain environments, as well as what steps you'd take in particular situations. Example: What would you do if you accidentally deleted a customer's database, even if you could restore it in 30 seconds? Or: If you had to reboot a customer's server to resolve an issue, how would you handle that?

I didn't get an offer after this interview - I got a voicemail stating they'd made a decision, and that other candidates were chosen. This was understandable because of some lack of technical knowledge.

Three months later, a recruiter contacted me, inquiring about another phone interview. They wanted to give me a 2nd chance since I'd made a good impression the first time around. The phone interview was nothing special, just re-hashing everything I'd gone through and discussed so far with the team. On the same call, the recruiter set up another in-person interview in the Austin office.

The interview was still three hours. However, this time I had three one-hour sessions with two people each hour. Instead of having technical and relationship questions separated, all three sessions combined the subjects. For some questions there was a whiteboard - "Draw me an example of a basic Apache VirtualHost." "If you had all the money in the world, what kind of servers would you set up and why?"

Other questions that I remember:
"If a customer stated their website was slow, what exact steps would you do to troubleshoot it?"
"If a website was reported as completely 'down', what would you do?"

There are many "stream of consciousness" technical questions like these - they can be very open to interpretation. Don't feel obliged to reply perfectly, just tell them what you'd do, and how you'd do it.
Of course, there are also questions such as, "Are you familiar with our products, and can you explain them to us?" "What do you know about load balancing?" "Have you worked with mySQL replication?"

About a week and a half later, the recruiter called me back with an offer which I accepted.

Interview Question – "If you had all the money in the world, what kind of servers would you set up and why? Draw it for us."   Answer Question


Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Difficult Interview

Windows Systems Administrator II Interview

Windows Systems Administrator II
San Antonio, TX

I applied through an employee referral and the process took 1 week - interviewed at Rackspace in September 2011.

Interview Details – Straight forward easy interview process. Phone screen followed by in person interviews. The in person was more difficult ( to be expected). There was a lot of SQL and IIS, which most Sys Ads dont get a lot of exposure to before hand (in my opinion)

Interview Question – Lots of IIS and SQL that I was unfamiliar with   Answer Question

Negotiation Details – Easy


Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Easy Interview

Linux Systems Administrator II Interview

Linux Systems Administrator II
San Antonio, TX

I applied online and the process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at Rackspace in October 2011.

Interview Details – There were three sets of interviews that were an hour long each with two people every time. They kept asking the same questions like "How does DNS work?" They wanted to know what I liked to do for fun. I thought I did a lot of research on the company before, but evidently I didn't -- make sure you do your research on what products the company offers for what you are applying for.

Interview Question – "What is something that you're most proud of from a previous job?"   Answer Question


No Offer

Positive Experience

Very Difficult Interview

Systems Administrator Interview

Systems Administrator

I applied through a recruiter and the process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at Rackspace in December 2012.

Interview Details – I was originally contacted on LinkedIn by a recruiter. They were courteous and typically responsive to any inquiries I had. The interview process, overall, took about a month due to the holidays at the time. I had multiple interviews and they were really committed to finding a position in the company that worked for me.

The one interesting thing about Rackspace is that, if you have the right attitude, they will try and work with you as much as possible to find a position that suits you even if you end up not working out for what you want or what they originally pointed you towards. In my case, I didn't quite have the knowledge for what I -wanted-, but they were happy to work with me.

Ultimately, I decided that instead of settling for less I would continue to work on my skill set and then perhaps contact them again in the future if I felt I was ready to give it another try. I was right at the last phase where they would fly me out to Texas for the final stage of the interview process, so I ultimately turned them down before I got past the last leg and into offer territory.

For those applying for administrator positions, they do give you Break Fix tests while on the phone with someone. They're interested in how you troubleshoot issues and, if you're not used to being on the phone while someone is watching your every move, it can be fairly nerve wracking.

Interview Question – They asked me multiple questions where they tried to play psychological games to get me to try and 2nd guess myself.   Answer Question


Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Very Difficult Interview

Linux Systems Administrator Interview

Linux Systems Administrator
San Antonio, TX

I applied through an employee referral and the process took 3 months - interviewed at Rackspace in December 2013.

Interview Details – I first completed two phone interviews upon starting the process. First one seemed to be formalities about myself and some basic work history. Second phone interview was much more technical about working with Linux, some DNS, as well as what other applicable skills I had.

Afterward, I was given a breakfix through the TrueAbility website. This is an automated system that gives you a set number of things to fix and the grades it automatically. HR people can view your recorded session in case there are scoring anomalies. These tests are designed to be hard so it's okay to only get a few things correct; it is used to see where you would best fit in.

Finally, I made it to the in-person interviews. They are as difficult as others here are expressing. I interviewed at the Rackspace offices on three separate occasions spanning a couple of months. Each interview day consisted of at least two smaller interviews. In total, counting phone interviews and each individual interview from the blocks, I was interviewed by the company NINE times.

(A sidenote: I took the job, but I was not offered a Linux Admin role. There was some turbulence with training and placement so I took another position instead. Regardless, I still got a job!)

Interview Question – Many. Generally, they test your knowledge by asking you questions until they get an "I don't know" answer. This lets them know where your skills rest, and then they will ask you to take an educated guess to the "I don't know" based upon what you do know.   Answer Question

Negotiation Details – I used averages provided here on Glassdoor to negotiate a salary. Because this would be my first IT job I suggested the average calculated here as my starting income. This was agreeable.


Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Very Difficult Interview

Linux Systems Administrator I Interview

Linux Systems Administrator I

I applied through other source and the process took 3 months - interviewed at Rackspace in June 2013.

Interview Details – It was very difficult. I had to do a phone interview which was to see if I was a good fit for the company. Then I had to do a break fix so they can see what I possess skill wise. Break fix is very hard and is not meant for you to complete or ace.

Interview Question – They had me stand up and write on the white board the Linux ABC's in 60 seconds and specify what each command does in a terminal window.   Answer Question


No Offer

Neutral Experience

Systems Administrator Interview

Systems Administrator

I applied online and the process took 1+ week - interviewed at Rackspace.

Interview Details – 1st step was a 20 min phone interview. After this mostly personality type interview i was scheduled for a technical phone interview. then i was invited to the castle for a 3 hour panel style interview

Interview Question – Name 5 things you can do with a brick other than build things   Answer Question


2 people found this helpful

Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Difficult Interview

Windows Systems Administrator II Interview

Windows Systems Administrator II
San Antonio, TX

I applied online and the process took 4 weeks - interviewed at Rackspace in October 2013.

Interview Details – Cold application online. Had phone contact within a week. One phone interview with a Recruiter that was of a technical nature. Second phone interview with a Lead Tech that was pure technical. Brought in for a face to face which consists of 3 rounds of 2 interviewers with varying levels of technical content. All the typical stuff to feel you out as a person, as an employee and as an purveyor of IT skills.

**Important item to note, in the end they place people based on test results. You will be quizzed on knowledge items from a script that is directly related to their environment and to which position you are applying. The environment is quite well segmented so the line of questioning will be very specific. The point being there are defined metrics used to place a new hire in a position rather than using intuitiveness and conversation to find out if a person has the knowledge and isn't communicating it or has the ability to produce said information without requiring a month long training course. An example that didn't happen to me but I could see occurring would be if you were asked to rattle off a sql select statement to delete records older than X days in a table. Not being a DBA this isn't usually on the tip your tongue but if an individual was able to communicate the general structure of a statement or even describe the administration interface for SQL, default databases and their use, default accounts and some permissions, tables, setting up jobs, any of that I would consider them knowledgeable enough to solve the issue in short order. At RS that would be anywhere from a 50-0% because the question was not answered and that could mean the difference between you getting a Level4, Level 3 or Level 2 position.

This seems to work out well though for RS. Tons of applicants, tons of jobs, tons of growth. But something else you need to ask about during the interview process is the promotion process. You have to test up into the next level. Testing opens 2x a year in the summer and winter. But you aren't necessarily allowed to test, you have to be granted the opportunity. You also have to be in a position for a year before you can test up even though the officially they say 6 months. No-one I have spoken with knows of anyone doing it in less than a year. Depending on on your hire date you could be in a position for nearly 1.5 years before being able to promote. Not good to start low just to get in the door.

Interview Question – Sell yourself. Sell Sell Sell. They ask all the typical q's about bad customer support, good customer support, difficult coworkers or customers, etc etc. A lot of "why should we hire you?" "why do you want to work here?"   View Answer

Negotiation Details – Very Corporate so salaries are scaled to job titles. IE: If you qualify for a Linux Admin 3 slot but feel you deserve $100k be prepared to not get that as a base salary. So shoot for the stars, find out your job title, then work it from there.


Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Difficult Interview

Windows Systems Administrator I Interview

Windows Systems Administrator I
San Antonio, TX

I applied through an employee referral and the process took 3 weeks - interviewed at Rackspace in November 2012.

Interview Details – Interview process is thorough and somewhat tough -- but designed to insure that qualified candidates are placed in the correct jobs for which they are applying.

Interview Question – In-depth IIS knowledge is a plus.   View Answer

Negotiation Details – SImple -- I took the job!

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