Why this matters:

DevOps is a highly technical field, requiring extensive knowledge of programming languages, cloud architecture, full-stack engineering, automation, and problem-solving. A computer science background is extremely helpful, though formal education isn’t strictly necessary and having comprehensive development and programming experience is equally valuable.

What to listen for:

  • Evidence the candidate is well-versed in common web and cloud technologies
  • In-depth knowledge of automation and DevOps systems
  • Experience applying and expanding their skill set

Why this matters:

Since streamlining processes through automation makes DevOps strategies repeatable and more successful down the line, your new hire should be familiar with automation tools and software. However, automation can make you vulnerable to security breaches, so it’s important that the candidate understands the risks as well as the benefits.

What to listen for:

  • Mentions of specific tools and why they are useful
  • Examples of how the candidate has used automation to achieve specific goals
  • Acknowledgement of strategies to prevent security vulnerabilities when using automation

Why this matters:

Top DevOps engineers have a strong sense of not only their individual tasks and responsibilities, but also how these impact the company as a whole. An ability to look at the bigger picture will be useful as they begin to spearhead long-term projects, allowing them to tailor projects closely to business needs.

 

What to listen for:

  • An ability to clearly articulate the value that DevOps brings to an organization
  • Explanation of how automation can be used to innovate workflows
  • Examples from past roles that show a broad understanding of their impact

Why this matters:

DevOps engineers need to be highly organized and capable of juggling many tasks at once, without letting the quality of their work suffer. Since the various projects on their plate may be in different phases, your new hire must be able to pinpoint high-priority tasks and manage their workload effectively, ensuring everything is implemented smoothly.

What to listen for:

  • Proven ability to prioritize tasks that demand immediate attention
  • Use of a variety of techniques to manage time productively
  • Communication skills to establish healthy boundaries and manage delays

Why this matters:

DevOps engineers frequently have to liaise with executives and other employees at the company to provide updates on ongoing projects. This requires them to distill technical information in a way that’s accessible to people from a wide range of backgrounds, so it’s important to get a sense of their communication style and interpersonal skills.

What to listen for:

  • Experience conveying complex information in a simplified manner
  • Strong demonstrated verbal and written communication skills
  • Flexibility and patience when sharing technical information with others

Why this matters:

DevOps engineers aren’t just responsible for programming and automation — they’re also valuable problem-solvers. Before they can brainstorm possible solutions and improvements, however, they need to identify the root cause of a problem, requiring attentive listening skills. These skills can also help them interact with other departments, allowing them to foster relationships built on mutual understanding and respect.

What to listen for:

  • Attentive listening and interpersonal skills
  • A collaborative approach that values the perspectives of other team members
  • Ability to solve problems by paying attention to pain points

Why this matters:

DevOps engineers frequently interact with team members across different departments, so maintaining positive working relationships is important. While you’re looking for insights into the candidate’s ability to work well as part of a wider team, this question can also tell you a lot about their level of self-awareness — and how they view themselves.

What to listen for:

  • Experience acting as a liaison across an organization
  • Self-awareness and a desire to be a supportive team player
  • Qualities of thoughtfulness, consideration, and willingness to learn something new

Why this matters:

The function of DevOps within a company is constantly evolving, and great DevOps engineers are constantly looking at what comes next. If your candidate possesses the insight to recognize opportunities to use automation or other DevOps programming to improve operations down the line, they may be a huge asset to your company.

What to listen for:

  • Forward-thinking approach to work with a history of innovation
  • Keen understanding of what is necessary to succeed in the industry
  • Desire to apply knowledge of technology to positively advance the company’s operations

Why this matters:

When DevOps engineers are deeply passionate about their work, they will often go the extra mile for their companies and take proactive steps to develop their skills. This question can help you identify genuine passion for the field, while also providing deeper insights into the candidate’s background and interests.

What to listen for:

  • A compelling response describing how the candidate found their calling
  • Tying the work to a love of quality, problem-solving, learning, or making improvements
  • Signs that they are deeply invested in growing their skills and advancing in the field
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