The Linux Foundation just gave birth to seven supposedly interesting tips on how to prepare for a Linux SysAdmin job interview. Unfortunately, the research behind all this probably excellent advice was based on interviewing hiring managers – the people who, despite the title, contribute very little to the hiring decision-making process.

The hiring manager is usually the final stage of the hiring process. He takes the input from all interviewers and makes what usually is an obvious choice. A hiring manager is almost never in a position to evaluate a SysAdmin’s technical expertise. And, believe it or not, your proclaimed technical skills is why you got this interview in the first place.

Speaking from experience, when interviewing for a Linux SysAdmin position, don’t worry about the managers or the HR people: more often then not, their job is to endorse the decision made by the technical interviewers. Do worry about those. If the goal was to hire a team player who was a good fit for the company culture, I would not be talking to you.

When interviewing a candidate, I am seeking answers primarily to just these two questions: can this person teach me something useful and how much of my job can he do right now? No matter the prior experience, any new hire will require at least six months of adaptation.  I really wouldn’t expect him to work independently for about a year.

This will be a year of me handling my regular workload, training you, and doing a good chunk of your future work. Think about this: what’s in it for me? It’s not like I get a raise when you get hired.

The purpose of a job is to make money. If I didn’t have to work for a living, I may still have a beer with you. I am sure you’re a nice person, but I already know enough people. There are really only two things you can offer: teach me something useful and do some of my work.

So I just distilled the Linux Foundation’s thirteen pages of peanut gallery advice to a single sentence. You’re welcome.

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