Senior systems engineer Interview Questions


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Senior Systems Engineer was asked...25 April 2012

Given a wireless channel with loss rate 0.1, what's the throughput one can get with retransmission.

8 Answers

It can modeled as binary symmetric channel. As to my understanding, channel capacity can be acheived with perfect feedback and simple retransmission scheme, so i guess the answer is 1-H(0.1). Less

10/(1.23456...)=8.1 packets per sec

Interviewer was correct. With probability 0.1 you have one retransmission, with probability (0.1)^2 you have two, etc., since you can also lose the retransmitted packets, reducing the throughput to approximately 0.89. Less

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There is a body of water that starts with 1 square unit, and doubles in size every day (2 units after 2 days, 4 units after 4 days). It takes 100 days to fill up. How many days would it take to fill if you started with 2 square units?

6 Answers

100 - 1 = 99 days

Starting with 2 square units at time t=0 is like 1 square unit at t = 1. [this logic is the key to answering the question]. Now let's do the first few cases. t = 0: size = 1+1 = 2 t = 1: size = 2(1+1) = 2+2 = 4 = f(2) in the 1 unit case. Pretty easy to see it only requires 1 time period less from here. The OP was right. Less

This question is phrased incorrectly. I think you meant "4 units after 3 days". Which makes your answer wrong as well. This is not helpful at all. Less

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All the basic questions on my subject

4 Answers

Yeah it was good. I answered all questions

Have u got the offer letter?

Yes and I joined there

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Flanders (IN)

Why do you want to work here?

3 Answers

Silly, meaningless question. It is a psychologically based question that everyone looks up the answer for on the internet. You just get a memorized response that tells you nothing about the person. Less

Looking for bright future

Looking for bright future in your home country

Trion Worlds

If I put you in front of a system no one has ever used before and asked you to spin up 100 servers, how long would you tell me it would take?

3 Answers

I regarded this question as a bit ludicrous and explained that if no one has experience with this system then no one would be able to give any reliable estimates. Give me a day to read up on the system, maybe do a couple test runs with it to see how long it takes to churn out 1 server and 10 servers, and then at the end of the day I can have a much more solid timeline. Less

It would take me significantly less time then average.

Depends on the hardware. ;)

SEI Investments

What would you do if you got an error with the Schema Master FSMO role?

3 Answers

Since I don't have experience with that and clearly stated I was a Linux/DevOps Engineer, and if I had to figure it out, I'd reach out to Microsoft support, since that's what you're paying all that top dollar for, since it certainly isn't functionality. I'd then set up an LDAP server on RHEL if I was responsible for that kind of stuff moving forward. Less

I see why you never got an offer.

Yep, because the current employees can’t read resumes.


If you could be any Linux command, which would you be?

3 Answers

Was excited - correct one - "whoami"

top sleep

"whomai" :)

Diverse Systems Group

Where do you see your self in 5 years?

2 Answers

In your seat. LoL They laughed. I laughed. Then they said, no seriously. And I said in your seat. Got hired and did it in 2. Haha Less

My answer was I see myself as Technical Lead.


What would be the best data structure for a name-to-phone number lookup, and what would be the average search time? (As a follow up: What could you change in order to improve that search time?

2 Answers

hash table. Search time is constant in time. can anyone suggest to improve the search time further? Less

If this algorithm is for a smartphone, you're probably going to want to search by partial name, or misspelled name. For that, you could do the hash table, but for each tuple put in multiple entries in the hash table: one for the full name, first name, last name, first three letters of first or last name, soundex strings of the first and last names, etc. The lookup is still O(1) in time, but it's far more useful for the user, at the expense of space (still O(1) though). Less


Tell me about yourself. Your experience. Then into technical question

2 Answers

well to my knowledge

The key in these questions is to cover the fundamentals, and be ready for the back-and-forth with the interviewer. Might be worth doing a mock interview with one of the IBM or ex-IBM Senior Systems Engineer experts on Prepfully? They give real-world practice and guidance, which is pretty helpful. Less

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