Hiring guide for Shell Scripting Engineers

Shell Scripting Developer Hiring Guide

Shell Scripting is a powerful programming language commonly used for automating routine tasks in Unix-based operating systems. It is essentially a series of command line instructions that are stored in a file and can be executed to perform tasks such as file manipulation, program execution, and printing text. Shell scripting allows developers to use the shell's abilities and to automate tasks like file backups or system monitoring. It supports variables, functions, loops, conditional statements and other typical programming constructs. It is known for its simplicity and speed in handling and manipulating file directories.

Ask the right questions secure the right Shell Scripting talent among an increasingly shrinking pool of talent.

First 20 minutes

General Shell Scripting app knowledge and experience

The first 20 minutes of the interview should seek to understand the candidate's general background in Shell Scripting application development, including their experience with various programming languages, databases, and their approach to designing scalable and maintainable systems.

How would you define a variable in a shell script?
To define a variable in a shell script, you simply provide the variable name followed by an equals sign and the value. For example, 'VAR_NAME="Value"'. There should be no spaces around the equals sign.
What are the different types of variables in shell scripting?
There are three types of variables in shell scripting: Local variables, which are only available within the script they're defined in; Environment variables, which are available to all processes; and Shell variables, which are defined internally by the shell.
How would you pass arguments to a shell script?
Arguments can be passed to a shell script by including them after the script name when running the script. For example, './script.sh arg1 arg2'. Inside the script, these arguments can be accessed using $1, $2, etc.
What is the purpose of the 'echo' command in shell scripting?
The 'echo' command is used to output data to the console. It's useful for displaying variable values, messages to the user, or the results of other commands.
Describe the difference between a shell script and an interactive shell session.
An interactive shell session is a real-time terminal session where the user inputs commands and sees the output immediately. A shell script, on the other hand, is a file containing a series of commands that are executed in sequence. Shell scripts are used for automation and batch processing.
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What you’re looking for early on

Does the candidate have a strong understanding of shell scripting basics?
Has the candidate demonstrated the ability to write clean, efficient code?
Can the candidate debug and troubleshoot shell scripts?
Does the candidate have experience with the specific shell scripting languages used by your company?

Next 20 minutes

Specific Shell Scripting development questions

The next 20 minutes of the interview should focus on the candidate's expertise with specific backend frameworks, their understanding of RESTful APIs, and their experience in handling data storage and retrieval efficiently.

What is the use of the 'grep' command in shell scripting?
'grep' is a command-line utility used to search text or output based on a pattern. It's incredibly useful for filtering results or searching within files.
How would you run a shell script in the background?
To run a shell script in the background, you can use the '&' operator after the script command. For example, './script.sh &'. This will start the script and immediately return control to the shell.
What are the different types of loops in shell scripting and how do they differ?
There are three types of loops in shell scripting: 'for' loops, 'while' loops, and 'until' loops. 'For' loops iterate over a list of items, 'while' loops continue as long as a certain condition is true, and 'until' loops continue as long as a certain condition is false.
Describe the difference between 'source' and '.' in shell scripting.
'source' and '.' are both commands that read and execute commands from a file in the current shell environment. The only difference is that 'source' is a bash built-in command and '.' is a POSIX standard command, so '.' is more portable across different systems.
How would you handle errors in a shell script?
Error handling in shell scripts can be done using 'trap' commands, which allow you to catch signals and execute code when they occur. You can also use conditional statements to check the success of commands and react accordingly.
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The ideal back-end app developer

What you’re looking to see on the Shell Scripting engineer at this point.

At this point, a skilled Shell Scripting engineer should demonstrate strong problem-solving abilities, proficiency in Shell Scripting programming language, and knowledge of software development methodologies. Red flags include lack of hands-on experience, inability to articulate complex concepts, or unfamiliarity with standard coding practices.

Digging deeper

Code questions

These will help you see the candidate's real-world development capabilities with Shell Scripting.

What does this simple shell script do?
echo 'Hello, World!'
This shell script prints 'Hello, World!' to the standard output, typically the terminal.
What will be the output of this shell script?
for i in {1..5}; do echo $i; done
This script will print the numbers 1 through 5, each on a new line. It uses a for loop to iterate over the range {1..5}.
What does this shell script that manipulates an array do?
arr=(1 2 3 4 5); for i in ${arr[@]}; do echo $i; done
This script initializes an array with the numbers 1 through 5 and then prints each number on a new line. It uses a for loop to iterate over the elements in the array.
What does this shell script that uses concurrency do?
echo 'Start'; sleep 5 & echo 'End'; wait
This script prints 'Start', waits for 5 seconds in the background, prints 'End', and then waits for all background jobs to finish before exiting.

Wrap-up questions

Final candidate for Shell Scripting Developer role questions

The final few questions should evaluate the candidate's teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills. Additionally, assess their knowledge of microservices architecture, serverless computing, and how they handle Shell Scripting application deployments. Inquire about their experience in handling system failures and their approach to debugging and troubleshooting.

What is the purpose of the 'awk' command in shell scripting?
'awk' is a powerful text-processing command that's used for pattern scanning and processing. It can manipulate data, generate reports, and perform complex manipulations like array processing and functions.
How would you debug a shell script?
You can debug a shell script by using the '-x' option when running the script, which will print each command before it's executed. You can also use 'set -x' and 'set +x' within the script to start and stop debugging output.
What are the different ways to execute a shell script?
There are three main ways to execute a shell script: by calling the script file directly (./script.sh), by passing the script file as an argument to the shell (bash script.sh), or by including the script in your PATH and calling it by name.

Shell Scripting application related

Product Perfect's Shell Scripting development capabilities

Beyond hiring for your Shell Scripting engineering team, you may be in the market for additional help. Product Perfect provides seasoned expertise in Shell Scripting projects, and can engage in multiple capacities.