15 Tough Storage Interview Questions to Prepare for Success (2023)

15 Tough Storage Interview Questions to Prepare for Success (1)Important Skills that Matter…

In a moment, we’ll get to the tough storage interview questions.

And as a bonus, we’re going to deep dive into 3 secret storage engineer skills.

Here’s why you should stick around until the end…

Because it takes more than technical skills to do the job right.

Imagine this – behind every successful business is data, lots of data.

And behind all that data are massive amounts of storage in various formats and configurations.

Pick any of the more recent success stories: Airbnb, Uber, SpaceX, and you’ll find there are petabytes of data constantly getting crunched by Big Data algorithms.

Get storage training for NetApp, EMC, Azure, AWS, and VMware.

Guess who’s behind the technical scene making sure all the data crunching is going on without any interruptions – THAT’S RIGHT – storage engineers (A.K.A. SAN Engineer)!

Tough Data Storage Interview Questions

Now, let me share some insanely practical storage engineer interview questions that managers can use during your next interview (screening), or interviewees can use to prepare for your next storage job interview.

  1. As a SAN engineer, provide some examples of how you manage storage capacity?
  2. What are the key performance metrics you track that show how the storage is performing? Explain why?
  3. How would you troubleshoot reports from a DBA that storage is causing poor database performance? Step by step, what would you do?
  4. What would be the storage performance thresholds you would use for alerts? Explain why?
  5. Share an example with details of a time when you worked with a DBA to design a storage solution for a tier 1 application? Step by step what did you do?
  6. Share an example with details of a time when you worked with a virtualization team to design a solution for presenting storage to vSphere or another virtualization platform? Step by step what did you do?
  7. Describe a time when you had to solve a problematic storage problem caused by improperly configured SAN hardware or software?
  8. Describe a time when you had to recover from a major storage outage, and what did you do to resolve the issue?
  9. This is a 3 part question. How would you diagnose a storage problem where the storage keeps disconnecting – give an example for iSCSI, NFS, and Fiber Channel (FC) attached storage? Give as much detail as possible about what you would do for each scenario.
  10. Out of all the storage solutions on the market which do you prefer to use and why?
  11. (Using a whiteboard to draw on) Describe how you would design a storage solution for big data, virtualisation, and file storage? High-level, step by step how would each be step up?
  12. There’s a lot of ways this can be done but how do you prefer to scale (grow) storage pools for databases, virtualization, and file shares? Explain why your way is better.
  13. How would you handle working with another storage engineer who didn’t agree with you on storage-related work such as design, capacity planning, and monitoring?
  14. What are your thoughts about deduplication and thin-provisioning? Give examples of your thoughts.
  15. Explain how/what you do to keep your storage skills sharp and up-to-date?

The SAN Engineer Interview questions listed above are taken from my years of related real-life examples working as and with storage engineers.

Feel free to add them to your list of technical questions to fill in the gaps…

If that’s all you came for – thanks for the visit.

Time to move on to the really good stuff…

Storage Engineer (Secrets)

In this lesson, let’s go over 3 critical skills successful companies count on their storage engineers to do right.

To help you better understand, we’ll break each job skill down for you.

As promised, I’ve already given you the tough storage engineer interview questions – get ready for the real secrets of success…


First off, let me give KUDOS to all the hard-working storage engineers across the world because there are a lot of jobs they handle daily that nobody else can do.

Here’s a breakdown of the skill sets we’ll cover in this lesson:

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  1. Designing, Building & Supporting Storage Solutions (Big and Small)
  2. Data Storage Capacity Planning(Big and Small)
  3. Monitoring Data Storage Systems(Big and Small)

Alright, are you ready to dive into the life of a SAN engineer?

Let’s go…

1. Designing, Building & Supporting Data Storage Solutions

15 Tough Storage Interview Questions to Prepare for Success (2)Whether a business is operating on spinning disks, solid-state (SSD), or flash, someone has to design and build the storage infrastructure (and yes, let’s not forget storage provisioned in the cloud).

Every server from the smallest VM or Docker container that’s hosting a tiny web application up to and including the most massive database needs storage to exist.

And without someone with the right skills managing the hardware and software properly, you can bet there are painful problems with poor performance, data loss, and constant crashes…

Ouch, right?

Don’t forget to take notes or save this page as a shortcut so you can come back over and over until this lesson sinks in!

Listen, I’ve worked in this world since 1996, and now is the best time to take action if you’re thinking about becoming a SAN engineer.

Here’s why…

Because storage engineers with the right skill are in urgent demand because Big Data is always growing.

Especially with more businesses starting to use deep learning frameworks such as Tensor Tools and Kerasto develop A.I. software.

And this urgent need brings us to the most crucial point of this lesson.

RIGHT NOW businesses everywhere are looking for highly skilled and experience storage engineers who can dynamically adjust and tweak gigabytes, luns, aggregates, and flash pools around with surgical precision without impacting business services.

And get this.

They will pay a premium to hire the best SAN engineers!

You see, a quality storage solution is not just about buying the newest storage technology to replace the old, oversubscribed, poorly designed, and abused storage system; it’s about understanding the need and asking the right questions before meeting with any storage vendor.


Why have a meeting if nobody knows what storage problems or challenges need to be solved?

This unfortunately is where many businesses go wrong. The CTO normally meets with vendors at a conference, agrees to buy something shiny, and then the storage engineer tries to make it fit.

And this is why many of the storage infrastructures I’ve seen over my 20+ years are just patched together storage solutions from multiple vendors – a bit of EMC, some NetApp, and now Pure because flash is the buzz that solves all the bad practices from the past.

Also, if you’re a VMware shop let’s not forget VSAN because I bet someone on the shop floor is already building a VSAN whether it’s approved or not.

How Google handles storage…

Impressive, right?

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Look, I could be way off but here’s what I look for when I interview storage engineers.

The skillset of a solid storage engineer is someone who can adapt to the environment both via their skills and their mindset.

But the problem I’ve had filling these criteria is because storage engineers, like network engineers, are religious.

Here’s what I mean…

Many storage engineers have become overly zealous about brands such as Pure or Cisco and have lost their objectivity…

So unless the plan for your shop is to convert every gigabyte of storage to Pure, or every network switch to Cisco, then I avoid hiring brand zealots.


On VMinstall, I always tell it like it is and teach my readers to keep an open mind – learn to be objective and (agnostic).

I love VMware products but I also suggest you learn about OpenStack skills, XenServer, and Docker, too.

Being objective and having an open mind allows for more career opportunities, as well as possible involvement in cool or challenging projects that only include people who can think outside the box.

Nothing against Pure or Cisco, just making a point!

The same could be said about EMC or HP.

I know this is touchy ground but it needs to be said out loud! Don’t be religious about brands or technologies because they can change 6 months from now when your CIO or CTO goes to their next Tech conference.

Yes, you read that right…


It’s not uncommon to see a storage engineer job posted on Indeed with skill requirements for 5 – 6 storage brands. Click here to take a look for yourself.

So having a broad data storage skill set is essential for your career success.

But you also need to be able to think objectively and constructively about what you have to work with because sometimes you’ll have to turn lemons into lemonade.

Think about this example.

What if you’re hired by a big brand, exciting right?

But on your first day, you find out they’re recovering from a major storage disaster that has been going on for several weeks.

Then you learn you have just replaced the guy or gal who quit or was fired over the crash – now what?

Think I’m exaggerating? I’m not.

(Video) NetApp Video Interview Questions and Answers Practice

Learn to design, build and support all types and brands of storage solutions.

And don’t get hung up on one flavor of storage unless you plan to become an SME for a brand – but even then knowing the good and bad about the competition is vital for an SME.

Good SAN engineers in my book focus on great services, even in the worst storage environments.

And believe me when I say there are some incredible storage messes behind many of the hottest brands.

The secret to designing a solid storage solution is to ask relevant questions:

  • What will the application be used for?
  • How many users will the application host?
  • Who are the users of the application?
  • How fast will the data grow?
  • Is there any special requirement for PII data?
  • Are there any special security requirements?
  • What is the expected SLA of the application?
  • Is there a budget for storage?

By defining a scope upfront, you’ll “hopefully” avoid problems and rework later.


If there are any red flags or if the existing storage infrastructure cannot meet the requirements of the project, then raise your concerns before moving forward.

Always try to avoid designing and building a data storage solution that will not work long-term.

All too often short-term solutions become long-term problems that storage engineers have to babysit.

Got it?

Now let’s move on to the next topic…

2. Data Storage Capacity Planning15 Tough Storage Interview Questions to Prepare for Success (3)

Every storage Rock Star I’ve worked with tracks capacity trends for daily, weekly, and monthly usage.

Outages at Amazon don’t happen because storage fills up and crashes their servers.

This is why storage capacity planning is an important skill when designing scalable storage solutions for big eCommerce databases.

But you know something?

Even small business expects the same careful planning.


Do you agree data is important?

OK, then if data is so important why do IT shops operate on the premise where DBAs send an email to storage admins with a request for “x” GBs of storage?

And a few minutes later the response email says, “Done”.

Then 3 months down the road all hell is breaking loose because the storage admin did not ask any questions about what the storage was going to be used?

And now a new web service that the company’s sales and marketing team have been planning a grand opening for months is showing a 500 server unavailable error because the database can’t keep up with all the hits the marketing campaign has generated.

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Am I getting through to you?

These are real experiences I am sharing.

The world needs storage engineers who can think ahead and who are not just brand evangelists. Technical thinkers who can also work with other teams to unravel chaos.

Capacity planning is a key skillset for a storage engineer and anyone desiring to become a storage engineer should spend a lot of time testing and developing skills with tools and scripts that can help generate useful trend reports.

Get this:

Once a storage capacity problem is happening it’s too late to undo poor planning…

Now let look at the 3rd skill set.

3. Monitoring Data Storage Systems15 Tough Storage Interview Questions to Prepare for Success (4)

I saved the best for last.

All joking aside, storage monitoring has to be the most challenging monitoring of all infrastructure technologies.


Because most storage manufactures have their own storage tools, which are not cheap so often storage engineers are fending for themselves with freeware, trialware or homemade scripts.

Albeit storage vendors have gotten better over the years adding tools and dashboards, however, there are still gaps between brands that a good storage engineer will need to plug.

This is why, once again, I suggest developing the skills now for monitoring capacity and performance on big and small storage systems.

I know monitoring storage sounds easy, but I’ve seen storage systems fail unexpectedly and take weeks to restore all services back to normal.

Remember, at any time, and without any warning, a drive, controller, or SFP can fail.

Or firmware can get buggy, heck any number of hardware or software issues can happen that cause storage across multiple services to flip out.

Monitoring may not stop a failure but it’s better to know a drive has failed so it can be replaced before a second and third drive fails and you only have 2 spares. Or getting an alert that an SFP has failed, before the redundant path fails, too.

Sorry if this is not a step by step list of skills a good storage engineer should have, but if you’re able to see the big picture I have just painted for you, and if you’re able to wrap your head around why storage engineer is important, then you get the value this lesson is designed to create.

Just like every other lesson I have written about on VMinstall, my goal is to forge a “Think Service First” mindset…

Does this sound like you?

Let’s Wrap Up…

There’s a lot to be said about storage engineers we didn’t cover and even more about all the different data storage technologies now available.

But that said, I can’t stress enough how BIG the 3 skillsets we covered are for your success.

  • Learn to design, build and support all types of storage. Don’t get hung up on one brand.
  • Develop skills and learn techniques for capacity management (Writing your own scripts).
  • Test and evaluate all storage monitoring solutions until you find the right one for your use case.

Probably one of the most practical storage engineer skills is to never let a disk fill up and crash a system!

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Make sure you emphasize this point in your storage job interview.

Still, want more?

  • Read about storage strategies.
  • Learn about white box storage.
  • Get a portable wireless NAS hard drive.


What are 15 good interview questions? ›

50+ most common job interview questions
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Walk me through your resume.
  • How did you hear about this position?
  • Why do you want to work at this company?
  • Why do you want this job?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What can you bring to the company?
  • What are your greatest strengths?
2 Sept 2022

What are the 8 hardest interview questions and answers? ›

The most difficult interview questions (and answers)
  • What is your greatest weakness? Strengths-and-weaknesses interview questions are a given. ...
  • Why should we hire you? ...
  • What's something that you didn't like about your last job? ...
  • Why do you want this job? ...
  • How do you deal with conflict with a co-worker?

What are 10 good interview questions? ›

Top 10 Interview Questions and Best Answers
  • Tell Me About Yourself. ...
  • Why Are You the Best Person for the Job? ...
  • Why Do You Want This Job? ...
  • How Has Your Experience Prepared You for This Role? ...
  • Why Are You Leaving (or Have Left) Your Job? ...
  • What Is Your Greatest Strength? ...
  • What Is Your Greatest Weakness?
17 Feb 2022

What are the top 20 interview questions? ›

Here are the rest of the top 20 interview questions hiring managers might ask:
  • Tell me about a time you worked with a difficult coworker.
  • How do you stay motivated?
  • What skills are you hoping to develop?
  • Why are you looking for a new role?
  • How do you manage your stress levels?

What are tricky interview questions? ›

15 tricky job interview questions — and how to nail them
  • Can you tell me a little about yourself?
  • How did you hear about the position?
  • What do you know about the company?
  • What are your greatest professional strengths?
  • What do you consider to be your weaknesses?
  • What is your greatest professional achievement?

What are the 5 Star interview questions? ›

The most common questions are:
  • Tell me about a time when you were faced with a challenging situation. ...
  • Do you usually set goals at work? ...
  • Give me an example of a time you made a mistake at work.
  • Have you ever faced conflict with a coworker? ...
  • Tell me about a time when you handled the pressure well.

How do you answer 10 difficult interview questions? ›

How to answer 10 tough interview questions
  1. Story Highlights.
  2. "Tell me about yourself" is the perfect moment to toot your own horn.
  3. Always ask for feedback from your colleagues to gauge your performance.
  4. Don't badmouth a boss or give a laundry list of reasons for leaving your last job.

What are 10 good interview questions and answers? ›

10 most common interview questions and answers
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What attracted you to our company?
  • Tell me about your strengths.
  • Tell me about your strengths.
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • Tell me about a time where you encountered a business challenge?

How do I prepare for a 2022 interview? ›

Here are the most important interview skills to focus on and how to make sure you project professionalism and expertise in your field.
  1. Interview preparation.
  2. Know the company.
  3. Speaking skills (clear, cohesive, calm)
  4. Think first, speak second.
  5. Listening.
  6. Show interest, not desperation.
  7. Show gratitude.

What are the 3 types of interviews? ›

Structured interviews: The questions are predetermined in both topic and order. Semi-structured interviews: A few questions are predetermined, but other questions aren't planned. Unstructured interviews: None of the questions are predetermined.

What are the 3 types of interview questions? ›

There are a few types of interview questions one can ask a potential candidate when interviewing: competence, behavioral and situational. It's important to have a mix of all three types so you can really assess their skills, drive and future behavior should they join your team.

What are the top 25 interview questions? ›

They're the perfect way to ease candidates into the interview and get the background information you need.
  • How did you hear about the role? ...
  • What do you know about the company? ...
  • Why did you apply? ...
  • What are your key professional strengths? ...
  • Why should we hire you? ...
  • Do you have any questions for us?
14 Apr 2022

What are some unique interview questions? ›

Unique and Weird Company Culture Questions
  • Do you come to work just to work, or do you like to socialize along the way?
  • What inspires you to work in this industry?
  • Tell me about a time when you felt like a hero at work.
  • Tell me about a time when a job or company felt like a bad fit for your personality and why.
6 Apr 2021

How do you handle stress? ›

Healthy Ways to Cope with Stress
  1. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. ...
  2. Take care of yourself. ...
  3. Take care of your body. ...
  4. Make time to unwind. ...
  5. Talk to others. ...
  6. Connect with your community- or faith-based organizations.
  7. Avoid drugs and alcohol.

How do you control interview stress? ›

Step back, slow down, take a deep breath, and repeat the question while you allow yourself time to formulate your response. Breathe. Remember to stay present, be engaged in the conversation, and focus on full, deep breaths if you feel nervous throughout the interview.

How do you handle difficult interview questions? ›

5 Tips for Handling Difficult Interview Questions
  1. Bring an extra copy of your résumé—for yourself. ...
  2. Bring paper and pen. ...
  3. Answer a question with a question. ...
  4. Consider the motivation behind the question. ...
  5. Keep a sense of humor.
26 Sept 2016

What is the star technique in interviews? ›

The STAR method is a structured manner of responding to a behavioral-based interview question by discussing the specific situation, task, action, and result of the situation you are describing.

How do I define success? ›

As a starting point, it's helpful to know that success is typically defined as reaching a goal or accomplishing something you've set out to achieve. It provides a source of motivation for people to change their lives and values.

How can I practice interview? ›

Rehearsing is one of the best ways to prepare for a job interview. You can practice with a professional, ask a family member or friend to help out, or practice by yourself. A mock interview with a professional is one way to learn and practice interviewing skills, as well as using an online interview preparation tool.

What are the top 3 questions to ask an interviewer? ›

Good Interview Questions to Ask About the Company

What exactly does this company value the most, and how do you think my work for you will further these values? Can you give me some examples of the most and least desirable aspects of the company's culture? How does this company define and measure success?

Why should we hire you answer best? ›

Show that you have skills and experience to do the job and deliver great results. You never know what other candidates offer to the company. But you know you: emphasize your key skills, strengths, talents, work experience, and professional achievements that are fundamental to getting great things done on this position.

What are the 4 steps in Star? ›

What is the STAR method?
  1. Situation: Set the scene and give the necessary details of your example.
  2. Task: Describe what your responsibility was in that situation.
  3. Action: Explain exactly what steps you took to address it.
  4. Result: Share what outcomes your actions achieved.
1 Jul 2022

What are Behavioural questions? ›

Behavioral interview questions are questions based on how you acted in a specific situation. They're meant to gauge how you react to stress, what's your skill-level, and how you conduct yourself in a professional environment. They also allow the interviewer to get a much better understanding of you as a candidate.

What's your greatest achievement? ›


How do you handle difficult situations at work answer? ›


What are your strong points interview answers? ›

Some examples of strengths you might mention include:
  • Enthusiasm.
  • Trustworthiness.
  • Creativity.
  • Discipline.
  • Patience.
  • Respectfulness.
  • Determination.
  • Dedication.

How do you introduce yourself in an interview? ›

Greet your interviewers and tell your name to start the formal introduction. It is always a good idea to prepare for this most expected question beforehand. Do not hesitate to include some informal, personal information, such as your hobbies, or what you do on weekends.

What you should not say in an interview? ›

Things you should never say in a job interview
  • Anything negative about a previous employer or job. ...
  • "I don't know." ...
  • Discussions about benefits, vacation and pay. ...
  • "It's on my resume." ...
  • Unprofessional language. ...
  • "I don't have any questions." ...
  • Asking what the company does. ...
  • Overly prepared answers or cliches.

How do you sound smart in an interview? ›

10 Tricks to Appear Smart in a Job Interview
  1. Talk about your commute. ...
  2. Step up your pace. ...
  3. Ask for clarification until your interviewer has answered the question for you. ...
  4. Say yes to that glass of water. ...
  5. Downplay your past by talking about the future. ...
  6. Be a visual learner. ...
  7. Name drop productivity software. ...
  8. Ask practical questions.

How do I be humble in an interview? ›

4 Top Tips to Humbly Sell Yourself in an Interview
  1. Make Yourself the Solution. When you're talking about your skills or personality traits, stick to the ones that are applicable to the job. ...
  2. You Don't Have to Blow Your Own Horn. ...
  3. Be Confident, and They Will Have Confidence in You. ...
  4. Don't Lie.
10 Dec 2020

What are the top 25 interview questions? ›

They're the perfect way to ease candidates into the interview and get the background information you need.
  • How did you hear about the role? ...
  • What do you know about the company? ...
  • Why did you apply? ...
  • What are your key professional strengths? ...
  • Why should we hire you? ...
  • Do you have any questions for us?
14 Apr 2022

What are some unique interview questions? ›

Unique and Weird Company Culture Questions
  • Do you come to work just to work, or do you like to socialize along the way?
  • What inspires you to work in this industry?
  • Tell me about a time when you felt like a hero at work.
  • Tell me about a time when a job or company felt like a bad fit for your personality and why.
6 Apr 2021

What are the 23 most common interview questions and answers? ›

Correct Answers to 23 Common Interview Questions
  • Can you tell me a little about yourself? ...
  • Why are you interested in working here? ...
  • What do you know about the company? ...
  • Tell me about your previous experience. ...
  • What are your strengths? ...
  • What do you still need to work on? ...
  • How would your previous employer describe you?
1 Oct 2019

How can I pass my interview? ›

How to Pass a Job Interview Successfully
  1. STEP 1: Start by researching the company and your interviewers. ...
  2. STEP 2: Practice your answers to common interview questions. ...
  3. STEP 3: Reread the job description. ...
  4. STEP 4: Be prepared with examples of your work. ...
  5. STEP 5: Plan your route. ...
  6. STEP 6: Dress for interview success.

What are 10 most common interview questions and answers? ›

10 most common interview questions and answers
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What attracted you to our company?
  • Tell me about your strengths.
  • Tell me about your strengths.
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • Tell me about a time where you encountered a business challenge?

How do you handle stress pressure? ›

Common stress management strategies include:
  1. Staying positive.
  2. Using stress as a motivator.
  3. Accepting what you can't control.
  4. Practicing relaxation methods, like yoga or meditation.
  5. Choosing healthy habits.
  6. Learning how to manage time better.
  7. Making time for your personal life.
29 Jun 2021

How would you describe yourself in 3 words? ›


What are three most important keys to success in interviews? ›

Employers rate showing enthusiasm (for the job, company, industry) and making eye contact as the most important keys to success at interviews. Since interviews are a conversation between the potential employee and the employer, speaking clearly (and loud enough) is also vital.

What are the top 3 questions to ask an interviewer? ›

Good Interview Questions to Ask About the Company

What exactly does this company value the most, and how do you think my work for you will further these values? Can you give me some examples of the most and least desirable aspects of the company's culture? How does this company define and measure success?

What are 5 unique questions you can ask at the end of an interview? ›

20 smart questions to ask at the end of your next job interview
  • What do you personally like most about working for this organisation? ...
  • How would you describe your organisation's culture? ...
  • Can you tell me about the kind of supervision you provide? ...
  • What have past employees done to succeed in this position?

How do I ask a creative question? ›

Questions to Ask Creative Individuals
  1. Do you think that creativity involves putting your heart and soul into your work? ...
  2. What in your personal life has influenced you to choose your career?
  3. Do you strive to be unique in your creative endeavors? ...
  4. What do you do to keep yourself motivated and interested in your work?

What are the top 5 questions to ask a candidate? ›

25 Top Questions To Ask An Interviewee (2022)
  • What attracted you to apply for this position? ...
  • What steps do you take when making decisions? ...
  • What has your typical role on a team been? ...
  • How would your colleagues describe you? ...
  • What motivates you to work? ...
  • Name a work accomplishment that makes you proud?
5 Oct 2022


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