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Prepping for Kafka Interview: Q&A

Posted by Jeff Pelliccio on Dec 27, 2017 9:00:00 AM

In Interview Tips

Interviewing for IT jobs is an experience unlike any other. Not only are you expected to talk about your experience with Microservices architecture and advanced programming processes, but you also have to talk about each of these points in a way that demonstrates your expertise without leaving recruiters scratching their heads. This becomes especially difficult when dealing with data pipelines like Kafka. Fortunately, here are sample questions and answer that will provide you direction for your next interview experience.

1. Why is Kafka significant to programming?

Essential Talking Points:

There are four basic talking points to include when you discuss Kafka's significance in the world of programming. First, because Kafka is a single broker system, it can serve thousands of clients and handle megabytes of content per second for unparalleled speed. Second, Kafka is scalable. Facts are streamlined over several machines that can read large amounts of information. Third, it is durable. Messages are designed to prevent record loss with replications in the cluster. Finally, when it comes to distribution, the robust nature of Kafka has a high level of fault tolerance. 

2. Elaborate on Kafka as a tool in Microservices architecture

Essential Talking Points:

This question challenges not only your knowledge of Kafka in particular but Microservices architecture in general. Since this is an advanced programming skill, it is intended to root out those who have dabbled in Kafka from those who truly know what they are talking about. Mention that Kafka is a distributed system where each broker stores one or more partitions. This way, multiple producers, and consumers can retrieve or publish messages simultaneously.

3. Compare Kafka & Flume.

Essential Talking Points:

Rather than launching into a lengthy explanation of the minute differences between the two pipelines, focus on three main criteria - data flow, Hadoop integration, and functionality. Talk about how each one is different from the other using a high-level viewpoint rather than as someone in the trenches using Kafka on a regular basis.  

4. What are the most important elements of Kafka? 

Essential Talking Points: 

Talk about the topic, producer, consumer, and broker roles within Kafka. Recruiters are interested in your functional skill rather than your detailed knowledge of the origin of the software. They want to know what you can do. This question helps them root out those who have read the manual from those who have actually worked with the product.

5. How does the Zookeeper function in Kafka?

Essential Talking Points:

The Zookeeper is responsible for coordination between the different nodes of a cluster. Not only does it coordinate configuration management, but it also uses information from previous versions to recover functionality if any one node fails.

It is also important to mention that Kafka cannot be used without Zookeeper. As tempting as it is to bypass Zookeeper and go straight into the server, it is not feasible for the amount of customer demand that may be placed on it.

6. Why are replications dangerous but necessary in Kafka?

Essential Talking Points:

Most people outside of the IT world feel that more is better. If one virus protection software is great, two is even better. While recruiters for IT jobs understand more about the processes that go on in programming than the average person, take a minute to discuss the problems that arise when parts of Kafka are duplicated and the effects it can have on the consumer.

7. What is a partitioning key and what is its function?

Essential Talking Points: 

A partitioning key can be used as a target divider within the producer. Discuss how partitioning keys can precisely divide communication according to the particular needs of the consumer.

8. Who are the consumer or users in Kafka?

Essential Talking Points:

Often the terms "consumer" and "user" are used interchangeably. In Kafka, single consumer abstractions can determine whether the information is queued or publish-subscribed in a Consumer Group. Since user instances are in disconnected processes, it is possible to determine the messaging model of the consumer based on the type of group they are assigned to. If all consumer instances have the same set, the conventional queue adjusts the load. If there are dissimilar consumer groups, it works like a publish-subscribe consumer group, and all messages are transmitted. 

9. Describe an Offset in Kafka.

Essential Talking Points:

Be sure to discuss what an offset is (partitions are given a sequential ID number) and how they can be used to identify a message in the partition. It is also important to talk about why this matters with Zookeeper and how messages are consumed by topic in a consumer group.

Your Next Interview Could Mean Success

During an interview for IT jobs, it is important to demonstrate your knowledge, but remember that your ability to apply that knowledge is what will ultimately land you the job of your dreams. If you find yourself walking down the path of technical jargon, take a second, pause and talk about why that information matters and how it comes into play in real life situations. 

ICS wants to help you with your job search. You deserve to be in a place you love, doing what you love. The first step to that is searching one of our many open positions. Apply for the job you want and get ready for nothing but success coming your way. With these Kafka prep questions, you won't have any trouble in your interview. 

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