Take a look at this great article from Peter:
My favorite question during Interview for people to work as MySQL DBAs or be involved with MySQL Performance in some way is to ask them what should be tuned in MySQL Server straight after installation, assuming it was installed with default settings.
I'm surprised how many people fail to provide any reasonable answer to this question, and how many servers are where in wild which are running with default settings.
Even though you can tune quite a lot of variables in MySQL Servers only few of them are really important for most common workload. After you get these settings right other changes will most commonly offer only incremental performance improvements."