Database Admin Interview Questions

Your knowledge of network hardware may be questioned during a DBA interview.

Your knowledge of network hardware may be questioned during a DBA interview.

Job interviews -- any and all job interviews -- can be stressful affairs if you’re not completely prepared. That preparation can include anything from researching the company to which you’re applying to what clothing you should wear for the meeting. If you’re set to interview for a database administrator position (DBA), you might send your stress level to unprecedented heights wondering what kinds of questions you’ll have to answer. As an organized woman, however, you might already be ahead of the game. Give yourself a confidence boost by reviewing some of the interview questions you may encounter, below.

The Basics

DBA interview questions are designed, in part, to discover your depth of knowledge. An interviewer might ask you some very basic questions to begin with, such as the following: (1) “Why are you looking for a new opportunity as a database administrator?” (The interviewer hopes to hear you say something that relates to seeking a long-term position, which is more beneficial to the company.); (2) “What is a database?” (You could respond by describing the databases on which you’ve personally worked, such as Filemaker Pro.); (3) “How would you make a query faster?” (Your answer tells the interviewer how you think -- would you use technical books, trial-and-error or call for help?)

More Detailed Questions

As your interview progresses, the questions may delve into more technical aspects of the job, including the following: (1) “How many databases have you managed simultaneously?” (This question helps the interviewer determine if you’re able to multitask.); (2) "Describe a way you’ve creatively and successfully used SQL.” (The interviewer here wants to ascertain a sense of your ability to take the initiative in resolving problems that could occur within the structured query language of databases.); (3) “How often have you performed full data backups and recoveries?” (This is an opportunity to describe your actual experience with potential data loss and the outcome of your specific actions.)

Delving Deeper

You may have to answer questions that provide the interviewer with a deeper understanding of your thought processes regarding the job, as well as further test your knowledge. An interviewer may ask you, for example, one of the following questions: (1) "What is auditing?” (In this case, the employer is trying to understand how competent you are when it comes to implementing and adhering to certain security measures, such as monitoring user access.); (2) “Describe what an ‘index’ is.” (Your response could assure the interviewer of your in-depth knowledge of database structure.); (3) "What is an OLE?” (Answering this question correctly -- Object Linking and Embedding -- and explaining the benefits of OLE signals to the interviewer your familiarity with database capabilities.)

Moving to Specifics

Other questions you face might be specific in nature -- intended to uncover your experience with distinct database administrative tasks. These could include the following: (1) “How would you determine whether or not an index needs to be rebuilt?” (One response to this is an explanation of how to run the Analyze Index command to validate structure.); (2) “Explain toolbar canvas views.” (Now, the interviewer invites you to elaborate on your understanding of the horizontal and vertical toolbars that appear in a window.); (3) “What’s the procedure to determine excessive fragmentation?” (Your answer informs the interviewer that you’re knowledgeable in the process of comparing data files with tablespaces.)

Women as DBAs

According to Tracy Hamlin, the SQL community's choice for Exceptional DBA of 2010, many more women are entering the information technology field than they did two decades ago. She believes that women, with their inherent organizational skills and desire for order, are often highly compatible with a career in database administration.

 

About the Author

Michelle Reynolds has been writing about business, careers and art since 1993. She was the publisher of a newsletter, “Working Parents Monthly," as well as a graphic design guidebook. Reynolds also served as human-resources director at a resort/spa for eight years. She is an artist and promotes the arts and other artists through ElegantArtisan.com, a website she developed and maintains.

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