I’ve written before about technical interview questions, especially of the tricky Brainteaser Interview Questions, and I wanted to take a moment to recount some recent experiences hiring a couple of DBAs.
We’ve had a technical phone interview for some time, written by a colleague, but I think mostly trawled from an internet search of database technical questions. This undoubtedly has some value, with questions on technical details on the difference, say, between a Primary Key and a Unique Key, or perhaps what ACID stands for. The problem I find is that day-to-day, a term like ‘ACID’ is almost never referred to, because it is simply (and in some fundamental way) is just expected to be possible and true of a database such as Sql Server – or we might even say prohibited by developers not using transactions. We needed more structure for the face-to-face bit, and I was fearful about hiring someone who could not even do the DBA equivalent of the FizzBuzz programming exercise.
So for the last year or more, we’ve standardised our face-to-face interview questions to focus on three areas:
- A practical Normalisation question;
- Simple SQL queries;
- Performance Investigation.
In each case, I have taken a practical example of real-world situation from our code-base as the inspiration… and it has been fascinating how helpful the approach has been to better understand the capabilities of the candidate. I hope it also introduces the interviewee to practical examples of what the role entails. (more…)