Database Administrator Interview Questions and Answers

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As a database administrator, you will either work to develop software or maintain existing software for your employer. As such, most database administrator interview questions and answers focus on your expertise and knowledge. Some questions may be more personal in nature, as well.

Who Is the Most Important User of a Database?
This may seem like a trick question, and you may even be tempted to answer with something like the CEO or the President of a company. However, this is not the answer your interviewer wants. The correct answer to this question is “everyone who uses the database is important.” Even if you are maintaining a development database, keep in mind that this database is incredibly important to the developer. Every connection to a database server is equally important, and understanding this will go a long way toward ensuring that every aspect of your job is performed correctly.

Is it Faster to Insert or Update 1000 Rows of Data?
Similar to the question above, you may think of this as a trick question. You know—as does your interviewer—that the quickness with which either of these tasks can be performed depends upon several factors. Thus, if you are asked this or a similar question, you can rest assured that your interviewer is looking to gauge your critical thinking skills. You should provide a scenario and stick with it, explaining why one method would be faster than another. If you wish to carry it even further, you could explain why updating data would be faster with one type of software versus another. In either case, you will be proving your knowledge to your potential employer.

Would You Consider Yourself a Production DBA or a Development DBA?
This is another question that is certainly tricky to answer, but there is one correct answer that will truly wow your potential interviewer—you are both. Each facet of database administration is just as important as the next, and one cannot operate without the other. “Each system is important to the company because the company will lose money if either system is down. Regardless of whether the system is for production or development, people within the company rely upon it to do their jobs” is the best answer. You may add that most companies lose more money when production systems are down, but since this is not true in all cases, it may be best to leave that out.

Can You Work Efficiently in a Stressful Situation?
Part of working as a database administrator is helping to determine the cause when a system goes down. Since everyone within a company relies on these databases to do their jobs correctly, they will all turn to you when something goes wrong. You must be able to prove to your employer that you can work quickly and efficiently, provide accurate estimated repair times and keep important company officials updated throughout the process. “I understand that I must be ready to work under stressful situations, and I can assure you that I work very well under pressure” is a great way to begin your answer, but be sure to provide a scenario to back up your claims.
As long as you can prove to your potential employer that you have what it takes to make a difference for a company, you will be able to shine brighter than the other applicants and land the job. Be prepared to answer some difficult questions, and be ready to back up these answers with facts.

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