The Multifunctioning DBA

Nov 22 2011   6:30PM GMT

Interviewing Tips

Colin Smith Colin Smith Profile: Colin Smith

I do not claim to be a great interviewer at all but I think I do OK, I have a job and I got it only a couple months ago. Since I have been at the new position I have participated in interviews for a DBA position that we currently have open and I have been very surprised. We are looking primarily for an Oracle DBA but that person will need to support SQL Server as well. We are OK with doing some teaching and mentoring in this space but some of the answers we have been getting to basic questions are amazing. I think my favorite is:

Question: What is the difference between a login and a user in SQL Server?

Answer: “Do I Care?”

Really? I am OK with you not knowing the answer, especially since you are more of an Oracle DBA with not as much experience in SQL Server. But that answer just rubs me the wrong way and also tells me that you really have NO experience with SQL Server. In SQL Server you do need to care what the difference is as I am sure you all know if you are reading this blog. My point is that if you do not know the answer then be honest but show that you are willing to find the answer.

Answer: “Well I am really not sure, sounds like this must be a major difference in SQL Server from Oracle and I would be happy to find out and get you that answer by the next time we speak.”

Then all you have to do is follow up on that because I know I will ask that again if we speak again.

Another pointer is to be confident but not cocky. We had one candidate that really made some interesting comments that rubbed me the wrong way.

Statement 1: “I have designed the three largest databases in the world”

Statement 2: “The data dictionary was re-designed because I wanted it to be.”

Those are some very large statements, and I am actually OK with them and would be impressed if you have some sort of backup to it. Just making the statements without having a backup story to explain how that came to be is not good. Just makes you sound like you are bragging and not in a good way.

My point is really just be honest and humble and if you make bold statements like that then you better be able to back it up.

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