SQL Interview Tips
Tips for Preparing for a SQL Job Interview
SQL is the language used with some minor differences in almost all relational database management systems. Following are some interview tips that'll help you prepare for the SQL job interview.
As the interview would be mostly technical, the preparation is very important. Compared to a personal interview, the outcome and your performance in a technical interview is more influenced by the preparation. Following interview tips will help guide you preparation efforts for the interview.
This is the first step in the preparation process. In this part you should find out about the company, job and the interview process.
Some basic knowledge of the company such as its mission statement, major products and services, place in market, recent mention in news etc, is expected from the candidates.
While preparing for the job interview always keep in mind the job description. Your focus should be more on the parts that are related to your job. Review the job description carefully and find out as much about the skills and knowledge needed for it and target your preparation accordingly.
Carefully review the job description and modify your resume so that the parts that are more relevant to the position for which you are applying are emphasized. Remove the skills that you don't have good command over if they are not relevant to the job.
- Prepare for questions
Search the internet and gather a list of SQL job interview questions. Sometimes these would come with answers as well. Although you can use them it would be better to find out their answers on your own as this way you'll learn some additional thing as well. Technical interview questions could be about the language as well as the underlying DBMS concepts as well. You should be familiar with the relational database management concepts and able to demonstrate them using SQL. There are some variations in the how the SQL is used with different DBMS systems. Also software such as Oracle provides many additional functions as well. Make sure that you are aware of such functions provided by the DBMS you'll be working with.
Besides the technical questions you can be asked behavioral questions as well. Have some answers to the common behavioral questions prepared in advance. Never give generic answers to the personal and behavioral questions. Be honest and use actual work experience when answering behavioral questions. You should select incidents that are favorable to you but try not to fabricate incidents. Make sure you can answer the questions related to your previous projects and your role in it. Keep the answers specific and avoid unnecessary details.
The personal questions are for judging your willingness and fitness to work for the company. Search for common personal questions and prepare answers for them but make sure that the answers represent you and are not general purpose. In the interview, take time to think and answer in a spontaneous, unrehearsed manner.
- Prepare Questions
Asking questions during the interview shows your interest in the job and the company. Have a list of questions to ask in advance just in case you can't think of any during the interview. Make sure that questions are about the job and company. Avoid the topic of money and compensation in the initial phases of selection process or until a job offer is made.
- Make Notes
While preparing for interview make note of important points in a word file. If required create multiple file for different subjects. Such notes are great for a quick review before interview and useful for future interviews as well if you are not selected. Keep the descriptions short but not so short that you can't understand them after some months. In general keep them detailed that someone beside you too can easily understand them.
- When Answering Questions
Simple knowledge of the subject is not enough for the actual interview. Your presentation skills should also be good enough.
Before answering a question make sure that you fully understand the question. Look at the question from the interviewer's point of view and try to understand what exactly does he wants to know. If there are any doubts, ask questions and clarify them.
While answering questions during the interview, keep your answers compact. You should not answer in simple yes or no as this will not tell the interviewer much about your knowledge, but avoid lengthy and elaborate answers as well. The interviewer has to interview many people beside you, keep this in mind. It is a good idea to give short and precise answers, mentioning only the high points and explain in details only when asked to.
If you don't know the answer to a question, just admit it and move on to other questions alternatively you can say how you would go about finding the answer. Don't waste the time by pretending you know something when you obviously don't.
If the answer is not a favorable one in case of a personal or behavioral question, don't lie or try to talk your way around it. Stay positive and face it head on.
At the end of the interview make sure to ask the interviewer if they have any concerns about your ability to perform the job. This will show them that you are interested in the job and are eager to improve yourself. At the very least this would let you know the reasons that you are not going to be selected so you can improve on these points for future interviews.
The tips above are for a general SQL job interview and focus mostly on the interview preparation and a little on facing the interview as well. They are by no means comprehensive but will help you guide your interview efforts none the less.