For tech experts who will be working with data, servers, and database management, you will most likely go through a Structured Query Language (SQL) interview. In this article, you will learn about some of the most common SQL interview questions, and how to answer them.
What Is SQL?
SQL stands for Structured Query Language. As an SQL developer, your work revolves around database development and writing SQL queries to communicate with the database. The goal is to optimize the storage, organization, and accessibility of data.
You will work with data analysts, project managers, and business owners to build databases compatible with the company’s systems.
Answers to the Most Common SQL Interview Questions
These are some of the most common structured query language (SQL) interview questions that you can expect to come up during your SQL interview. The three categories of questions we will consider are technical, behavioral, and general.
Top 5 Technical SQL Interview Questions and Answers
Technical questions assess your knowledge of SQL, as well as SQL-related techniques used for programming. Employers primarily use SQL questions of this type to gauge your relevant abilities, knowledge, and skills. Additionally, they will be looking to identify your weaker areas.
What Is the Difference Between SQL and MySQL?
This is a basic question that all SQL developers are expected to answer. MySQL is the relational database that is used for database management tasks. On the other hand, SQL is the language used to feed commands to and communicate with MySQL. While SQL is for accessing and manipulating data, MySQL is where you store, manage, and modify data.
Why Do You Need to Remove Duplicate Records in a Database?
In SQL, there are different types of indexes. One of them is known as the unique index, where duplicate records are not allowed. You want your website or software program to provide data as fast as it can, so you need to make sure that there are fewer data pages to load. The point is to get rid of duplicate values and maintain a unique index for every entry.
What Are DBMS and RDBMS?
DBMS stands for database management system (DBMS), and it is where data is stored, managed, and accessed. RDBMS stands for Relational Database Management System (RDBMS), and it is a specific type of database management system. An RDBMS stores data in the form of tables and establishes a relationship among them.
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What Are Tables and Fields in a Database?
A database table in SQL is a method of collecting and organizing data into normal forms and rows, similar to a spreadsheet. Meanwhile, fields are the columns in a table. When answering this question, be sure to discuss other related SQL elements that you need to manage data, such as aggregate and scalar functions.
What Is Database Normalization, and Why Is It Important?
Database normalization is the process used to reduce redundancy or duplicate records within a database. Database normalization also supports faster retrieval of data and prevents unintentional modifications. For a software application and other data-driven applications, the normalization technique works to properly organize data in a database.
Top 5 Behavioral SQL Interview Questions and Answers
Contrary to common belief, soft skills are extremely important in technical jobs. Employers ask behavioral questions to learn more about you, how you work with others, and how you react to pressure or stress. These questions help employers determine if your character is suitable for their workplace.
Are You Comfortable with Pair Programming?
Pair programming is where two people program together. One person writes code while the other reviews it, and they switch places often. Pair programming is often used for optimal efficiency, and it contributes to the reduction or elimination of mistakes.
Typically, companies prefer that you are trained and open to this kind of setup. However, if this is not something that you’re open to, you should be honest about that during your interview.
What Do You Do When Your SQL Program Does Not Work?
In a technical context, you can respond by walking through the step-by-step process for resolving the issue. In a behavioral context, this is an inquiry into your patience and tenacity. Do you try to resolve the issue on your own, seek help from others, or completely abandon your project?
Your answer should reflect a sense of commitment, humility, patience, and grace. While the answer may require more of a technical answer, the interviewer will be scanning your answer to identify behavioral red flags, as well as signs that you have a strong character.
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Do You Prefer to Work Alone or on a Team?
Though SQL-related tasks are usually done alone, large-scale projects are a collaborative effort, which means you’re likely to work on a team. Regardless of whether you prefer working alone or collaboratively, your answer should include the benefits of both, and your willingness to do either. If you’ve chosen this field of work, you’re probably aware that this position requires both.
What Is Your Biggest Challenge with SQL?
There is a lot of work that goes into data management, which also means there are a lot of opportunities for error. Most SQL developers have encountered issues or challenges at some point, so this question isn’t designed to point out your technical weaknesses.
Your answer is meant to help the interviewer learn more about how you handle challenges, and whether these inevitable issues will complicate or inhibit the success of a project. Your answer should be honest, while also addressing how you cope with challenges, and what steps you take to ensure each difficulty you encounter doesn’t interfere with your performance.
Are You Able to Work on Several Projects with Tight Deadlines?
As an SQL specialist, you’re guaranteed to face large workloads accompanied by tight deadlines. This affords you an opportunity to showcase your work ethic, as well as your time management and organizational skills. Additionally, you’ll want to elaborate on some of the ways you handle multiple tasks, and ensure all deadlines are met.
Top 5 General SQL Interview Questions and Answers
General questions are used by interviewers in all fields to learn more about who you are and what you offer to their company. It’s important to understand that although these questions are general in nature, your answer should still address the position you’re interviewing for.
Can You Tell Me About Yourself?
This is often one of the first questions that interviewers ask, and there’s a reason for it. Before they assess your qualifications and skills, they want to get a sense of who you are and how your personality will mesh with the company culture.
Instead of telling them your life story, focus on the educational and professional chapters of your life, and how they’ve brought you to where you are today. You can briefly discuss where you received your education and what you majored in, summarize your professional journey, and explain why this is the job you want at this stage in your career.
Why Do You Want to Work Here?
There are plenty of companies you could have applied to work for, and the interviewer will likely be interested in why you chose this one. For this question, it’s important to do research beforehand to learn as much as you can about the company.
When you answer the question, you can mention facts about the company that stand out to you, and include how you think you can contribute to its success.
What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?
As part of their first impression, interviewers ask this question to get an idea of the pros and cons of hiring you. You don’t need to be modest when discussing your strengths, but make sure they’re mostly beneficial to the position you’re interviewing for.
When discussing your weaknesses, your answer should be honest but cautious. As with your strengths, they should be relevant to the position you’re interviewing for. Interviewers aren’t interested in what sports or crafts you struggle with. When explaining your weaknesses, make sure you tell them what steps you’re taking to improve in those areas.
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What Can You Contribute to This Company?
This is where knowing as much as possible about the company comes in handy. Your answer should set you apart from other candidates. Depending on what you find through your research, you may want to mention an area that can be improved within the company, and explain how you can contribute to the improvement
Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?
It’s more than likely that the interviewer is not interested in your future, but rather trying to determine how invested in their company you plan to be. If you can see yourself staying with the company for the next five years, that’s really important to mention.
However, if you already know that you don’t plan to be with the company in five years, you want to be honest about that. Rather than blatantly stating that you don’t plan to stick around for long, you might want to let them know that you’re flexible and open-minded, and you try not to plan too far ahead.
Tips to Prepare for an SQL Interview
1. Brush Up on Technical Terms and Functions
Before your interview, it’s always a good idea to brush up on SQL terminology. Even if you feel prepared to discuss SQL and databases, there may be details you struggle to recall. Since you can’t be completely sure what the interviewer will ask, it’s best to be prepared for anything.
2. Research the Company
Tech positions always attract many qualified candidates, so it’s important that you stick out to interviewers. One of the best ways you can do this is by researching the company. Your interview answers should demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the company’s history, operations, and goals. This way, employers will see that you’re invested in the company’s success.
3. Revisit Your Previous Projects
Revisit your projects from college, internships, or previous jobs to recover information related to your experience as an SQL developer. It’s very likely that many of the interview questions will revolve around past experience in the field, so it’s helpful to refresh your memory beforehand.
What Skills Should I Put on My SQL Resume?
Your resume should indicate the extent of your SQL skills. Your resume acts as your first impression to employers, so it’s important that everything is thoroughly organized, well written, and informative.
There are different types of joins that are really helpful to master for SQL. Joins make it possible for data from different tables to merge into one and be combined for easy searches. In addition to being really helpful for database management, this will likely be something that employers are looking for. It will also likely increase your salary.
The very purpose of SQL programming is to manage databases. Database management requires many skills, including critical thinking, problem-solving, as well as many technical skills. Although you could list every single technical and soft skill involved, employers in the tech industry will understand that database management skills encompass all of them.
Execution skills are one of the most crucial skills for SQL fields. As an SQL developer, you will often be required to quickly respond to query requests and performance issues, both of which require being task-focused, goal-driven, and hardworking. Execution encompasses all of these things.
How to Find SQL Jobs
Online platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor have job openings for SQL developers and specialists in related fields. There are also job sites that specifically list SQL jobs. Below are three of the most popular options.
Dice is one of the most popular job platforms for tech careers. You can look for an SQL job on Dice by filtering your results by the specific skill or title. There are additional criteria you can apply to your search to access the best results.
Stack Overflow is an online hub for all types of programmers and developers, including SQL. While it isn’t a job site, there are numerous resources on it that can assist in your job hunt. SQL communities and forums allow you to advertise your skills and scan for employers. Additionally, some employers use Stack Overflow to identify potential candidates for job openings.
Toptal is a job portal trusted by companies like Shopify, Duolingo, and Airbnb, as well as any company looking to hire freelance workers. When you sign up and apply, Toptal will match your profile with companies looking for candidates with your skills and experience.
SQL Interview Questions FAQ
How Do I Prepare for an SQL Interview?
When preparing for an SQL job interview, it’s important to conduct thorough research on the company you’re interviewing with, review technical terms and functions, and practice answering common SQL interview questions.
What Are the Basic SQL Commands?
There are three basic types of SQL command. Data definition language (DDL) commands are used for creating, altering, or deleting tables. Data manipulation language (DML) commands, such as the INSERT command, UPDATE command, and DELETE command, are used to modify databases. Finally, data control language (DCL) commands are used to grant or revoke access to the database.
What Are Basic SQL Skills?
The first basic SQL skill is knowing the necessary SQL commands and elements that you will be using regularly. Additionally, database management and execution skills will play a huge role in your duties as an SQL developer.
What Websites Feature SQL Jobs?
Some of the most reliable websites that feature SQL jobs include Indeed, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Dice, Stack Overflow, and Toptal. If you already know what company you want to work for, you can visit its website and check out the careers page, which features any job vacancies the company has.
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