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Application Database Administrator Interview
Questions

25 Questions and Answers by Clara Canon

Updated February 3rd, 2020 | Clara is a career coaching expert and has supported individuals landing positions in education, nonprofit, corporate, and beyond.
Question 1 of 25
What do you do for 'screen breaks' when you've been at your desk for an extended period of time?
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How to Answer
Computer-heavy positions can lead to eye strain, headaches, body aches, and so on. It can be helpful, often expected, to step away for a few minutes to take a quick 'screen break.' You might go refill your water bottle, grab some coffee, stretch, or simply take a quick walk around the block. The goal here is to share an example that does not necessarily indicate that you would spend significant time away from your computer. Instead, share how a quick action or activity can help make you more focused and productive.
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25 Application Database Administrator Interview Questions
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Interview Questions
  1. What do you do for 'screen breaks' when you've been at your desk for an extended period of time?
  2. When working from your desk for extended periods of time, what do you need to be comfortable and successful?
  3. Tell us about how you've collaborated across teams or departments to complete a project or to meet a goal.
  4. What are the top 3 qualities you look for in a team?
  5. What experience do you have with using a database to track and maintain an event?
  6. If a manager requests a tight turnaround on a report that you know takes longer to pull than your deadline allows, then what do you do?
  7. Give us an example of proactive - and reactive - data management support you've employed.
  8. In your opinion, why is user access knowledge important in database security?
  9. How do you integrate external applications to increase efficiency in systems and processes? What applications would you recommend?
  10. How are your writing skills?
  11. How often should you back-up a company database?
  12. What are your top three skills or strengths that best qualify you for this position?
  13. How do you ensure data integrity across multiple systems and domains?
  14. What about our company interests you the most?
  15. What is your ideal work environment?
  16. What databases do you have the most experience using?
  17. With technology advancing daily, how do you stay up-to-date on new products and trends?
  18. Aside from your computer, what is the most frequently used item on your desk?
  19. What steps do you take to appropriately handle confidential information? Please give us an example.
  20. What professional development do you think might be most beneficial to you and to this position over the next 3 years?
  21. Is there anything in the position's job description that surprises you?
  22. Where do you aspire to be professionally 5 years from now?
  23. What are you most interested in when it comes to this role at our company?
  24. How would your former colleagues describe your teamwork?
  25. Describe a difficult project where you successfully met or exceeded expectations.
Answer Examples
1.
What do you do for 'screen breaks' when you've been at your desk for an extended period of time?
Computer-heavy positions can lead to eye strain, headaches, body aches, and so on. It can be helpful, often expected, to step away for a few minutes to take a quick 'screen break.' You might go refill your water bottle, grab some coffee, stretch, or simply take a quick walk around the block. The goal here is to share an example that does not necessarily indicate that you would spend significant time away from your computer. Instead, share how a quick action or activity can help make you more focused and productive.

Clara's Answer
"I have found that quickly stepping away from my computer has been hugely helpful in my longevity throughout the day. I try to mix up my 'screen breaks' depending on what I need, though they almost entirely involve getting my body moving in some way. Sometimes, it's as simple as walking to the break room to fill up my water bottle and grab a cup of coffee, or I might get some fresh air with a 5-minute walk around the block. If I just need to get my body moving, I'll even pause for a quick stretch at my desk. Just 1 to 5 minutes of moving aroundcan make a big difference when I return to my desk and get back to work."
2.
When working from your desk for extended periods of time, what do you need to be comfortable and successful?
Many companies are becoming increasingly aware of the impact desk-time can have on employees, and they might make considerations for your space as a result. For example, they might provide you with a standing desk, a special chair, or a location with easy access to certain facilities in the building. If they ask, then don't be afraid to let them know what you might need - within reason, of course.

Clara's Answer
"I like to have a bit of flexibility with my workspace, especially when I'm utilizing it for extended periods of time. In particular, I really value the option of a standing desk so I may choose to get on my feet and stay focused when I feel myself starting to slouch. I also never underestimate the value of a stress ball. Sometimes, I need to physically engage myself a bit to get my ideas flowing, and something as simple as a stress ball can support that."
3.
Tell us about how you've collaborated across teams or departments to complete a project or to meet a goal.
When you work in a role like Application Database Administrator, you might often be asked to provide data and reports for various departments. Your interviewers are interested in your ability to work with individuals outside of your department and to collaborate and meet goals on time. You likely see these individuals less often than those in your own department, so be sure to identify potential barriers and how you've overcome them and worked together to be successful.

Clara's Answer
"I have often found the need to collaborate with individuals outside of my team or department, and I always enjoy those opportunities. A great example is when I worked across 4 different departments to organize and execute an event for nearly 120 employees. Once the core team was established, we determined our timeline, deadlines, meeting schedule, and standards for communication. We made sure to touch on as many components of the project that would steer us to success as possible, and we held each other accountable to our tasks and goals. Over the course of 3 months, we were able to stay on target and allow room to course-correct as needed. As a result, we seamlessly and successfully held the event and received positive feedback on our post-event survey."
4.
What are the top 3 qualities you look for in a team?
This question is to understand how you view working on a team as well as what you look for in a team. Many companies recognize the importance of team cohesion and team culture as being a factor in the hiring process, so they will want to ensure that you and the team will work well with one another and get along. When answering this question, be truthful about what you look for - you can follow-up at the end of the interview by asking how they would describe the team you'd be working on.

Clara's Answer
"I think many qualities can make a great team. I most value strong and honest communication, desire to collaborate, and trust. None of these qualities are automatically given - they take time and effort to develop. When a team has achieved an ability to authentically tap into each of these qualities, then I believe they can accomplish great things."
5.
What experience do you have with using a database to track and maintain an event?
Depending on the company and nature of the specific role, you might need to assist in tracking data for real-time events. Data might be pulled from multiple sources and change often. If you are asked this question, then a portion of your position will likely include tracking dynamic, real-time data. This is also a great question to emphasize the importance of data integrity and security which will also come up at other points during your interview.

Clara's Answer
"I have used a couple of databases and web-based systems to track and maintain event information for gatherings of 10 to 100 people present. Pre-event, I've collected RSVPs, updated constituent information in our records, and used RSVP data to inform and action on other components of the event. During the event, I utilize the databases to update information and attendance in real-time. After the event, I make any final changes in the database and constituent records. Throughout the process, I communicate with invited guests and relevant parties through web-based systems that I have synced with our databases to allow easy, streamlined communication."
6.
If a manager requests a tight turnaround on a report that you know takes longer to pull than your deadline allows, then what do you do?
The interviewers are interested in how diplomatically you handle a situation in which a superior asks for something you cannot fulfill. This is an opportunity to demonstrate your interpersonal communication skills and share how you have handled this before or how you would anticipate handling it.

Clara's Answer
"In order for them to understand part of the process and plan accordingly, I would inform them that unfortunately there are system constraints that require a minimum of whatever time is needed. I would inquire about how I might best be able to support the project and share the earliest date the report could be available."
7.
Give us an example of proactive - and reactive - data management support you've employed.
The more proactive data management measures are put in place, the fewer reactive data management measures are needed. This question touches on many other topics that will be mentioned in the interview, such as user access knowledge, database security, data integrity, and so on. The interviewers are looking for how well you integrate all of these components to best support data/base management. Demonstrate how thoroughly you practice proactive measures as well as how well prepared you are for inevitable reactive measures.

Clara's Answer
"I run regular audits to ensure data integrity across systems. In my audits, I often come across a handful of errors that I'm able to correct before they get buried or forgotten, so I've found this to be a particularly powerful proactive measure. When I run into a challenge with database security, my first reactive measure is always to cross-reference my user access spreadsheet with database login history. This helps me to identify whether or not the security issue is from an internal or external source, and I can run further checks from there."
8.
In your opinion, why is user access knowledge important in database security?
User access knowledge is pretty straightforward: who has access to your database? The interviewers want to test your awareness of the importance of knowing this as well as what you might do to maintain the most up-to-date knowledge of who has access. Share why you feel user access knowledge is important for database security as well as what steps you take to track who has what access at which levels and at what times.

Clara's Answer
"It is exceptionally important to be aware of exactly who has access to your databases as well as their level and frequency of access. The more you know about user access knowledge, the better you're able to triage issues and address them quickly as soon as they arise."
9.
How do you integrate external applications to increase efficiency in systems and processes? What applications would you recommend?
The interviewers are looking for your knowledge and experience with tools and applications that essentially help you work smarter, not harder. Check their job description for any tips on what they might prefer and check their website for any potential partners that might offer a relevant application, such as Microsoft Flow.

Clara's Answer
"My favorite application to meet the majority of my needs is Microsoft Flow. I have simplified and even automated a number of processes across my department that have saved countless hours of time. Integrating Flow has improved communication and data-sharing, and it has freed up a significant amount of time for employees to focus on and prioritize more critical elements of their work."
10.
How are your writing skills?
Many Application Database Administrator positions will require strong communication skills, particularly writing. This is an opportunity where you can incorporate experience from a range of previous positions. Review the job description for any clues as to what sort of writing skills might be most relevant, such as technical or subject-based.

Clara's Answer
"I have extensive writing experience across several domains, including academic writing, business communication, and reporting analytics. I value attention to detail and tailored communication based on the reader, so I enjoy writing and editing in a variety of capacities."
11.
How often should you back-up a company database?
In order to save and protect as much valuable data as possible, many companies will back-up their data anywhere from every 24 hours to once per week. The frequency of back-ups might depend on the size and profile of the company and the nature of the stored information, though it is uncommon to see a company back-up any less frequently than once per week. Consider the company you're interested in - a large company like Amazon or Microsoft might back-up every 24 hours, while a smaller start-up company or nonprofit might back-up once or twice a week. When answering this question, safely share a range of the maximum and minimum times you'd back-up a database in a given period of time.

Clara's Answer
"In my experience primarily working in small-to-medium-sized companies, I have found the need to back-up our systems and databases once per week. That said, I recognize the potential risk of waiting up to a week to back-up data, so I would generally recommend at least twice per week."
12.
What are your top three skills or strengths that best qualify you for this position?
For a question like this, you'll want to have done a side-by-side comparison of the job description and your resume. Identify the top skills or qualities needed and desired for the position, and highlight where they appear on your resume. Don't be afraid to bring in out-of-industry positions - you can always make a case for transferrable skills to be incredibly relevant. If the skills on your resume don't quite reflect what is needed for the position, then share skills that are as relevant as possible and - if true - include your ability to learn and adapt quickly and seamlessly.

Clara's Answer
"My top three skills include: keen attention to detail, communication, and documentation. Over the last 8 years, I have continually refined each of these skills in a range of positions, so I am very confident employing them in my work. More specifically, I value the importance of all three skills when it comes to analytics and reporting, which I understand to be particularly relevant to this position."
13.
How do you ensure data integrity across multiple systems and domains?
There are many influences that might impact data integrity, such as changes to data due to storage, an error in processing or retrieving, hardware failure, human error, or even hacking. The interviewers want to ensure that you are aware of the various factors that might impact data integrity as well as how thoroughly you attempt to address it.

Clara's Answer
"There are many factors that might impact data integrity, from something as simple as human error to something a bit more complex like hardware failure. To stay on top of it all, I maintain a few key touchpoints. I maintain a log of everyone that has access to the data including their titles and access levels. I run bi-weekly audits to verify the integrity of our most up-to-date data and help resolve any human error. I also follow the status sites of all relevant systems and domains to stay current on any potential outages or failures. I have found that this comprehensive approach resolves most errors and maintains data integrity."
14.
What about our company interests you the most?
This is another opportunity for you to demonstrate your knowledge and research on the company. If you respond with something a bit more expected, like the company mission, then be sure to know it well and draw a more personal connection. Your interviewers will value your honesty and probably recognize if you are sharing what you think they want to hear. Do your research on the company to help you better answer this as authentically as possible.

Clara's Answer
"I am most interested in and inspired by the company's determination. As an industry leader, this company strives for greatness daily and does so by respecting and valuing employees and the community it serves. The mission and vision of the company welcome challenge and opportunity in a bold and refreshing way, and I admire that. I am very interested in supporting the company and playing an integral part in driving innovation forward."
15.
What is your ideal work environment?
Office spaces and working environments can vary by company and have a big impact on motivating employees. Some employers are becoming much more open to working remotely compared to recent years and often offer incentives for office-based work, such as free food, communal lounge spaces, and even game rooms. Depending on the company and the position, desk spaces might be tightly clustered or more isolated. Do research on the company prior to your interview for any information as to how their office spaces might be laid out to help inform your answer.

Clara's Answer
"I enjoy working in a dynamic environment where I might be able to bounce ideas off of colleagues around me while also having the option of honing in on my work independently. I tend to enjoy the opportunity to connect with my coworkers in shared spaces, like a break room. I find it important to feel a sense of community with coworkers to facilitate greater understanding and collaboration, so I always appreciate a work environment that promotes that."
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