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Data Architect Interview
Questions

14 Questions and Answers by Helen Lee

Updated June 28th, 2018 | Helen Lee is a freelance data analyst and writer with over 15 years of experience in marketing.
Question 1 of 14
A company's data needs are constantly changing and improving maintenance and accessibility of data is an ongoing process. Describe a time when you made changes to a company's data management systems and the impact the change made on the company overall.
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How to Answer
Inevitably, companies' data needs will change and hiring managers would like to understand how well you adapt to these types of changes. Even more so, they are interested in hearing about how you may have taken the initiative to implement these improvements. If you are earlier in your career as a Data Architect and you have not yet had the opportunity to initiate or be a part of any changes, share how you would have improved the data management systems at your company and what impact those improvements would have had.
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Top 10 Data Architect Interview Questions with Full Content
1.
A company's data needs are constantly changing and improving maintenance and accessibility of data is an ongoing process. Describe a time when you made changes to a company's data management systems and the impact the change made on the company overall.
Inevitably, companies' data needs will change and hiring managers would like to understand how well you adapt to these types of changes. Even more so, they are interested in hearing about how you may have taken the initiative to implement these improvements. If you are earlier in your career as a Data Architect and you have not yet had the opportunity to initiate or be a part of any changes, share how you would have improved the data management systems at your company and what impact those improvements would have had.

Helen's Answer
"While working for one of my first employers, I was part of an initiative to make data more accessible to the company overall. Each department's data was siloed and inaccessible to team members in other departments. Obtaining data outside one's own department was a long and tedious process that prevented the completion of timely analyses. I actively contributed to a project that made data sharing possible without data security being compromised. As a result, analysts were able to complete their projects in a timely manner using a robust dataset. This allowed senior management to make well-informed strategic decisions quickly."
2.
Have you been involved with the improvement of a company's existing data architecture? If so, explain your role in the process and the impact the change had on the company overall.
Although it is important to complete routine tasks and maintenance, it is also vital for Data Architects to be viewing current environments with a critical eye. Hiring managers would like to hear how prospective hires took the initiative to question current processes and structures with the purpose of increasing efficiency and productivity. Present yourself as someone that continually views the 'big picture' and does not get absorbed in only the routine tasks.

Helen's Answer
"In my experience, marrying external data with internal data within corporate systems can bring about possible issues of data integrity. I initiated a project where I developed a process that carefully screened our 3rd-party purchased data using several detailed steps. I also established a close relationship with our data supplier who agreed to run several checks on the data before sending it over to us. This increased our data reliability and reduced database errors by 34% over a span of a year."
3.
What kind of challenges have you faced as a Data Architect with regards to security and ensuring the integrity of a company's data is not compromised?
Data security should be a priority for all company employees regardless of their job title or the department they work in. Because of its high importance, hiring managers would like to understand your experience with data security issues. As you answer this question, reinforce that, although your background is not concentrated in data security, you understand its importance in your role as a Data Architect.

Helen's Answer
"At times, it can be difficult to come to a consensus on what should be deemed a security risk. There was an instance where some team members wanted to make changes to the process we used to upload franchisee data to our system. I believed these changes would create security risks, and to support my theory, I quantified the cost to the company if security was compromised. This information helped the team members view the situation from a different perspective and they revised their plan to reinforce data security measures."
4.
What challenges have you faced working with others in your company who may not have a technical background? How did you overcome these challenges?
It is understood that, in order to make a positive impact on a company overall, Data Architects cannot remain in their own bubble. Undoubtedly, you have had experience working with different departments across the companies at which you have worked. Moreover, it is likely that you have worked with several people who are less technically inclined. Interviewers want to hear how you interact with these people and, in doing so, what challenges you faced. If you have difficulty thinking of specific challenges, consider what helped you avoid them.

Helen's Answer
"I have found that to be a successful Data Engineer you have to understand the needs of the company overall. This has required me to work outside of my comfort zone with others who do not fully understand my role and responsibilities. In addition, because they many did not have a technical background, they did not fully understand the limitations of our data systems. Therefore, I received many requests for deliverables that were not possible to produce which led to much frustration on their part. Overcoming these challenges was not an effortless process. After much planning, we agreed to invest in time to learn about each other's work, and thereby gained a better understanding of needs and limitations. This led to productive brainstorming sessions that produced a variety of possible solutions that we could test. Overall, I believe remaining open-minded and being willing to take the extra step to educate myself and others helped me to overcome this challenge."
5.
Many companies' data originate from both internal and external sources. Have you faced any obstacles in the past when trying to integrate a new external data source into the existing infrastructure? If so, how did you overcome these obstacles?
Bringing external data into a company's data systems can present challenges as the data may be coming from a source using different systems and data formats. Data architects and their colleagues must ensure that the data is in a format that is readable and useful before it is stored in the company's data warehouse. Hiring managers would like to see that you have problems solving skills specific to external data integration.

Helen's Answer
"In my experience, external data integration issues have usually stemmed from differing systems that created data in a format different from that of our company data. It would be ideal if we could all have the same systems to avoid this issue, but that was cost prohibitive. Instead, I created a script that ran before the data was uploaded to our data warehouse tables. This script changed the format of the external data and ran tests to ensure that it was in a format compatible with our systems."
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