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Database Administrator Interview
Questions

25 Questions and Answers by William Swansen
Published October 9th, 2020 | William Swansen is an author, job search strategist and career advisor who assists individuals from all over the world.
Job Interviews     Careers     Computer Science    

Question 1 of 25

Tell me your most successful program, project, or whatever you worked on that you were most proud of at your last job?

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Answer Examples

1.

Tell me your most successful program, project, or whatever you worked on that you were most proud of at your last job?

This is an interesting question in that it allows you to brag about your past accomplishments. When preparing to answer this type of question, you should use a program, project, or accomplishments related to the job for which you are interviewing. This will demonstrate to the interviewer that you can solve problems or accomplish objectives that are the same as those they have and for which they need to hire someone.

William's Answer

"Probably the accomplishment I am most proud of in my career was during my last position. The systems I was working on were used for online transaction processing or OLTP. There was a large volume of transactions, and the response time was extremely slow. My team and I investigated this and determined the tables' structure required multiple and repetitive queries for the data needed to complete the transactions. We restructured the tables, which resulted in a 60% decrease in processing time. This created a better customer experience and resulted in a 25% increase in sales during the next quarter."

2.

What is normalization? Explain different levels of normalization?

This is another technical question. During an interview for a database administrator position, the interviewer will ask different types of questions and randomly switch between general, technical. Operational and behavioral questions. You can prepare for these by doing your research before the interview and practicing questions like these. Remember to answer the questions appropriately, according to their type.

William's Answer

"Normalization is a technique used by database administrators to reduce the redundancy of the data and eliminate any characteristics that impede the database's performance. Normalization is accomplished by separating the tables into individual smaller tables and using keys to relate the data. There are currently six levels of Normalization, including one through five normal forms and the Boyce-Codd Normal Form. There is a seventh (6NF) proposed. Each level uses a different set of rules to normalize the data."

3.

Explain the difference between explicit and implicit lock?

Another technical question asking you to compare two related but different terms. As a database administrator, you should know the differenced between terms like these. This knowledge helps you better organize the data into tables, create efficient queries, and manage database operations effectively.

William's Answer

"Locks are used to ensure that data is not duplicated or deleted during read and write operations. Implicit locks obtain access rights to the data as needed by the application. Explicit locking obtains exclusive access to the resources before initiating an operation to prevent other sessions from modifying the data required by the application."

4.

What is a tablespace?

Yet another technical question. The best way to prepare for an interview with a large number of technical questions is to review the terms, processes, and operations typical of your profession. Practicing interview questions similar to these is another way to prepare and be ready for anything you may be asked. The best way to practice these questions is to state both the question and your answer out loud. This creates a type of muscle memory that will make you more comfortable during the interview.

William's Answer

"Tablespaces are the logical storage units used by a database to store all the data. A tablespace consists of one or more data files, which are physical structures tailored to the type operating system the database is running on."

5.

How do you implement one to one, one to many, and many to many relationships while designing tables?

You probably recognize this as an operational question. Operational questions help the interviewer understand how you go about performing the duties associated with this role. Like technical questions, operational questions should be answered directly and briefly. You should also be prepared for follow-up questions.

William's Answer

"One-to-one relationships are defined as one record in a table being associated with one and only one record in another table. One-to-many relationships are established by associating a single record in one table with multiple records in another table. This requires the use of primary and foreign keys. Many-to-many relationships associate several records in one table with several records in another table. An example of this is a table full of customer names associated with a table full of products they can purchase. Again the use of primary and foreign keys as required. This type of relationship is also facilitated through the use of a join table."

6.

Do you have experience with on-premises databases, cloud databases or both?

In today's technology environment, IT infrastructures can be located in various settings, including on-premises, hosted by a third party, or in the cloud. As a qualified database administrator, you should be able to manage the database in each of these environments. This requires knowledge of the differences between these infrastructures, how they impact the database's performance and any security issues you need to be aware of.

William's Answer

"I have direct experience managing databases both on-premise and in the cloud. I have also managed databases that are hosted at third-party data centers. While the fundamentals of database administration are the same in all three of these scenarios, some other issues should be considered. These include lag-time, security, and how to back up the database between the two sites. But again, I'm familiar with this and can easily accomplish this task."

7.

When did you know you wanted to be a Database Administrator?

This question is similar to several other questions you have already been asked. Interviewers will ask similar questions throughout the interview to correlate your answers and make sure you are consistent. When answering questions, you should always be truthful and base your answers on your experience and the job for which you are interviewing. This will help you be consistent throughout the interview and provide the interviewer with a true picture of your qualifications.

William's Answer

"I believe I first knew that I wanted to be a database administrator during one of my advanced coding classes. It dawned on me that I enjoyed this type of work, managing large amounts of data by creating innovative table structures and effective querries. The work seemed to come naturally to me, and I enjoyed it. It proves the point that if you can make money doing something you enjoy, you will never work a day in your life."

8.

What information is stored in the control file?

This is another technical question. You can easily recognize a technical question because the asks you to define an element, terms, or process used in the job. Remember to answer technical questions briefly and directly, thereby providing the interviewer the opportunity to either move on or ask a follow-up question.

William's Answer

"A control file defines the structure of a database. Elements it contains include the database's name, the locations of files associated with the database, and log files. It also contains records about when the database was created and subsequently updated."

9.

What is a checkpoint?

This technical question is asking about another process used in your role as a database administrator. At this point in the interview, you may be getting a little impatient by having to answer all of these technical questions. The key to a successful interview is to remain calm and respond to the questions consistently. Every interviewer is different, and their style may not always match yours. However, by being patient, you will demonstrate your ability to remain calm in stressful situations. This is a key trait database administrators should possess.

William's Answer

"Checkpoints are used in many computer operations. Their primary purpose is to create a backup of the data. The backups can be used to restore the data in the case of a failure or undo an update that was not successful. Database administrators can define when the checkpoints occur and what data they save."

10.

Are you a development DBA or a production DBA?

The purpose of this question is to determine what type of database administration work you do or are capable of doing. As a DBA, you may have performed to jobs described by both of these titles. However, when answering this question, you should identify the title listed in the job posting. The exception to this would be if the job posting indicated that you would be doing tasks related to both of these different titles.

William's Answer

"Since the job posting I responded to was for a development database administrator, that is the role I would like to perform. However, in my previous positions, I have functioned as a production DBA, so I'm capable of doing both of these jobs. Having a strong background in development helps me in my production role when managing a database. Conversely, since I have experience administrating production databases, I know how to design a database to optimize its performance and ease of use."

11.

What is the job of SMON, PMON processes?

No doubt, you have already recognized this is a technical question. This question's structure asks you to first define and then compare two different processes used in the role of a database administrator. To enhance your answer, you may want to also provide an example of how each of these is used in your work. Again, remember to keep your answer brief and to the point added to separate follow-up questions.

William's Answer

"SMON stands for system monitor and performs a recovery after an instance failure while monitoring temporary segments and extents. PMON stands for process monitor and is responsible for recovering a process when a user process fails. It also performs cleanup of the process. Both of these function in the background."

12.

What excites you about this position?

This is another general question which the interviewer may ask any time during the interview. The purpose of this question is to find out about your passion for the job and the organization. By the time you arrive at an interview, your qualifications for the job have already been established. The purpose of the interview is to get to know you as a person and find out how well you will fit into the organization. This question will help the interviewer to determine this.

William's Answer

"As I mentioned earlier, I love working as a database administrator. This position will let me expand my skills while teaching others how to effectively manage a complex database. The other thing I like about this role is the organization. You have a reputation for innovation, collaboration, and creating a work ecosystem where everybody's opinion matters. This is the type of environment that I thrive in and can contribute to."

13.

Explain the difference between a database manager and a data manager?

This could be classified as either a technical or general question. In either case, your answer is the same. You define each term, and then discuss the differences between them. The purpose of the question is to get you to talk about your perception of a database manager's role. Your answer should align with the duties and responsibilities outlined in the job description to which you applied.

William's Answer

"The difference between a database manager and data managers is fundamental. Data management is the process of using data to manage an operation, run a business, or solve an issue. Anybody can be a data manager if they use data to make decisions. Database management, on the other hand, is managing the underlying structure of the data, which is organized and stored in a database. Database managers don't use the data they manage for decision-making, except to define data tables, create queries, or when working with other database management tools."

14.

Can you explain what ODBC is?

This is a technical question. When answering technical questions, you may want to ask clarifying questions. This will establish your credibility and knowledge in this area and allow you to tweak your answer due to the interviewer changing the questions' parameters. Another way to accomplish this is to start your answer with a statement about your assumption of what the interviewer is asking.

For exampl: "When you say ODBC, I assume you're talking about Open Database Connectivity. This is a method used by applications to communicate with the database. Another term for these is APIs. By creating APIs or ODBCs for their database, database developers make it easy for application developers to create interfaces to the database and easily access the data. Each type of database has its own unique ODBC."

William's Answer

"When you say ODBC, I assume you're talking about Open Database Connectivity. This is a method used by applications to communicate with the database. Another term for these is APIs. By creating APIs or ODBCs for their database, database developers make it easy for application developers to create interfaces to the database and easily access the data. Each type of database has its own unique ODBC."

15.

What types of databases do you work with?

The purpose of this question is to gain a better understanding of your background. There are many different types of databases you can administer. The interviewer is attempting to determine if you have direct experience working with the type of databases they use in their organization. The research you perform before the interview should indicate the type of databases they use. Your answer should either demonstrate that you have experience with these or discuss how you can adapt to their databases using your experience managing other types.

William's Answer

"The majority of my experience has been in administrating Microsoft SQL Server databases. These are the most common in this industry, and I believe, are the ones that your organization uses. However, I have managed several other different types of databases, including Oracle and MongoDB. I pride myself on being able to transfer my administrative skills to different types of databases by simply learning a new command structure and characteristics."

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25 Database Administrator Interview Questions
Win your next job by practicing from our question bank. We have thousands of questions and answers created by interview experts.

Interview Questions

  1. Tell me your most successful program, project, or whatever you worked on that you were most proud of at your last job?
  2. What is normalization? Explain different levels of normalization?
  3. Explain the difference between explicit and implicit lock?
  4. What is a tablespace?
  5. How do you implement one to one, one to many, and many to many relationships while designing tables?
  6. Do you have experience with on-premises databases, cloud databases or both?
  7. When did you know you wanted to be a Database Administrator?
  8. What information is stored in the control file?
  9. What is a checkpoint?
  10. Are you a development DBA or a production DBA?
  11. What is the job of SMON, PMON processes?
  12. What excites you about this position?
  13. Explain the difference between a database manager and a data manager?
  14. Can you explain what ODBC is?
  15. What types of databases do you work with?
  16. What about data fascinates you?
  17. What are the different modes of mounting a database with a parallel server?
  18. Why did you choose to apply to our company when there are so many other opportunities for someone with your skills and experience?
  19. Tell me about your education relating to database management?
  20. What is written in the redo log file?
  21. What is instance recovery?
  22. Tell me about your most memorable experience during yourundergrad education?
  23. What are user-defined database functions, and when should you go for them?
  24. What is the difference between a primary key and a unique key?
  25. Why are you the best person for this position?
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