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Oracle SQL Server DBA Interview Questions

Tomorrow I will be interviewing a DBA for a fulltime position within our University. And I was wondering what kind of questions I ought to be asking him. I guess I'll start jotting down some of the questions I'd wanna ask a regular SQL Server DBA. Although we might just move our current mission critical application (which happens to be Blackboard Academic Suite) to Redhat/Oracle on a fully load balanced application server cluster and Oracle RAC 9i/10g. Then I'd also wanna ask questions pertaining to OS interoperability, Linux Servers in Windows domain. I will detail out this interview thing to a more generic DBA interview where you should be able to do DBA tasks on heterogeneous OS with heterogeneous databases.

I did find some questions here at (MSSQL) Vyas's site and (Oracle) James Koopman at, although in my opinion they're rather theoretical. Any student out of school with no experience would read them out to you. I'd say even if your a fresh grad, I'd expect you to know a lot more than just theory!

SQL Server Questions

  • What kind of SQL tools would you use to import/export data between two or more SQL Servers? Hint* DTS,BCP,attach/detach, tools such as Redgate bundle etc
  • What kind of tool would you use to export/import data between SQL Server 2000 and Oracle database? SQL Server 2000 and AS400/OS 390 database?
  • Can you recover a SQL Server 7 database on another machine? *Can you also recover/restore it on a newly built SQL 2000 server? * If yes, how? If no, what would be your course of action?
  • Have you ever used SQL Profiler? Tell us about your experience with it?
  • How would you set up a Linked Server (like dblink in Oracle)? What options would you need in order to have it working, think heterogeneous stored procedures, mapped logins and security context.
  • Do you have experience in SQL clustering? Tell us about it? Have you heard of it?
  • What kind of monitoring tool would you use to measure your SQL Server's health? How would you try to automate it if you have never used a third party product? Where and how will you go looking for such a solution? * Hint: Google around!
  • What have you heard about the new SQL Server release 2005? Any new features which you like there?
  • How does locking and lock escalation work with SQL Server?
  • Have you heard of RAID? Describe the types/kinds that you know?
  • SAN, what do you know about it?
  • OSI Server model please : Can you paint out the model for me? All layers? Hubs and switches? Which stack would they reside in?
  • NLB: what do you know about it?
  • Describe very briefly about normalization? * Please no long theory.
  • Denormalization?
  • Describe the use of tools such as ping, tnsping*, nslookup, net stat, telnet, putty in a DBA's world? * If you have Oracle too. I still prefer to stress on the fact that a good learning DBA knows more about a lot more databases than just one!
  • DNS? What does it mean to you as a DBA? Hint: think distributed queries via linked servers etc
  • LDAP Servers such as ADS, what do you know about it. How does it affect your DBA world? Think again distributed computing although here I'll not tell you where the catch lies in terms of distributed activity.
  • Authentication Methods: SQL, NTLM, LDAP
  • LDAP Browsers: What would you use if you wanted to extract information from your LDAP servers? Hint: Think Resource kit etc
  • Browse LDAP via SQL Query analyzer? What function would you use? What would be limitations of such an activity? And how would you solve it?
  • Where would you start looking to improving a poor performing query?
  • Architecture of SQL server. Give us a small introduction to it? How does it vary from other databases such as Oracle, MySQL etc.
  • Migration SQL Server : What are the alternatives? Which according to you is the best? Hint: Think restoring databases, export/import, rebuild server from scratch(rebuild)?
  • Tell us about what you know about basic architecture in a large scale organization such as Firewalls, Secure Zones, DMZ zones, Wireless networks, Terminal Servers and what do/would you have to take into account when doing your work as a DBA?
  • You are helping setting up a Web Server for your Organization and suddenly you can't make any connection to your database server in your secure zone. What tools will you use to troubleshoot/investigate? Hint: osql, isqlw, odbcad32, port, netmon, other network monitoring tools, etc
  • Can you set up multiple SQL Servers on one machine?
  • What do you understand by Scaling up and Scaling out a hardware?
  • How good is your understanding of the underlying OS?* This can be massive but given the fact that it's windows I'd expect anyone to run that OS. If you were a DBA aspirant for Oracle on Linux(Redhat or SuSe) then we'd be having fun on the OS level as well.
  • Shell Scripting, any experience? WSH etc
  • Can you write a simple *.BAT file and automate it? Give me an example if you ever did something like that.
  • HTTP/CGI: A brief description of what that is?
  • Upgrades and patches: How do you stay alert on that?
  • Describe to me a typical day at your ex or current employer? Sketch it out for me please.
  • What is your ambition in your role as a DBA? What kind of DBA would you like to be seen as by your employer?
  • What's the difference between a DELETE and a TRUNCATE command? Can you do a selective truncate? Like "truncate table test where row_id between 1 and 30,000"?
  • Why would you want to use an index?
  • When is having a database in archive mode useful? What kind of modes do you have in SQL Server 2000?Hint: Answer should be always!
Well as you can see we can go on and on and that was the "TECHNICAL AND PROFESSIONAL KNOWLEDGE" aspect. There are however other and very important aspects such as...

  • Teamwork
  • Analytic Skills
  • Adaptability
  • Working Standards
  • Job Motivation
  • Initiative
  • Learning Ability
  • Communicative Skills
  • Planning and Organizational Skills
  • Customer Service Oriented
I suggest that you ask questions like "How did you perform as a team player in the last project which you did? Did you disagree a lot? Did you agree with everything" tricky stuff, disagreeing in not a problem, in fact it's a very good thing. Deal is to bring it in tactfully! Or for instance on initiative point of view, "What did you do *extra* in order to make a big difference to your team/project? What was the reward?". I'll post more on how to interview on above mentioned capabilites later including Oracle interview questions.


  1. Tarry,
    Don't forget to include the interview questions that have nothing to do with being a dba ;-D. I used to love asking questions like "If you could design your own work environment from scratch, what would it be like? Office or Telecommute, laptop or desktop, that kind of thing." The answers to questions like those are always illuminating as to the person's mind-set. I always found it helpful to ask questions that were not the usual interview questions - it gets people off-guard and makes them think, which then gives you an idea of HOW they think.

  2. Indeed Bill,

    It's very crucial to NOT lock aspirants in a typical Q&A mode. You lose them before you *really* lose them.

  3. My concern was always those folks who were technically competent but emotionally or psychologically not compatible with my team. best to find those things out before you hire them ;-D.

    Although to be fair it is much easier to ascertain technical competence than emotional compatability.:-D

    my word - zwbythve - have a byte?

  4. Oracle
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  5. As an FYI, there are two articles and I have them posted on my website (with answers):
    Oracle Interview Questions Answered - Part 1
    Oracle Interview Questions Answered - Part 2


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