Author: William Barden
Publisher: William Barden
Audience: SQL developers
Reviewer: Ian Stirk
This book aims to help you succeed in a SQL developer interview, how does it fare?
This book covers interview questions that relate to the role of a SQL developer, with a bias towards a Microsoft environment.Available only as a low-cost Kindle ebook, it consists of eight short chapters, and two appendices. The book covers both technical and soft skill questions.
Below is a chapter-by-chapter exploration of the topics covered.
Chapter 1 SQL Server Questions
This chapter contains questions largely related to the SQL Server environment. Areas covered include: converting flat files to a relational database, port numbers, SQL Profiler, BCP, SQL injection, storing user names and passwords. Example questions include:
The answers to the questions are typically quite terse. You will not be able to use this book to learn the subject detail, because the answers are much too short. However, if you know the subject already, the questions (and answers) do provide useful examples/starting points of what to expect at an interview. Additionally, the questions might highlight some of your weaker areas of knowledge that need further attention.
Chapter 2 Basic SQL Questions
This chapter contains questions largely related to basic SQL. Areas covered include: ANSI SQL, semi colon delimiter, data types, normalization, denormalization, primary key, foreign key, unique keys, Data Definition Language(DDL), Data Manipulation Language (DML), Data Control Language (DCL), Transaction Control Language (TCL), constraints, not null, check, view, distinct, in, and or, order by, top, joins, left join, right join, union, union all, truncate, delete, rollback, and IfNull. Example questions include:
This is another wide ranging chapter, but again the answers are too short for anything more that starting points. As an example of the brevity, for the question “What is normalization?” the answer is:
“Normalization eliminates redundancy or duplication in table entries by organizing data into smaller tables.”
As well as being an obtuse answer, nothing is said about removing repeating groups, column that depend on only part of a composite primary key, or columns that depend on other non-key columns.
Chapter 3 T-SQL Questions
This chapter contains questions largely related to T-SQL. Areas covered include: T-SQL, declaring variables, printing values, IF/ELSE, break, continue, using cursors, @@fetch_status, triggers (before, after, instead), transactions, commit, and rollback. Example questions include:
This is another short and sharp chapter, covering a wide area but with little depth.
Chapter 4 SQL/T-SQL Query Questions
This chapter contains questions largely related to SQL/T-SQL query. Areas covered here are more practical than previous chapters. Example questions include:
How can you selects only records having a null value
Write a SQL query to get the current date
Write query to find the number of employees by gender, whose birthday is between 01/01/1970 and 12/31/1979
This chapter was more hands-on, providing sample case study questions that you might be asked about at an interview.
Chapter 5 SSRS Questions
This short chapter contains questions largely related to Microsoft’s SQL Server reporting tool, SSRS. Example questions include:
What is SSRS?
What is report manager?
What are ad hoc reports?
This was a very short chapter, consisting of just one page of questions on the Kindle.
Chapter 6 SSIS Questions
This short chapter contains questions largely related to Microsoft’s ETL tool, SSIS. Areas covered include: migration, DTS, BIDS, import/export wizard, transformation, SSIS tasks, global variables, function level variables, control flow, and precedence constraints. Example questions include:
Chapter 7 Appearance, Experience, Personality, and Social Skills
This chapter offers practical advice on softer interview skills. Topics covered include how you look (better to be overdressed than underdressed), tardiness, and team fit. It’s well worth thinking about these questions before you attend the interview. I enjoyed this chapter, it identifies several small (and not so small) attributes that can tip the interview in your favor.
Chapter 8 Behavioral Interview Questions
This chapter asks questions that relate to how you interact with technology and people. Again, you should think about these questions and their answers/consequences before you attend the interview. Example questions include:
How do you keep up to date with technology?
What’s your worst quality?
How do you feel about peer reviews?
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
These open questions aim to dig deeper into what kind of person you are, how you learn, how you interact with others, how you take criticism, and how ambitious you are. You’ll typically spend plenty of time working with other people, so team fit is an important aspect of most jobs.
Appendix 1 SQL command reference
This is a list of SQL commands (e.g. CREATE VIEW), it does not mention where any of them are used in the body of the book. I guess this appendix provides syntax for creating tables etc that you might be asked about, but since this information is readily available on the Internet, I hope it wouldn’t be asked for.
Appendix II T-SQL operator, keyword, and function reference
Again this is a standalone list of features that does not cross reference the main body of the book. This might be useful if you understand the features already, and you want to run through their definitions in your mind.
This book aims to help you pass an interview for a SQL Developer. It provides plenty of basic SQL questions, and terse answers, perhaps too terse. If you already know the topics discussed, then the questions and answers are good starting points to expand upon. Most of the questions are relatively basic, but don’t cover all basic areas (e.g. Common Table Expressions are not mentioned).
The book could be improved by including more questions, providing more detailed answers, and by asking and answering more open technical questions (e.g. what troubleshooting techniques have you used? What do you do if a query suddenly runs slowly?).
Overall, I enjoyed this book, but that might be because I like answering questions! The book should be useful for SQL developers who already know the topics, and want to quickly revise some typical questions and answers – but don’t expect to learn too much. If you don’t know all the answers, the book will highlight the topics you should focus on.