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Technical Interview - I feel dumb now.... :) Expand / Collapse
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Posted Thursday, March 29, 2012 2:43 PM
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Thanks GSquared!

The explainations are helpful. I knew the ACID stuff and I looked it up before hand to make sure I had each letter noted as to what it stood for. He didn't really ask me much about ACID but I was just using that as an example for things I do day to day.

They do have an OLTP system. However the position is not for "administration". Its an 80% development position but for some reason they wanted to focus on DBA type questions just to see if their candidates were well rounded I think? The recruiter told me that they definately want strong developers but they are looking for someone that is really interested in the whole picture and who would be able to identify performance problems and raise issues.

I think he really liked one answer I gave when he asked me how I would handle a server with a CPU that was running at 100%. I happened to have directly dealt with this at my last company and was able to really go in depth with how we troubleshooted it and resolved it. I also explained that I am a very hands on developer and I don't like to just write my little stored procedure and send it out into the universe... I wanna know how things are performing, if my jobs are running, index statistics and everything and I said that I'm used to a world where I script everything and nothing happens in the production server unless I have scripted it out that way. He said yes that is exactly how they operate as well. The developers script everything that gets released into production and they have another team that actually handles all of their production support stuff. And I went into some performance stuff on tables and queries ... explained how I physically partitioned a 650 gig table and all the fancy index trending I did with it and made it more efficient... I do much better when I can give real world examples of how I handle things than answering test questions.

The recruiter also told me that this guy is really intense and they actually said to me "I don't mean to scare you, but this will be hard!". So, I think I wouldn't be so nervous and anxious about it if they hadn't pumped it up so much and got me really worried about it.

Its not a huge deal and sure I'm not gonna lose sleep on it if I'm not a right fit for them... but I would really like to be in a cutting edge shop with lots of other developers that I can learn some of these things we're talking about. That and I really want to get the hell out of DC! :D

I have been through many technical interviews and even had to endure one that was in "microsoft style". The manager had previously worked at Microsoft and he said if the type of interview was good for Microsoft it was good for this company. I was literally grilled for 2 hours by like 8 people. But that was laid back and I was cool with it cause the recruiter didn't try to freak me out. I got that job but I turned it down. :)

Post #1275375
Posted Friday, March 30, 2012 6:21 AM


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Makes sense.

All the questions you listed would be dev/performance tuning. The performance tuning and monitoring part of it is usually a DB Admin task. But, as usual, most database jobs are hybrids of dev/admin/architect/analyst.

Best of luck on the results of the interview and on getting the job. Regardless of knowledge (which sounds like you know enough), you definitely sound like you have the right attitude about the career, and that's much more important than knowing a few essoteric details. So don't feel "dumb" or whatever.


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Posted Friday, March 30, 2012 7:09 AM


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amy26 (3/29/2012)
but I would really like to be in a cutting edge shop with lots of other developers that I can learn some of these things we're talking about. That and I really want to get the hell out of DC! :D
:)


Should I be concerned that I don't fully comprehend how a b-tree structure works in the database or that I had to look up the ACID principles?


The answer (IMHO) is "maybe". It depends on how bad you want to get out of DC.

The world of DBA jobs is fairly competative and, while I certainly agree that such "essoteric" knowledge isn't necessarily required to do a good job, such knowledge is frequently used as an interview "tie-breaker". It's not always fair and isn't necessarily a good measure of how good a job someone may do but that's the way things frequently pan out.

You've been through several "grillings" and now know what to expect. It'll take you very little time to become an SME on those things that you feel a bit light on and easily outshine the competition.


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"RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for "Row-By-Agonizing-Row".

First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
Stop thinking about what you want to do to a row... think, instead, of what you want to do to a column."

(play on words) "Just because you CAN do something in T-SQL, doesn't mean you SHOULDN'T." --22 Aug 2013

Helpful Links:
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Post #1275728
Posted Friday, March 30, 2012 1:25 PM


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Just to chime in with what's been good advice and discussion so far.

Over 100k IS top of field right now in a number of markets. It's basically max of market if you don't have a name.

I personally have a different opinion though of dev duties, and understanding page splits and how the storage mechanism works is one of them. What usually happens is after the fact the DBAs need to get involved because in usage scenarios don't match up with original design, but the developers need to have a solid understanding so those are 'one-off' repairs, not general continuous maintenance for the DBAs.

I wouldn't worry about it too much. As mentioned, noone can know everything. Let them know what you know, and worst case scenario just say "No, haven't been involved deeply enough in that yet, but I could research it." This is definately one of those fields that the more you learn the more you realize you need to learn.

Speaking of, I have to go try to wrap my head around NUMA. Again. Argh. Everytime I think I've got it... I don't got it. :)

Don't feel bad, we've all got weak spots. Mine is on the administration side though, I'm primarily a developer.



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Post #1276001
Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2012 10:24 AM
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So, update.... I guess I overracted and I'm not as dumb as I think I did... the recruiter just called me and said that they LOVED me. And they would love to fly me down for an in person interview. The sad news, is she said the CIO came down and told them they had hired too many people this year and were putting a freeze on it. So, now the guy I interviewed with has to make a plee to the CIO and justify that my position is critical and they really need to allow the position I applied for to be filled.

So, great news ....and bad news. I really hope they pull through because its a great opportunity and would get me the heck out of DC. So, keep your fingers crossed for me. :)
Post #1277458
Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2012 10:58 AM


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amy26 (4/3/2012)
So, update.... I guess I overracted and I'm not as dumb as I think I did... the recruiter just called me and said that they LOVED me. And they would love to fly me down for an in person interview. The sad news, is she said the CIO came down and told them they had hired too many people this year and were putting a freeze on it. So, now the guy I interviewed with has to make a plee to the CIO and justify that my position is critical and they really need to allow the position I applied for to be filled.

So, great news ....and bad news. I really hope they pull through because its a great opportunity and would get me the heck out of DC. So, keep your fingers crossed for me. :)


Best of luck!

And if you nailed that interview that well, the odds of finding something better than your current situation, with them or someone else, are pretty much in your favor.


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Post #1277482
Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2012 11:11 AM


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interviews. blah...

having been on both sides of the table i can also add 1 thing.
whenever you think you did bad, there will more than likely be 10 people behind you that are even worse.

i have had to conduct interviews with people that called themselves DBA's that did not even know the difference between an index and a table.
Post #1277492
Posted Saturday, May 12, 2012 9:17 AM
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So, bad news is this job never got back to me. Good news is, I just got another offer yesterday. I think my dreams of getting out of the DC area will have to wait awhile but I got an offer from CSC as a senior developer/DBA on one of their government contracts. Does anyone have any experience working for CSC? I wasn't able to get them to budge on their offer. They were dead set with their 125k number and number of vacation days. But the team seems great and they said hours and stuff are pretty flexible.

I'm hoping since CSC is so big that after a year or two I can transfer out of state.
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Posted Saturday, May 12, 2012 11:37 AM


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125K isn't bad for the DC area.

--Jeff Moden
"RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for "Row-By-Agonizing-Row".

First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
Stop thinking about what you want to do to a row... think, instead, of what you want to do to a column."

(play on words) "Just because you CAN do something in T-SQL, doesn't mean you SHOULDN'T." --22 Aug 2013

Helpful Links:
How to post code problems
How to post performance problems
Post #1299140
Posted Tuesday, July 31, 2012 9:39 AM
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Never ever ever be afraid of saying that you dont know something. There is nothing worse that a self proclaimed know it all who pretends to know everything, and tries to bluff thier way through something they dont know, giving incorrect information more often than not.

In an interview or when dealing with a client, I dont know shows you dont know everything. who could possibly know everything? In an interview situation, follow up on any questions you didnt know, ask questions, show them that you are genuinely interested and willing to learn anything that you dont know.

On a client site follow up "i dont know the answer" with "but I will investigate and get back to you by xx:xx time tomorrow". I have often been asked something i didnt know, and as long as i am willing to find out, and set a clients expectations they are always happy with the answer. just make sure you follow up!
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