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Interview question :critical issue faced by dba Expand / Collapse
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Posted Thursday, July 3, 2014 3:46 AM
Grasshopper

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Hi Experts,

I need some guidance on this.

Recently I have attended a job interview for sql server database administration and was asked to speak about one of the critical issue you have faced as a dba. I have explained of one of the issue I had faced in my environment. I spoke of database was suspect and I was able to recover from backups and I have explained the root cause of the issue stating that it was disk issue which caused the problem and told that we replaced the disk and we are able to restore the tlog backups + taillog backup and I was able to bring the database online.

I don't know why the interviewer wasn't impressed with the answer.

I want to know from exceptional dba's, normally when they ask such questions, what kind of answers or scenarios are they looking for ?

Appreciate your inputs.


Post #1588769
Posted Thursday, July 3, 2014 5:34 AM


SSChampion

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A safe recovery from a possible outage is a great story. I'm not sure why they were unimpressed. Maybe it was delivery. Maybe they were hoping for something more spectacular. I haven't been asked that question, but I can talk through a number of bad days as a DBA, what we did wrong, what we did right, what was changed in the process. Maybe you needed more drill down along those lines.

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"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood..." Theodore Roosevelt
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Post #1588809
Posted Thursday, July 3, 2014 5:54 AM


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vsamantha35 (7/3/2014)
Hi Experts,

I need some guidance on this.

Recently I have attended a job interview for sql server database administration and was asked to speak about one of the critical issue you have faced as a dba. I have explained of one of the issue I had faced in my environment. I spoke of database was suspect and I was able to recover from backups and I have explained the root cause of the issue stating that it was disk issue which caused the problem and told that we replaced the disk and we are able to restore the tlog backups + taillog backup and I was able to bring the database online.

I don't know why the interviewer wasn't impressed with the answer.

...


Have you tried to contact the interviewer to find out why he wasn't impressed with your answer? That would be my first action.

qh


SQL 2K acts like a spoilt child - you need to coax it round with lollipops.
Post #1588813
Posted Thursday, July 3, 2014 6:49 AM


SSChampion

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quackhandle1975 (7/3/2014)

Have you tried to contact the interviewer to find out why he wasn't impressed with your answer? That would be my first action.

qh


That might not work well. Back when I was doing lots and lots of interviews, I never communicated directly with the interviewees. And, even when we got requests for feedback, legal required that we simply say that the person didn't fit our needs at this time.

If you can get it, great, but I would assume you'll never hear back.


----------------------------------------------------
"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood..." Theodore Roosevelt
The Scary DBA
Author of: SQL Server Query Performance Tuning
SQL Server 2012 Query Performance Tuning
SQL Server 2008 Query Performance Tuning Distilled
and
SQL Server Execution Plans

Product Evangelist for Red Gate Software
Post #1588841
Posted Thursday, July 3, 2014 6:51 AM
Mr or Mrs. 500

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Perhaps they try to look neutral during an interview?

I'm definitely not calling myself an exceptional DBA, but it's an interesting topic. I think your answer sounds fine, but maybe they were also looking for you to develop your answer a bit further, and show how you have changed policy and practice where you work, to try to mitigate against the chance of it happening again (rather than simply being reactive).

Post #1588843
Posted Thursday, July 3, 2014 7:03 AM


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Grant Fritchey (7/3/2014)
quackhandle1975 (7/3/2014)

Have you tried to contact the interviewer to find out why he wasn't impressed with your answer? That would be my first action.

qh


That might not work well. Back when I was doing lots and lots of interviews, I never communicated directly with the interviewees. And, even when we got requests for feedback, legal required that we simply say that the person didn't fit our needs at this time.

If you can get it, great, but I would assume you'll never hear back.


Fair point, yes interview feeback can be a libelous minefield! The OP 's question is a tad vague and was just trying to ascertain why he thought the interviewer was unimpressed.

qh


SQL 2K acts like a spoilt child - you need to coax it round with lollipops.
Post #1588854
Posted Thursday, July 3, 2014 7:21 AM
Grasshopper

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I did tried to follow up with HR couple of times via email requesting for feedback. No response.

Again, as Grant mentioned I should have dig more deeper and make up a story and should have mentioned that to be proactive, i had setup alerts for corruptions errors , turn on page verify to checksum , configured dbmail... so on and so forth.

But thanks your inputs. I can do better for future interviews. Special thanks to Grant. Thank you all.

Post #1588870
Posted Thursday, July 3, 2014 7:35 AM


SSChampion

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vsamantha35 (7/3/2014)
... make up a story ...


Let me first assume this is just an "English as a second language" moment and point out that "make up a story" would mean to invent one, to imagine a scenario. So, assuming that's not what you mean, I'd just advise you to not use that phrase in this area.

Now, let's also assume it is what you meant. Don't! If you just make up a story, a good interviewer is likely to spot it. Heck, even when I make up stories for some of the fiction articles I write, I base the technical stuff on things I've actually seen and done. They need to know what you know and understand what you've done and how you've done it. They're not hiring you for your ability to make up a story. But, the ability to tell a story with lots of details is something they are hiring your for.


----------------------------------------------------
"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood..." Theodore Roosevelt
The Scary DBA
Author of: SQL Server Query Performance Tuning
SQL Server 2012 Query Performance Tuning
SQL Server 2008 Query Performance Tuning Distilled
and
SQL Server Execution Plans

Product Evangelist for Red Gate Software
Post #1588886
Posted Thursday, July 3, 2014 8:12 AM
Grasshopper

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Hi Grant,

Don't take me wrong. I apologize if I used a wrong language or words. I used those lines , so that I need to explain it in more detailed and in terms of business impact and HA perspective. Once I am back from the interview I felt that I explained him in a very straight forward way...

Sometimes, I get the impression that the interviewers are expecting specific answer what they faced in their specific env and if they arent getting the answer, they start judging the people that this person doesn't know sql. I have also seen situations where the interviewers are so bad that they have already selected a guy from his circle and taking interviews just for the sake of taking the interview.

My personal take on this is, I would expect interviwer check the basics and take it from there. Try to grab as much info what the candidate knows abt sql server and should see the approach she is taking and not looking for answers!!
Again this is compeletely my personal opinion...
Post #1588931
Posted Thursday, July 3, 2014 8:57 AM


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vsamantha35 (7/3/2014)

Sometimes, I get the impression that the interviewers are expecting specific answer what they faced in their specific env and if they arent getting the answer, they start judging the people that this person doesn't know sql. I have also seen situations where the interviewers are so bad that they have already selected a guy from his circle and taking interviews just for the sake of taking the interview.



I would agree with some of that. I have seen both problems as an interviewee.





Jason AKA CirqueDeSQLeil
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MCM SQL Server, MVP


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Posting Performance Based Questions - Gail Shaw
Post #1588969
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