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Posted Friday, July 11, 2008 6:01 PM


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Loner (7/11/2008)
There are two rooms separating by a wall, one room has three lamps, the one one has three switches, can you tell how to find out which switch is for which lamp if you only allow to look at other room once. (Question from Bill Gates, he said if anyone can answer this question in five minutes, he would hire that person.) So far I asked many people this question, only one guy could answer this question within 5 minutes, he was a geek though.


Judging by all the idiots that answered that question successfully that I've seen get hired over the years and still can't write SQL without cursors, while loops, and CLRs, I'd say that those types of questions are totally useless. If you want to find out how they think when programming... ask them some SQL questions...

... and see if the geek know's how to do it with 4 or even 5 lights ;)


--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 #532910
Posted Friday, July 11, 2008 6:13 PM


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Christopher Stobbs (7/11/2008)
Thanks for that.

I'm actually look for more of an Analytical question rather than tech skills questions...

For example giving them puzzles to see what there approach to problem solving is like.


Part of the tech skills an SQL Developer should have is how to analyze, solve, and write SQL questions. The only way to find out if they can analyze a problem to materialize as an SQL solution is to give them problems that require the answer as an SQL Script.

Asking questions like "Which one of the following is different" are just going to get you a lot of obvious answers that have nothing to do with SQL and have nothing to do with problem solving even though the question has a lot to do with analysis...

Yellow Apple
Orange
Lime
Tomato


--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 #532913
Posted Saturday, July 12, 2008 7:19 AM
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If you want an analytical question, this was the one I had to answer when I interviewed for a contracting position. Actually this was the problem they had and they asked me how I solved it. I gave them the answer and they liked it so they hired me.

The company changed from main frame system to a new CRM system using Oracle. Everyday the mainframe system would generate a whole bunch of text files and loaded into SQL Server tables. The SQL Server tables was used by the web development group. They had the DTS packages to load the text files into SQL Sever tables. Now the company wanted to know how I would load the SQL Server tables using Oracle. The company was implementing the CRM system at the same time. So no one would clearly give the answer to me which table I should use. The company wanted me how I would find out which Oracle tables to use, basically I had to understand the data from the text files and how it matched up with the Oracle tables. I had to create the DTS packages to load the SQL Server tables from Oracle. I had to write up the test plan too so the testers knew how to test the system.

Basically you give the candidates a real life problem and ask them how they can solve it.

The second one was I had to build a data warehouse. I would get data from different outside sources. Each one would give me a text delimited file but with different length and data. Would it be possible to build a dynamic system to read different text files and load into the SQL Server tables? I actually did.
Post #533006
Posted Saturday, July 12, 2008 11:01 AM


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Loner (7/12/2008)
The second one was I had to build a data warehouse. I would get data from different outside sources. Each one would give me a text delimited file but with different length and data. Would it be possible to build a dynamic system to read different text files and load into the SQL Server tables? I actually did.


NOW you're talking! Hey... if you want to write a really cool article, Loner, that would be an outstanding subject!


--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 #533034
Posted Monday, July 14, 2008 1:06 PM


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I had a .net process called DataAssimilator that did such a function for a prior company. The C# program only imported into a dynamically created or a pre-existing staging table and then had an optional parameter called 'ImportSQL', usually a stored procedure. A DTS/SSIS package could use it too. I never used DTS/SSIS itself to do dyamic staging imports. DataAssimilator was good for SHRM org data imports (no standardized iterim-format; each needed its own assimilation proc) and client bulk-imports (had standardized interim format; all shared one assimilation proc) which often needed multiple-table upserts but little scrubbing.


Post #533838
Posted Monday, July 14, 2008 1:55 PM


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Do you still have the code for it?

--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 #533870
Posted Monday, July 14, 2008 3:09 PM


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Sorry Jobing.com had a rather predatory NDA (all concepts and ideas) and non-compete (3 years). Ginger says it is un-enforce-ably predatory though.

Candidates should ask about things like this at interviews. My current job at Integreat / Med3000 gave me permission to publish universal-type scripts and things to free forums and such.



Post #533927
Posted Monday, July 14, 2008 3:30 PM


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On the analytical SQL side:

1. I am starting a new company and you have lined up most of your resources to do so, but am still deciding how to implement my idea, so I come to you. The idea I want to sell is vanity phone numbers to existing companies. That is - companies have a whole bank of numbers already in their inventory, and would like to be able to have access to all possible 7-letter words (in a variety of languages to be determined later) that will match their phone numbers. My product is to give them a way to find these words and help them market them, so I come to you for advice. The search tool must return stuff in real-time, and must be FAST. What do you propose I do?

2. I have a large transaction logging table recording several thousand transactions a minute. It's a short term backup table while transactions are being set up and fulfilled, so at no time should there be a need to hold onto anything for more than three months; however the original creator of this process never put in any maintenance, so at this point the table now holds more than 4 Billion rows. The table cannot afford any substantial downtime, and it is supporting our major catalog, so it can't afford any major slowdowns either. How would you go about reducing the size of the table down to the 250M rows it should be? What will it take?


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Post #533938
Posted Monday, July 14, 2008 3:31 PM


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The problem with so-called "analytical problems" is that so very many of them aren't analytical at all, they are based on trivia.

For example, the lamps one. Because it's been used by MS for years, it's all over the web. "Solving" it may or may not show any ability other than the l33t skillz of terminal Google abuse and trivia memorizing.

Seriously, would you hire someone who knows how to do the "split groups of steel balls" problem (look it up if you don't know it), but who doesn't know how to write an outer join, over someone who goes, "Steel balls? Er... um ... well ... heck, I'll have to think about that", but who has published multiple excellent books on the subject of SQL, and has been an MVP for two or three centuries, etc., etc., etc?

Even as a tie-breaker, with candidates who are otherwise indistinguishably skilled (or incompetent, your call), it's generally better to pick the one who you think will get along with the rest of the team better, or who wants a slightly lower paycheck, or any number of other, more direct, criteria. Heck, even though it may get me in trouble, given a choice of two equally skilled people, I'll pick the pretty girl over the ugly girl/whatever guy.

Anything is better than, "how can use a bulldozer to separate two stacks of firewood, without turning the buldozer on, if your hands have been burned off and you've got a terminal case of dandruff?" or comparably silly problems. (For anyone curious, the answer to ALL such trivia/logic questions, is, of course, "42". Or, any number between 40 and 45, if it's a government job.)


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Post #533940
Posted Monday, July 14, 2008 6:23 PM
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GSquared (7/14/2008)

"how can use a bulldozer to separate two stacks of firewood, without turning the buldozer on, if your hands have been burned off and you've got a terminal case of dandruff?"


that's the best interview question I've heard in a long while!

for extra credit, how do you do it if the firewood is invisible?


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