A government agency funded a 3-year project for data integration/consolidation among several agencies. A couple of Information System Analyst positions were planned to be filled for this project. The interview process is outlined below. At start of the interview, a written description of the position and the project was given to the candidate. The candidate had a few minutes to read the description. Then interview questions followed.
The goal of the project is to build a consolidated data system that supports high-quality government program evaluations. This system should provide an efficient, flexible, and secure means of maintaining longitudinally-linked public funded program data and promote good data management practices with respect to data systems and issues across participated agencies. This position works as the technical lead through the project.
The Senior Information Systems Analyst is the expert technical specialist on the implementation of database, data access, and distribution technologies and will lead efforts involving the evaluation, implementation and maintenance of these technologies for the data integration/consolidation project. Expected skills include but are not limited to database administration with Oracle, SQL and PL/SQL programming, and data planning.
1. With keeping this in mind please give your experience and education that you think qualifies you for this position.
This is a “Tell me about yourself” question. Using your prepared answer with emphasis on database skills.
2. What database design and data modeling experience do you have, and what tools have you used?
Talk about database design lifecycle, — analysis of business entities, data modeling, create ERD, logical database design, and physical database design. Mention big data design tools such as Oracle Designer and ERWin.
3. What is your database administration experience in configuring Oracle or other RDBMS for OLAP and decision support system?
If you don’t have much knowledge about OLAP and DSS database in specific, just mention that the database software provides options in installation to let you setup database for OLAP/DSS purpose. Database servers like Oracle can be easily re-configured from OTAP to OLAP if necessary. Here’s a little more technical detail: OLAP and DSS database support intensive query and data retrieval, therefore, many tables need to be heavily indexed in order to achieve expected performance. For Oracle database, data files may be placed on different disks and tables may be partitioned across different tablespaces to increase concurrent access. In same cases, data may be denormalized for analytical purpose. Specific Oracle features such as bitmap index, materialized view, etc. may be implemented.
4. Please provide your experience in software programming and database development using 4GL, SQL, scripting, or general languages?
You name it, C++, Java, VB, JSP, ASP, SQL. The most important is to describe your Oracle PL/SQL experience in detail, that’s what really required for sure.
5. Describe your experience in evaluating and selecting technologies and software tools best suitable for a systems development/integration project?
Mention both technological and business considerations. Express your concerns of long term effects such as cost of ownership and resource availability.
6. What methodologies, procedures, or tools have you used for planning a data integration project?
In fact, there is no standardized methodology for data integration. Data integration project is different from software development project, but you can borrow some of software development lifecycle concept to answer this question. Quick some new data integration tools have come to the market, such as SAS DataFlux. Even if you have never used any data integration tools, you can just give your knowledge about these tools, — telling what these tools can help on the project.
7. What are your considerations on business and technical aspects if you are asked to analyze a data consolidation project which brings enterprise data from multiple business functions and platforms to a centralized RDBMS?
This is a tough one, and hard to prepare. On the business, you should talk about what’s behind the drive of data consolidation. In general, data consolidation is driven by achieving better data accuracy, data availability, and reducing data redundancy. On technical side, you need to talk about how to achieve the business goal, – it involves data analysis, planning, data modeling, architecture design, data conversion, etc.
8. Do you have any experience in data acquisition, data migration, and/or data mapping using either ETL (extract, transform, load) tools or customized data conversion solutions?
Easy question. If you used any ETL tool such as InforMatica, say so. Otherwise explain how you developed customized solution, i.e., Oracle SQL Loader, SQL and PL/SQL programming, batch scripting, Perl scripting, etc.
9. Describe your knowledge or experience in data warehousing lifecycle?
If you are not sure what the answer is, check this out:
10. Please describe your experience preparing written documents? Who was your audience?
Tons of. Technical specs, functional specs, tech doc, user manual, proposal, training instructions…
11. Please describe how you have worked with a team to accomplish a project?
Make sure you say you can do both. You can work independently to get the job done, you also enjoyed working with a team. You can be an effective team leader, or you can be a team member to support the synergy effort.
12. This position has a lot of responsibility and several tasks often come at you at once with all of them having high priorities. How do you deal with this type of a situation and what tools have you used to help you manage your tasks to ensure nothing gets left out?
Say you always use effective communication to resolve conflicts. Microsoft Project Manager is a good tool to mention.
As always, near the end of the interview, you’ll be asked “Do you have questions for us?” and then “Do you have last comments” . Search our website to get answers for these questions and make a last impression.
Some of questions in this interview are quite challenging, but they are equally challenging to everyone. Try your best.