I was just talking to a fellow blogger who’s going through an interview process, and we touched on something that bears repeating here.
Interviewers don’t always expect you to know the answers.
Sometimes they ask you a string of ugly, nasty technical questions that you can’t possibly have seen before. They might not be testing your technical prowess or your research abilities, but instead, they may be testing your ability to keep calm under pressure.
Think back to the last time you had a server crash or an application fail. Managers and business folks come running in asking all kinds of ugly, nasty questions. “When’s it going to be back up? What caused this? You did this, didn’t you? Is that whiskey in your coffee cup? Did you try to quit sniffing glue this week?” I know. I’ve been there.
Asking tough questions in an interview is a way to see if someone will crack under pressure. I rarely do this as an interviewer unless I smell weakness (it smells like the opposite of bacon), but when I do, I go after it. I can’t have somebody on my team who throws up their hands and screams at the first sign of trouble. In two cases, I’ve seen trouble during the interview process: one candidate actually laid his head down in his hands on the table and spoke without looking up. In both cases, I didn’t expect them to know the answers to the questions – I just wanted to see whether or not they’d freak out, and they did.
And of course, this being reality, we hired them anyway. They both still work in their respective jobs though I’ve moved on, and they both still freak out whenever something breaks. <sigh>
More DBA Career Articles
- Moving from Help Desk to DBA – a reader asked how to do it, and I gave a few ways to get started.
- Development DBA or Production DBA? – job duties are different for these two DBA roles. Developers become one kind of DBA, and network administrators or sysadmins become a different kind. I explain why.
- Recommended Books for DBAs – the books that should be on your shopping list.
- Ask for a List of Servers – DBA candidates need to ask as many questions as they answer during the interview.
- Are you a Junior or Senior DBA? – Sometimes it’s hard to tell, but I explain how to gauge DBA experience by the size of databases you’ve worked with.
- So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star – Part 1 and Part 2 – wanna know what it takes to have “SQL Server Expert” on your business card? I explain.
- Becoming a DBA – my list of articles about database administration as a career.