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Re: Case study for interviewing Oracle DBA

From: Shannon St. Dennis <>
Date: Tue, 01 Mar 2005 08:27:45 -0600
Message-Id: <>

As the original poster (at least I think I was... the early question sure started a loooong convoluted thread but that's what's great about these discussions!)  

I have been the DBA here (Oracle/Informix/Ingres/Sql*SERVER) for the past 8 years. Before that, I was the System Administrator for all the Unix servers. And before that I was a programmer  

I have a bachelor of Science from my university -- there was no real major in Computer Science although I did do all the CS classes.  

We listed experience in administrating Oracle databases as a must -- we listed SQL*Server administration as a nice-to-have. HR weeded out 20 of the resumes.
My manager, HR, and myself narrowed the 23 down to 7 based on "keywords" in the resumes -- like who had real-world experience in administering Oracle databases as opposed to just book knowledge.  

My manager has two concerns -- 1) Some of the candidates we have are over qualified -- it is a junior level position. and 2) How does he tell if the applicant actually has the experience they say the do.  

A case study is what he suggested... I am open to other suggestions if that is easier or more competent. Both myself and our Data Warehouse administrator will be sitting in onthe interviews -- so HR/Management is counting on us to validate the applicants.    

Thanks for the great discussion. We start interviews next monday so i have some planning to do.  


Shannon St. Dennis
Database Administrator
City of Regina
(306) 777-7415 (phone)
(306) 777-6804 (fax)  

The degree of normality in a database is inversely proportional to that of its DBA

>>> david wendelken <> 03/01/05 07:58am >>>

>We used to laugh at those who tried to "buy" their way into knowledge
>and experience by means of "certifications" and "degrees". Along
>way I can't help feeling we lost the plot in IT, when we now need
>to listen to an HR idiot tell us we need this or that certificate
>in order to apply for a job.

How many of you, if asked to find a good CFO or a good tax attorney or a good Mongolian linguist would know how to tell the difference between a good one and a bs artist?

Let's look at it from management's point of view.

They desperately need a team of really good IT folks to do work for them.

They don't have a clue in heck of how to tell a really good IT person from a nimrod -- before they hire them and waste 6 months to a year finding out they made a mistake.

Since the proportion of nimrods to really good IT folks is 5 to 1 (I'm feeling charitable today, it's probably higher), they're looking for something that will help them weed out the worst of the worst.

It's our fault, you see. We've failed to teach management how to tell the difference - before they've hired someone - between a good IT person and a worthless one. We're the ones who know how to tell. They aren't.

I don't get mad at my young child because they don't know how to do something, and I don't complain to my friends about it, I teach my child how to do it! (I might ask my friends for advice on how best to go about teaching my child.)

The original poster's manager did a good thing - they asked an IT person whom they believed to have demonstrated competence to find a way to weed out the nimrods and find them a good junior DBA. That manager should be congratulated. They suggested a case study because that's how much of management training is done. It's something they were familiar with. They didn't have to get a case study back. 99.9% of managers would be happy with **any** practical and affordable method that helped them make a good hire.

One of my goals for next year is to start writing a series of articles for management and airline magazines on "things managers need to know about IT". I would love to hear from you all **off list** as to what needs to be included in that series.


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Received on Tue Mar 01 2005 - 09:31:10 CST

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