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RE: Case study for interviewing Oracle DBA

From: Boivin, Patrice J <>
Date: Tue, 01 Mar 2005 11:21:13 -0400
Message-id: <1A4AC4BAB9C50A42854582B69B08C0340624C9A5@MSGMARBIO05>

Can they read 600-page books without complaining?

Will they have to be micro-managed?


-----Original Message-----
From: david wendelken [] Sent: March 1, 2005 11:11 AM
Subject: Re: Case study for interviewing Oracle DBA

>My manager has two concerns -- 1) Some of the candidates we have are
>over qualified -- it is a junior level position.

Your manager is confused on this issue, as most managers are. :)

The problem is *NOT* that the candidate is over-qualified. That is a blessing, not a problem.

The problem is that your manager is concerned that, due to the disparity of pay-scale vs experience, that the person will leave more quickly than usual, with all the lost overhead of ramp-up time that might entail.

An over-qualified candidate that *really wants to work at this company for the long term* is a blessing.
Find out why they want *this job*. For example, in the city that I moved to (to support my wife's career), there might be 5 IT programming or management jobs in the whole county that I'm not over-qualified for (in my technology area, of course). It's a small city and not an IT hotbed of activity.

I would be **thrilled** to work at a reasonable wage in my home town instead of a 6 hour drive away from my family. I understand that I won't make near the amount of money and simply don't care.

A manager who understands the distinction between over-qualified and likely-to-leave-soon would get a bargain hiring me at a junior rate. And, if their "senior staff" left them in the lurch, they would be in great shape because they would already have a trained replacement ready.

>and 2) How does he
>tell if the applicant actually has the experience they say the do.

Case studies are great - just remember that for complicated issues, the quality of the answer is often based upon the quality of the clarifying questions the applicant asks. The case study sketches out a problem. Does the candidate know what important info they need to know that wasn't spelt out in the case study? Can they ask for it intelligibly? Do they know where to get it? Do they know what to do when they get it?

For junior dbas, I would want to know the following (and more, but I'm limited as to time):

  1. how do they do a backup?
  2. how do they do an import?
  3. how do they know a backup works?
  4. how do grants work?
  5. how do synonyms work?
  6. what privileges would they give an end-user in a production system and why?
  7. what privileges in a development, test, and production system would they give a developer, and why?
  8. can they program in sql? can they write programs that write sql?
  9. how do they start/stop a database?
  10. what do they do if the <fill in blank here: disk, tablespace, table, etc.> fills up?

Several of these could make good case studies.

Received on Tue Mar 01 2005 - 10:24:32 CST

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