As a senior resource in my organization (ohh yes, I am 10+ yrs of experienced now), I am often involved in interviewing process for hiring of new DBA members.
I have interviewed many SQL DBA candidates ranging from 2 to 10 years. What wonders me is that even experience people still don’t know how to even prepare for interviews, and most important, their resume.
So sharing following key points/tips for resume writing and interviewing.
Resume is not a textbook where you would scribble the topics from SQL DBA textbooks. Nobody got time to read long resumes. Yes, interviewer too is busy scanning lot of resumes, interviewing many candidates, and holding his workplace tasks in check. Bottom-line, keep resume unto 2-3 pages max.
There is no meaning of writing headlines/topics of textbook in resume. Usually common lines I see are –
Verifying and resolving the SQL Server blocking issues and Finding the root cause
Above line seems straight from text book. Rather it should be modified to something below in Verb – Action format–
Created automation to get alerted for blocking proactively
Brought down blocking issues from X/day to Y/day by helping app team to implement A, B solutions
So, question is what to mention in resume if not allowed to put textbook lines. Well, your achievements. If you really have good experience, and feel like you are worthy of job, then you must have gained ‘Feel Good’ after doing some good job like ‘Improved database performance by 20% with proper indexing’, ‘Resolved Query issue by diagnosing the Parameter Sniffing Issue’, ‘Recognized by Management for thoroughly delivery of VLDB with complete responsibility’, ‘Developed XX report or tool that helped organization save xy dollars’ etc.
Remember each any work day of your X years of experience, and put the problem you have solved along with the solution you used to solve the problem.
Put reality from Blind man’s eye. Only the things you have done 100% with full 100% confidence. Less content with full truth. Writing that ‘I am expert in Query Performance Tuning’ will not help you if you cannot even present a demo of Deadlock issue in Realtime, or which query plan operator is good or bad in which specific scenario, or when CURSOR is good use case with what settings/options. Just saying SELECT * if bad when you don’t understand why?
Interviews are kind enough to ask questions from Resume. At least all the people I know follow this.
Prepare thoroughly for 35 marks question (out of 100) of interview. That is “Tell us something about yourself?“
This is the question for which you should prepare a pre-scripted paragraph that would take 90-120 seconds. Remember this is the only time when interviews won’t cross question. This is the only time when you can compare your skillset with Job Description shared with you. Only time when you can SELL your other skillset like ‘Handled Oracle/Sybase/BI reporting’ etc. You should include the achievements of your projects about which you are proud of. Like ‘The achievement I am proud of while working in XX project was the I saved 15 hours of Developers effort per Head Count by implementing XX tool/code/automation’.
Most important tip – “Never involve in argument with Interviewers” as they are the BOSS. Of course until you can prove them wrong, and you are doing this because now you don’t care about the job 🙂
Interviewing is a skill of listening and observing. Observe the behavior of interviewer. If he is outspoken, then let him speak most often. That means for a 30 minutes of interview, you should speak only for 10 minutes with Precise and Correct Answer. Especially answers involving Processes. This is because outspoken Interviews would suffocate (without knowing the reason by themselves) when candidate consumes all the time in BlahBlahBlah. Moreover outspoken interviews are most of the times not Deep Technical. So you have best shot with Process based answers.
Also, always answer with keywords like ‘This is how I would solve……’, ‘This is what I think, but I may be wrong’, ‘Could this be ??’. Idea here is, there are many speculations to single outcome. There are many Ifs & Buts for database scenarios. Interviewer might have solved a problem in X way, when you are telling him that Y is only way to solve. So simply avoid saying “Y is only way to solved” rather use “I would solve it with Y solution, but I believe that are other options”.
PLEASE read the Job Description. Don’t apply on each job unless you have read the Job Description thoroughly. Nothing impresses interviewer more than the fact that candidate has read the job requirement thoroughly. Every Job Description includes “What Skills/Competencies are required?” and “What you would be doing on day to day basis?”. These are very important sections. Align yourself according to these.
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Happy Interviewing 🙂