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 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
Mention both technological and business considerations. Express your
concerns of long term effects such as cost of ownership and resource
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
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,
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
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
Some of questions in this interview are quite challenging, but they are equally challenging to everyone. Try your best.