the labor market is not as tight as it was a couple of years ago,
recruiting top Oracle talent is still a challenge—especially
finding the right blend of technical skill and people skills.
Besides thoroughly checking technical references, here are four
questions that you should ask a DBA job candidate.
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What is the most
challenging aspect of your job?
This question will give you clues about the mindset of the DBA.
When asked what is challenging about the
DBA job, the DBA’s answer
will reveal a great deal about his or her personality and ability
to work well with other people. The DBA who talks about the
technical challenges of the job and difficulties administering and
maintaining the database may not be ideally suited for a position
where contact for the development staff is critical. On the other
hand, the DBA who speaks openly of the challenges associated with
getting the developers fast answers and accurate information might
be a better consideration.
How do you perceive the
relationship between the DBA and the development staff?
The answer to this question is critical when evaluating a DBA
candidate. Many DBAs, by virtue of their high pay and
product-specific knowledge, tend to think of developers as
underlings; in some cases, DBAs view developers with outright
contempt, believing their queries to be naive. On the other hand,
DBAs with the proper attitude will respond to this question by
talking about the developers as clients to whom they provide data
services essential to the application. In some shops, the DBAs may
be responsible for code, reviewing SQL queries, or DML statements
written by developers; so, a good relationship is vital.
Do you treat your test
and production systems differently? If so, why?
The answer to this question will often provide insight into the
priorities of the candidate. In many shops, the DBA doesn’t
perceive the test databases as being as important as the
production database. The appropriate DBA candidate will note that
the data integrity of the test databases is crucial to the
development staff because it is their “production” environment in
What experience have you
had analyzing new systems?
The answer to this question will reveal a great deal about the
breadth of the DBA’s background. Although technical proficiency is
an absolute requirement for the DBA, you must remember that the
DBA needs to have some tangential knowledge about the functional
areas within the business that they are supporting: for example,
networking; Java syntax; or business-side concerns, like finance
or accounting. DBAs with a strong business background will often
be very useful to the initial design and implementation of new
business functionality within your organization.
A balance between technical aptitude and effective communication
skills is essential for any top-notch IT professional, and a DBA
is no exception. Check technical references and drill down on
their certifications and work experience first. After gauging
those skills, the open-ended questions provided in this article
should give you a good idea if the candidate is a nice cultural
fit for your team.