Conducting a Database Administrator Background Check
Oracle Tips by Burleson Consulting
March 18, 2015
The job of Database Administrator (DBA) is a
mission-critical job whereby a corporation entrusts billions of dollars
worth of data to a single individual. Database Administrators are
generally paid at the same level as a mid-level manager or Vice
President, and it is not uncommon to find people with salaries in excess
of $150,000 per year, even more for special DBAs who have functional and
technical skills. Oracle estimates that the
average DBA earns more than $100,000 per year. Foremost, you
must carefully screen for intelligence.
Being a DBA requires a special type of professional.
Bright People: It takes someone with
above average intelligence to manage a complex computer system, and an
ideal DBA has an IQ in the range from 120-140, the same as a typical
college graduate student.
Dumb DBAs have a propensity to compromise the security of a
database, even when they do not intend to reveal details.
Diverse People: A DBA needs to have
the rare mix of technical skills and excellent communications skills.
Without the ability to communicate complex concepts in plain English, a
DBA is seriously hobbled.
People with functional knowledge: It
is always a bonus to have a DBA with functional knowledge which is why
the MBA degree is popular with DBAs to manage business databases.
For example, a DBA with a CPA is ideal to manage a financial database
and a DBA who is a medical informaticist with an MD degree is perfect
for managing a medical database.
People without any moral turpitude:
This is one of the toughest areas to check. The job interviewer needs to
be like Elliott Ness, finding “The Untouchables”, trustworthy people to
fill jobs that give them access to confidential and valuable data.
The DBA arena attracts all sorts of posers, and resume fraud is rampant,
not to mention people who
truly believe that they are competent when in reality they are
see my notes on why bad credit
indicates a dishonest personality. and
employers checking your credit history
Let’s take a closer look at how to evaluate people for
Evaluating the morality of a job candidate
In my book
Conducting the Oracle Job Interview, I describe how I have used my
degree in Psychology to develop unobtrusive measures to detect job
candidates who are dishonest. Honesty trumps every other area of
candidate evaluation, especially in light of the media reports of dishonest
DBAs stealing millions of dollars from their employers. For more
details, see my notes on
evaluating the honesty of a job applicant.
Part of evaluating morality is complete background
checks, credit checks and drug tests. Many people misunderstand that
it is not the act of committing an offense that matters, it’s lying about
Evidence of lying will quickly disqualify a DBA job
applicant. A Secret Service Agent once told me a tale where some
agents were fighting boredom in a long stakeout and they were messing around
with their handguns. One of the guns discharged, and the two innocent
agents concocted a story to CYA and deflect the blame. In the end, the
agent who fired the gun confessed that he did wrong, and it should not be a
surprise that the person who admitted his transgression got a small
punishment while the agents who lied about it were fired.
check: People who do not pay their bills on time have no
respect for their obligations.
Criminal check: While it may be OK to have a few parking
tickets, we disqualify people who do not pay their tickets because it
indicates disrespect for the law.
Surprise drug testing:
A random urinalysis is an absolute requirement, and I do it right after
the on-site interview, marching them straight to the nurse’s office.
I have been amazed at the results, where fine upstanding people come
back testing positive for Meth, Heroin and all sorts of substances.
The tests now can tell if the applicant has an alcohol problem, even if
there is not alcohol in their system at the time.
Corporations have hired me for decades to interview and
screen computer job applicants for sensitive positions, and over the years I
have interviewed hundreds of DBA candidates. I thought that I had seen
every possible result from the “piss quiz”, until I heard the story of the
“inhuman” urinalysis results!
Another manager told me that he had the results of a
drug test come back as “inhuman”, meaning that the urine was not from a
The drug test did not indicate the species, but I can
imagine this person with a cup on a broom stick following Fido around
waiting for his chance to get a urine sample!
It is also important to note that the urine sample is
collected on-site and tested for warmth (real pee should be over 90 degrees
at collection time). I can only guess that this fellow “keestered” the
dog urine, or heated it up with a Bic lighter in the bathroom stall!
Oracle employers check your credit history
This article shows that a credit check is a routine part of
pre-employment screening, and acts of "moral turpitude" such as
paying your bills late, can ruin your chances of getting a top
Also, see my notes on why bad credit
indicates a dishonest personality.
A slow payment history indicates irresponsibility
This article notes that companies are routinely doing background
credit checks of all job applicants, and they have little sympathy
for people who don't honor their credit payment terms. A
history of slow credit payments can indicate irresponsibility and a
disregard for personal commitments:
"Richard Becraft was offered a good
civil service job with the Department of Defense in May 2002. .
After a background check, however, the job offer was rescinded.
The government letter that the Oxnard, Calif., man received
indicated “financial considerations” made him a poor security
I work for many companies in a
job applicant screening service where we help them hire
responsible Oracle professionals and I'm amazed at the amount of
background checks that are done before hiring database
professionals. I have extensive
details on doing background checks for Oracle job applicants in my
the Oracle Job Interview", $9.95 at Rampant TechPress.
Your Web Presence is
Many employers now check all of your postings on the web.
Your raunchy comments from a decade ago could ruin your chances of
being hired, especially for the top-jobs with five-figure salaries.
I saw a job applicant rejected because he made rude and
inappropriate posting on a message board using his verified e-mail
from a prior employer.
Some of the background checks now include extensive checks:
- Credit checks - A history of late payments indicates
a lack of responsibility to honor your credit agreement.
- Criminal checks - Sites like
find everything about you, even your history of traffic tickets.
Here is an
actual criminal check of a job applicant that I interviewed
awhile back. Possession of stolen property, I never would
have guessed. Here is
another job applicant where we found a charge of heroin
- Job History verification - Employers know that they
are allowed to ask the tell-all question "Would you re-hire this
person". A "no" from a previous employer will
often cause your resume to go into a wastebasket.
- Education verification - I've seen dozens of cases
where a job applicant has listed a degree that they have not
earned. Employers call the schools and request that the
applicant provide transcripts. I once caught a liar who
listed a fake MBA and when I confronted her, she explained that
she was "planning to get that MBA", as-if that was perfectly acceptable.
- Web presence verification - There are companies that
perform "Google checks" on you, and they sometimes reveal
questionable professional behavior.
This degree of background checking has become even more
problematic because of the huge amount of resume fraud in the Oracle
industry, usually by foreign workers and some firms reject 10,000
job applicants every month.
Job applicants are much more likely
to lose a job because they have a recent criminal history or
they lied on an application about their identity, experience or
education. . .
“Of the 10,000 adverse action letters we send out monthly, very
few of them are credit related,” Greenblatt said. “It’s less
For more information on screening the right people for
a DBA job, see
The Oracle Job Interview Handbook.