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Recruitment | 6 Min Read

How to Hire an SQL Developer

A Technical Background

Having a thorough technical background on set theory is of utmost importance for developers working on SQL. In case, the candidates do not have such background, they try to retrieve individual information from other sources like Java one-by-one rather than performing bulk operations on their own. This has a direct impact on their performance.

Knowledge of Latest SQL Versions

SQL has evolved a lot not only in its standard form but also in fulfilling vendor-specific requirements. Features like common table expressions (CTE) and window functions have now added in the later versions of SQL that help developers run complex reports in a relatively easier manner. Having sound knowledge of these features help in ETL, BI, and reporting. Therefore, it is recommended, that before hiring a developer, try to know how much sound the individual is in using these features and not just only know about some basic concepts of SQL-92 features.

Ability to Identify Errors

The most important things that you need to consider while hiring an SQL developer is the ability to find out the errors or bugs during the execution of any program. Although indexing can resolve approximately 90% of SQL performance related issues, being able to judge the right usage of indexing and when it is beneficial is essential. The rest 10% of issues are handled by teams like DBA (Database Administrator) and operational unless the developer is working in specialized setups.

Awareness of Various Databases

Having knowledge and awareness of different databases while using SQL statements to execute plans is crucial. The reason being a declarative SQL statement can easily be optimized by ant database, and if the developer has a good knowledge of different databases, the result can be much better. Though it is usually sufficient if the developer has a good command in executing plans, the necessary skills and knowledge about databases can be attained on the job. All they need to have is basic knowledge of databases.

Candidate's Interest in SQL

Most developers think that SQL is an old-fashioned technology because of the syntax used in it. However, the syntax might seem “arcane” to developers but there is nothing such when it comes to its functionality. Recruiters need to judge while taking interviews, the way candidates’ think about the technology, and how much keen are they to work with it. Moreover, they need to distinguish between those developers who hide SQL behind an ORM with those who know the difference that ORM can only solve the subset of data storage and not the entire query.

Some Useful Recruiting Tips

1. One of the best ways to recruit the right talent is to make use of an online assessment platform in which you can include multiple choice or subjective questions related to SQL. Using employee assessment software, you can not only judge multiple candidates in less time but can also track how much time they have spent on each question. You can also ask your candidates to attend and submit the test anytime, anywhere, without being physically present at the interview location. Thereby, making your interviews extremely convenient and flexible for you as well as for your candidates.

2.  An an IT recruiter, you should be prepared to ask certain interview questions related to developer’s experience such as:

Q1. How much relevant experience do you have in SQL?

Q2. What were your roles and responsibilities?

Q3. What is your greatest accomplishment?

By asking such questions you can easily find out more about candidate’s profile and up-to-date SQL experience, duties, and achievements. Thus, knowing the candidate better.

Decision-making Capabilities Related to SQL:

Q1. On what stage do you want to join the recent projects?

Q2. If you are involved in making the choice of technology or project setup, which relational database management system would you choose for the ongoing project and why?

Q3. If you fail to achieve what you were expected in the same project, what will be your next step?

Such questions let you know about the candidates’ technology choices and also whether or not they had previously involved in decision-making tasks. These questions are perfect for experienced candidates?

Behavioral Interview Questions:

Q1. What would you think about project failure? Was it a mistake? Why did it happen?

Q2. Could have you done anything better to turn that failure into a success story?

Q3. What steps do you think you would take in such a situation?

Q4. what would learn from such an experience?

These questions will help you find out how the candidate makes their decision, draws a conclusion, and how much they learn from their experiences.

3. Look for other skills too apart from SQL such as maintaining indexes, reading execution plans, tuning storage, resolving contention issues, and so on. A profound knowledge of relational theory and SQL designing skills are most important for starting new projects. Ability to test the SQL code and having refactoring skills would be a plus.

4. You can also take telephonic interviews before having onsite face-to-face rounds. This not only helps to give you an idea of the candidates’ potential for the job but also saves a lot of your time.  If the candidates are available for a face-to-face round, ask them to attend the coding tests. By doing so, you can easily know how interested and willing they are is to find a job. You can either set up an online coding test or onsite one according to your feasibility.  

5. One of the most important things that you need to know is the standard market rate of SQL  developers according to their experience.

  • A junior SQL developer who has an experience of around 2-3 years has a package of around $84,678 per annum
  • A Senior SQL developer who has an experience of around 5+ years has a package of around$105,626 per year

In fact, some companies pay SQL developers on an hourly basis depending upon the amount of work and number of hours they are spending on a particular task.

Let's Get Started!

Hiring a developer isn’t easy. You need to study a lot about the same technology so that you can make an informed decision of hiring the right talent. Moreover, try to look for a candidate who knows multiple skills apart from SQL such as handling a team of developers, DBA, operations and so on. Following these steps while recruiting a developer will not only help you hire the right individual but will also save a lot of your time.






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Originally published December 5 2018, Updated August 3 2021

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About This Topic

Hiring a coder requires HRs to go beyond conventional hiring practices and assess the candidate on both knowledge and hands-on skills. A holistic suite of assessments and simulators, used in conjunction, can simplify the technical hiring process and better evaluate programmers and developers.

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