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So how do you find truly qualified DBAs in an OCP World? Put them to work—in interview, that is. Create real world situations where candidates are allowed full use of any familiar online resources, and see what they can do. Some examples:
Want to check out their data modeling skills? Give candidates a hypothetical business that everyone understands, like a video rental store, and a basic set of business requirements. Put them in front of a white board and let them create a model that meets stated requirements. You play role of a subject-matter expert who is decidedly non-technical, and have them walk you through results.
Wondering how they handle troubleshooting? Set up a database with various performance anomalies such as poorly written queries, missing indexes, and internal resource contention. Have applicants deal with issues and walk you through their methodology. They can't use automated tools. The Oracle Data Dictionary and OS basic facilities must suffice.
Want to see if they know how to minimize downtime? Pretend you're a client who wants to upgrade a 500GB database from version X to version X+1. It's a 24/7 environment and each hour of downtime costs $10,000. There will be downtime regardless, but DBA should be able to generate scenarios to keep it at a minimum.
Whatever skills you're looking to assess, make sure you test candidates in situations they can't prepare for and can't fake. The new interview process isn't quite as easy as those trusty old 200 questions. It requires more up-front planning and often more time in interview room. But if it saves you from having to fire incapable employees who wreaked havoc on your database, it's probably worth it. A little advance preparation can save a whole lot of time, money, and hassle down road. And isn't that all we're looking for in this crazy, mixed-up OCP world?
Rob has served as the applications architect for one of the largest government databases in the world. Before joining The Pythian Group in 2000, he worked for numerous corporations and government agencies, including Human Resources and Development Canada and Elections Canada. An acknowledged expert in the field, Rob excels in application architecture and application performance tuning.