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Cramming for Interviews

January 15, 2013
SQL books

Are you tackling any of these subjects in 2013?

On SQLServerCentral, there are a lot of common questions that I see asked over and over. Perhaps the most common is the “why is my transaction log so large it filled my disk” question, which seems to occur constantly (C’mon, Microsoft, change the default recovery model).  However there is also no shortage of people asking for help with interview questions.

In general, I don’t mind helping people learn more about their craft. I’s how I learned, and I think honest effort should be rewarded. If you spend some time trying to learn something or understand a concept and have questions, I am more than happy to try and clarify things. However I don’t think that anyone on a phone interview, completing some type of employment exam, or even just memorizing a number of new concepts is doing themselves, or the employer, any good.

Cramming for an evaluation of your skills makes sense. I did it for school exams, and I see plenty of people working in groups or through exhaustive simulations of features in SQL Server to prepare for the MCM exams. However in those cases, it’s a refreshing of the concepts and knowledge that one will need to complete the exam quickly. This is knowledge the person already has learned in the past.

As long as you are trying to brush up your skills, and are not deceiving anyone about your talents in an area, I think cramming some facts and ideas into your brain is a good way to present yourself in an interview. Attempting to misrepresent your ability to produce professional work in some area to get a job isn’t acceptable. I won’t help you, and I would encourage others to avoid helping as well.

Steve Jones


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4 Comments
  1. Will H permalink

    I never “crammed” before an interview, until I was disqualified by a recruiter for not answering “correlated subquery” — I couldn’t recall ever hearing the term, and always thought of them as synchronized… Now I make it a habit of doing a little review to make sure I don’t get thrown off by terminology.

    • Actually the only “cramming” I do before an interview is my resume. I got tripped up one time because they asked “So when did you do …” and I responded “I don’t think I ever have”. Turns out it was in my resume from 10 years previous and I had just completely forgotten it.

    • Definitely good to review your resume, especially as you get older.

    • I got tripped up by ACID in one interview. First question and couldn’t remember the words, but it worked out well in the end.

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