As experienced Salesforce recruitment consultants, we have extensive experience of the interview process and we often get asked by data engineers how to best prepare for an interview. It is an integral part of our process to give our candidates as much information as possible before their big day, but we thought we could share some of that expertise in this blog with you today.
As a data engineer, your interviewer (or panel) will want to see that you are highly organised, have a keen eye for detail and can communicate your ideas and findings succinctly.
Interviews can be nerve-wracking, even for the most seasoned interviewee, but the best advice we can offer you is to be as prepared as you can. That will involve researching the role and the company thoroughly (your recruiter will be able to help you with this) examine the job description carefully, be prepared to answer general questions about yourself and your career, but also, be prepared to discuss the following hot data engineer topics which come up time and again – which this guide will help you with.
So, here are some of the most common data engineer interview topics that you should be prepared to talk about.
How Would You Solve an ETL Problem?
Extract, transform, load (ETL) problems are common in data projects, and are usually the source of projects going over time or over budget.
A McKinsey survey on business solutions found that on average, large IT projects run 45% over budget, 7% over time and provide 56% less value than predicted.
You should be able to demonstrate that you are aware of, and adept at, solving ETL issues such as data formats changing over time, increased data velocity, fixing broken connections and the time it takes to incorporate new features.
When Have You Identified a Database Problem Which Saved the Business Time or Money?
It will be beneficial for you to be able to show your expertise to the interviewer in demonstrating your ability to save the company time and money. They will want to see that you, despite being technically focused, are fiscally aware and mindful of the constant need to make processes faster and more streamlined for the good of the overall business.
Tell Us About a Time You Had to Adapt Your Process?
The interviewer will want to know that you possess the skills to be fully adaptable to new processes.
The rate at which new big data platforms are being created and the rapid changes in current models mean that you must be able to quickly change to accommodate new processes and new ideas.
DataCamp’s Karlijn Willems states “data engineers will need to recommend and sometimes implement ways to improve data reliability, efficiency, and quality. To do so, they will need to employ a variety of languages and tools to marry systems together or try to hunt down opportunities to acquire new data from other systems so that the system-specific codes”.
So be prepared to discuss in detail the way you are able to quickly find solutions to newly arisen problems.
Salesforce and SAP Experience
Salesforce and SAP are the two market leaders in the CRM and big data world that can’t be ignored.
If you are looking to get into data engineering for Salesforce, you don’t necessarily need Salesforce experience, but just to show that you are passionate and knowledgeable about big data.
Discussing Salesforce and SAP experience can be advantageous to show your market knowledge of commercial CRMs, but it is not essential.
Live Coding Exercise
Your interview will likely contain a coding exercise, although this may take place during a second or subsequent interview (the hiring manager or your recruiter will provide you with the information of what your interview will entail, but if they haven’t – ask).
It is likely that you will be asked to complete a coding exercise, probably on SQL, including:
- implementing an aggregation with a filter
- an SQL join clause
- possibly a subquery
Your SQL questions will differ based on the level of role you are applying for – interviews for higher-level roles might involve complex self joins or even system design questions.
Whatever the level of data engineer role you are applying for, practise your coding skills in the run-up to the interview. You can only demonstrate what you know, but going over your abilities to re-establish them in your mind is a good idea – it might have been a long time since you completed a relatively simple coding exercise! Finally, I want to tell you about an interview topic which is gaining momentum.
While there are many questions that fall under the umbrella of ‘soft skills’, I will go through a few of the most common examples.
Increasingly, employers are looking for team members who are not only proficient in their profession but who also possess competencies that make them an all-rounder. You will likely be asked a soft-skill question, such as one (or more) of the following –
- What things are the most important to you in a job? – This question is to evaluate your culture fit within the organisation.
- Tell us about a time you worked with a difficult colleague – This question demonstrates your ability to collaborate with people who are different from yourself.
- Tell us about a time when you took control of a situation/took the lead of a team – This question aims to demonstrate your leadership qualities.
- Have you ever had to step in when a manager/superior was unavailable, and how did you find it? – This question is to find your growth potential.
- Describe a time when you had to prioritise a task – This question looks to discover your ability to recognise the importance of prioritising particular tasks over others.
I hope this guide has refreshed your memory as to some of the interview topics you might have forgotten, and has possibly alerted you to current issues that you can now prepare for.
If you need help looking for your next data engineer role, be that in Salesforce or otherwise, get in contact with us today. We have been recruiting in tech roles for over a decade and have indisputable industry contacts which we can use to help find you your perfect tech role.
About Resource On Demand
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We assist innovative and disruptive organisations to grow their technology teams. Supporting companies to fill Cloud roles that span across Digital Marketing, Marketing Automation, Human Capital Management and the growing Salesforce.com suite of skills.
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