Test specifications
Paul S. Randal
Available Language(s):



24 questions

Suggested timelimit:

38 minutes


Normalization and Constraints

Schema Design

Indexing Strategy

Data Modification

Querying Data

Query Plan Analysis

Microsoft SQL Server Database Developer Online Test: How it is structured and how it can help you hire your best candidate

Using our Microsoft SQL Server Database Developer online assessment test will assure your candidates’ skills in all aspects of development for SQL Server using 24 highly detailed questions.

All questions represent practical, general knowledge around developing for SQL Server and should be known by strong SQL Server database developers.

The test is put together by the world-renowned SQLskills.com team. They’ve authored more than 65 in-depth Pluralsight courses on SQL Server, and have been providing the highest quality SQL Server train8ng and consulting since 1995, and are intimately familiar with all aspects of SQL Server and the chapters in this test. They also have extensive experience interviewing SQL Server Database Developer candidates for their clients.

The sub-chapters were picked after considering the broad scope of developing for SQL Server, and the SQLskills team has assessed the six most vital areas to evaluate the qualifications and practical experience of a specific candidate. See all chapters to the right.

By using our SQL Server Database Developer online assessment test, recruiting talented developers will be easier. You will have a significantly higher chance of employing a strong candidate, as well as eliminating the risk of hiring an under-qualified candidate who lacks real-world experience.

How would you use this test?

This online assessment test has a number of use cases:

  • Evaluate SQL Server developers on their understanding of SQL Server development fundamentals
  • Filter out candidates for your work based on their ability to understand complex scenarios
  • Make sure that candidates have real-world, practical knowledge of developing for SQL Server, instead of just book knowledge or having taken a development ‘boot camp’

Which areas (chapters) will be covered in the test, and why was it chosen that way?

Normalization and Constraints
An important development skill when designing a database is applying relational theory to construct a data model for the data being stored. This means a strong candidate will understand how to normalize the data so it can be efficiently stored and searched, plus how to codify the relationships between fields in different tables using appropriate constraints.

Schema Design
A strong developer will be able to construct a schema that accurately and efficiently represents the data model. This means choosing appropriate data types, table design, functions that don’t hinder performance, stored procedures, and even temporary tables used during query execution.

Indexing Strategy
One of the most important tasks of a developer is choosing the index strategy for each table, taking into account the various data types and the queries that will be performed on the table. A strong candidate will also know how to choose an appropriate clustered index key, avoiding common performance pitfalls and behavior misconceptions, use covering indexes, and how and when to consolidate similar nonclustered indexes.

Data Modification
There are many things to consider when inserting, updating, or deleting data, including how to avoid excessive blocking, how to bulk load data, when to use explicit transactions, when to change isolation level from the default, and how versioning can help with all of this. A strong database developer candidate will be aware of the problems that can occur when modifying data and how to avoid them.

Querying Data
Probably the single most important thing an SQL Server database developer does is write effective queries to select data from the database. It is therefore important that a strong candidate knows how to write a wide variety of queries, including creating cross-table selects using joins/subqueries, using aggregates, using windowing functions, dealing with NULL data, and writing search arguments to ensure indexes can be used appropriately.

Query Plan Analysis
Of course, when writing queries, a great database developer will check to make sure that the query plan that SQL Server has generated is efficient. This means a strong candidate has to be familiar with query plan analysis, which includes understanding operators (their meaning and associated costs), evaluating parallelism, making sure aggregates are correct, and ensuring that the most efficient access to the data is being performed, using the appropriate indexes.

Made by one of the leading experts

Paul S. Randal

CEO & Patent holder
Microsoft MVP

I’ve been heavily involved with Microsoft SQL Server since I joined the development team at
Microsoft in 1999, and I know the importance of bringing in promising job candidates.
That’s why I jumped at the chance to help Kandio help companies find real SQL Server experts.

See my full profile