Data integration is an essential part of any company’s workflow. It’s how the data of the company is transferred, stored and managed. This is why it’s important that only the best of professional administrators would be responsible for such tasks. Enterprises are constantly looking for such professionals - these people are promised a great salary, awesome working conditions and an amazing career path in front of them.
To get such an amazing job, however, you would have to pass the job interview. This requires a lot of preparation and study of various SSIS interview questions. And that is exactly what this tutorial will provide you.
It does not matter if you’re already an expert with SSIS or if you hardly ever know what is SSIS - this guide will cover both advanced and the basic interview questions you might receive. So, don’t hesitate, put on your thinking cap and jump right on in.
- 1. Basic SQL Server Integration Services Questions
- 1.1. Question 1: Describe SSIS.
- 1.2. Question 2: Explain the ‘Control Flow option’ in SSIS.
- 1.3. Question 3: What’s ‘data transformation’?
- 1.4. Question 4: What’s ‘data flow’?
- 1.5. Question 5: What are the data flow components and how many of them are there?
- 1.6. Question 6: Why use SSIS when there’s DTS?
- 1.7. Question 7: What’s a ‘task’?
- 1.8. Question 8: How many types of variables are there in SSIS?
- 1.9. Question 9: What are ‘precedence constraints’?
- 1.10. Question 10: What is ‘deployment’?
- 1.11. Question 11: What’s the ‘data flow engine’?
- 1.12. Question 12: What is a Container? How many SSIS containers can you name?
- 1.13. Question 13: What different types of connections of files does SSIS support?
- 1.14. Question 14: Can you explain what are connection managers?
- 1.15. Question 15: Do you know what is an SSIS breakpoint?
- 2. The Advanced SSIS Interview Questions
- 2.1. Question 1: What types of data viewing options are there in SSIS?
- 2.2. Question 2: What is a ‘checkpoint’?
- 2.3. Question 3: What is ‘data profiling’?
- 2.4. Question 4: What’s the difference between the ‘Execute TSQL’ and ‘Execute SQL’ commands?
- 2.5. Question 5: A package runs without a hitch in BIDS (Business Intelligence Development Studio), but doesn’t run with SQL Agent. What’s the most likely reason for this?
- 3. Summary
- 4. Conclusion
Basic SQL Server Integration Services Questions
This first part of the tutorial will be dedicated solemnly to the basic versions of SSIS questions and answers. This is perfect for those who don’t have any idea of what to expect during the actual job interview. However, even if you’re already proficient with SSIS - don’t just go straight to the advanced questions!
People often make the mistake to neglect and ignore the basic, introductory SSIS interview questions. They justify this by saying that they’ve been using SSIS for the longest time now - that they know everything there is about the fundamentals of SSIS! Well, even though that might be perfectly true, knowing something doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be able to explain it.
You see, it’s one thing to read a copy-pasted definition of something off of the internet and then just memorize it word-for-word. However, if you want to leave a lasting impression for your employers, this isn’t the way to go. One of the key features that enterprises are looking for in potential data administrators is critical thinking. This also extends to being able to define concepts in your own words.
So, don’t just skim through these upcoming SSIS interview questions and answers like they’re none of your business - pay attention and you might even learn something new!
Question 1: Describe SSIS.
Probably the very first question that you’re bound to receive, and arguably one of the most important ones in the whole job interview. Confused? Let me explain.
Imagine the actual interview. You come in, say hello and introduce yourself. You probably talk about your hobbies, interests and similar things before you begin diving into the actual interview. Up to that point, your employers have no idea about your knowledge level with the topic. However, once they ask you what is SSIS, that’s your time to shine.
You have two options at this point. You can either give them a generic definition that you’ve read of the internet, or you can define the tool in your own words. If you want to impress the possible employers in the SSIS interview questions, choose the second option. As I’ve mentioned earlier, critical thinking and being able to describe things in your own words are very important is a job like data administration.
If you give your interviewers a memorized answer, you most likely won’t leave a lasting impression - they’ve heard it all before. However, if you do try and explain the concept in your own words - great! You might develop immediate respect for being original.
So, back to the question at hand - what is SSIS?
SSIS stands for SQL Server Integration Services. It is a data management and integration tool. Companies use SSIS to store their data in warehouses, extract and load it, manage it, and so on.
Question 2: Explain the ‘Control Flow option’ in SSIS.
Control Flow option allows data administrators to link and program tasks graphically and logically.
Question 3: What’s ‘data transformation’?
Data transformation is a process that allows you to extract specific data out of its source. Once that is done, it then manages and transfers it to the file of your choosing (more often than not, it is the end-file).
As you’ve probably noticed, the basic SSIS interview questions follow somewhat similar formulas. They are either based on descriptions, comparisons or explanations. You don't need to worry that your employers are going to ask you to show some sort of specific, high-level tasks. This is a pretty rare occurrence and happens mostly if you’re aiming for a high skill-capped job position.
Question 4: What’s ‘data flow’?
Now, if you’re just starting with SSIS, similar questions might come off as tricky - especially when the previous question revolved around data transformation. However, the data flow is simple.
Just as in most other cases, data flow in SSIS refers to the process of information traveling from one point to another. In other words, data flows from a source to the target location.
Question 5: What are the data flow components and how many of them are there?
In SSIS, there are three data flow components:
Question 6: Why use SSIS when there’s DTS?
This might truly come off as one of the trickier SSIS interview questions, especially because it mentions a different data management tool than SSIS. You have to be quite knowledgeable about the theoretical part of SSIS to be able to answer this question correctly.
DTS (Data Transformation Services) is an outdated version of SSIS. The latter was overhauled to be faster, more flexible and better optimized. So to put it short - SSIS is the newer, more advanced and developed version of DTS.
Question 7: What’s a ‘task’?
A task is something that you would issue to the database, to receive certain desired results. In total, there are two types of tasks in SSIS - control flow tasks and database maintenance ones.
Question 8: How many types of variables are there in SSIS?
There are two types of variables in SSIS - global and task-specific ones.
Since this is one of the SSIS interview questions that you could elaborate upon, it might be worth adding that global variables are found through ought all of the tasks within the program, while task-specific variables are exactly that - exclusive to the distinct tasks.
Question 9: What are ‘precedence constraints’?
In SSIS, you can issue tasks that need to be executed by the system. However, if there is a specific order in which the tasks must be performed, you have to connect them with precedence constraints. These are commands that tell the system the order in which the set of tasks must be executed.
Question 10: What is ‘deployment’?
Deployment is a process in which you would transfer the files from the “deployment stage” to the “execution stage”. You could say that it’s like taking files from their locations and simply shipping them off for execution.
Question 11: What’s the ‘data flow engine’?
It's important to know as much as possible about the data in the SSIS interview questions. The data flow engine, as the name probably suggests, is responsible for the flow of data through ought SSIS. The engine uses what are known as buffers to create a steady and super fast flow of data from it’s a source to the destination.
Question 12: What is a Container? How many SSIS containers can you name?
SSIS Container is a logical group of tasks, that allows managing the scope of a task together. The perfect answer would be to name all of them:
- Task host container;
- Sequence container;
- For loop container;
- Foreach loop container;
Question 13: What different types of connections of files does SSIS support?
The types of files and connection that work in SSIS:
- .net SQLClient
- Flat File
Question 14: Can you explain what are connection managers?
Connection managers alleviate the connection to the system that includes information like server name, data provider, authentication mechanism, database name, etc.
Question 15: Do you know what is an SSIS breakpoint?
During troubleshooting or development of an SSIS package, a breakpoint allows pausing the execution of the package in the business intelligence development studio.
The Advanced SSIS Interview Questions
Now that we’ve covered some of the more basic questions, let’s move on to the information for experienced data administrators.
One thing that you’ll surely notice once we start talking about the information for experienced administrators is that the format of the questions doesn’t change all that much. Your employers are still going to ask you to define and compare certain terms and concepts. The key difference here, however, is that to do so, you’ll have to been studying SSIS for quite some time.
If you’ve reached the point in the job interview where your potential employers are asking you SSIS interview questions for experienced SSI admins - great! That means that your interviewers are actually considering you as a worthy applicant for the position, and are just checking the extent of your knowledge.
Question 1: What types of data viewing options are there in SSIS?
You will find that, in total, there are four options of how you could view data is SSIS - grid, column chart, histogram and scatter plot.
Question 2: What is a ‘checkpoint’?
Checkpoints are the saving grace of every SSIS developer and admin.
If an unexpected error occurs within the file that you are working on and it crashes, the next time that you start it back up it will load from a checkpoint. If the file doesn’t crash and you finish working with it successfully, the checkpoints will delete themselves afterward. You could say that they’re like safeguards for your project, in case something doesn’t go according to plan.
It is worth mentioning, however, that checkpoints do not save ForEach and For loops, so it's important to keep that in mind during the SSIS interview questions.
Question 3: What is ‘data profiling’?
Data profiling is a process that is usually used in the very early stages of project development. It is used to analyze the state of the data to better understand if it’s ready for use, or where it should be used in the development cycle.
Question 4: What’s the difference between the ‘Execute TSQL’ and ‘Execute SQL’ commands?
The TSQL tasks take up much less memory. However, SQL-based tasks support a wider variety of connections.
The usage of these two commands is very context-dependent. You would most likely use them in different situations since both of these commands have different pros and cons.
Question 5: A package runs without a hitch in BIDS (Business Intelligence Development Studio), but doesn’t run with SQL Agent. What’s the most likely reason for this?
This a great example of one of the example-based SSIS interview questions for experienced professionals that you might receive during the job interview. You are given an example of a situation and have to state the answer depending on the context.
For this specific question, the most probable cause would be that your account does not have the permission to run on SQL Agent. A simple solution would be to grant the permission that is required or to create a proxy account.
We have now gone over some of the most popular interview questions and answers for experienced data administrators and developers. At this point, you should know what to expect out of the beginning of your job interview, as well as what the more advanced questions should look like.
Try to elaborate on your answers as much as you can. Naturally, there’s a fine line between showing that you’re knowledgeable on the topic, and simply showing off. The best way to go about it is to follow-up each answer that you provide with a couple of sentences that would elaborate your point and show that you truly do know what you’re talking about in the SSIS interview questions.
If you’re confident, show great character and a strong passion to constantly learn, you might not even get asked some of the more advanced SSIS questions! Your employers will be so happy with what they see that they won’t even care if you slipped a couple of times and got some things wrong.
Learning and perfecting your skills with SSIS is a sure way of getting a great career and a solid salary every single month. However, since it’s such a popular topic, the competition is fierce - you’ll have to study hard to be able to come on top!
All in all, if you pay attention to the SSIS interview questions and answers provided in this tutorial, you should already have a great advantage over the people that didn't bother studying the possible questions that they might receive during the interview. You would do well, however, to check additional learning sources - take a course, read related books and articles, consult with professionals on online forums… There are plenty of options available to you for learning all about SSIS - all that’s left is for you to use them!
I hope that this tutorial was useful for you and that the information provided within will help you get that SSIS admin or developer job. All the best!