My post yesterday seems to have struck a nerve with quite a few readers. So while the topic is still fresh in my mind I thought I could jot down a few more words on how to find those SQL Server experts that appear to be eluding everyone. It would seem that perhaps this has also struck a real nerve for myself as I haven’t been this passionate about a particular topic in a while. I am starting to think that I should find a way to get people to pay me to be their “DBA Coach”.

I have created a new page for this blog called “How to Find a DBA“. I plan on adding to it over time with links to other useful information on the subject. So check back every now and then on my progress and feel free to point out some good references for me to include. The goal is for the page to be a focal point for anyone that needs to find a good DBA. I want people (i.e. hiring managers, people conducting interviews, etc.) to understand more about where to find a good DBA, how to talk with them, how to interview them, and even how to best retain them. Honestly it is all stuff that any halfway decent manager would already know but apparently I need to spell it out in bullet points for others to understand. (Hey, here’s a thought, perhaps if I did something in a death-by-powerpoint style then it would really hit home with managers?)

Now, I have already written about the different development levels and managing styles, and how they play a role in the hiring process. Review those links and come back, I’ll wait.

All caught up? Good.

Make certain you know more about the needs of the team before you start having your conversation with the total stranger you just met. If you have no idea on how to judge the difference between a good or a bad DBA then get out of that room immediately because you shouldn’t be doing the interview. If you do know the difference then make certain you know exactly what is needed for the role you are trying to fill. The next step is easy: just talk. Here are some guidelines:

  • Find out more about the person, how they became a DBA, etc.
  • Find out a few things they are proud to talk about having worked on in the past. (Good for more probing technical questions)
  • Ask them why things were built in a certain way. (Perhaps their environment had limiting factors)
  • Ask them where they learned to do such things in a certain way. (How were they trained? Self taught? Classes? Books?)
  • Ask if they had a mentor. (Always a good thing to talk about, almost like getting them to pass the torch someday)
  • Ask if they are active in the Community. (Do they have a network of people willing to help when they have a question?)
  • Ask them if they have ever done any volunteer experience. (As a DBA you are always helping others for little or no reward)
  • Ask them if they have ever taught anything to others. (Great for learning patience. So is having kids, but you can’t ask that)

Is the above methods and thoughts foolproof? No, it is not. But it is better than what I see 98% of everyone else doing.

Tomorrow I am going to post what I believe would be the appropriate job description for you to use when looking for a DBA.