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Collection of Oracle Artifacts: Collection of Most Common DBA Interview Questions



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Collection of Oracle Artifacts

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Collection of Most Common DBA Interview Questions

Hello Friends,
I know how tough it is to face the interviews inspite of being prepared well. Trust me even after
facing so many interviews the day the interview is scheduled I go totally numb and cold feet. I really
don't know what to revise and what to look into. I am sure you might be facing the same things.
Well the other night I had an interview call from one of the most renowned company in the market
but due to hectic and busy schedule I was not able to revise the topics that needs to be done before
an interview. After the interview I thought of maintaining the most basic questions asked during a
DBA interview ready for the next time so that even if I dont get enough time a glance at the
questions from my DATABANK would give me enough confidence to face the interview. I am sure
you too would be feeling the same. So here goes most common DBA interview questions and there
probable answers. Any suggestions and corrections are most welcomed.


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Here is the Collection and Answer to some Interesting ORACLE DBA Interview Questions
1. How many memory layers are in the shared pool?
Ans: The shared pool portion of the SGA contains three major areas: library cache(contains parsed
sql statements,cursor information,execution plans), dictionary cache (contains cache -user account
information,priveleges information,datafile,segment and extent information), buffers for parallel
execution messages, and control structure.
2. How do you find out from the RMAN catalog if a particular archive log has been backed-up?
Ans: list archivelog all;
3. How can you tell how much space is left on a given file system and how much space each of the
file systems subdirectories take-up?
Ans: df -kh and du-sh
4. Define the SGA and:
i) How you would configure SGA for a mid-sized OLTP environment?
ii) What is involved in tuning the SGA?
Ans: SGA: The System Global Area (SGA) is a group of shared memory areas that are dedicated
to an Oracle instance (an instance is your database programs and RAM). All Oracle processes
use the SGA to hold information. The SGA is used to store incoming data (the data buffers as
defined by the db_cache_size parameter), and internal control information that is needed by the
database. You control the amount of memory to be allocated to the SGA by setting some of the
Oracle initialization parameters. These might include db_cache_size, shared_pool_size and
i) 40% of RAM can be used for sizing SGA rest is reserved for OS and others in 64 bit machine and
in 32 bit machine max SGA configured can be 1.5GB only.
ii) Check the statspack report. Check hit ratio of Data buffer. If it is less than 90%, then we need to
increase the Data buffer. Check hit ratio of Shared pool. If it is less than 95%, then we need to
increase the Shared pool. Check log buffer. If redo buffer allocation retries/redo entries is greater
than 1%, then we need to increase log_buffer.

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August (1)
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Offline Backups Using RMAN
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Difference Between Archive, Redo and
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Oracle 11g
Collection of Most Common DBA
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Logical Structures in Database
Physical structures of Database

5. What is the cache hit ratio, what impact does it have on performance of an Oracle database and
what is involved in tuning it?
Buffer cache hit ratio: It calculates how often a requested block has been found in the buffer
cache without requiring disk access. This ratio is computed using data selected from the dynamic
performance view V$SYSSTAT. The buffer cache hit ratio can be used to verify the physical I/O as
predicted by V$DB_CACHE_ADVICE.

Oracle Processes
Oracle Architecture

About Me

sql> select name, value From v$sysstat Where name in (db block gets, consistent gets, physical



Collection of Oracle Artifacts: Collection of Most Common DBA Interview Questions

The cache-hit ratio can be calculated as follows: Hit ratio = 1 (physical reads / (db block gets +
consistent gets)) If the cache-hit ratio goes below 90% then: increase the initialisation parameter
Library cache hit ratio: It calculates how often the parsed representation of the statement can be
reused. It also known as soft parse.
sql> select namespace, pins, pinhits, reloads, invalidations from v$librarycache order by

Library Cache Hit Ratio = sum(pinhits) / sum(pins)

Dictionary cache hit ratio:It is a measure of the proportion of requests for information from the
data dictionary, the collection of database tables and views containing reference information about
the database, its structures, and its users. On instance startup, the data dictionary cache contains
no data, so any SQL statement issued is likely to result in cache misses. As more data is read into
the cache, the likelihood of cache misses should decrease. Eventually the database should reach a
"steady state" in which the most frequently used dictionary data is in the cache.
6. Other than making use of the statspack utility, what would you check when you are monitoring or
running a health check on an Oracle 8i or 9i database?
Ans: Daily Monitoring activities and check different logs for any sort of errors.
7. How do you tell what your machine name is and what is its IP address?
Ans: hostname, uname -n and ifconfig
8. How would you go about verifying the network name that the local_listener is currently using?
Ans: lsnrctl stat or ps-eaf|grep tns
9. You have 4 instances running on the same UNIX box. How can you determine which shared
memory and semaphores are associated with which instance?
SQL> oradebug setmypid
SQL> oradebug ipc
SQL>oradebug tracfile_name
Also you can check the spfile. The parameters will start with instance_name. parameter_name
10. What view(s) do you use to associate a users SQLPLUS session with his o/s process?
Ans: v$process and v$session
sql> select a.spid from v$process a, v$session b where a.addr = b.addr and b.audsid=userenv
11. What is the recommended interval at which to run statspack snapshots, and why?
Ans: Should be in minutes (15-20 mins approx) because where the time between the two
snapshots is measured in hours, the events that caused serious performance issues for 20 minutes
during peak processing dont look so bad when theyre spread out over an 8-hour window. Its also
true with STATSPACK that measuring things over too long of a period tends to level them off over
time. Nothing will stand out and strike you as being wrong.

Page 2 of 7



Mudassar this side.

Working as a Oracle
DBA in this ruthless
corporate world.
Recently working as
Senior Member
Technical Staff at
Oracle IDC. Had
been working as a
Senior Oracle DBA
in Comviva
Technologies, one
of the profound and
pioneer players in
the Telecom
Domain in VAS
Products for past 3
Completed my
M.Tech from IIIT
Allahabad with
specialization in
Intelligent Systems
in 2009 securing a
university level
bronze medal.
Completed my B.E
from Govt. College
of Engg, Karad in
2007 with
specialization in
Basically from
Ratnagiri, Jewel of
kokan, but working
in the Capital for
past 3 years.
Hobbies include
technical and
travelogue blogging
and yes
COOKING... dare to
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kitchen and read the
good articles from
my blog... FOLLOW
View my complete

12. What spfile/init.ora file parameter exists to force the CBO to make the execution path of a given
statement use an index, even if the index scan may appear to be calculated as more costly?
13. Assuming today is Monday, how would you use the DBMS_JOB package to schedule the
execution of a given procedure owned by SCOTT to start Wednesday at 9AM and to run
subsequently every other day at 2AM.
Ans: dbms_job.submit(:jobno,'statspack.snap;',trunc(sysdate)+9/24,'trunc(SYSDATE+1/24,''HH'')',
TRUE, :instno);
14. How would you edit your CRONTAB to schedule the running of /test/test.sh to run every other
day at 2PM?
Ans: 00 02 * * * /test/test.sh
15. In which dictionary table or view would you look to determine at which time a snapshot or
MVIEW last successfully refreshed?
16. How would you best determine why your MVIEW couldnt FAST REFRESH?
Ans: Possibly by checking the MVIEW LOG for errors.



Collection of Oracle Artifacts: Collection of Most Common DBA Interview Questions

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20. How would you begin to troubleshoot an ORA-3113 error?

Ans: End of File Communication Error. Check Alert Logfile. CheckNetwrok Latency. Check
sqlnet.ora file has expire_time = 0, delete unwanted files and check the swap and temp spaces.
21. Which dictionary tables and/or views would you look at to diagnose a locking issue?
Ans: v$lock, v$session, v$process
22. An automatic job running via DBMS_JOB has failed. Knowing only that its failed, how do you
approach troubleshooting this issue?
Ans:Check the log and possible reason for the JOB failed.
23. How would you extract DDL of a table without using a GUI tool?
Ans: select dbms_metadata.get_ddl('OBJECT','OBJECT_NAME') from dual;
24. Youre getting high busy buffer waits - how can you find whats causing it?
Ans: Buffer busy wait means that the queries are waiting for the blocks to be read into the db
cache.There could be the reason when the block may be busy in the cache and session is waiting
for it. It could be undo, data block or segment header wait.

Run the following query to find out the p1,p2 and p3 of a session causing buffer busy wait

sql> select p1 "File #",p2 "Block #",p3 "Reason Code" from v$session_wait where event = 'buffer
busy waits';

After that running the following query to find the segment causing buffer busy wait:-

sql> select owner,segment_name,segment_type from dba_extents where file_id = &P1 and &P2
between block_id and block_id + blocks -1;
25. What query tells you how much space a tablespace named test is taking up, and how much
space is remaining?
rem column dummy noprintcolumn pct_used format 999.9
heading "%|Used"
column name format a25
heading "Tablespace Name"
column Kbytes format 999,999,999 heading "MBytes"
column used format 999,999,999 heading "Used(MB)"
column free format 999,999,999 heading "Free(MB)"
column largest format 999,999,999 heading "Largest"
break on report
compute sum of kbytes on report
compute sum of free on report
compute sum of used on report
set pagesize 100
select nvl(b.tablespace_name,
nvl(a.tablespace_name,'UNKOWN')) name,(kbytes_alloc/1024) kbytes,
((kbytes_alloc-nvl(kbytes_free,0))/1024) used,(nvl(kbytes_free,0)/1024) free,
((kbytes_alloc-nvl(kbytes_free,0))/kbytes_alloc)*100 "%used",
nvl(largest,0)/1024 largest
from ( select sum(bytes)/1024 Kbytes_free,
max(bytes)/1024 largest,
from sys.dba_free_space
group by tablespace_name ) a,
( select sum(bytes)/1024 Kbytes_alloc,
from sys.dba_data_files
group by tablespace_name )b
where a.tablespace_name (+) = b.tablespace_name
order by 1
26. Database is hung. Old and new user connections alike hang on impact. What do you do? Your
SYS SQLPLUS session is able to connect.
Ans: Log into the system and find whether there are any deadlocks in the system using the
following query.
select 'SID ' || l1.sid ||' is blocking ' || l2.sid blocking
from v$lock l1, v$lock l2



Collection of Oracle Artifacts: Collection of Most Common DBA Interview Questions

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where l1.block =1 and l2.request > 0

and l1.id1=l2.id1
and l1.id2=l2.id2
If so kill the processes caught in deadlock
alter system kill session 'SID,SERIAL#' immediate;
Also find out which wait events exist in the system using following commands and go in detail as to
what events are causing these waits and take appropriate actions.
select event,count(*) from v$session group by event
select u.sid,u.serial#, u.username,p.spid,to_char(u.logon_time,'DD-MON-YYYY:HH24:MI:SS') from
v$session u, v$session w,v$process p where u.sid = w.sid and w.event like '%&a%' and u.paddr =

27. Database crashes. Corruption is found scattered among the file system neither of your doing nor
of Oracles. What database recovery options are available? Database is in archive log mode.
Ans: First of all secure all the archives and all the backups you have on the tape or other system.
Then run fschk to check the filesystem. If the corruption is detected at the filesystem level and is not
recoverable by fschk format the file system and restore the database through RMAN.

28. Illustrate how to determine the amount of physical CPUs a Unix Box possesses (LINUX and/or

29. How do you increase the OS limitation for open files (LINUX and/or Solaris)?
Ans: Set the file-max parameter is /etc/sysctl.conf to the number you want.Save the file and
execute it by using command /etc/sysctl.conf-p

30. Provide an example of a shell script which logs into SQLPLUS as SYS, determines the current
date, changes the date format to include minutes & seconds, issues a drop table command,
displays the date again, and finally exits.
export ORACLE_BASE=/oracle
export ORACLE_HOME=/oracle/ora10g
export ORACLE_SID=ora10g
export path=$ORACLE_HOME/lib
sqlplus sys as sysdba << EOF
Now the contents of /oracle/date.sql
select SYSDATE from dual;
select to_char(SYSDATE,'dd-mon-yyyy hh24:mi:ss') from dual;
drop table tablename cascade constraints;
select to_char(SYSDATE,'dd-mon-yyyy hh24:mi:ss') from dual;

31. Explain how you would restore a database using RMAN to Point in Time?
restore database
until time "to_date('Aug 27 2001 02:00:00','Mon DD YYYY HH24:MI:SS')";
recover database

32. How does Oracle guarantee data integrity of data changes?



Collection of Oracle Artifacts: Collection of Most Common DBA Interview Questions

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Ans: Oracle enables you to define and enforce data integrity constraints like PRIMARY KEY
33. Which environment variables are absolutely critical in order to run the OUI?
Ans: ORACLE_BASE, ORACLE_HOME, ORACLE_SID,path and library path
34. What SQL query from v$session can you run to show how many sessions are logged in as a
particular user account?
Ans: select count(1) from v$session where USERNAME='username';
35. Why does Oracle not permit the use of PCTUSED with indexes?
Ans: Imagine you've got an index on people's names. And, just for the sake of argument, only 4 entries can fit
in a block.
So you have
You want to insert a new entry in the table (and hence into the index on that table) of Zebedee.
As things stand, both blocks of the index are full, so Zebedee has to go into a third block all on his
Now say you delete some existing rows:
delete from employees where name in ('Bob', 'Charles', 'David'). You're left in this state:
Block 1:
Block 2:
That means block 1 has 3 empty slots for new entries. So you still want to insert a record for
someone called Zebedee: can it go into the first block, with all that empty space? No. Because if it
did, you'd end up with an index that ran:
...and you might notice that the alphabetical order has been screwed to buggery at this point. So no,
although the first block contains lots of empty space, it's still defined as an "A-ish" sort of block. It
actually has to have entries between Adam and Edward, and it can't suddenly decide to accept
entries from Wilma, Susan or Mary.
So when can block 1 be used to house those sorts of entries? When Adam gets deleted. Because
when that row goes, you're in this position:
Block 1: completely empty
Block 2: values from E to G
Being completely empty, there's no "A or B'ness' about block 1 any more. So suddenly, it can
accept any entry at all. Now, physically, block 1 might come "before" block 2... but we jig things



Collection of Oracle Artifacts: Collection of Most Common DBA Interview Questions

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around in the root and branch blocks so that doesn't matter. Therefore, you can now insert all those
other records you wanted and get this situation:
Block 1:
Block 2:
And we have a branch block (actually, in this case, the root node) which says:
A -> L: goto block 2
M -> Z: goto block 1
So, once we deleetd Adam, we were allowed to insert new items into all that empty space. But of
course, once we deleted Adam, the first block was completely and utterly empty. And what does a
completely empty block equate to in PCTUSED terms? Er, 0%.
It has to be 0% PCTUSED, in other words, because entries in an index have to be organised
according to some order. Allowing you to reuse space 'out of order' would destroy the point of an
index. And you can only say, "Order is irrelevant at this point" when no entries exist at all... which
equates to PCTUSED of 0.
PCTFREE is fine to set, because that simply says when to stop filling one block and start filling
another. In indexes, it reserves space that might come in handy for preventing block splits. So
there's a use for PCTFREE, definitely. Imagine we'd set PCTFREE of 25%. Then the earlier index
would be:
Block 1:
Block 2:
Block 3:
With a PCTFREE of 25% and only 4 entries allowed per block, we end up only storing 3 entries per
block: the missing entry being reserved as 'free space'. Now insert a guy called 'Brian': is there
room to fit him between Bob and Charles? In this new index, yes: block 1 is allowed to grow to
holding 4 records, and there's only currently 3, so yup: there's room to accomodate the new guy.
But in the earlier example? No, the block was allowed to hold four records. It's holding four records.
You want to insert a new one that HAS to go between two existing records... we have to perform a
block split and reorganisation to allow that to happen. Block splits are costly affairs. PCTFREE
would have saved us from having to do one.
So yes, PCTFREE in an index is useful. PCTUSED is meaningless. Once you impose an order on
rows, they cannot just go anywhere. Space reserved for future inserts is fine. But a flag to say
'insert away!' when inserting would disrupt a carefully-achieved ordering is a complete no-no.

Posted by Mudassar Majgaonkar at 9:52 AM

Recommend this on Google

Anonymous May 10, 2013 at 11:46 AM



Collection of Oracle Artifacts: Collection of Most Common DBA Interview Questions

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Anybody who's asking question during an interview like 25 and 26 are out of their mind. It could be
just a description of what you would do in this situation, but not specific queries.
BTW there are several small and BIG mistakes that I've spotted right away in your answers.
Specifically, #31 is a big one and #33 is a small one.

Mudassar Majgaonkar

May 10, 2013 at 11:56 AM

Hi Anonymous,
Some companies do ask it and trust me that Time I also thought they are out of their mind... But then
nonetheless they are interviewers :)
And thanks for pointing out the mistake and your valuables comments

Anonymous November 17, 2013 at 1:57 AM

hello sir i have completed ocp in oracle9i and now working as operation support i want to back in
DBA.can u suggest me sir.

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