SQL Server interview questions
What is a join and explain different types of joins.Joins are used in queries to explain how different tables are related. Joins also let you select data from a table depending upon data from another table.
Types of joins: INNER JOINs, OUTER JOINs, CROSS JOINs. OUTER JOINs are further classified as LEFT OUTER JOINS, RIGHT OUTER JOINS and FULL OUTER JOINS.
For more information see pages from books online titled: “Join Fundamentals” and “Using Joins”.
Can you have a nested transaction?Yes, very much. Check out BEGIN TRAN, COMMIT, ROLLBACK, SAVE TRAN and @@TRANCOUNT
What is an extended stored procedure? Can you instantiate a COM object by using T-SQL?An extended stored procedure is a function within a DLL (written in a programming language like C, C++ using Open Data Services (ODS) API) that can be called from T-SQL, just the way we call normal stored procedures using the EXEC statement. See books online to learn how to create extended stored procedures and how to add them to SQL Server.
Yes, you can instantiate a COM (written in languages like VB, VC++) object from T-SQL by using sp_OACreate stored procedure. Also see books online for sp_OAMethod, sp_OAGetProperty, sp_OASetProperty, sp_OADestroy. For an example of creating a COM object in VB and calling it from T-SQL, see ‘My code library’ section of this site.
What is the system function to get the current user’s user id?USER_ID(). Also check out other system functions like USER_NAME(), SYSTEM_USER, SESSION_USER, CURRENT_USER, USER, SUSER_SID(), HOST_NAME().
What are triggers? How many triggers you can have on a table? How to invoke a trigger on demand?Triggers are special kind of stored procedures that get executed automatically when an INSERT, UPDATE or DELETE operation takes place on a table.
In SQL Server 6.5 you could define only 3 triggers per table, one for INSERT, one for UPDATE and one for DELETE. From SQL Server 7.0 onwards, this restriction is gone, and you could create multiple triggers per each action. But in 7.0 there’s no way to control the order in which the triggers fire. In SQL Server 2000 you could specify which trigger fires first or fires last using sp_settriggerorder
Triggers can’t be invoked on demand. They get triggered only when an associated action (INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE) happens on the table on which they are defined.
Triggers are generally used to implement business rules, auditing. Triggers can also be used to extend the referential integrity checks, but wherever possible, use constraints for this purpose, instead of triggers, as constraints are much faster.
Till SQL Server 7.0, triggers fire only after the data modification operation happens. So in a way, they are called post triggers. But in SQL Server 2000 you could create pre triggers also. Search SQL Server 2000 books online for INSTEAD OF triggers.
Also check out books online for ‘inserted table’, ‘deleted table’ and COLUMNS_UPDATED()
There is a trigger defined for INSERT operations on a table, in an OLTP system. The trigger is written to instantiate a COM object and pass the newly insterted rows to it for some custom processing. What do you think of this implementation? Can this be implemented better?Instantiating COM objects is a time consuming process and since you are doing it from within a trigger, it slows down the data insertion process. Same is the case with sending emails from triggers. This scenario can be better implemented by logging all the necessary data into a separate table, and have a job which periodically checks this table and does the needful.
What is a self join? Explain it with an example.Self join is just like any other join, except that two instances of the same table will be joined in the query. Here is an example: Employees table which contains rows for normal employees as well as managers. So, to find out the managers of all the employees, you need a self join.
CREATE TABLE emp (empid int,mgrid int,empname char(10))
INSERT emp SELECT 1,2,’Vyas’INSERT emp SELECT 2,3,’Mohan’INSERT emp SELECT 3,NULL,’Shobha’INSERT emp SELECT 4,2,’Shridhar’INSERT emp SELECT 5,2,’Sourabh’
SELECT t1.empname [Employee], t2.empname [Manager]FROM emp t1, emp t2WHERE t1.mgrid = t2.empid
Here’s an advanced query using a LEFT OUTER JOIN that even returns the employees without managers (super bosses)
SELECT t1.empname [Employee], COALESCE(t2.empname, ‘No manager’) [Manager]FROM emp t1 LEFT OUTER JOINemp t2ON t1.mgrid = t2.empid
Given an employee table, how would you find out the second highest salary?