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PL/SQL Interview Questions This section will discuss necessary PL/SQL Interview Questions for DBA, SQL Interview Questions, Installation Configuration, Data Modeler, UNIX, Oracle Troubleshooting. Read on to know more about PL/SQL Interview Questions.






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PL/SQL Interview Questions
1. Describe the difference between a procedure, function and anonymous pl/sql block.

Level: Low

Expected answer : Candidate should mention use of DECLARE statement, a function must return a value while a procedure doesn?t have to.

2. What is a mutating table error and how can you get around it?

Level: Intermediate

Expected answer: This happens with triggers. It occurs because the trigger is trying to update a row it is currently using. The usual fix involves either use of views or temporary tables so the database is selecting from one while updating the other.

3. Describe the use of %ROWTYPE and %TYPE in PL/SQL

Level: Low

Expected answer: %ROWTYPE allows you to associate a variable with an entire table row. The %TYPE associates a variable with a single column type.

4. What packages (if any) has Oracle provided for use by developers?

Level: Intermediate to high

Expected answer: Oracle provides the DBMS_ series of packages. There are many which developers should be aware of such as DBMS_SQL, DBMS_PIPE, DBMS_TRANSACTION, DBMS_LOCK, DBMS_ALERT, DBMS_OUTPUT, DBMS_JOB, DBMS_UTILITY, DBMS_DDL, UTL_FILE. If they can mention a few of these and describe how they used them, even better. If they include the SQL routines provided by Oracle, great, but not really what was asked.

5. Describe the use of PL/SQL tables

Level: Intermediate

Expected answer: PL/SQL tables are scalar arrays that can be referenced by a binary integer. They can be used to hold values for use in later queries or calculations. In Oracle 8 they will be able to be of the %ROWTYPE designation, or RECORD.

6. When is a declare statement needed ?

Level: Low

The DECLARE statement is used in PL/SQL anonymous blocks such as with stand alone, non-stored PL/SQL procedures. It must come first in a PL/SQL stand alone file if it is used.

7. In what order should a open/fetch/loop set of commands in a PL/SQL block be implemented if you use the %NOTFOUND cursor variable in the exit when statement? Why?

Level: Intermediate

Expected answer: OPEN then FETCH then LOOP followed by the exit when. If not specified in this order will result in the final return being done twice because of the way the %NOTFOUND is handled by PL/SQL.

8. What are SQLCODE and SQLERRM and why are they important for PL/SQL developers?

Level: Intermediate

Expected answer: SQLCODE returns the value of the error number for the last error encountered. The SQLERRM returns the actual error message for the last error encountered. They can be used in exception handling to report, or, store in an error log table, the error that occurred in the code. These are especially useful for the WHEN OTHERS exception.

9. How can you find within a PL/SQL block, if a cursor is open?

Level: Low

Expected answer: Use the %ISOPEN cursor status variable.

10. How can you generate debugging output from PL/SQL?

Level:Intermediate to high

Expected answer: Use the DBMS_OUTPUT package. Another possible method is to just use the SHOW ERROR command, but this only shows errors. The DBMS_OUTPUT package can be used to show intermediate results from loops and the status of variables as the procedure is executed. The new package UTL_FILE can also be used.

11. What are the types of triggers?

Level:Intermediate to high

Expected Answer: There are 12 types of triggers in PL/SQL that consist of combinations of the BEFORE, AFTER, ROW, TABLE, INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE and ALL key words:

BEFORE ALL ROW INSERT

AFTER ALL ROW INSERT

BEFORE INSERT

AFTER INSERT etc.



MORE PL/SQL Interview Questions


1. Explain the difference between a hot backup and a cold backup and the benefits associated with each.
A hot backup is basically taking a backup of the database while it is still up and running and it must be in archive log mode. A cold backup is taking a backup of the database while it is shut down and does not require being in archive log mode. The benefit of taking a hot backup is that the database is still available for use while the backup is occurring and you can recover the database to any point in time. The benefit of taking a cold backup is that it is typically easier to administer the backup and recovery process. In addition, since you are taking cold backups the database does not require being in archive log mode and thus there will be a slight performance gain as the database is not cutting archive logs to disk.

2. You have just had to restore from backup and do not have any control files. How would you go about bringing up this database?
I would create a text based backup control file, stipulating where on disk all the data files where and then issue the recover command with the using backup control file clause.

3. How do you switch from an init.ora file to a spfile?
Issue the create spfile from pfile command.

4. Explain the difference between a data block, an extent and a segment.
A data block is the smallest unit of logical storage for a database object. As objects grow they take chunks of additional storage that are composed of contiguous data blocks. These groupings of contiguous data blocks are called extents. All the extents that an object takes when grouped together are considered the segment of the database object.

5. Give two examples of how you might determine the structure of the table DEPT.
Use the describe command or use the dbms_metadata.get_ddl package.

6. Where would you look for errors from the database engine?
In the alert log.

7. Compare and contrast TRUNCATE and DELETE for a table.
Both the truncate and delete command have the desired outcome of getting rid of all the rows in a table. The difference between the two is that the truncate command is a DDL operation and just moves the high water mark and produces a now rollback. The delete command, on the other hand, is a DML operation, which will produce a rollback and thus take longer to complete.

8. Give the reasoning behind using an index.
Faster access to data blocks in a table.

9. Give the two types of tables involved in producing a star schema and the type of data they hold.
Fact tables and dimension tables. A fact table contains measurements while dimension tables will contain data that will help describe the fact tables.

10. What type of index should you use on a fact table?
A Bitmap index.

11. Give two examples of referential integrity constraints.
A primary key and a foreign key.

12. A table is classified as a parent table and you want to drop and re-create it. How would you do this without affecting the children tables?
Disable the foreign key constraint to the parent, drop the table, re-create the table, enable the foreign key constraint.

13. Explain the difference between ARCHIVELOG mode and NOARCHIVELOG mode and the benefits and disadvantages to each.
ARCHIVELOG mode is a mode that you can put the database in for creating a backup of all transactions that have occurred in the database so that you can recover to any point in time. NOARCHIVELOG mode is basically the absence of ARCHIVELOG mode and has the disadvantage of not being able to recover to any point in time. NOARCHIVELOG mode does have the advantage of not having to write transactions to an archive log and thus increases the performance of the database slightly.

14. What command would you use to create a backup control file?
Alter database backup control file to trace.

15. Give the stages of instance startup to a usable state where normal users may access it.
STARTUP NOMOUNT - Instance startup
STARTUP MOUNT - The database is mounted
STARTUP OPEN - The database is opened

16. What column differentiates the V$ views to the GV$ views and how?
The INST_ID column which indicates the instance in a RAC environment the information came from.

17. How would you go about generating an EXPLAIN plan?
Create a plan table with utlxplan.sql.
Use the explain plan set statement_id = 'tst1' into plan_table for a SQL statement
Look at the explain plan with utlxplp.sql or utlxpls.sql

18. How would you go about increasing the buffer cache hit ratio?
Use the buffer cache advisory over a given workload and then query the v$db_cache_advice table. If a change was necessary then I would use the alter system set db_cache_size command.

19. Explain an ORA-01555
You get this error when you get a snapshot too old within rollback. It can usually be solved by increasing the undo retention or increasing the size of rollbacks. You should also look at the logic involved in the application getting the error message.

20. Explain the difference between $ORACLE_HOME and $ORACLE_BASE.
ORACLE_BASE is the root directory for oracle. ORACLE_HOME located beneath ORACLE_BASE is where the oracle products reside.
NEWLY ADDED PL/SQL Interview Questions


21. How would you determine the time zone under which a database was operating?
select DBTIMEZONE from dual;

22. Explain the use of setting GLOBAL_NAMES equal to TRUE.
Setting GLOBAL_NAMES dictates how you might connect to a database. This variable is either TRUE or FALSE and if it is set to TRUE it enforces database links to have the same name as the remote database to which they are linking.

23. What command would you use to encrypt a PL/SQL application?
WRAP

24. Explain the difference between a FUNCTION, PROCEDURE and PACKAGE.
A function and procedure are the same in that they are intended to be a collection of PL/SQL code that carries a single task. While a procedure does not have to return any values to the calling application, a function will return a single value. A package on the other hand is a collection of functions and procedures that are grouped together based on their commonality to a business function or application.

25. Explain the use of table functions.
Table functions are designed to return a set of rows through PL/SQL logic but are intended to be used as a normal table or view in a SQL statement. They are also used to pipeline information in an ETL process.

26. Name three advisory statistics you can collect.
Buffer Cache Advice, Segment Level Statistics, & Timed Statistics

27. Where in the Oracle directory tree structure are audit traces placed?
In unix $ORACLE_HOME/rdbms/audit, in Windows the event viewer

28. Explain materialized views and how they are used.
Materialized views are objects that are reduced sets of information that have been summarized, grouped, or aggregated from base tables. They are typically used in data warehouse or decision support systems.

29. When a user process fails, what background process cleans up after it?
PMON

30. What background process refreshes materialized views?
The Job Queue Processes.

31. How would you determine what sessions are connected and what resources they are waiting for?
Use of V$SESSION and V$SESSION_WAIT

32. Describe what redo logs are.
Redo logs are logical and physical structures that are designed to hold all the changes made to a database and are intended to aid in the recovery of a database.


33. How would you force a log switch?
ALTER SYSTEM SWITCH LOGFILE;

34. Give two methods you could use to determine what DDL changes have been made.
You could use Logminer or Streams

35. What does coalescing a tablespace do?
Coalescing is only valid for dictionary-managed tablespaces and de-fragments space by combining neighboring free extents into large single extents.

36. What is the difference between a TEMPORARY tablespace and a PERMANENT tablespace?
A temporary tablespace is used for temporary objects such as sort structures while permanent tablespaces are used to store those objects meant to be used as the true objects of the database.

37. Name a tablespace automatically created when you create a database.
The SYSTEM tablespace.

38. When creating a user, what permissions must you grant to allow them to connect to the database?
Grant the CONNECT to the user.

39. How do you add a data file to a tablespace?
ALTER TABLESPACE ADD DATAFILE SIZE

40. How do you resize a data file?
ALTER DATABASE DATAFILE RESIZE ;

41. What view would you use to look at the size of a data file?
DBA_DATA_FILES

42. What view would you use to determine free space in a tablespace? DBA_FREE_SPACE

43. How would you determine who has added a row to a table?
Turn on fine grain auditing for the table.

44. How can you rebuild an index?
ALTER INDEX REBUILD;

45. Explain what partitioning is and what its benefit is.
Partitioning is a method of taking large tables and indexes and splitting them into smaller, more manageable pieces.

46. You have just compiled a PL/SQL package but got errors, how would you view the errors?
SHOW ERRORS

47. How can you gather statistics on a table?
The ANALYZE command.

48. How can you enable a trace for a session?
Use the DBMS_SESSION.SET_SQL_TRACE or
Use ALTER SESSION SET SQL_TRACE = TRUE;

49. What is the difference between the SQL*Loader and IMPORT utilities?
These two Oracle utilities are used for loading data into the database. The difference is that the import utility relies on the data being produced by another Oracle utility EXPORT while the SQL*Loader utility allows data to be loaded that has been produced by other utilities from different data sources just so long as it conforms to ASCII formatted or delimited files.

50. Name two files used for network connection to a database.
TNSNAMES.ORA and SQLNET.ORA

Technical - UNIX

Every DBA should know something about the operating system that the database will be running on. The questions here are related to UNIX but you should equally be able to answer questions related to common Windows environments.

1. How do you list the files in an UNIX directory while also showing hidden files?
ls -ltra

2. How do you execute a UNIX command in the background?
Use the "&"

3. What UNIX command will control the default file permissions when files are created?
Umask

4. Explain the read, write, and execute permissions on a UNIX directory.
Read allows you to see and list the directory contents.
Write allows you to create, edit and delete files and subdirectories in the directory.
Execute gives you the previous read/write permissions plus allows you to change into the directory and execute programs or shells from the directory.

5. the difference between a soft link and a hard link?
A symbolic (soft) linked file and the targeted file can be located on the same or different file system while for a hard link they must be located on the same file system.

6. Give the command to display space usage on the UNIX file system.
df -lk

7. Explain iostat, vmstat and netstat.
Iostat reports on terminal, disk and tape I/O activity.
Vmstat reports on virtual memory statistics for processes, disk, tape and CPU activity.
Netstat reports on the contents of network data structures.

8. How would you change all occurrences of a value using VI?
Use :%s///g

9. Give two UNIX kernel parameters that effect an Oracle install
SHMMAX & SHMMNI

10. Briefly, how do you install Oracle software on UNIX.
Basically, set up disks, kernel parameters, and run orainst.



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