52 Data Engineering Interview Questions With Sample Answers

Updated 19 September 2023

With customers going digital, many companies rely on digital data to keep track of customer interaction, profitability and conversion. During an interview, it is essential to showcase your skills, educational qualifications and experience so that the hiring manager feels confident about your abilities. Part of performing well in an interview involves adequate preparation because this helps in answering questions confidently. In this article, we explore 52 commonly asked data engineer interview questions and offer sample responses to help you prepare for your upcoming data engineering interview.

General Data Engineer Interview Questions

Employers often ask data engineer interview questions to understand your candidature and help interviewers learn about your excitement and interest in the job role. Some general data engineering questions are:

  1. Why do you want to work with our organisation?

  2. Why should we hire you for the data engineer's position?

  3. What makes you a suitable candidate for the job interview?

  4. What questions do you have for us?

  5. Give details about your greatest strength and weaknesses?

  6. Why did you become a data engineer?

  7. What do you find interesting about the job role?

  8. How do you handle workplace pressure?

  9. What does a data engineer do?

  10. What are the skills required to become a data engineer?

Related: How To Use The STAR Interview Response Technique

Questions About Experience And Background

Asking questions about experience and background helps a hiring manager evaluate your qualifications and determine whether your goals are in line with the organisational values and objectives. Some experienced-based data engineer interview questions are:

  1. How do you handle conflicts at the workplace? Give examples of conflicts you resolved.

  2. Are you open to continuing education?

  3. Explain your understanding of data modelling.

  4. Share an example of a challenge you faced while working with a colleague. How do you handle such a situation?

  5. How do you develop and maintain algorithms?

  6. How do you find hidden patterns using data?

  7. Provide details about the essential framework and application that a data engineer uses.

  8. What experience do you have in Java and Python?

  9. Can you transform unstructured data into structured data?

  10. Give details about the latency of your data pipeline.

  11. According to you, how is a data engineer different from a data scientist?

  12. What is the purpose of using A/B testing?

  13. With the volume of data rapidly increasing, how do you plan to add capacity to your existing data architecture?

  14. What experience do you have using the Hadoop framework for building data systems?

  15. Explain the process of deploying a big data solution.

  16. What experience do you have using big data with a cloud computing environment?

  17. Explain some principal components of a Hadoop application.

  18. Is it possible to increase your business revenue by analysing big data?

  19. What steps do you follow to deploy a Big Data solution?

Related: How To Crack A Job Interview

In-Depth Data Engineering Questions

Here are a few in-depth data engineering questions you might face during an interview:

  1. What are the different design schemas in data modelling?

  2. How do you develop an analytical product from the starting?

  3. What is your experience with ETL and which ETL tools did you use in your previous job?

  4. How do you engineer a distributed system?

  5. Tell me about a situation you had to deal with a technology you were not familiar with.

  6. Explain the difference between tuples and lists?

  7. Describe when you explained a complex technical data engineering topic to a non-technical person.

  8. What challenges have you faced while working in the cloud computing field?

  9. What non-technical skills does a data engineer require?

  10. Design a relational database for storing metadata of blogs. The table fields include metadata like the blog title, blog length, author, industry and date of publishing. What process can you follow to design this database?

  11. Outline the difference between OLAP and OLTP.

  12. How is a Hadoop distributed file system (HDFS) different from a network file system (NFS)?

  13. What do you understand by collaborative filtering?

  14. Explain the data-first mindset.

  15. How do you design a data warehouse using specific criteria?

  16. How do you overcome conflicts with your supervisor and engineer?

Related: Data Engineer Qualifications, Job Duties, Skills And FAQs

Data Engineering Interview Questions With Sample Answers

Below are some common data engineering questions you might answer during a data engineer's interview. Review the explanation and use the sample responses as inspiration when answering questions in your interview:

1. What is one of the most challenging problems you faced as a data engineer and how did you overcome it?

Data engineer faces many problems in their day-to-day work duties. So, employers prefer candidates who can show initiative and creatively solve a problem. When answering such questions, showcase how you can fit into the company's structure and deal with workplace problems.

Example: “One of the most challenging problems that I regularly face during my job duties is adapting to changing database architecture. As I manage and analyse complex databases, I remain updated with the new database practices and structures. This way, I can efficiently handle changes in the database structure.”

2. How do you manage duplicate data points in an SQL query?

An interviewer might ask questions related to SQL to test your database language knowledge and understand how invested you are in the job role. When answering such questions, give details about the commands you might use to manage and filter out duplicate data points.

Example: “To reduce duplicate data points in SQL, I use the command DISTINCT and UNIQUE. Often, I use GROUP BY command to manage duplicate data points.”

3. Give details of the framework and applications you used in your previous job?

Often, employers ask this question to understand your knowledge of the job and understand whether you possess the desired skills. When answering such a question, be specific and provide details about the framework and application you used.

Example: “Data engineers require proficiency in SQL, Hadoop and Python for a rewarding career. Apart from these frameworks, I have hands-on experience with Apache Spark and Java. To upskill my knowledge, I constantly enrol in certification courses and embrace every opportunity to learn new frameworks and applications.”

4. While working as a data engineer, have you ever faced a job-related crisis? How did you manage it?

Often, data engineers might face challenges on the job. Solving workplace problems without creating chaos is essential for this role. When answering this question, be honest and showcase your problem-solving skills.

Example: “In my previous role, I had inefficient internal support and lacked a few important tools required for data engineering. As a result, the chances of meeting the project deadline were not possible. When my team and I missed the first deadline, I worked with the project manager and data engineer to propose a solution. Based on the issue the team was facing, the project manager assigned additional personnel that helped in completing the project successfully.”

Related: 19 Data Engineering Tools (With Features And Uses)

5. What do you understand by the Hadoop application?

Data engineers require extensive knowledge of Hadoop applications because it helps save large amounts of data at a low cost. When you respond to this question, focus on giving examples from your experience using Hadoop applications. It helps the hiring manager gauge your skills.

Example: “Hadoop is an open-source framework used for storing and running various applications and used for developing data processing applications in a computing environment. In my previous job role, I used Hadoop powered analytics for predicting maintenance on the company's infrastructure. I also used the Hadoop application for analysing customer billing and behaviour.”

Related: What Is Big Data Hadoop? Definition And Career Opportunities

6. What is your understanding of this job role?

Hiring teams may answer questions related to the job role to understand your preparedness and interest in the job position. When answering this question, including some of the job responsibilities you are likely to complete as a data engineer. If you have previous experience, list some duties you completed in the previous role.

Example: “Data engineer collect, organise and analyse data while interpreting trends and patterns. As a data engineer in my previous role, I assessed the need and requirements and developed data systems and pipelines based on that. I also created various analytical tools and programs. A part of my work duty involved coordinating with web designers, architects and data analysts.”

Related: 36 Systems Engineer Interview Questions (With Answers)

7. Do you prefer being a database-centric or pipeline centric data engineer?

Employers ask this question to know about your focus area. When answering this question, provide an honest answer of your specialisation because it could decide your candidature. If you possess skills for both types of data engineers, explain your skill set.

Example: “I am a pipeline centric data engineer because I primarily focus on the collection of data. One thing that I enjoy about being a pipeline-centric is that I like to find the most relevant information for data analysts. This helps them drive actionable insights from the data collected.”

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.


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