11 SAS Macro Interview Questions And Answers (With Tips)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 29 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Statistical Analysis Software (SAS) has a programming feature named Macro that enables the creation of dynamic variables within codes and the omission of repetitive sections. The SAS macro feature empowers SAS programmers to code with efficiency, creating several job opportunities in the technology industry. Understanding the basics of this feature and how to answer interview questions on this topic can help you create a good impression in your technical interview rounds. In this article, we provide some SAS macro interview questions, answers and tips to help you prepare for your interview.

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SAS Macro Interview Questions And Answers

Interviewers may ask various technical and nontechnical SAS macro interview questions to understand your expertise in the industry. The following are some examples you can consider:

1. What does SAS macro mean?

Your interviewer may start by asking you a standard question to test your basic knowledge. You can start by including a brief definition in your answer. Then, you can further elaborate on the uses of macro, its applications and its role in programming.

Example: 'SAS macro is a Statistical Analysis Software feature. It is code that you can reuse to avoid manually entering repetitive codes. Macros can help automate repetition in tasks and in the creation of new functions in SAS for system programs.'

2. How can you create a SAS macro, and where can you use it?

You can use multiple methods to build a macro in SAS. Make sure you highlight the different ways you can implement it from your experience. The interviewer may ask you the second part of the question to learn if you are familiar with the applications of SAS macro. In your answer, you can highlight this function's different benefits and how it helps make programming more efficient.

Example: 'The simplest method is using the %macro statement that starts the macro definition and using the %mend statement to complete the definition. The second method involves using the %include statement. This enables you to include a file containing the macro definition. SAS macro allows you to avoid the repetition of specific code sections and enables you to use them repeatedly whenever necessary.'

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3. What are the basic elements of SAS macro?

As macro has wide applications and usability in SAS, it is essential to know its different components. In your answer, you can list the basic elements of SAS macro.

Example: 'The primary elements of a SAS macro definition include the macro name, body and parameters. The macro name calls the macro and then the parameters can pass into the macro. The system executes the macro body code when calling the SAS macro function.'

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4. How can you include comments in a macro definition?

Your interviewer may also want to know if you can execute different functions. In your answer, you can explain the process of including comments in macro. You can further elaborate your answer by explaining the multiple ways to do so.

Example: ‘There are two methods of including macro definition comments. The first makes use of the %* comment statement. This can comment out all the program from the %* to the following semicolon. The second method is using the %NRSTR function. This can comment out the entire program from the first instance to the next mentioned instance.'

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5. How can you pass parameters to a macro?

There are multiple ways of passing parameters to a macro. Your interviewer may ask this to check if you know the most common methods of doing so. In your answer, you can highlight two or three common ways instead of explaining a single way of passing parameters.

Example: ‘There are several methods to pass parameters. The easiest way is using a %macro statement, which can define the macro and its variable parameters. The second method is using the %let statement, which assigns values to the variable macro parameters.'

6. How can you use macro variables in SAS?

You can use macro variables as tools in SAS. They can help you dynamically change the text through symbolic substitution. In your answer, you can explain the different ways to perform symbolic substitution in a SAS program.

Example: ‘After you create a macro variable, you can use the variable by referencing to it as &variable-name. Remember to add an ampersand before the name of the variable. This macro variable reference can perform a symbolic substitution when it resolves to its value.'

7. Why would you avoid using macro variables in SAS?

Even though you can use macro variables in SAS, many people may avoid them. It is because macro code takes longer to write and debug than the standard SAS code. You can elaborate on this more in your answer and specify the reasons to avoid using macro variables.

Example: ‘Global SAS variables are available for all macro sessions, but this can create issues if multiple users simultaneously access the same file, as the global macro variable value can change if one user changes it. This may affect the code for the other users. It may be better to not use global macro variables if possible.'

8. Explain how the system uses data sets for storing named lists of variables.

Programmers often use data sets to store variables in SAS macro. Your interviewer may ask you this question to understand the depth of your knowledge about macro variables. In your answer, you can explain the purpose of data sets and the different ways to store named lists of macro variables.

Example: ‘You can use data sets for storing named lists of SAS macro variables in various ways. Other SAS programs may require storing the values of variable parameters. Another way is to store the values that you may want to use in the future in a data set in a single SAS macro program.'

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9. Which system option debugs a macro?

Like every programming system, you may also find bugs in SAS macro. A professional in this field knows the different ways to debug the language. In your answer, you can highlight the various options that can debug a macro in the SAS system.

Example: ‘The SAS system has several helpful system options for debugging macro issues. Users may view relevant results of macro-related bugs within the SAS log. The system also lists solutions for macro debugging in an alphabetical sequence in the subsequent table.'

10. What is the difference between %STR and %NRSTR?

Your interviewer may ask you about different functions or the difference between sets of functions to ensure that you know about them in detail. In your answer, you can define each function. Following that, you can elaborate on the key differences between them.

Example: ‘The %NRSTR and %STR functions are macro quoting functions. They mask the standard meaning of special tokens and other operators to display them as constant text. There is one primary difference between these two functions: %STR cannot mask the macro triggers, but %NRSTR can do so.'

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11. How can you display messages in a macro program during its execution?

It is important that messages display in a macro during the program execution. In your answer to this question, ensure you briefly explain how to display a message. You can further elaborate by mentioning the benefits of doing so.

Example: ‘The %put statement can display messages in a macro during program execution. It displays the value or text of the SAS variable. It can help you gauge the value of the macro variables used.'

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Tips For A SAS Macro Interview

The following are a few tips you can consider that may help you create a good impression during your SAS macro interview:

  • Conduct company research. The interviewer may ask contextual questions requiring an understanding of the company, its operations and its clients. Conduct adequate research before your interview to prepare for any questions your interviewer may ask.

  • Prepare for the interview. You can prepare for your interview by listing popular interview questions. You can write out answers and carry out a mock interview with friends and family to improve your answers before going to an interview.

  • Enhance your soft skills. You can rehearse how you walk and sit to ensure that you improve your body language and speech style. Doing this can help you come across as a professional that your potential interviewer may want on their team.

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

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