Interview Questions

SQL Interview Questions for Business Analyst

Published on June 2nd, 2023


In the realm of data-driven decision-making, Business Analysts play a crucial role in extracting insights from vast amounts of data. SQL (Structured Query Language) is a fundamental tool for managing and analyzing data, making it essential for Business Analysts to possess a strong command of SQL concepts. To help recruiters evaluate the SQL proficiency of potential Business Analysts, we have compiled a list of ten key SQL business analyst interview questions These questions cover various aspects of SQL, allowing recruiters to gauge a candidate's expertise and problem-solving skills. Let's explore these business analyst interview questions and provide some sample answers for candidates.

1. What is SQL, and what are its primary components?

Recruiter's Objective: This question assesses a candidate's foundational knowledge of SQL and their ability to articulate the core components of the language.
Sample Answer: SQL stands for Structured Query Language. It is a programming language used to manage and manipulate relational databases. The primary components of SQL include Data Definition Language (DDL), Data Manipulation Language (DML), Data Control Language (DCL), and Transaction Control Language (TCL).

2. Explain the difference between INNER JOIN and LEFT JOIN.

Recruiter's Objective: This question evaluates a candidate's understanding of different types of SQL joins, a crucial skill for data analysis and querying.
Sample Answer: INNER JOIN returns only the matching rows from both tables, based on the specified condition. LEFT JOIN, on the other hand, returns all the rows from the left table and the matching rows from the right table. If no match is found in the right table, NULL values are returned.

3. How can you eliminate duplicate rows in a SQL query result?

Recruiter's Objective: This question examines a candidate's knowledge of removing duplicate data, which is often required when working with large datasets.
Sample Answer: To eliminate duplicate rows in a SQL query result, the candidate can use the DISTINCT keyword in the SELECT statement. It ensures that only unique values are displayed in the result set.

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4. What is the purpose of the GROUP BY clause in SQL?

Recruiter's Objective: This question assesses a candidate's understanding of how to group and aggregate data, a fundamental skill for data analysis.
Sample Answer: The GROUP BY clause is used to group rows that have the same values in a specified column. It is typically combined with aggregate functions like SUM, AVG, COUNT, etc., to perform calculations on the grouped data.

5. How do you handle NULL values in SQL?

Recruiter's Objective: This question examines a candidate's ability to handle NULL values effectively, as they are common in databases.
Sample Answer: NULL values can be handled in SQL using functions like IS NULL and IS NOT NULL. These functions help identify and filter rows with NULL values. Additionally, COALESCE function can be used to replace NULL values with a specific alternative value.

6. What is a subquery in SQL?

Recruiter's Objective: This question evaluates a candidate's knowledge of subqueries, which are vital for performing complex queries and retrieving data from multiple tables.
Sample Answer: A subquery, also known as a nested query, is a query nested inside another query. It is used to retrieve data based on the results of the inner query. The result of the subquery is then used in the outer query.

7. Explain the concept of indexing in databases.

Recruiter's Objective: This question assesses a candidate's understanding of indexing, an essential concept for optimizing query performance.
Sample Answer: Indexing in databases involves creating data structures that improve the speed of data retrieval operations. It works similar to an index in a book, allowing the database engine to locate specific data quickly. Indexes are created on columns to enhance search operations by organizing the data in a specific order, reducing the need for full table scans.

8. What is the difference between UNION and UNION ALL in SQL?

Recruiter's Objective: This question examines a candidate's knowledge of combining and manipulating data from multiple tables.
Sample Answer: UNION is used to combine the result sets of two or more SELECT statements into a single result set, excluding any duplicate rows. UNION ALL, on the other hand, combines the result sets of multiple SELECT statements, including duplicate rows.

9. How do you optimize a slow-performing SQL query?

Recruiter's Objective: This question evaluates a candidate's problem-solving skills and their ability to improve the efficiency of SQL queries.
Sample Answer: To optimize a slow-performing SQL query, several approaches can be taken. Some common strategies include:
- Analyzing the query execution plan and identifying any missing indexes.
- Refactoring the query to use more efficient JOINs or subqueries.
- Limiting the data retrieved by adding appropriate filters or conditions.
- Caching frequently accessed data or utilizing database caching mechanisms.
- Partitioning or indexing tables based on access patterns.

10. Explain ACID properties in the context of database transactions.

Recruiter's Objective: This question assesses a candidate's understanding of ACID properties, which ensure data integrity and consistency in database transactions.
Sample Answer: ACID stands for Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, and Durability, which are the key properties of a reliable database transaction:

- Atomicity ensures that a transaction is treated as a single, indivisible unit of work. It either succeeds completely or fails, leaving no intermediate state.
- Consistency ensures that a transaction brings the database from one consistent state to another, adhering to defined rules and constraints.
- Isolation ensures that concurrent transactions do not interfere with each other, providing a level of separation and preventing data inconsistencies
- Durability ensures that once a transaction is committed, its changes are permanently saved and will survive any subsequent system failures.


As SQL is a fundamental tool for Business Analysts, recruiters must assess candidates' SQL skills during the interview process. The ten questions provided in this blog cover essential SQL concepts, enabling recruiters to evaluate a candidate's expertise, problem-solving abilities, and understanding of data manipulation. By employing these questions, recruiters can identify candidates who possess the necessary SQL knowledge and capabilities to excel in the role of a Business Analyst.

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Radhika Sarraf

Radhika Sarraf is a content specialist and a woman of many passions who currently works at HireQuotient, a leading recruitment SaaS company. She is a versatile writer with experience in creating compelling articles, blogs, social media posts, and marketing collaterals.

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