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What are some of the key database constructs that a business analyst should be familiar with?

Posted by Adrian M.

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Categories: Data Analysis & Modeling


All organizations deal with data and every business analyst should have at least a basic understanding of the key database constructs in order to be an effective analyst.  Some of the most important constructs are:

Tables - Tables are the fundamental structure in a relational database, representing entities or concepts. Each table consists of rows (records) and columns (fields) that store specific pieces of information.

  • Columns - Columns, also known as fields or attributes, represent the vertical aspect of a table. Each column defines a specific type of data that can be stored in the table. For example, in a table storing employee information, columns might include "EmployeeID," "FirstName," "LastName," "Email," and "HireDate." 
  • Data Types - Data types define the kind of data that can be stored in a column of a table. Common data types include integers, strings, dates, and binary data.
  • Rows - Rows, also known as records, represent the horizontal aspect of a table. Each row in the table corresponds to a single record or instance of the entity represented by the table. In the employee example above, each row would contain the actual data for a specific employee, with values for each of the columns defined in the table.

Indexes - Indexes are data structures that improve the performance of database queries by allowing for faster retrieval of data. They are typically created on columns frequently used in search conditions.

Keys - A "key" refers to one or more columns that uniquely identify each record within the table. There are several types of keys commonly used in database management systems:

  • Primary Keys - A primary key is a unique identifier for each record in the table. It ensures that each row can be uniquely identified and retrieved. Typically, a primary key consists of one or more columns, and its values must be unique and non-null for each record. Primary keys are used to enforce data integrity and establish relationships between tables in a relational database.
  • Foreign Keys - A foreign key is a column or set of columns in one table that refers to the primary key in another ta
  • ble. It establishes a relationship between the two tables, known as a foreign key constraint. Foreign keys are used to enforce referential integrity, ensuring that values in the foreign key column(s) match existing values in the primary key column(s) of the referenced table.
  • Alternate Keys - An alternate key is a unique identifier for each record in the table that is not chosen as the primary key. Alternate keys provide additional means of uniquely identifying records and are typically used for querying and data integrity purposes

Queries - Database queries are commands or instructions written in a specific query language (such as SQL - Structured Query Language) that are used to retrieve, manipulate, or manage data stored in a database. These queries allow users to interact with the database, perform various operations, and obtain specific information based on their requirements. Database queries can be categorized into several types:

  • Data Retrieval Queries - These queries are used to retrieve data from one or more tables in the database. They typically use the SELECT statement to specify the columns to retrieve and the conditions to filter the data
  • Data Manipulation Queries - These queries are used to modify or manipulate data in the database. They include INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE statements to add, modify, or remove records from tables. 
  • Data Definition Queries - These queries are used to define or modify the structure of the database schema. They include statements such as CREATE, ALTER, and DROP to create, modify, or delete tables, indexes, views, and other database objects. 

Views - Views are virtual tables generated from the results of a data retrieval query. They allow users to access specific data without needing to know the underlying structure of the database.

Triggers - Triggers are database objects that automatically execute in response to certain events, such as INSERT, UPDATE, or DELETE operations on a table. They are often used to enforce business rules or maintain data integrity.

Stored Procedures - Stored procedures are a type of precompiled code or script that is stored in a database management system (DBMS) and can be executed by calling its name from within another script or application. They are commonly used in relational database management systems. Stored procedures are primarily written in SQL, but they may also include procedural programming constructs like loops, conditional statements, and exception handling.

What are some of the key database constructs that a business analyst should be familiar with?



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Do your homework prior to the business analysis interview!

Having an idea of the type of questions you might be asked during a business analyst interview will not only give you confidence but it will also help you to formulate your thoughts and to be better prepared to answer the interview questions you might get during the interview for a business analyst position.  Of course, just memorizing a list of business analyst interview questions will not make you a great business analyst but it might just help you get that next job.


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