Reading books is a very labor-intensive task (well, at least when taken seriously!).
It is not easy for several reasons:
- We have to figure out the level of the book according to our knowledge level
- We have to question the book’s title
- We have to question the structure and the content
And why we have to question, you would ask. Well, because only through questioning and doubts we can move forward.
Here is how my criteria for choosing interesting book goes: I pick a book, read a random paragraph from it and if it does not bring up a single question within me, then I return the book back to wherever I got it from and never pick it up again. (Arguably, one does not have to eat the entire egg before knowing it’s rotten!)
The “SQL Server Interview Questions and Answers” book by Pinal Dave and Vinod Kumar is one of those books which are different.
The book does not blend in the average blob of technical books and does not necessarily fit in a specific genre.
It just does not blend in because of its structure and its approach to the concept of ‘knowing’. (Remember: knowing is not a statement, but merely a newborn question!)
The book however opens the door for a wide range of thoughts and potential personal improvement of the reader.
The actual structure of the book is challenging as well (in a good way!), since the reader may be easily thrown off by the title: interview questions and answers.
The problem is that usually when the phrase “interview questions and answers” is mentioned, people tend to shrug and become ‘on-guard’ for a yet-another-war-of-self-worthiness-approval.
It should not be this way, though, and the book’s intentions are different and easily omitted, if not even misunderstood.
Unfortunately no one taught my generation how to ask questions, what kind of questions there are and how many numbers of possible answers a question has.
In my Eastern-European high school education and later on in my US college education it was recommended to us that question must not be answered by a question and that anything out of the generally accepted social (litter) box is at the least ‘doubtful’ or ‘silly’.
It may seem like the book may suffer from being misunderstood, and if this is the case, then it is definitely not the book’s fault, nor the authors’. It is merely the standardized thinking patterns induced by the crippling educational systems and their strong potential to kick out any potential effort for use of imagination.
There are several kinds of questions in the book, even though they are not grouped together by type. The questions types are important, however, and acknowledging that makes us better professionals. For example, some of the different kinds of questions in the book are as follows:
- an ‘what is’ type of questions. For example, What is RDBMS?
- an ‘what is the difference between’ type of question. For example, What is the difference between UDF and Stored Procedure?
- a ‘how many ways / types are there’ type of question. For example, How many ways of collation sensitivity are there?
- an ‘what are the advantages and limitations’ type of question.
Of course, figuring out the answering approach for the different kinds of questions is left up to the reader’s ability to process information, since it is not in the scope of the book. But one thing is very obvious by reading the book’s contents: there are General Concepts (some theoretical ideas, if you wish), there are Tricky questions (debatable areas) and there are questions about Practical knowledge (i.e. hands-on experience ).
In my humble opinion, the book brings to me exactly what I expected it to bring when I bought it. It triggers questions within me as a professional SQL Server DBA and it makes me want to research more on certain topics.
In conclusion, the book is inspired and inspirational and it triggers lines of thoughts, which are longer and more powerful than most other technical books I have read.
The reader just needs to be aware, that the book is not a key to ensuring a job offer at the end of every interview. The book solely defines the door frame of the passage between the present and the future improved career opportunities.
And as I have mentioned previously in my article on “Job Interviewing the Right Way (and for the Right Reasons)“: knowledge is a passage, curiosity is a key.
I recommend this book to anyone, and hope they will be capable of using its full potential.