30 Advanced SQL Interview Questions for Professionals (With Code)


Unlock your SQL mastery and conquer those 2024 interview questions? Prepare with essential queries, from basic joins to advanced optimization to server and query questions. SQL up your skills, answer questions with ease, and land your dream data rockstar role! Crack the code on advanced queries, indexing, data security & advanced features with these 30 must-know questions that are sure to come up in your next interview.

Start with these 28 advanced and Technical SQL interview questions to master the upcoming technical interview rounds.

1. Explain the difference between a correlated subquery and a nested subquery.

  • Answer: A correlated subquery references data from the outer query in its WHERE clause. A nested subquery can be placed anywhere in the outer query and doesn't directly reference the outer table.

2. Write a query to find the top 5 customers with the highest total order amounts.

  • Answer:

SQL Code

SELECT CustomerID, SUM(OrderAmount) AS TotalOrderAmount
FROM Orders
ORDER BY TotalOrderAmount DESC

3. How can you optimize a slow-running query?

  • Answer: There are several techniques, including:

    • Using appropriate indexes

    • Avoiding unnecessary joins and subqueries

    • Using efficient functions and operators

    • Analyzing execution plans to identify bottlenecks

4. Explain the concept of normalization in database design.

  • Answer: Normalization is the process of organizing tables to minimize redundancy and improve data integrity. It involves breaking down tables into smaller, more focused tables with defined relationships.

5. Describe the purpose of window functions in SQL.

  • Answer: Window functions perform calculations on a set of rows within a query partition. Examples include ranking, calculating moving averages, and finding percentiles.

6. Write a query to find the average salary for each department, excluding employees with salaries above a certain threshold.

  • Answer:

SQL Code

SELECT Department, AVG(Salary) AS AverageSalary
  SELECT Department, Salary
  FROM Employees
  WHERE Salary <= (SELECT MAX(Salary) FROM Employees) / 2
) AS Subquery
GROUP BY Department;

7. How can you handle missing values (NULL) in your queries?

  • Answer: You can use functions like ISNULL, COALESCE, or CASE statements to handle missing values. These functions allow you to specify alternative values or perform different operations based on NULL checks.

8. Explain the concept of materialized views and their benefits.

  • Answer: Materialized views are pre-computed copies of database queries stored as tables. They improve query performance by providing pre-aggregated or filtered data, reducing processing needs for repeated queries.


9. Write a query to find the difference in days between the order date and the ship date for each order.

  • Answer:

SQL Code

SELECT OrderID, DATEDIFF(day, OrderDate, ShipDate) AS DaysDiff
FROM Orders;

10. Describe the concept of transactions in SQL and their ACID properties.

  • Answer: A transaction is a unit of work that maintains data consistency. ACID stands for Atomicity (all or nothing), Consistency (data integrity), Isolation (concurrent transactions don't interfere), and Durability (changes persist).

11. How can you secure your SQL queries against SQL injection attacks?

  • Answer: Use prepared statements with parameterized queries. These statements separate code from data, preventing malicious code execution.

12. Write a query to find the manager for each employee in a company, even if the employee doesn't have a manager assigned.

  • Answer:

SQL Code

SELECT e.EmployeeID, m.ManagerName
FROM Employees e
LEFT JOIN Employees m ON e.ManagerID = m.EmployeeID;

13. Explain the difference between UNION and UNION ALL in SQL.

  • Answer: UNION removes duplicate rows from the combined result set, while UNION ALL includes all rows, even duplicates, from the selected queries.

14. Write a query to pivot data from rows to columns, showing the total sales for each product category by month.

  • Answer:

SQL Code

       SUM(CASE WHEN ProductCategory = 'Electronics' THEN Sales ELSE 0 END) AS Electronics,
       SUM(CASE WHEN ProductCategory = 'Clothing' THEN Sales ELSE 0 END) AS Clothing,
       ... (add more categories)
FROM SalesData


15. Describe the concept of common table expressions (CTEs) and their benefits.

  • Answer: CTEs are temporary named result sets defined within a query. They improve readability and modularity by allowing complex logic to be pre-defined and reused within the main query.

16. Write a query to find employees who have never placed an order.

  • Answer:

SQL Code

SELECT e.EmployeeID, e.EmployeeName
FROM Employees e
LEFT JOIN Orders o ON e.EmployeeID = o.CustomerID
WHERE o.CustomerID IS

17. Explain the concept of temporal tables and how they can be used for historical data tracking.

  • Answer: Temporal tables store data with historical versions, allowing you to track changes over time. You can use them to analyze historical trends, audit data modifications, or revert to previous states.

18. Write a query to find the department with the highest average salary for employees who have been with the company for more than 2 years.

  • Answer:

SQL Code:

SELECT d.DepartmentName, AVG(e.Salary) AS AverageSalary
FROM Employees e
INNER JOIN Departments d ON e.DepartmentID = d.DepartmentID
WHERE e.HireDate < DATEADD(year, -2, GETDATE())
GROUP BY d.DepartmentName
ORDER BY AverageSalary DESC

19. Describe the functionality of triggers in SQL and their different types.

  • Answer: Triggers are stored procedures that automatically execute in response to specific events on a table (like INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE). They can be used for data validation, enforcing business logic, or maintaining data consistency.

20. Write a query to find the nth highest salary in an employee table.

  • Answer (using a subquery):

SQL Code

FROM Employees
WHERE Salary IN (
  SELECT TOP 1 Salary
  FROM (
    FROM Employees
  ) AS Subquery
  WHERE RowNum = n

21. Explain the difference between full outer joins and full joins in SQL.

  • Answer: Both join types return all rows from both tables, but a full outer join preserves NULL values in unmatched columns, while a full join may replace them with default values depending on the database engine.


22. Write a query to find the total number of customers who placed orders in each quarter of the last year.

  • Answer:

SQL Code

SELECT DATEPART(quarter, OrderDate) AS Quarter, COUNT(DISTINCT CustomerID) AS Customers
FROM Orders
WHERE OrderDate >= DATEADD(year, -1, GETDATE())
GROUP BY DATEPART(quarter, OrderDate)
ORDER BY Quarter;

23. Describe the purpose of regular expressions in SQL and how they can be used in queries.

  • Answer: Regular expressions are patterns used to search and manipulate text data within SQL queries. They allow for complex string matching and manipulation, enabling tasks like data validation or extracting specific information.

24. Write a query to find the manager hierarchy for a specific employee, showing all levels up to the CEO.

  • Answer (using a recursive CTE)

SQL Code

WITH ManagerHierarchy (EmployeeID, ManagerID, Level) AS (
  SELECT EmployeeID, ManagerID, 1 AS Level
  FROM Employees
  WHERE EmployeeID = <employee_id>
  SELECT e.EmployeeID, m.ManagerID, h.Level + 1
  FROM Employees e
  INNER JOIN ManagerHierarchy h ON e.EmployeeID = h.ManagerID
  INNER JOIN Employees m ON e.ManagerID = m.EmployeeID
SELECT EmployeeID, ManagerID, Level
FROM ManagerHierarchy

25. Explain the concept of database partitioning and its benefits.

  • Answer: Database partitioning divides a large table into smaller, manageable segments based on a chosen key. This improves performance by allowing queries to target specific partitions and reducing I/O operations.

26. Write a query to find the product categories with the highest and lowest total sales for the previous year.

  • Answer:

SQL Code

SELECT ProductCategory, SUM(SalesAmount) AS TotalSales
FROM SalesData
WHERE SaleDate >= DATEADD(year, -1, GETDATE())
GROUP BY ProductCategory
ORDER BY TotalSales DESC, TotalSales ASC

27. Describe the functionality of MERGE statements in SQL.

  • Answer: MERGE statements combine INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE operations into a single statement. They offer efficient data manipulation, allowing you to perform conditional actions based on existence or matching criteria.

28. Write a query to find employees who earn more than the average salary in their department.

  • Answer:

SQL Code

SELECT e.EmployeeID, e.EmployeeName, d.DepartmentName, e.Salary
FROM Employees e
INNER JOIN Departments d ON e.DepartmentID =

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