Good potential job interview question

Shane Hathaway shane at
Mon Nov 24 01:30:04 MST 2008

Sasha Pachev wrote:
> I've just solved a problem and then realized it could serve as a great
> job interview question:
> You have an auto-generated SQL select query with 1000 or so columns
> being selected. Each selected column uses a combination of functions.
> One of them uses a combination the SQL server cannot handle. The error
> message does not tell you which one. Describe a method to track down
> the trouble column in a reasonable amount of real time  without
> modifying the query generating code or creating an automated tool.

A skilled candidate would infer that your database is a beast to
maintain, so you might even scare good people away with this question.
I would bisect the columns in the query, then I would reconsider my
evaluation of the skill level of the people who built this database and
query generator. :-)  Furthermore, I would expect an excellent candidate
to suggest that there really ought to be an automated tool anyway.  The
tool would check the schema and the query generator and attempt to
prevent mishaps like this.


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