The complexity of modern day database environments require 24x7x365 attention to detect and immediately address any issues that may occur.  However, tight IT budgets and an uneven day-to-day DBA workload often do not justify more than a single in-house DBA resource for support.  But, putting total reliability into a single DBA resource is a risky proposition.  In this article, I’ll explain why employing a Remote DBA Service that utilizes a team to support your database environment provides a more reliable and cost-efficient approach to database support.

The Problems:  Avoid the Pitfalls of Relying on a Single Resource

1.  Limited Availability:  A single resource may or may not be available when issues arise or disaster strikes.

2.  Limited Expertise:  In addition, many DBAs are niche experts, and cannot provide technical expertise across multiple database technologies, even though your environment may utilize multiple platforms.  Additional niche resources or training all cost money that you may not have in the budget when it is most needed.

3.  High Turnover:  Your single resource may have no intentions of remaining a long-term employee.  That same niche knowledge might make your single resource attractive on the job market, and less likely to stay in your employ for the long term, putting you at risk for a costly repeat cycle of hiring and training.

The Answer:  Engage Remote DBA Services… that Utilizes a Multi-Tiered Team Approach

Telephone interviews have become a standard first step in interviewing candidates.  The phone interview is a time saver:  a quick way to glean whether a promising candidate on paper has the technical and communication skills that make them worth engaging in a more time and resource intensive in house interview.

Here are some tips for the interviewer to help focus the discussion, and truly gain those time and effort savings.

1.   Prepare Once-Interview Again and Again

Script it Out:  Make a simple script: it will help you rate and compare individual candidates and determine which candidates deserve a further vetting.  A script will help you ask consistent questions, making you and any other interviewers sound more professional, and help you quickly determine which candidates to bring in for that in-house interview.  Of course you will need to tailor some of your questions to the individual position and candidate, but a standard script will help you get started.

Before you begin, make sure you and your colleagues agree on the following points:

– The top 3 or 4 skills that the candidate must possess.

– The basic salary range.

– The timeframe for hire.

Then, pull together a company intro, some basic repeatable questions to get your candidate talking, some pointed questions related to the specific skill set, and come up with some basic methods of rating the candidate.  See Creating a Telephone Screen Script for some detailed tips on developing a repeatable, simple script.

2.   Schedule the Interview

Call the candidate and schedule the interview for a future date.  It isn’t fair to expect a candidate to be in private surroundings or be prepared to discuss the position without notice.

3.   Know Your Candidate and Gather Your Materials

Before interview time, pull together your script and gather your note taking tools.

Access the candidate’s resume and take some time to review it.  Circle any areas where you have questions:  are there lapses in job history, do you have questions about certifications, or do you want to know more about a particular skill set?  Jot your questions down and have those items in front of you.

Do a little googling:  it might help to check out the candidate on social media so you have a little background knowledge.

4.   Conduct the Interview

Introduce yourself and your Company:  Include a brief introduction of yourself, and a few-second description of your company.  Smile while you speak; it will come across in your voice, and help to put the candidate at ease so you have a more successful discussion.

Refresh the Candidates Memory:  Briefly describe the position to refresh the candidate’s memory.  Phrase it so that the top qualities or skills you are looking for are included up front.

Gauge Interest in Position:  After your intro, check to make sure the candidate is still interested in the position.

Ask your Questions:

Basic questions:  Ask a few basic questions that lead the candidate to discuss their skill set.  Often, asking why the candidate applied for the position, or what about the position drew the applicant to apply is a good opening.  You want to get the candidate speaking in their own words, and understand why they think they are a good fit.  See some ideas.

Tailored Questions:  Ask a few simple questions that pin-point whether the candidate can perform those top 3 or 4 skills required by the job.   (e.g. tell me how you would solve…, tell me how you conduct a meeting.., tell me how you would code…).

Resume-specific Questions:  Ask a few questions to confirm the candidate’s current employment history and make sure the resume you have is up to date and correct.  Use this time to ask for clarification about employment history, certifications, etc.

Let the Candidate Ask Questions:  Open up the discussion for any questions the candidate might have about the position.  Listen carefully.  Candidates can reveal a lot about themselves based on the questions they ask you (i.e. are they overly concerned about vacation time, or uninterested in asking any questions at all?).

Discuss Salary Requirements:  If you feel the candidate is promising, take some time to discuss the salary range for the position, and the timeframes for employment decisions.  You don’t want to bring in a candidate that is not really interested.

If you think your salary range might not be a selling point, be sure to let the candidate know what features of the job that are selling points (e.g., access to technical experts, a chance to build skills in a hot, burgeoning technology, flexible work arrangements, etc.).


Discuss Decision Timeframes:  Conclude with a basic description of when the next steps in the hiring process will occur (e.g., “We will be scheduling in-house interviews within the next x days/weeks.”).

If the candidate is not a good fit, tell them, but politely thank them for their time; you could be interested in this candidate for another position in the future.

Thank You’s:  Follow up with an email thanking the candidate for their time and reinforce that you will be following up within the decision timeframe.

5.   Rate the Candidate

After concluding, take a minute to jot down your notes and thoughts while they are still fresh.  If you are screening a large number of candidates, or will need to compare your results with another interviewer, it may be helpful to rate the candidate over several categories (e.g. technical expertise, communication skills, interest level) using a simple numeric score.


Telephone interviews are an easy, time saving way to screen candidates.  Developing a script or template for interviewing will make conducting telephone screens even more efficient, especially if your organization has more than one person screening candidates for the same job.  An interview script will help to focus the discussion, make your organization sound more professional, and give you the tools to quickly rate a candidate and compare against other candidates, in order to truly gain the time savings that phone interviews are supposed to result in.

Remember, you want your interview to be brief (no more than 30 minutes) and relatively casual, so preparing a common repeatable script can take any bumbling or stress out the experience.  On the flip side, you don’t want to over-engineer the script.  Just remember you don’t want to come off sounding ridiculously rigid or serious; your goal is to be professional and friendly.

Here are some tips for building a repeatable and reliable script.  Your script should consist of:

1.   Brief Intros: include a brief introduction of the interviewer, and a few-second description of your company.

2.  Job Description:  briefly describe the position to refresh the candidate’s memory.  Phrase it so that the top qualities or skills you are looking for are included.

3.  Basic Questions:  add a few basic questions that lead the candidate to discuss their skill set.  You want to get the candidate speaking in their own words.  Ask open ended questions that lead the candidate to describe their skills, like:

–  Why did you apply for the position?

–  What skills or qualifications do you possess that that are uniquely suited to the position

–  What do you like best about your current position, and what is the most important skill you are currently utilizing?

–  What do you like least about your current position?

4.  Tailored Questions:  work with your colleagues to develop a few pointed, simple questions tailored to the specific position that pin-point whether the candidate can perform a specific job responsibility (e.g. tell me how you would solve…, tell me how you conduct a meeting.., tell me how you would code…).

5.  Resume Specific Questions:  Instruct the interviewer to review the candidates resume and circle any areas where he/she has questions or sees a lapse in employment.  Use this time to ask for clarification about employment history, certifications, etc.

6.  Candidate Questions:  open up the discussion for any questions the candidate might have about the position.  Listen carefully.  Candidates can reveal a lot about themselves based on the questions they ask you (i.e. are they overly concerned about vacation time, or uninterested in asking any questions at all?).

7.  Salary Requirements:  Add the agreed-upon salary range for the position.  You can decide whether you want to share that information during the interview.

8.  Decision Timeframes:  Conclude with a basic description of when next steps will occur (we will be scheduling in-house interview within the next x days/weeks).

9.  Thank-you’s:  Be sure to instruct the interviewer to thank the candidate for their time-even if not a perfect fit for the current position, the candidate could be a fit for another.

10.  Rating System:  Institute a simply numeric ratings system over a series of categories.  For example, suggest the interviewer numerically rate the candidate from 1-5 over several areas (e.g. experience, technical skills, communication skills, and interest) and record any notes about the candidate immediately after the interview.

With a repeatable script in hand with a method for recording simple results, you will get the most out of your interview process.  Good luck!


Congratulations!  Scoring a telephone interview means you have made it to the pool of promising applicants.  While a telephone interview sounds like it’s easy, there is an art to successfully interviewing over the phone-you don’t want to make a misstep and ruin the opportunity.  You may not be a former boy scout, but Be Prepared should be your motto when it comes to a successful telephone interview.  So what should you know?

Be Prepared…with Your Environment

Find Some Quiet:  This may sound like common sense, but please use a land line (if you still have one) or make sure you are located in an area that provides good reception with no background noise or distractions.  You want to hear the interviewer and you want them to hear you.  A noisy background, road sounds, or a distracted response only conveys unprofessionalism.

Gather your Props:  Have a copy of your resume in front of you, and, if possible, open the company’s website for quick reference or inspiration.  Don’t forget a pen for notes.

Be Prepared…with Your Story

Know Your (Short) Story:  Practice your elevator speech-that few-second, concise story that answers the question “Tell me a little bit about you.”

Remember that the interviewer really wants to hear about your professional life:  give them a quick review of your job history and key skills, which is usually a conversational version of the introductory paragraph at the top of your resume.  Practice your story so that is sounds natural, and make sure you tailor your story to the particular job for which you are interviewing.

Know the Company:  Know as much about the company as possible.  Do a little research:  access the company’s website and search for the company name for recent news events.  You want to be able to demonstrate knowledge of the company during the interview.

Don’t Share too Much Information.  Steer clear of sharing information about your personal life.  Sharing personal information generally does not give you an advantage and can all too easily cast you in an unflattering light (e.g. that hobby might make you look less interested in your job).

Be Prepared…for the Interviewers Questions

Know Why You Want the Job:  What drew you to this position in the first place?  When you saw the job posting, what part of the description really made you think that you would be perfect for the position?  Take a few moments to really isolate the aspects of the job description that you feel passionate about, and match them to your particular skills.  Then think of previous work experience where you demonstrated that skill with excellent results.  You want to convey “This is that skill that you are looking for and it’s WHAT I’m good at…and this is WHY I’m good at it.”  Once you understand why you want the job, you will be prepared to answer many of the interviewer’s questions with success.

Build Bridges:  Try to look for ways to bridge what you’ve done in the past with what the position requires, even if you used a different technology or process.  Be looking for opportunities during the interview to explain why you are uniquely qualified, using those prepared back stories of success.

Do a Little More Research:  As another prep step, take some time and peruse typical interview questions and answers, and have a few basic answers to tricky questions prepared.  This is just one excellent site to use for your prep work:

Stand up and Smile… really:  Believe it or not, studies have shown that if you pretend you are really in front of the interviewer and smile and sit up straight, it changes the tone of your voice and makes you sound positive and relaxed.  Even better, you should stand up while speaking to convey even more confidence, but do not pace; that can make you sound breathless.

Know your Manners:  Be sure to speak at a normal speed and enunciate, and don’t forget your manners:  don’t interrupt the interviewer in your haste to tell your story, and don’t dominate the conversation.  Take a few seconds before answering if you start to feel like you are rushing or babbling.

Be Prepared…with Questions for the Interviewer

Be Interested and Informed: You want to sound engaged and interested in the interview, and remember that you need to find out information about the position as well so you can make your decision, so be prepared with a few questions to ask your interviewer.  Your questions can open up more opportunities to further highlight your skills or work experience.

Avoid any questions about salary or benefits; focus only on the job responsibilities or inquire about future trends within the company.  Check out this site for ideas:

Be Prepared…to Follow Up

Know the Timeframe:  It is okay to conclude the interview by politely asking about the timeframe for making a decision.

Show Your Interest:  If you are really interested in the position and you feel you are a great fit, be direct and let the interviewer know (e.g.  “I think I’m a great fit and will be able to bring X and X to the job.  I’d love to meet with you to discuss the position further.”).

Own the Thank You:  Thank you notes are not old-fashioned.  Be sure to send a thank you email as soon as possible, preferably right after the call to convey your interest.  Thank you notes should be very short, yet genuine.  Check out this site for some samples: