SSRS Interview questions and answers

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SQL Server Reporting Services skills are required in more and more IT jobs. If you need to interview someone and you need to assess candidate SSRS skills below are some example of questions. Feel free to suggest so other good SSRS Interview questions and answers, we are happy to include them in our blog post.

NOTE: We will cover SSRS 2008 R2 which should be applicable to 2008 & SSRS 2012.

Who is it for?:

  • People doing SSRS Interviews (face to face or over the phone)
  • Recruiters trying to check the candidate's proficiency with SSRS
  • Candidates who can prepare better for the interview (You won't get explicit answers here)

 

Video: You can also view our Video SSRS Interview with Questions and Answers

Content:

 

List of SSRS interview questions:

If you want to answer the question first without our answers feel free to use the list here. Later in the our blog post you will see both question and answers.

NOTE: Answers show our experience in specific type of projects and SSRS is one of the tools that can be used in many different ways so you might get very different opinions to our answers. So it is up to you to decide if our answer is suitable to your situation.

Question: Which versions of SSRS have you used?

Question: Have you got samples of your work?
Question: Do you have Data Visualization skills? (optional)
Question: How have you learnt SSRS (on the job, articles, books, conferences)
Question: How do you normally create reports (wizard/manually)?
Question: What languages have you used to query data for SSRS Reports?
Question: Gives examples where you used parameters?
Question: What types of graphs do you normally use and what effects do you apply to them?

Question: Have you used custom assemblies in SSRS? If Yes give an example
Question: Can you update report data using SSRS?
Question: What is the formatting code (format property) for a number with 2 decimal places?
 

Below are "narrowed" questions:

Question: What does rdl stand for?

Question: How to deploy an SSRS Report?

Question: What is Report Manager?

Question: What is Report Builder?

Question: What permission do you need to give to users to enable them to use Report Builder?

Question: What do you need to restore report server database on another machine?

Question: Can you create subscription using windows authentication?

Question: What caching options do you have for reports on report server?

Question: How to find slow running reports?

Question: How can you make calendar available in report parameter?

Question: How to pass multi-valued parameter to stored procedure in dataset?

Question: Which functions are used to pass parameter to MDX query?

Question: How to create "dependent " parameter "Make, Model, Year"

Question: How to create "alternate row colour"?

Question: How to create percentile function?

Question: How to create median function?

Question: How to make conditional sum in SSRS?

Question: How to find a value in another dataset based on current dataset field (SSRS 2008 R2)?

Question: How to change parameter value inside the report?

Question: How to identify current user in SSRS Report?

 

General SSRS Questions

Question: Which versions of SSRS have you used?
Comment: Differences between 2005 and 2008 are quite big so if someone hasn't used 2008 or 2008 R2 before (or vice versa) than make sure you know this will require a few days to get up to speed with the new/previous version. If the candidate used several versions ask to describe the differences between them.

Question: Have you got samples of your work?
Comment: If SSRS is main skills for the role than it is worth asking for samples (before interview) they will often tell you a lot about the candidate quality of work.

Question: Do you have Data Visualization skills? (optional)
Comment: If you need dashboards then it is worth asking this question (we will ask more specific questions later). This is also related to previous question. When you review samples ask the candidate or yourself two questions: What is the purpose? And is it useful? Someone who does not know anything about data visualization will usually use pie charts, gauges (exception is bullet chart which is classified as gauge in SSRS), 3D effects, make colourful designs (without any colour meaning). Some candidates may mention Stephen Few or Edward Tufte and this normally is a big plus.

Question: How have you learnt SSRS (on the job, articles, books, conferences)
Comment: The thing is that most people who read good books have usually an advantage over those who hasn't because they know what they know and they know what they don't know (but they know it exists and is available)…. Blog/Articles vary in quality so best practise articles is a big plus+, conferences can be also a plus.

 

SSRS Development open questions

 

Question: How do you normally create reports (wizard/manually)?
Comment: If wizard in most cases then you got rather inexperienced person, if manually than it is usually good answer. The best answer is using a template. Generally developers create reports from scratch which is not bad but it is not very efficient either.

Question: What languages have you used to query data for SSRS Reports?
Comment: Most answers will probably be SQL (TSQL). But T-SQL is not the only query language. If someone build reports based on cubes before than they will say MDX. You can also query data from other sources (not recommended) or use data mining expressions (DMX = advanced).

Question: Gives examples where you used parameters?
Comment: Typically you use parameters to filter data in datasets (or data on reports) but you can also use them to restrict values like the well-known make->model->year example. You can also have hidden and internal parameters which get very handy for more advanced stuff.

Question: What types of graphs do you normally use and what effects do you apply to them?
Comment: Good graph are bar, line, scatter, bullet graphs. Bad graphs are pie charts, area graphs, gauges (apart from bullet graph which classified as gauge in SSRS). Effects should be limited to minimum. Developers should avoid 3D effects, "glass" effect, shadows etc
 

 

SSRS Advanced questions

 

Question: Have you used custom assemblies in SSRS? If Yes give an example
Comment: This allows to re-use code in reports and it is not very common. Re-usability is good but building dependencies is not so good… so one small mistake might break all reports using it; so it should be used with care.

Question: Can you update report data using SSRS?
Comment: This is not often used (and probably shouldn't be used in most cases) but it is possible.

Question: What is the formatting code (format property) for a number with 2 decimal places?
Comment: N2. Attention to details and good memory is always welcome.
 

 

SSRS interview "narrowed" questions

In this section I will give you fairly long list of short and narrowed questions:

 

Question: What does rdl stand for?

Answer: Report Definition Language

Question: How to deploy an SSRS Report?

Answer: Configure project properties (for multiple environments) and deploy from bids, upload manually or use rs.exe for command line deployment.

Question: What is Report Manager?

Answer: Web based tool that allows to access and run reports.

Question: What is Report Builder?

Answer: Report Builder is a self-service tool for end users.

Question: What permission do you need to give to users to enable them to use Report Builder?

Answer: "Report Builder" role and "system user". Report builder should also be enable in report server properties.

Question: What do you need to restore report server database on another machine?

Answer: SSRS Encryption key

Question: Can you create subscription using windows authentication?

Answer: No.

Question: What caching options do you have for reports on report server?

Answer: Do no cache, expiry cache after x minute, on schedule.

Question: How to find slow running reports?

Answer: Check ReportExecution table

Question: How can you make calendar available in report parameter?

Answer: Set parameter data type to date.

Question: How to pass multi-valued parameter to stored procedure in dataset?

Answer: Join function in SSRS and split function in T-SQL

Question: Which functions are used to pass parameter to MDX query?

Answer: StrToMember and StrToSet

Question: How to create "dependant" parameter "Make, Model, Year"

Answer: They need to be in correct order, and previous parameter should filter next parameter dataset. For instance Model dataset should be filtered using Make parameter

Question: How to create "alternate row colour"?

Answer: use RowNumber and Mod function OR visit our tutorial.

Question: How to create percentile function?

Answer: Custom code is required. Visit our tutorial for more details.

Question: How to create median function?

Answer: Custom code is required. Visit our tutorial for more details.

Question: How to make conditional sum in SSRS?

Answer: IIF condition true then SUM else nothing. Visit our tutorial for more details

Question: How to find a value in another dataset based on current dataset field (SSRS 2008 R2)?

Answer: Use lookup function.

Question: How to change parameter value inside the report?

Answer: Set action. "Jump to itself" and pass different value for the parameter.

Question: How to identify current user in SSRS Report?

Answer: User!UserID

 

Mandatory question (task)

The last question (task) is one of the most important ones. Ask the candidate to do the job using the software! It doesn't have to be anything special. You can ask them just to create a simple report, graph, chart or use one of the questions and ask the person to explain it using SSRS. It is usually very easy to spot how familiar is the person with the software and options/properties.


Hope that helps!
Emil

See also:
SSIS Interview questions and answers

 


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Add Comment
Name: Nishi
Date Posted: 5/17/2011 10:42:05 PM
Comment: thank you


Name: Emil
Date Posted: 5/18/2011 1:31:01 AM
Comment: Your welcome


Name: scott b dragoo
Date Posted: 6/8/2011 11:33:39 PM
Comment: Thank you for the article. We are about to interview for a new SSRS developer / data analyst. I realy like your comments on certification. Too many times I have seen candidates / hires with certifications who did not have basic competency with the software they have the certification in. Something I was exposed to during my last job search was this on-line testing system that asked a large variety of questions on a particular topic (SQL Server 2005 / 2008 Administration in my case). A couple of things about the system. 1) It allowed you to use any reference resource you wished, except another person, to come up with your answer. 2) You only had 3 minutes to answer any single question. 3) Most questions were based around the details of daily job functions. The system was designed in such a way that if the candidate really knew the material and had experience in the job function, they would have very little difficulty with the test. However, if someone had applied and only had minimal exposure to the software, ie. heard of it or seen it, then there is no way they could get through the exam with satisfactory results.


Name: Emil
Date Posted: 6/13/2011 5:28:26 AM
Comment: Hi Scott, I'm glad to hear you found this blog post useful and I also like the kind of tests you mentioned especially if someones wants to test the knowledge in many ssrs aspects. Also for me MUST have is asking someone to do the job (sample reports) on the interview. This is usually under pressure and the candidate needs to show what is really needed for a particular role (something that tests might not give enough focus) and during the test and end result usually shows the technical competency but also quality of work, efficiency and very important candidate's behaviour/personality which I believe is as important as technical skills.


Name: Mahender
Date Posted: 6/26/2011 3:56:09 PM
Comment: Artical is very good. Mahender


Name: Anonymous
Date Posted: 7/18/2011 5:34:28 AM
Comment: Thanks.


Name: Mark
Date Posted: 8/23/2011 1:00:46 PM
Comment: questions and answers are good thanks


Name: mallikarjun
Date Posted: 10/27/2011 1:29:36 PM
Comment: good explananation


Name: Saint101
Date Posted: 1/12/2012 10:18:11 AM
Comment: I like this. Thank you for taking time to explain some of these stuff that are so needed in this field. That way, you become the answer to the cry of many. I have read Step by Step Reporting and find it to be very good. You talked about one advance SSRS book but never mentioned the name or author. I will be so glad if you can give the name so I can go for it. Thank you!


Name: Pradeep
Date Posted: 2/4/2012 3:38:14 AM
Comment: Thanks EMIL! These really help. Thanks again buddy :)


Name: RameshJ
Date Posted: 2/5/2012 11:44:26 PM
Comment: its very nice article and informative for both who are taking interviews and those who attend interviews.


Name: Abhijit
Date Posted: 3/2/2012 12:20:42 PM
Comment:

nice questions




Name: Ajay Chaudhary
Date Posted: 4/12/2012 3:08:02 PM
Comment:

Nice Questions and toturials




Name: Roger W
Date Posted: 5/8/2012 10:31:00 PM
Comment:

Great questions, and thanks for the update. Very useful for me as a recruiter.

 

Roger




Name: Emil
Date Posted: 5/9/2012 10:32:07 AM
Comment:

Hi Roger,

I'm glad you like it. I hope it will help you to select the best candidates for the roles you recruit.

 




Name: Steve
Date Posted: 5/21/2012 2:17:19 PM
Comment:

Nice job!  I am a long time developer but brand new to SSRS.  I am very comfortable using SSRS and thought I was ready for your interview questions.  I failed miserably.  But after reading through your answers or explanations, I have a better understanding of what the question was looking for and my confidence is restored.  Now I can answer your questions at about an 80% successful.




Name: Radhika
Date Posted: 5/29/2012 5:27:24 AM
Comment:

Hey Emil...ur article is good...m new to SSRS and it helped me to know how much i know abt SSRS..will go through ur tutorials...thanks!!




Name: David
Date Posted: 6/6/2012 2:02:02 PM
Comment:

Not to sound stupid but I use pie charts all the time.

Why are they "bad"?

thanks

David




Name: Emil
Date Posted: 6/6/2012 3:29:25 PM
Comment:

Hi David,

Pie chart are difficult to explain. They are not bad or good. It all depends on what you are trying to communicate.

The reason why people consider them "bad" is because there are more efficient ways to communicate data and pie charts can also be misleading. On the other hand if your audience does not want to analyse in depth anything or does not know how to "read" more efficient graphs than it is still good.

For proper analysis you should always avoid pie charts. You can argue this in very specific analysis but generally it is much safer to avoid them.

Here's a very good example of pie chart:

At some point I attended company meeting where they showed how much share they have in different industries and the person represented the share using % and pie chart. One question was: "Do we have plans to increase share in this specific industry"...... Both the question and answer was very misleading... I must admit I laughed in my head at that time.... There is a very easy way to increase % part of pie chart? how? simple make less money in other part of the pie chart! 

That's definitely not what business wants but it is very good example of misleading pie charts; that created misleading questions and answers!

Regards

Emil

 






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