Data Modeling Interview Questions
Data is revamping the way businesses work. After all, it is all about the various facts and figures that help organizations design their strategies. However, large data repositories require a professional to simplify, express and create a data model that can be easily stored and studied.
And here comes the role of a Data Modeler!
Data Modeling is one of the fastest-growing professions. With brands looking for experienced data modelers, the contemporary world experiences a rise in the number of job openings for the role. So, get ready to help them curate heaps of information and make it machine-readable through your data modeling skills. This blog introduces you to the domain and discusses some data modeling interview questions that will help you ace your interview and be a part of these reputed brands.
Table of Contents
Table of contents
- What is Data Modeling?
- Key Concepts and Techniques of Data Modeling
- Conceptual Data Modeling
- Logical Data Modeling
- Physical Data Modeling
- Common Data Modeling Interview Questions
- General Data Modeling Interview Questions and Answers
- Technical Data Modeling Questions
- Preparing for Your Data Modeling Interview
- Practice with Mock Interviews
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is Data Modeling?
Data modeling is the process of creating a conceptual representation of data and its relationships, in order to facilitate the organization, management, and analysis of information. It involves identifying the entities, attributes, and relationships involved in a particular domain, and creating a graphical or mathematical representation of these elements. The resulting data model can be used to design databases, develop software applications, and support decision-making processes. Effective data modeling can improve data quality, reduce errors and inconsistencies, and enhance data usability and accessibility.
Key Concepts and Techniques of Data Modeling
Before delving into the data modeling interview questions and answers, let us learn more about its fundamental concepts and techniques.
Conceptual Data Modeling
Conceptual data modeling is creating a data model for a given system by analyzing and documenting the data objects and their relationships without regard to any particular database management system. It is a high-level data model that describes the structure of a business domain without concern for the physical implementation of the data.
Some examples of Conceptual Data Modeling are online shopping apps, simple library systems’ and hotel reservation systems.
Logical Data Modeling
Logical Data Modeling is a process used to define and analyze data requirements needed to support business processes. This process involves identifying and organizing data objects into entities, defining relationships between those entities, and establishing rules and constraints that govern the data. Logical Data Models outline the structure of a system’s data and provide a detailed view of the data that a system will contain.
Examples of Logical Data Models include Entity-Relationship Diagrams (ERDs), which are used to define the relationships between entities, and Object-Oriented Data Models, which are used to define the structure of objects.
Physical Data Modeling
Physical data modeling is a process that involves the creation of diagrams, graphs, and other visual representations of a database structure to understand and document its elements and the relationships among them. This type of modeling is used to define the structure of a database, identify relationships between different elements, and document a database’s overall design.
Examples of physical data modeling include entity-relationship diagrams (ERDs), data flow diagrams (DFDs), and Unified Modeling Language (UML) diagrams.
Common Data Modeling Interview Questions
This section will guide you through some of the most popular data modeling questions.
General Data Modeling Interview Questions and Answers
Q1. What are the different types of data models?
A. As one of the most common data modeling questions, it checks your basic understanding of the concept. Hence, here you can mention the three primary types of data modeling, i.e., the relational, dimensional, and entity-relationship model.
Relational data models are used to represent the data in a relational database. They are based on the mathematical concept of a relation, a set of tuples containing related data. These models use tables to store data, with each table containing a set of columns representing the data’s attributes and each row containing the data for a single instance of the attribute. The relationships between different tables are defined using keys.
Source: NTU edu
A three-dimensional data model is a way of representing data in a three-dimensional space. It is typically used to represent complex relationships between data points and can be used to visualize data in three dimensions. The three dimensions are usually length, width, and height. Each point in the three-dimensional space can represent a different data point, allowing for the straightforward representation of relationships between data points.
The entity-relationship (ER) model is a graphical representation of entities and the relationships between them. An ER diagram is a visual representation of the data structure of a database. It illustrates the relationships between entities, real-world objects, or concepts, such as a person, place, event, or thing. A relationship is a connection or association between entities. ER diagrams are used to design and conceptualize databases. They visually represent the data structure, allowing users to see how information is related easily.
Source: Edraw Soft
Q2. What is the difference between Conceptual, Logical, and Physical data models?
A. The question is included in almost all data modeling interview questions. Hence, you can briefly define and support the terms with a real-life example.
Conceptual Data Models: They provide a high-level overview of the data and relationships between different entities. They are used to define the scope and structure of a database.
Logical Data Models: They describe the data structure and their relationships within a database. They include data elements and the relationships between them.
Physical Data models: They are used to define the actual data structures of a database. They include the data types, field sizes, and indexes used in the database.
Q3. What is normalization?
A. Normalization is used in data modeling to organize data into logical tables and relationships. It helps reduce data redundancy and ensures data integrity. It involves organizing the data into related tables and defining relationships between them. Normalization also helps improve the database’s performance by reducing the disk space used.
Q4. What is denormalization?
A. Denormalization is taking a normalized database and adding redundant data to improve the performance of certain types of queries. The goal is to reduce the number of database accesses required to retrieve the data. It is done by denormalizing the database and adding redundant data. This is typically done when a query requires access to multiple tables, and the performance of the query can be improved by eliminating the need to join multiple tables.
Q5. What is the difference between OLTP and OLAP?
A. OLTP (Online Transaction Processing) systems manage transaction-oriented applications, typically for data entry and retrieval transactions. OLTP databases are highly normalized and store data in multiple related tables. Credit card payment systems, ATM cards, etc., are some examples of OLTP systems.
On the other hand, OLAP (Online Analytical Processing) is used for data analysis and business intelligence. OLAP databases are optimized for read-only operations and store data in multidimensional schemas for fast access and aggregations. Data warehouses are the most common examples of OLAP systems.
Technical Data Modeling Questions
Q1. Explain ER (entity-relationship) diagram or ERD with an example.
A. An ER (entity-relationship) diagram, or ERD, graphically represents the relationship between different system entities using rectangles and lines. Rectangles represent entities, and lines represent relationships between them. An example of an ER diagram could represent the relationship between customers and products in an online store. The entities are customers and products, and the relationship between them is that customers buy products. This relationship is represented by a line connecting the two entities.
Source: Edraw Soft
Q2. Explain the concepts of subtypes and supertypes.
A. Subtypes and supertypes are concepts used in the design of databases. A subtype is a category of data subset of a larger type. For example, a “customer” might be a supertype, and a “business customer” and “individual customer” might be subtypes of the “customer” supertype. Subtypes provide a way to categorize data and can be used to create relationships between different types of data.
On the other hand, a supertype is a type of data containing multiple subtypes. Supertypes provide an overall description of a group of related data. For example, a “customer” supertype might contain “individual customer” and “business customer” subtypes. Supertypes allow data to be organized in a hierarchical structure, which can be used to identify and access related data quickly.
Q3. Define factless fact tables in data modeling.
A. Factless fact tables are data models used to capture and store events or relationships that do not contain any measures or facts. They are used to capture information about complex events. They can be used to answer questions such as “How many customers attended a particular event?” or “What is the number of orders placed in a particular month?” Factless fact tables are often used to measure the frequency of occurrences and relationships between entities in a data warehouse.
Q4. What do you understand by a data mart?
A. A data mart is a data collection specifically designed for analysis and reporting. It is usually a subset of an organization’s larger data warehouse. It usually focuses on a specific subject, such as a particular business line, product, or region. Data marts are usually populated with data from a data warehouse or other data source. They are designed to meet the specific data analysis needs of a particular department or business unit.
Source: artificial intelligence
Q5. What is a surrogate key?
A. This might not be among the most prominently asked data modeling scenario-based interview questions, but you should be aware of surrogate keys when working with tabular data. A surrogate key is a unique identifier used to identify a record in a database table. It is usually a system-generated value independent of the data stored in the table. Surrogate keys are used as primary keys in database tables because they are more efficient and reliable than natural keys.
Q6. What do you mean by dimensional modeling?
A. It is one of the most commonly asked dimension modeling questions. So, here you need to define the concept with some examples.
Dimensional modeling is a data warehouse design technique that structures data into facts and dimensions. The model consists of facts and dimensions. Facts are measurements or metrics used to analyze the data. Dimensions are descriptive attributes associated with facts. Examples of dimensions include time, geography, product, and customer.
Q7. How does the CAP theorem work?
A. In data modeling, the CAP theorem that defines Consistency, Availability, and Partition can help determine which type of system is best suited for a given application. When designing a data model, it is important to consider the data type stored and the operations performed on it. If data consistency is a priority, then a system that focuses on consistency should be chosen. If system availability is more important than data consistency, then a system that focuses on Availability and Partition tolerance should be chosen.
Source: NEX Softsys
Q8. What are the different critical relationship types in a data model?
A. The three different critical relation types in a data model include the following –
- One-to-One: A one-to-one relationship exists when one record in a table is related to one and only one record in another table.
- One-to-Many: A one-to-many relationship is when a single record in one table is related to multiple records in another.
- Many-to-Many: A many-to-many relationship is when multiple records from one table are related to multiple records in another table.
Q9. Explain the snowflake schema database design.
A. This is one of the most widely asked schema design interview questions. The snowflake schema is a type of database design that uses a normalized, star-like structure of tables to store data. The data is organized into a central fact table surrounded by multiple dimension tables. The fact table contains the main information of interest, while the dimension tables contain information related to the fact table, such as date, time, location, and product characteristics. The dimension tables are further normalized into smaller tables to reduce the amount of data duplication and ensure the integrity of the data.
Q10. What is forward data engineering?
A. Forward data engineering is the process of gathering, cleaning, and preparing data for analysis. It transforms raw data into a structured, usable format suitable for analysis. It involves data wrangling techniques such as ETL (Extract Transform Load) and data cleansing. The goal of forward data engineering is to prepare the data for predictive analytics, machine learning, and other forms of data analysis.
Q11. What is the time series algorithm?
A. A time series algorithm is a predictive analytics algorithm used to predict future values of a time-based series by analyzing past patterns and trends. It is commonly used in financial forecasting, stock market analysis, and sales forecasting. The most popular time series algorithms include Autoregressive Integrated Moving Average (ARIMA), Holt-Winters Exponential Smoothing, and Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) networks.
Q12. Mention some of the fundamental data models.
A. Fully Attributed, Transformation Model, and DBMS model are the three fundamental data models. They can be explained as follows –
- Fully Attributed Model: It is a data model in which each model element is correctly attributed to its source. It also helps to ensure that the data used in the model is up-to-date and relevant.
- Transformation Model: A transformation model is a data modeling technique that converts data from one format to another. It is most commonly used to move data from one database to another or to convert data from one type of file to another (e.g., from a flat file to an XML file).
- DBMS Model: The DBMS is the software used to manage the data within the database. It is responsible for managing the data (creating, modifying, deleting, etc.) and providing tools to query and manipulate it. Popular DBMSs include Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server.
Q13. What are the various types of measures available for fact tables?
A. The measures available for fact tables include Additive, Semi-additive, and Non-additive measures. Additive measures are the most commonly used and help sum data across multiple dimensions. They can’t be logically combined and can only be calculated through ratios and mathematical formulas. On the other hand, semi-addictive measures can only be aggregated across some dimensions, and non-addictive measures cannot be aggregated at all.
Q14. Give a brief overview of the critical success factor.
A. Critical success factors (CSFs) are the areas of an organization that must be managed successfully to achieve its goals. They are the key activities, processes, or initiatives necessary for success. CSFs are identified by analyzing internal and external factors affecting success, such as customer satisfaction, operational performance, financial performance, and market position.
Q15. What is the junk dimension?
A. A junk dimension is a dimensional model in a data warehouse that combines all the low-cardinality attributes unrelated to the primary fact table into a single table. It is used to reduce the number of joins in a query and to improve query performance.
Preparing for Your Data Modeling Interview
Preparing for your Data Modeling interview requires much more than just the questionnaire. You must be well-researched and should know about the company. Review the job description and check whether you fulfill the essential prerequisites for the role. It will help you match their mindset and prepare you for the expected questions you may be asked.
Identify the company’s data architecture and Infrastructure, and check whether it is a perfect fit. Get to know them beforehand through the company’s website, ‘about us’ section, ‘Why work with us’ section, and all about its clients and testimonials. It will give you a glimpse of the working environment and the level that they expect from you.
Practice with Mock Interviews
Practicing mock interviews will make you more confident and comfortable during actual interviews. The primary purpose of these interviews is to accustom you to the different environments and give you the confidence to answer the dimensional modeling interview questions. You can opt for a mock interview website or practice with different people from the same field.
However, make sure you keep it real. Dress professionally and choose a surrounding that will help you recreate the interview.
After going through this comprehensive data modeling guide, you must know that it is all about organizing and storing data to make it easily accessible. Data Modelers, thus, work to fuel an organization leading to a rise in Data Modeling jobs. Companies are looking for new and skilled talent every day. So, prepare for the big day through these top 20 data modeling interview questions and get your dream job. To learn more about the techniques, you can head to Analytics Vidhya, a one-stop destination for all data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence-related knowledge and career guidance. The platform offers numerous blogs, tutorials, courses, and a vast community of industry experts to help you throughout.
Frequently Asked Questions
A. The interview mainly includes Data Modeling scenario-based interview questions. General questions include the definitions, types, and implementation of Data modeling. So be prepared and cover all the aspects of Data modeling before stepping in.
A. Practicing mock interviews is the best way to prepare for Data Modeling Interviews. Also, go through the expected questions and prepare their answers beforehand.
A. Mainly there are three types of Data Modeling, i.e., Conceptual Data Modeling, Logical Data Modeling, and Physical Data Modeling. Each of these has its own features and techniques to follow.