I work helping large companies
interview Oracle DBA's, and more than
ever before, it's become critical to accurately access a professional for a
"trusted" DBA position. DBA who manage valuable data,
confidential information or large amounts of money can expect to be
thoroughly screened and examined under a microscope.
It may sound like over-kill, but large
corporations and now performing background checks that are on-par
with government security clearances, all because a few bad apples
have tarnished the reputation of database administrators.
The high costs of low screening
Corporate HR employers are going to
great expense to ensure that their new Oracle DBA's will not
pose any risk to their mission-critical data. The stakes are high,
and the news is full of reports of theft by
William Sullivan faces accusations that he stole millions of records
from their database, selling their mission-critical data to a data
Jennifer Adams, 45, an IT systems administrator, allegedly orchestrated
a tax fraud scheme that scammed the government out of more than $50,000.
So, it it possible to predict what DBA's
might steal, given the opportunity? Managers must perform due diligence and you need to
perform extensive background checks, especially for DBA's in
Background Check: You
need to conduct a full
background investigation and look under every stone for
evidence of personality and character flaws. .
applicants for immoral behavior is an important job when hiring Oracle
Credit Check: Credit
reports and fast, cheap and accurate, and it's perfectly legal
to use credit reports to screen job candidates.
See this link on how large corporations are using
credit reports to identify high-risk DBA's.
Court Check: You should always check all
Civil and Criminal court history, especially the
job applicants who have ever had a bench warrant issued because it
indicates disrespect for the law and candidates with a
history excessive lawsuits (called "suers") may not
play well with others.
testing: Some employers are committed to a
drug free workplace and random urinalysis is an
absolute requirement. I
heard about one case recently where a applicants urine test came bask as
"inhuman"! That's right, he got Fido to pee in his cup . . .
A simple Google search can reveal volumes about a job
Screening for a emergency support production DBA
In the past I have examined the
types of DBA personalities, but what type of personality is best
for a production support DBA?
Larger corporations use personality tests like the
MMPI which do a great job in accessing personality, but it's never
easy to predict real-world behavior. I've noted
some traits that are unique to
successful computer professionals and I use many of the same
personality profiling tools as large corporations for screening
idea candidates for stressful computer jobs.
Being a good DBA is not all about being smart
There are many types of people who are well-suited to being an
Oracle DBA, but this job also attracts people with undesirable
personality traits, such as the
narcissistic personality disorders that is also common among
doctors and other people with advanced training and high
Narcissistic personality disorders are common among computer
Accessing the ideal personality for the emergency support
Even though the vast majority of DBA's are
general practitioners, there have emerged several specialty areas
for the Oracle DBA, as distinguished by the distinct types of Oracle
DBA work, depending upon the needs of the IT shop community:
Development DBA: This DBA assists the
developers and performs non-emergency DBA work. This job role
Oracle Proctologist because it involves dealing with a lot
of butt holes.
Production DBA: This is the on-call DBA
for unplanned outages, emergencies where good troubleshooting skills
are required and the stress levels can get quite high.
The special job of the emergency support DBA
The costs of unplanned downtime for an Oracle
database are quite high. It's not uncommon to see systems with
a downtime cost of a hundred thousand dollars per minute, to a
hospital system where people's lives are at stake.
Its always stressful re-started a failed
computer system when an entire factory has stopped working, and it
takes a special type of DBA to deal with the stress of a production
Remaining cool under fire
Not all DBA's are alike, and many people do not
realize how stressful a DBA job can be. Back in the 1980's, all DBA's "rotated"
in production support, and I clearly remember people who could not
handle the stress of a real production outage.
without sleep: A production
support DBA must be
on-call at all times and must respond within five minutes to any production
outages. Beepers go off at 3:00 AM and a good production
support DBA may have to stay awake for over 24 hours in
catastrophic cases of failure. Some of my own production
support DBA's use chewing tobacco to stay awake for long
Does not self medicate:
Oracle DBA jobs can many of the same stress-related illnesses as
combat soldiers, and this imposes other special screening
problems, since many people in high stress jobs tend to
self-medicate (alcohol & drugs) when off duty.
Does not panic: Panic
is the enemy of any emergency support DBA and a good production
support DBA will not try any impulsive techniques.
Here is a picture of a production DBA at work.
Note the overflowing ashtray, cigars, coffee cups, Maalox and
prescription medicine bottles.
Production support DBA's may chain smoke
and live on caffeine and Maalox.
So how do we find DBA's with the "Right Stuff"
for these stressful jobs?
Evaluating DBA's for Emergency Support
Emergency support remains a super-stressful
area of Oracle administration that requires that you remain cool
under fire. These people tend to have personalities that
reflect in their backgrounds:
A good emergency support DBA is a bit of an
adrenaline junkie, and you do not want to hire a DBA who shows
severe risk averse behaviors. The right personality for
emergency support jobs tend to gravitate into semi-dangerous
activities, with measured risks. These types of hobbies
require that you remain cool under stress because if you panic it
can be fatal:
Scuba Diving: Almost all of my emergency
support DBA's are certified scuba divers.
production DBA's enjoy flying as a private pilot, while others
parasailing and hang gliding.
Skiing: Skiing and snowboarding
are common activities of successful emergency DBA's
Stressful job history:
Military people who have been specifically trained to deal with
combat stress tend to make good production support DBA's.
Even though a thrill-seeker might indicate the
type of person who is right for an emergency support job, it's
important to note that we do not want to hire people who engage in
In sum, there are no predictive measure that
guarantee that the DBA you hire will be able to tolerate the extreme
stress of emergency support, but careful and through background
investigations and screening can greatly improve your chances of
hiring a honest, responsible DBA who can be trusted in an emergency.
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