Common MySQL Interview Questions

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn more about various functions of MySQL while exploring common MySQL questions and answers to prepare for your next interview and assess areas where you might need to improve your knowledge and skills.

[Featured image] SQL queries on a black computer screen

Databases are an important part of many development projects. As more businesses and organisations rely on databases, the need for effective database management also increases. This is an area where expertise with MySQL is particularly helpful. 

India is among the fastest-growing MySQL markets and has one of the largest development centres in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, making MySQL an essential skill if you want to work in a job that deals with databases, such as a database administrator or a data architect. 

Prepare for your interview and brush up on your skills with these commonly asked MySQL interview questions and answers. 

MySQL interview questions and answers

MySQL is one of many options for database management systems, and it is one of the more common open-source systems available. Suppose you are applying for an entry-level database role, such as a junior database administrator or data analyst. In that case, you may only need to become a MySQL expert after your interview. At all career levels, brushing up on MySQL basics to talk about it proficiently at your next interview might be helpful. 

Discover some common MySQL interview questions for freshers and experienced developers alike.

1. What is MySQL?

What they’re really asking: If you’re applying for a job using MySQL, this might seem like an obvious question; however, understanding a topic and explaining a topic are two separate skills. By asking this question, your interviewer is likely trying to gauge how comfortable you are with the material.

How to answer: MySQL is an open-source, relational database management system. Oracle developed this system, which has remained a popular choice for years, partly because it's free, although it offers a variety of benefits to users. Databases store information for websites, apps, games, and other development projects. 

A retail website, for example, needs to be able to store customer data, shipping data, inventory data, and more. In this case, the database management system, MySQL makes interacting with the stored data possible. 

Similar questions:

  • What is a database?

  • What is MySQL used for?

  • Why do companies need databases?

2. What are the benefits and features of MySQL?

What they’re really asking: This question sounds like it’s gauging your understanding of MySQL, but it serves a second purpose. By asking you about the benefits of MySQL, your interviewer is asking a deeper question about what values you appreciate and gravitate toward. 

How to answer: Using MySQL has many advantages. For example, it’s an open-source and widely used system with many new tools and apps designed to work with the source code. MySQL has been popular for a long time and has benefitted from the number of teams and individuals working to improve the system. It’s all considered easy to use and a time-tested solution, not to mention secure and flexible. Consider which benefits are more important to you, what that might say about how you work on a team, or which aspect of a company’s culture you appreciate the most. 

Similar questions:

  • What do you like about working with MySQL?

  • Why do you think teams choose MySQL?

  • What are the advantages of working with MySQL over other systems? 

3. What are the disadvantages of MySQL?

What they’re really asking: If asking about the benefits of MySQL is about company culture's attractions, then this question may be the mirror image. It’s also a chance for interviewers to see how you overcome the limitations of your tools. 

How to answer: MySQL has limitations, including weak features and various programs it doesn’t support. If you’re planning to store large amounts of data or are looking for robust debugging tools, you may find other database management systems that better suit your needs.  Demonstrate your problem-solving abilities by explaining how you overcome these limitations while working with MySQL. 

Similar questions:

  • How do you approach problem-solving?

  • What would you improve about MySQL? 

  • What are the challenges or limitations of working with MySQL?

4. What are the three ways to interact with MySQL?

What they’re really asking: This question looks to determine how well you know MySQL while gaining insight into your past experiences. Interviewers also want to know more about the opinions you’ve developed while working with the system. 

How to answer: You can interact with MySQL in three main ways: MySQL Shell, Python, or MySQL Workbench. When using a shell, you can interact with MySQL on a Mac or PC using Terminal on a Mac or CMD on a PC. With Python, you’ll need to install an appropriate library. The third method is MySQL Workbench, which is GUI software if you prefer an interface. 

The textbook answer demonstrates your knowledge of MySQL but expands on your past experiences to demonstrate your range of skills. 

Similar questions:

  • What are your experiences using MySQL with Python?

  • What GUI software do you prefer for interacting with MySQL?

5. How is a join used in MySQL?

What they’re really asking: In an interview, specific questions like these often aim less to get a perfect response and more to judge how comfortable a candidate is in answering the question. “Join” is used here as an example, but it may be a good idea to brush up on the many different functions of MySQL. 

How to answer: Join is a command to link data cross-tables. You can use four types of joins in MySQL: inner joins, left joins, right joins, and cross joins. Each type works with the data differently for different outputs. For example, you can use inner joins to find similar database entries in multiple ways or use right and cross joins for a bigger-picture view of specific data. 

Similar questions:

  • What is BLOB in MySQL?

  • What is the default port for the MySQL server?

Next steps

Practising interview questions is an excellent way to prepare for an interview and test your skills for areas needing improvement. If you want more practice before your next interview, consider a course like Interview Research and Preparation from the University of Maryland to help you prepare for the interview process.  

Or, if you aren’t sure you have the MySQL skills you need to land the job you’re interested in, consider learning some new skills with an online course like Database Structures and Management with MySQL offered by Meta or Managing Big Data with MySQL offered by Duke University. Each could help you gain the skills to succeed as a MySQL developer, full stack developer, database administrator, and more. 

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