17 AWS Data Engineer Interview Questions and Answers

Learn what skills and qualities interviewers are looking for from an AWS data engineer, what questions you can expect, and how you should go about answering them.

AWS data engineers are the backbone of the AWS platform. They design, develop, and manage big data solutions on AWS. They are responsible for understanding the customer’s business and data needs and designing the most effective big data solution.

If you want to be an AWS data engineer, you need to be prepared to answer some tough interview questions. In this article, we will list some of the most common questions asked in an interview for an AWS data engineer position and provide you with some tips on how to answer them.

Are you comfortable working with large data sets?

This question can help the interviewer determine if you have experience working with large data sets and how comfortable you are with it. Your answer should include a specific example of when you worked with a large data set and what challenges you faced while doing so.

Example: “In my last role, I was tasked with creating an application that could handle millions of users at once. This required me to work with very large data sets, which is something I’m quite comfortable with. However, there were some issues with scaling the application due to the size of the data sets. In order to solve this problem, I had to break down the larger data sets into smaller ones that would scale better.”

What are some of the tools and technologies you use to process and store data?

This question allows you to show the interviewer your technical skills and knowledge of how data is stored. You can list some of the tools and technologies that you have used in the past, such as:

Hadoop MapReduce Pig Flume Sqoop Zookeeper You can also mention any other tools or technologies that are relevant to this role.

Example: “I use Hadoop for processing large amounts of data and storing it in HDFS. I also use Pig for scripting languages and Sqoop for transferring data between RDBMS and NoSQL databases. Zookeeper is a tool I use to manage distributed applications.”

How would you troubleshoot a data pipeline that’s not working properly?

Troubleshooting is an important skill for any engineer, and the interviewer may ask you this question to see how you apply your problem-solving skills. In your answer, describe a time when you had to troubleshoot a data pipeline that wasn’t working properly. Explain what steps you took to identify the issue and solve it.

Example: “When I was working at my previous company, we were having issues with our data pipeline because of some configuration errors. We first checked if there were any network issues or problems with the servers. After checking these things, we realized that the issue was due to misconfiguration in the AWS console. We fixed the issue by reconfiguring the settings in the AWS console.”

What is your experience with machine learning and artificial intelligence?

This question can help the interviewer determine your experience with two important technologies that are often used in data engineering. Your answer should include a description of how you use these technologies and what projects you have worked on that involved them.

Example: “I’ve been using machine learning and artificial intelligence for several years now, starting when I was working as an intern at my previous company. My first project there was to create a system that could predict customer behavior based on their past purchases. Using machine learning, I created a neural network that analyzed our customers’ purchase history and predicted their future purchases. The results were very successful, and we implemented it into our business.”

Provide an example of a time when you used data analysis to make a business decision.

This question allows you to show the interviewer how your skills can be applied in a real-world setting. Use examples from previous jobs that highlight your ability to analyze data and make decisions based on those results.

Example: “In my last role, I was tasked with finding ways to reduce costs for our company’s website. After analyzing the site’s traffic patterns, I found that we were spending too much money on server resources during peak hours. To solve this issue, I created an algorithm that would only allocate additional servers when needed. This saved us thousands of dollars each month.”

If hired, what would be your priorities during your first few weeks on the job?

This question helps the interviewer determine how you plan your work and what you consider important. Your answer should include a list of tasks that show your ability to prioritize, organize and manage multiple projects at once.

Example: “My first priority would be to learn as much as I can about my new team and company. I want to understand the goals of the organization and how AWS data engineering fits into those goals. I also want to get familiar with the tools we use for our daily operations so I can support my team members when they need help. Another priority is to create an inventory of all current resources and assets within the department. This will allow me to better understand where there are gaps in our processes.”

What would you do if you noticed a discrepancy in the data you were collecting?

This question can help the interviewer assess your problem-solving skills and ability to notice details. Your answer should include a specific example of how you would handle this situation, including what steps you would take to resolve it.

Example: “If I noticed a discrepancy in data collection, I would first try to determine if there was an issue with my own calculations or if the data itself was inaccurate. If I determined that the data was accurate but my calculations were incorrect, I would rework my equations until I found the error. If I determined that the data was inaccurate, I would work with my team to find out why the data is different than expected.”

How well do you understand the security protocols used to protect sensitive data?

The interviewer may ask you a question like this to assess your knowledge of the security protocols used by AWS. Use examples from past projects where you implemented security measures and ensured compliance with industry standards.

Example: “I understand that there are two types of security protocols in AWS, namely identity-based access control (RBAC) and resource-based access control (ABAC). I have worked on several projects where I had to implement both RBAC and ABAC for different purposes. For example, when working on my last project, I needed to use RBAC to grant users permission to perform certain tasks within the system while using ABAC to ensure that only authorized users could access sensitive data.”

Do you have any questions for me about the role or company?

This is your opportunity to show the interviewer that you have done your research and are genuinely interested in the position. You can use this question to ask about specific aspects of the job or company culture, such as how they handle work-life balance or what their training programs look like.

Example: “I am very excited about this role because I think it will give me a chance to apply my skills in an innovative environment. I noticed from your website that you offer a lot of opportunities for professional development, which is important to me since I’m always looking for ways to improve my abilities. I also noticed that you have a strong focus on employee happiness. How do you support employees who need time off?”

When was the last time you updated your skills or learned a new technology?

This question can help the interviewer understand your commitment to continuous learning and development. It can also show them how often you update your resume with new skills or certifications. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention a specific skill that you learned recently and how it helped you in your previous job.

Example: “I have been taking online courses through Udemy for the past year. I’ve found these classes to be very beneficial because they allow me to learn at my own pace while still receiving feedback from an instructor. The last course I took was on Python coding, which has helped me create more efficient code when working with AWS Lambda.”

We want to make sure our data is secure. What are some of the security measures you would put in place to protect our data?

This question is an opportunity to show your knowledge of the security measures that AWS offers. You can list out some of the security features and explain how they would benefit the company you’re interviewing with.

Example: “I would use encryption, access control lists and key management services to ensure data security. Encryption ensures that only authorized users can view the information stored in a database. Access control lists allow me to specify who has permission to access certain parts of the database. Key management services are important because they help keep sensitive information safe by storing it offline.”

Describe your process for debugging a complex code problem.

Debugging is a common task for data engineers, so interviewers may ask you about your process for solving problems with code. Describe the steps you take to troubleshoot issues and how you use debugging tools to identify errors in coding.

Example: “I start by reading through the entire program I’m working on to make sure I understand what it’s doing. Then I run a test to see if there are any bugs or errors in the code. If I find an error, I’ll go back into the code and fix it. If I can’t find anything wrong with the code, then I’ll check my environment variables and restart the server.”

What makes you stand out from other candidates?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your qualifications and how you can contribute to their company. When answering, it’s important to highlight the skills that make you a good fit for the role. You should also mention any unique or interesting experiences you have had in your career.

Example: “I am passionate about technology and enjoy learning new things. I’ve been working as an AWS data engineer for three years now, but I still take online courses to improve my knowledge of AWS services. In fact, I recently completed an AWS certification course, which helped me understand how to use S3 storage better. My passion for technology makes me a great candidate for this position because I know I will be able to work hard and learn everything I need to do the job well.”

Which programming languages do you have the most experience with?

This question can help the interviewer determine your level of experience with programming languages. You should answer honestly and mention any languages you have used in previous roles, even if they are not directly related to AWS.

Example: “I have a lot of experience with Java, Python and Ruby. I also know some JavaScript, C++ and PHP, although I am more comfortable with Java. In my last role, I was responsible for managing all aspects of data storage, including file management and database creation. This required me to use several different programming languages, so I became familiar with many of them.”

What do you think is the most important skill for a data engineer to have?

This question is an opportunity to show the interviewer that you have a strong understanding of what it takes to be successful in this role. Your answer should include a skill that you feel confident using and explain why it’s important for data engineers.

Example: “I think the most important skill for a data engineer to have is problem-solving skills. A data engineer needs to be able to look at a situation, understand the issue and come up with a solution. This requires critical thinking and creativity, which are both essential skills for success as a data engineer.”

How often do you perform data audits?

The interviewer may ask this question to assess your experience with data audits and how often you perform them. Data audits are a process that involves reviewing the quality of data, identifying issues and making corrections. Your answer should show that you have performed data audits in the past and can do so again if necessary.

Example: “I perform regular data audits on all projects I work on because it’s important to ensure the accuracy of data at all times. In my last role, I conducted a data audit every two weeks for each project I worked on. This helped me identify any errors or inconsistencies in the data before they became major problems.”

There is a new technology that could improve the efficiency of your data pipeline. How would you decide if it’s worth integrating?

This question is an opportunity to show your critical thinking skills and how you evaluate new technologies. You can use past experiences with integrating new technology into existing processes to demonstrate your ability to make decisions that improve efficiency.

Example: “I would first consider the cost of implementation, including training time for my team members and any additional hardware needed. I’d also look at the benefits of using the new technology, such as increased speed or reduced costs. If it seems like a good fit, I would then create a plan for integration and testing before implementing it across the entire pipeline.”


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