Friday, July 12, 2024

Essential SQL Queries for Coding Interviews

Last Updated on October 11, 2023


SQL queries play a crucial role in coding interviews, as they test a candidate’s ability to handle databases efficiently.

In this blog section, we will explore the significance of SQL queries and provide an overview of the content to follow.

Importance of SQL queries in coding interviews

SQL queries are essential for developers working with databases, and their command over SQL is often assessed in coding interviews.

Understanding SQL queries demonstrates proficiency in data manipulation and retrieval, a critical skill for many software development roles.

Overview of the blog post content

In this blog post, we will cover various SQL query topics commonly encountered in coding interviews.

We will begin with basic SELECT statements, exploring different clauses such as WHERE, GROUP BY, and JOIN.

We will also delve into more advanced concepts like subqueries and window functions.

Next, we will discuss optimizing SQL queries, focusing on improving performance by utilizing indexes, appropriate data types, and query optimization techniques.

Additionally, we will touch on common SQL pitfalls and best practices.

Furthermore, we will explore practical examples of SQL queries, including scenarios involving multiple tables, complex database schemas, and data manipulation.

These examples will help demonstrate how SQL queries can be effectively utilized in real-world coding scenarios.

Lastly, we will conclude with some tips for preparing and practicing SQL queries in coding interviews.

By honing your SQL skills and understanding various query scenarios, you can confidently tackle SQL-related interview questions and stand out among competitors.

In fact, mastering SQL queries is crucial for excelling in coding interviews, and this blog section will equip you with the necessary knowledge and techniques to succeed.

Basic SQL Queries

Mastering basic SQL queries is crucial for coding interviews and real-world scenarios.

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. SELECT Statement: Retrieve specific data from a database table, controlling the information you want.

  2. FROM Clause: Specify the table or tables from which data is retrieved, determining the data source.

  3. WHERE Clause: Filter data based on specific conditions, allowing focused search results.

  4. ORDER BY Clause: Sort retrieved data in ascending or descending order, bringing organization to results.

In practice, imagine working for an e-commerce company:

  1. Use SELECT to specify columns like product name, price, and quantity.

  2. Specify the “products” table in the FROM clause.

  3. Utilize WHERE to filter products, like those with prices above a certain value or products in stock.

  4. Employ ORDER BY to sort products by price, enhancing result readability.

Mastering these basics is vital for coding interviews and real-world applications, ensuring effective data retrieval and application development.

Read: How to Start Coding a Website: A Beginner’s Guide

Advanced SQL Queries

In this section, we will explore advanced SQL queries that are frequently asked in coding interviews.

These queries include JOINs (INNER JOIN, LEFT JOIN, RIGHT JOIN), GROUP BY clause, HAVING clause, and UNION operator.


JOINs are used to combine rows from two or more tables based on related columns between them.

The three most common types of JOINs are INNER JOIN, LEFT JOIN, and RIGHT JOIN.

INNER JOIN returns the matched rows from both tables, excluding the unmatched rows.

LEFT JOIN returns all rows from the left table and the matched rows from the right table.

If there is no match, NULL values are returned for the right table.

RIGHT JOIN returns all rows from the right table and the matched rows from the left table.

If there is no match, NULL values are returned for the left table.

GROUP BY clause

The GROUP BY clause is used to group rows based on a specific column in a table.

It is often used with aggregate functions like SUM, COUNT, AVG, etc.

For example, to calculate the total sales per product category, we can use GROUP BY clause along with the SUM function on the sales column.

HAVING clause

The HAVING clause is used to filter out the groups created by the GROUP BY clause based on a specific condition.

For example, if we want to find product categories with total sales greater than 1000, we can use HAVING clause along with the SUM function.

UNION operator

The UNION operator is used to combine the result sets of two or more SELECT statements into a single result set.

For example, if we have two tables ‘Customers’ and ‘Suppliers’, we can use UNION to combine the rows from both tables.

Note that the number and order of columns in the SELECT statements must be the same for the UNION operation to work correctly.

To summarize, advanced SQL queries like JOINs, GROUP BY clause, HAVING clause, and UNION operator are essential to master for coding interviews.

These queries allow us to retrieve and manipulate data efficiently from multiple tables and generate meaningful insights.

By understanding and practicing these queries, developers can showcase their SQL skills and solve complex problems during coding interviews.

In the next section, we will dive deeper into each of these queries and cover examples to strengthen our understanding and proficiency in SQL.

Stay tuned!

Read: Cracking the Code: Best Practices for Code Reviews

Essential SQL Queries for Coding Interviews


Subqueries are a powerful tool in SQL that allow us to write complex queries by nesting one query within another.

Definition and usage of subqueries

A subquery, also known as an inner query, is a query nested within another query.

You can utilize it at different points within a SQL statement to extract data according to specific conditions or computations.

Enclosed within parentheses, subqueries find use in the WHERE, HAVING, or SELECT clauses of a query.

Subqueries in WHERE and HAVING clauses

Subqueries in the WHERE clause allow us to filter data based on the results of another query.

We can use operators like <, >, =, IN, EXISTS, etc. to compare the subquery results with values in the main query.

In the HAVING clause, subqueries help filter groups based on aggregate functions.

We can use subqueries to check conditions on calculated values like COUNT, SUM, AVG, etc. and limit the output accordingly.

Subqueries in SELECT statements

In the SELECT clause, subqueries can fetch values individually for every row of the main query.

These subqueries are known as scalar subqueries.

We can assign the result of a subquery to a column in the main query, allowing us to retrieve additional information based on existing data.

Scalar subqueries are used within expressions and return single values.

For example, suppose we have a database with a “products” table and a “categories” table.

We can use a subquery in a SELECT statement to find the average price of products in each category:

SELECT category_name, (
FROM products
WHERE products.category_id = categories.category_id
) AS avg_price
FROM categories;

In this example, the subquery calculates the average price of products within each category and is executed for every row in the categories table.

The result is then assigned to the “avg_price” column in the main query.

Subqueries provide a way to break down complex problems into smaller, more manageable queries.

They allow us to perform calculations, filter data, and retrieve additional information based on our requirements.

However, it’s important to note that subqueries can impact performance if not used wisely.

As they execute for each row or group, they can slow down the query execution time.

So, it’s crucial to optimize and test queries with subqueries to ensure efficient performance.

In short, subqueries are a valuable tool in SQL that enable us to write more sophisticated and targeted queries.

By using subqueries in the WHERE, HAVING, or SELECT clauses, we can filter data, perform calculations, and fetch additional information based on our requirements.

Remember to optimize queries with subqueries to ensure optimal performance.

Read: How to Learn JavaScript for Free: Complete Guide

Query Optimization

Query optimization enhances code performance by:

  1. Understanding and implementing query optimization techniques.

  2. Efficiently using indexes for quick data retrieval.

  3. Avoiding unnecessary table scans by crafting well-filtered queries.

  4. Making optimal use of joins and minimizing subqueries.

  5. It is valued in coding interviews for writing efficient, scalable code, and resolving performance issues.

  6. To optimize queries, create indexes on frequently used columns, consider denormalization, minimize subqueries, and analyze the execution plan.

  7. These practices lead to efficient, high-performing code and improved job market desirability.

Read: Transition to Tech: Free Coding for Career Changers

Common SQL Interview Questions

Retrieving specific data from a database

When it comes to SQL interviews, one of the essential skills is being able to retrieve specific data from a database.

This involves using the SELECT statement, which allows you to specify the columns you want to retrieve and the table from which you want to retrieve them.

You can also use conditions in the WHERE clause to filter the data based on specific criteria.

This is a fundamental skill that every SQL developer should possess.

Filtering data based on multiple conditions

Another common SQL interview question is filtering data based on multiple conditions.

This can be achieved by combining different conditions using logical operators such as AND or OR.

For example, if you want to retrieve all the employees from a certain department who have a salary higher than a specific amount, you can use a WHERE clause with multiple conditions using the AND operator.

Filtering data based on multiple conditions is a crucial skill for SQL developers as it allows for more specific and targeted retrieval of data.

Finding duplicates in a table

Identifying and handling duplicates is another important SQL interview question.

In a database table, duplicates can occur when multiple records have the same values in certain columns.

To find duplicates, you can use the GROUP BY clause along with the HAVING clause.

By grouping the data based on specific columns and then using the HAVING clause to filter the groups that have more than one record, you can identify duplicates.

Handling duplicates is crucial for maintaining data integrity and ensuring accurate results.

Aggregating data and performing calculations

Aggregating data and performing calculations is a common task in SQL interviews.

SQL provides built-in functions such as SUM, AVG, COUNT, and MAX that allow you to calculate values based on a set of records.

You can combine these functions with the GROUP BY clause to compute aggregate values for various groups within a database table.

For example, you can calculate the total sales for each product category or the average salary for each department.

Being able to aggregate data and perform calculations is essential for generating meaningful insights from the data stored in a database.

In review, mastering essential SQL queries is essential for success in coding interviews.

SQL interviews typically assess topics like retrieving specific data, applying multiple filters, identifying duplicates, and aggregating information.

By possessing skills in these areas, developers can effectively retrieve and manipulate data, ensuring accurate and efficient operations in their day-to-day work.

SQL proficiency is a valuable asset in the world of software development and can greatly enhance career opportunities.


In this blog post, we have covered several essential SQL queries for coding interviews.

We started by discussing the importance of practicing these queries for coding interviews and the impact it can have on your performance.

Then we went on to cover some of the most commonly asked SQL queries, including selecting data from tables, using aggregate functions, and filtering data using WHERE clauses.

We also looked at joining tables and performing calculations on data, as well as ordering and grouping data.

Lastly, we discussed the importance of continuing to learn and improve your SQL skills, as these queries are a fundamental part of any coding interview.

By practicing these queries and becoming comfortable with them, you will be better equipped to tackle SQL-related questions in coding interviews.

Remember to keep practicing, as the more comfortable you become with these queries, the more confident you will be in your coding interviews.

So, keep learning, keep practicing, and keep improving your SQL skills!

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