MSBI Interview Questions and Answers

MSBI Interview Questions and Answers

Navigating MSBI Interview Questions and Answers requires a comprehensive understanding of Microsoft Business Intelligence tools like SSIS, SSAS, and SSRS. Proficiency in essential concepts such as data modeling, ETL processes, and report development is pivotal. A command of languages like MDX, DMX, and SQL is also crucial. Keeping abreast of industry trends enhances performance in MSBI interviews.

MSBI Interview Questions and Answers

Can you explain what MSBI is?

MSBI, which stands for Microsoft Business Intelligence, is a set of tools made by Microsoft to help businesses with tasks like collecting data, storing information, and analyzing and visualizing data. This suite includes different tools, each handling a specific part of the business intelligence process.

What tools are included in the MSBI suite?

MSBI comprises several tools, including:

  • SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS): SSIS is a powerful ETL tool for data integration, allowing users to create packages for moving and transforming data between sources and destinations.
  • SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS): SSAS supports OLAP and data mining, creating data cubes for multidimensional analysis and forming the basis for comprehensive business intelligence solutions.
  • SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS): SSRS is a reporting tool enabling users to create, deploy, and manage various report types. It seamlessly integrates with other Microsoft tools and applications.

How do SSIS, SSAS, and SSRS differ in MSBI development?

Primary RoleETL (Extract, Transform, Load)OLAP (Online Analytical Processing) and Data MiningReporting
FunctionalityManages data integration and workflow tasksCreates multidimensional data models and cubesDesigns, deploys, and manages various reports
Key ApplicationData flow, data cleansing, process automationAdvanced business intelligence solutionsFormatted report creation and distribution
Data HandlingExtraction, transformation, loading of dataMultidimensional analysis across various dimensionsReport generation, distribution, and access control
Key ContributionEnsures data quality and process automationFacilitates intricate analysis and reportingSupports informed decision-making through reports
InterconnectivityConnects various sources and destinationsIntegrates with OLAP models for data analysisIntegrates with data sources for report generation

Describe the partitioning process in MSBI.

MSBI employs partitioning to boost performance by dividing large datasets. In data warehouses, tables are segmented based on criteria like dates for quicker queries. In SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS), cube partitioning enables independent processing, improving overall performance. This approach offers benefits like faster queries, parallel processing, and simplified maintenance. Implementation involves criteria like time or range, with SSAS partitions created within cubes for specific measures or dimensions. In essence, MSBI partitioning optimizes data management, enhancing efficiency.

What functions does DAX include? Describe the various DAX functions in MSBI.

DAX, short for Data Analysis Expressions, is a formula language used in Microsoft Power BI, Excel Power Pivot, and SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS). It provides a set of functions for crafting custom formulas in these platforms. Within MSBI, DAX functions like SUMX, AVERAGE, and TODAY play a crucial role in data manipulation, covering areas such as math, date, time, text, statistical, filtering, logical, and information operations. DAX is essential for creating custom formulas that contribute to insightful data analysis in Microsoft Power BI, Excel Power Pivot, and SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS).

Explain the process of building a data warehouse with SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS).

The process of establishing a data warehouse through SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) entails identifying and connecting to data sources, designing ETL data flow tasks for the extraction, transformation, and loading of data. Implementation of error handling, scheduling routine updates, deploying packages to SQL Server, monitoring performance for optimization, and comprehensive documentation collectively contribute to the effective creation and maintenance of a streamlined data warehouse.

Explain the ETL process using an example.

The ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) process is essential for integrating data. In retail, information is extracted from diverse sources, transformed for consistency, and loaded into a target system or data warehouse. This ensures organized data for effective analysis and decision-making.

Describe the function of data flow tasks within SSIS packages.

Data flow tasks in SSIS packages oversee moving and changing data in the ETL process. They manage data flow from sources, through transformations, to destinations. Using source adapters, transformations, and destination adapters in a data pipeline, these tasks ensure efficient data extraction, transformation, and loading. They also handle errors, preserving data integrity and offering insights into any issues.

What is the connection between SSIS and SQL Server?

SSIS (SQL Server Integration Services) is crucial in the SQL Server system, seamlessly working within the SQL Server Business Intelligence suite. It provides a user-friendly interface for ETL workflows and easily connects with SQL Server databases. As part of the SQL Server platform, SSIS shares a common development environment for user convenience. Its strong features are essential for tasks like data warehousing and business intelligence in the SQL Server environment.

List the various parameter types in SSRS (SQL Server Reporting Services).

In SSRS (SQL Server Reporting Services), there are several parameter types to enhance report flexibility and interactivity:

  • Single-Value Parameters: Users choose or input a single value for filtering data based on a specific criterion.
  • Multi-Value Parameters: Users select multiple values for filtering data based on multiple criteria.
  • Query Parameters: Directly linked to dataset queries, enabling dynamic data filtering based on user input.
  • Hidden Parameters: Not visible to users, used for internal purposes like data filtering or report behavior control.
  • Default Parameters: Predefined values automatically selected when the report is run for improved user experience.
  • Cascading Parameters: Parameters with values depending on the selected value of another, allowing dynamic filtering.
  • Nullable Parameters: Accept null values for situations where users want data without a specific filter.
  • Read-Only Parameters: Predefined and unmodifiable by users, suitable for passing constant values to reports.

What are the distinctions between a view and a materialized view?

A view is a virtual table that dynamically retrieves data in real-time from underlying tables, while a materialized view is a physical snapshot stored as a table, offering faster query performance with periodic data refreshes. The choice depends on priorities between real-time data and performance considerations.

How can you automate report delivery in SSRS?

Automate report delivery in SSRS by creating a subscription, specifying delivery options, setting a schedule, and managing subscriptions. Ensure execution credentials, test deliveries, and monitor for any issues.

Explain briefly how SSAS works.

The SSAS (SQL Server Analysis Services) architecture involves three key components. The data source stores raw data, retrieved from databases or warehouses. The SSAS server, comprising OLAP and Data Mining components, processes multidimensional data for analysis. Client tools like SQL Server Management Studio, SQL Server Data Tools, Excel, and Power BI enable users to interact with SSAS for effective data analysis and reporting. This architecture ensures a seamless flow from data extraction to processing, facilitating robust business intelligence applications.

What are the steps for implementing error handling in SSIS (SQL Server Integration Services)?

To handle errors in SSIS (SQL Server Integration Services):

  • Set Up Error Output: Configure components to redirect error rows as needed.
  • Task Error Handling: Define actions on task failure for effective error handling.
  • Use Event Handlers: Trigger custom actions through event handlers (e.g., OnError) for error scenarios.
  • Enable Logging: Log detailed package execution information to databases or files.
  • Redirect Error Rows: Send error rows to specific destinations (e.g., files or error tables) for analysis.
  • Precedence Constraints: Control task flow based on success or failure using precedence constraints.
  • Utilize SQL Server Logging: Make use of native SQL Server error handling and logging features.
  • Implement Checkpoints: Set up checkpoints to restart a package from the point of failure.
  • Notification Tasks: Integrate notification tasks to alert administrators or stakeholders about errors.

What responsibilities does an Analysis Services Information Worker have?

In the role of an Analysis Services Information Worker, individuals utilize tools like Power BI and Excel for efficient SSAS data analysis, report and dashboard creation, and querying SSAS cubes with MDX or DAX queries. They collaborate with teams, optimize SSAS query performance, manage security, provide user training, ensure data accuracy through governance, and conduct ad hoc analyses. Overall, their contributions support informed decision-making and enhance analytical capabilities in the organization.

How do we set up logging in SSIS?

Activate logging in SSIS by accessing your project in SQL Server Data Tools or Management Studio. Configure logging at the package or project level for SSIS Catalog users, or right-click on the Control Flow design surface for non-Catalog users. Select a log provider (e.g., SQL Server, Text Files), set up connections, choose events, and save the configuration. Execute the package to generate logs, and view them in SQL Server Management Studio. Maintain a balance between logging detail and performance, with steps potentially varying based on your SQL Server and SSIS versions.

Which types of schemas are there?

Various types of schemas fulfill specific functions across diverse domains:

  • Database Schema: This defines the structure and organization of databases, encompassing the arrangement of tables, relationships, and constraints.
  • XML Schema (XSD): Responsible for outlining XML document structures, it specifies the details of elements and attributes.
  • Psychological Schema: In the realm of psychology, this term refers to cognitive structures that guide the organization of knowledge and the processing of information.
  • Programming Schema: In the context of programming, a schema might indicate a data structure dictating how data is organized or the configuration of objects in code.

How would you describe query parameters in SSRS?

In SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), query parameters refer to user-defined variables integrated into a report’s dataset query. These parameters empower users to personalize report outcomes by inputting values during runtime. Serving as placeholders in the query, these parameters allow users to dynamically influence the data retrieved from the data source, facilitating interactive and customized reporting through filtering, sorting, and other manipulations.

In what situations is it suitable to employ a null data-driven subscription in SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)?

Selecting a null data-driven subscription in SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is appropriate when creating a subscription without the requirement to specify individual parameter values for each recipient. This proves useful in situations where a standardized or default report output meets the needs of all subscribers, removing the necessity for personalized parameter configurations. The utilization of null data-driven subscriptions simplifies the subscription process by avoiding the need to provide unique parameter values for each individual recipient.

What are the reasons for utilizing the Unified Dimensional Model (UDM) in SSAS?

The Unified Dimensional Model (UDM) in SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) is utilized for streamlined querying, allowing users to access data without delving into complex structures. It supports the implementation of business logic, ensuring consistent business semantics and facilitating ad hoc reporting. UDM enables efficient aggregation management, hierarchical relationship representation, and integration with Microsoft tools like Excel and SharePoint. Additionally, it provides robust data security through role-based access controls, making it a versatile solution for multidimensional data analysis.

What do aggregations represent in SSAS?

Aggregations in SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) are pre-calculated summaries or totals that improve query performance. These subsets of data store aggregated values for measures at different levels of granularity within a cube. By retrieving pre-calculated results instead of aggregating data on-the-fly during queries, aggregations enhance performance, especially in scenarios with large datasets and complex queries in multidimensional analysis.

What is the concept of OLAP?

OLAP, or Online Analytical Processing, is a data analysis approach based on multidimensional cubes. Users can swiftly analyze data from different angles using operations like slicing, dicing, and pivoting. OLAP supports quick aggregation and drill-down for varied data granularity. It comes in types like MOLAP, ROLAP, and HOLAP, offering rapid query performance for interactive data analysis. Common OLAP operations include roll-up, drill-down, slice-and-dice, and pivoting, making it a flexible framework for multidimensional exploration.

Is a report server necessary for running reports in our applications?

The need for a report server varies based on your reporting solution. Local reports (RDLC) within your application don’t require a separate server. In contrast, server-based reports (RDL), especially with tools like SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), commonly utilize a dedicated report server. This centralized server manages report storage, processing, and delivery, offering benefits such as access control and scheduled report execution, particularly in enterprise environments.

How can cubes be utilized in SSAS within the MSBI framework?

To use cubes in SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) within Microsoft Business Intelligence (MSBI):

  • Data Setup: Connect SSAS to your data source, defining dimensions (categories) and measures (numerical values).
  • Cube Creation: Design the cube, create hierarchies in dimensions, and process it to load and aggregate data.
  • Deployment: Deploy the cube to SSAS, making data available for analysis.
  • Querying: Use tools like SSMS or Excel to query and analyze cube data.
  • Visualization: Visualize cube data using reporting tools like SSRS or Power BI.

Which languages are employed in SSAS?

In SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS), different languages serve distinct purposes. MDX is the primary query language for multidimensional data, while DMX is utilized for data mining models. XMLA acts as a communication protocol in XML format. SQL is applied in tabular models, and DAX is essential for creating calculations in tools like Power BI and SSAS Tabular. A good grasp of these languages is crucial for effective development and querying in SSAS, depending on the chosen data model and specific needs.

What three components make up the distinct parts of RDL files?

The distinct components within RDL (Report Definition Language) files include:

  • Report Layout Information: This segment outlines the visual structure, covering report items, data regions, and formatting specifics.
  • Data Retrieval and Processing Instructions: Here, instructions for acquiring and processing data are outlined, encompassing data sources, datasets, and pertinent queries.
  • Report Metadata: This component furnishes additional information about the report, incorporating properties, parameters, and settings that define the report’s behavior and functionality.


In summary, as you get ready for MSBI Interview Questions and Answers, it’s crucial to be well-versed in Microsoft Business Intelligence tools like SSIS, SSAS, and SSRS. A strong understanding of fundamental concepts such as data modeling, ETL processes, and report development is essential. Proficiency in languages like MDX, DMX, and SQL is a must, and keeping abreast of industry trends and tools will give you an edge in MSBI interviews. If you’re in search of MSBI Training in Chennai, consider exploring specialized training programs to enhance your skills.