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How to hire a database developer


The amount of data we create and use is rapidly growing. According to Statista, the trend of increasing data consumption started in 2020 during the pandemic when it shot up from 41 to 64.2 zettabytes in one year[1]. Experts predict that in 2025, we’re going to produce slightly over 180 zettabytes of data. 

Managing data well is crucial for the success of any business. Forbes reports that 95% of businesses have a problem with managing unstructured data[2] and that this hinders a variety of critical processes, such as customer relationship management. 

That’s why database developers are in high demand. They are the people who build the database management strategies that companies use to structure data.

Hiring the right database developer for your company will greatly improve the overall performance of your business. However, there is usually room for only one or two people in that job role in most small or mid-sized organizations, making it even more important to make the right hire. 

Streamlining your hiring process with the help of skills tests will help you make the best choice for a database developer.

This comprehensive guide on how to hire a database developer will enable you to identify the relevant skills to look for in your candidates and will give you information about how to evaluate them accurately and objectively. 

What is a database developer?

To answer this question, we must first explain what a database management system (DBMS) is.

Database management systems are essentially digital data-keeping software applications used to store, retrieve, and update data. They serve as an interface between the database and the end user. 

A DBMS enables you to see real-life updates on various stats, regardless whether the data that’s stored is from an online banking app or a hotel booking platform. This can make the internal processing of data much more efficient and improve your employees’ work and services you provide to your clients. 

A database developer, therefore, creates and implements databases suited to your company’s needs. To continually modify and manage database systems, database developers must possess solid knowledge of database administration software, programming languages, and application architecture. 

Regardless of whether your database developer will simply update your existing databases or create new ones, they must analyze your business needs first. After they’ve determined the types of database they must design or manage, they’ll select the most suitable model and start building the physical and logical structure of the database management system. 

Database developers use generic and proprietary APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to build applications that interact with the DBMS and maintain the quality of the data. Managing the performance and security of the databases is their responsibility as well.

Some of the daily tasks that a database developer should perform are to:

  • Identify the best ways for your business to store, access, and organize data

  • Design, code, and implement reliable database management systems (DBMS)

  • Maintain databases to ensure maximum performance and fix latency issues 

  • Monitor the usage of the databases

  • Tighten digital security to ensure the safety of your data

  • Ensure regular backups and minimum downtime

Most industries work with digital data nowadays, so many types of organizations hire database developers nowadays. Examples include:

  • IT companies 

  • Healthcare facilities

  • Insurance companies

  • Educational institutions 

  • Financial institutions

Database developer hard skills

As with any technical job, hard skills are essential for a database developer. This job role requires a wide variety of those, so it can be hard for a non-technical recruiter to evaluate the right candidate. This is why it’s important to prepare yourself for the screening. 

Here is a list of the essential hard skills that a database developer should have:

1. Practical skills with database management systems (DBMS)

Database developers use DBMS for storing, manipulating, and retrieving database sets. Some of the popular database management systems they should have experience with are:

  • Microsoft SQL Server

  • MySQL

  • Oracle

  • MongoDB

  • SQLite

2. Programming skills

Database developers must have advanced programming skills. Basic querying languages are a must for any database developer. The most commonly used programming language for database developers is SQL. 

Aside from SQL, a skilled database developer should be able to demonstrate significant knowledge of:

  • Python

  • Java

  • C#

  • JavaScript

3. Strong understanding of data modeling

Data modeling is an essential part of database development because it allows you to describe the actual entities that constitute a DBMS, such as “customers” or “products”. Having the right data modeling skills enables database developers to:

  • Describe the relationships between entities 

  • Avoid pitfalls such as zero saturation and tight coupling

  • Identify gaps or opportunities for optimization

Skills to look out for in a database developer graphic

Database developer soft skills

Database developers need to have a variety of soft skills as well. Here are the most important ones: 

1. Communication

Being proficient in both oral and verbal communication is important for a database developer. They should be able to:

  • Express themselves by using clear and consistent language

  • Use technical terms when it’s appropriate

  • Share important information 

In addition to that, they need to be good listeners and know how to provide and receive feedback.

2. Analytical and reading comprehension skills

All software comes with its documentation, which includes technical information that will make using the software easier and more efficient. System architecture, models and components of the system, design principles: It’s all in there. 

These papers can be quite complex. To be able to interpret them accurately, a database developer must have good analytical and reading comprehension skills.

3. Time management

To complete their tasks on time and balance the quality of their work with the time they take to do it, database developers must have strong time management skills. Prioritizing tasks efficiently is important for this job role.

4. Attention to detail 

Database developers manage large amounts of data. Overlooking something is easy and a small error can lead to a chain reaction that slows down your company’s work and even impacts your profits. 

This is why attention to detail is important. Candidates with strong attention to detail provide results that are well-structured and accurate; plus, this enables your entire team to be more time-efficient, because you don’t have to invest resources into identifying and fixing errors.

How to test database developer skills

Evaluating the proficiency of your candidates’ technical skills is imperative when you’re hiring a database developer. 

Conducting a coding interview requires intense technical research, especially considering the fast technology development and how quickly the trends change. Even if you’re prepared for the interview, it will take a long time to do practical tests and evaluate the results for every skill of each candidate.

This is where pre-employment skills testing comes in to help. You can build an assessment of up to five skill tests that will enable you to assess the level of proficiency of your candidates in each skill relevant to the job. 

Pre-employment skills testing saves you time and resources and eliminates human bias from the hiring process. They can be helpful for objectively assessing both hard and soft skills. 

Recommended tests for database developers

Here are some of the tests you can use to evaluate database developers’ skills:

  • Database development: Find developers with the practical skills to design and implement databases that meet your organization’s needs.

  • Database management and administration: This test will allow you to identify candidates who have knowledge of core DBMS principles and know how to administer and manage databases.

  • Microsoft SQL Server: Identify candidates who are proficient in Microsoft SQL Server with this test. 

  • SQL Server Management Studio: SSMS is a powerful tool Microsoft SQL Server which allows database developers to create and execute queries and design database schemas. 

  • SQLite coding (intermediate): Find candidates who are capable of creating a database query of intermediate complexity.

  • Python: data structures and objects: Evaluate applicants’ object-oriented programming skills and see whether they know how to work with Python objects.

  • C#: data structures: Check whether developers are capable of using C# to build solutions for Microsoft .NET.

  • Java: data structures: Evaluate applicants’ ability to manipulate data structures in Java with the help of this test. 

  • MongoDB: Identify programmers’ proficiency with MongoDB and their capacity to apply best practices for infrastructure, security, performance, and reliability. 

  • Oracle DBMS: Find applicants who have strong technical knowledge of Oracle DBMS with this test.

  • Data modeling. This test helps you identify candidates who understand basic data modeling concepts.

  • Reading comprehension: Find out whether developers have strong reading comprehension skills.

  • Working with data. Assess candidates who can handle data correctly and perform basic data analysis.

  • Communication. Use this test to find candidates who can use clear and concise language to communicate.

  • Attention to detail (textual). This test will help you screen candidates who are thorough and careful when they’re processing textual information.

  • Time management. Find candidates who can meet deadlines and prioritize tasks effectively.

Database developer interview questions

Once you evaluate applicants’ skills with the help of skills tests, you’ll be able to confidently shortlist the best ones.

The next step is to invite them to an interview where you can gain deeper insight into their technical skills and knowledge. 

Here are some interview questions you can use to assess candidates for the database developer role: 

  1. Describe the difference between a relational database and a non-relational database.

  2. What is a primary key?

  3. How do you prevent SQL injection in your code?

  4. Define normalization in database design.

  5. What is a stored procedure and how is it different from a function?

  6. Describe a situation where you might use a NoSQL database over a traditional RDBMS.

  7. What tools do you use for database modeling or designing?

  8. What is database sharding? Why might it be beneficial?

  9. How do you maintain data integrity across a database system?

  10. Explain the differences between clustered and non-clustered indexes.

  11. How would you design a database system for high availability?

  12. How do you ensure that your database backups are reliable and can be restored quickly?

  13. How would you handle a situation where two teams are simultaneously requesting changes that might affect database performance?

  14. How do you approach database security, especially when working in environments that have sensitive data?

  15. Describe the most complex database architecture you've worked on. What were the challenges, and how did you address them?

If you need more inspiration and sample answers to guide you when assessing applicants’ answers, check our libraries of SQL-related questions:

Where to find database developers

Before you start looking for database developers, you must determine whether you need to hire an in-house or a freelance database developer. 

Hiring an in-house database developer is beneficial for companies that regularly work with a lot of data. It’s recommended for:

  • Startups that are rapidly growing

  • Software development companies

  • Companies with consistent workloads

  • Financially stable companies

  • Government contractors

Freelance database developers come with less financial risk and higher recruiting flexibility. However, freelancers can be less accountable and present a cybersecurity risk, so that might not be the best option if you’re working with sensitive data.

Hiring a freelance database developer is great for: 

  • Small-sized growing companies

  • Remote companies that operate in a place with no access to a qualified workforce

  • Companies with irregular workloads

  • Open-source e-commerce projects

Where to hire in-house database developer

If you’ve decided you need to hire a full-time employee, here’s where to look:

  • Dice: Dice is a platform focused on IT professionals. It has millions of visits monthly so you can find suitable candidates fast.

  • SQL Crossing: SQL Crossing is a niche developer job board for people who work with SQL, an essential programming language for every database developer. Here, you can find high-quality specialists. 

  • IEEE Job Site: The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)’s job board is a niche platform connecting hi-tech and academic employers with members of the world’s leading professional association for the advancement of technology. You can find top-notch talent here.

  • Authentic Jobs: This is a job board for designers, developers, and creative pros. The candidates are carefully filtered.

Where to hire freelance database developer

If you’ve determined you need to hire a freelancer, here’s where to look: 

  • Toptal: Toptal is well-known for vetting their talent carefully. They only select the top 3% of database developers who apply, presenting with you a highly qualified talent pool. 

  • Gigster: Gigster provides product managers and entire development teams to their clients. This is particularly useful for recruitment managers who don’t specialize in tech roles. 

  • Stack Overflow: Stack Overflow is a huge community of developers where they share their programming knowledge. 

  • We Work Remotely: Here you can find database developers who work remotely. It’s not solely tech-focused, but you will find a lot of IT specialists on this job board.

How much does a database developer cost?

According to Salary.com, the average salary of a database developer in the US is $99,676 in 2023

Depending on various factors, such as level of education and in-demand skills, the range may fall between $88,075 and $112,127.

Database developer job description template

Position: Senior database developer for [type of company or industry, f.e. a FinTech startup]

Location: [City, state or "remote"]

[Your company name] is a rapidly growing [type of company, f.e. startup] focused on [briefly describe your mission]. As we continue our expansion, we're seeking a seasoned database developer to join our team and help us manage our databases efficiently and provide stellar services to our clients.


In this role, you will: 

  • Develop, implement, and optimize databases to ensure speed, performance, and scalability

  • Troubleshoot complex database errors and issues

  • Work closely with software developers, architects, and other team members to ensure database solutions are aligned with business objectives

  • Ensure data integrity across various sources and platforms and manage ETL (extract, transform, load) processes

  • Implement strong backup and recovery strategies ensuring minimal downtime

  • Implement database security protocols in line with best practices to protect our customers' sensitive information

  • Maintain detailed documentation of database designs, configurations, and processes

  • Mentor junior database developers and provide constructive feedback to help them advance their careers

Qualifications and skills

For this position, you need the following core qualifications and skills: 

  • Minimum of [specific number, f.e., "5-7"] years of experience in database development

  • Expertise in [specific DBMS, e.g., SQL, MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB]

  • Excellent understanding of database structures, principles, and best practices

  • Proficiency in database design, documentation, and coding

  • Strong analytical and problem-solving capabilities

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills

  • Ability to work collaboratively within cross-functional teams

Benefits and compensation

At [your company name], you'll get the following benefits: 

  • A base salary ranging [from/to salary range] and bonuses

  • Comprehensive health, dental, and vision insurance

  • The opportunity to work with a team passionate about [specific company mission or goal].

  • Participation in workshops, conferences, and other events

  • [Any other benefits you offer]

How to apply

[Describe your application procedure]

Hire the best database developers with pre-employment skills testing

There is no guarantee that you will hire the best database developer for your company, but organizing your hiring process efficiently and using data-driven methods to evaluate your candidates maximizes your chances of picking the right candidate. 

Pre-employment skills testing is a reliable way to objectively assess your candidates’ skills, even for highly technical positions.

Sign up for a 30-minute free live demo on TestGorilla to see for yourself how much simpler your database developer recruitment process can be.


  1. https://www.statista.com/statistics/871513/worldwide-data-created/. Statista: Volume of data/information created, captured, copied, and consumed worldwide from 2010 to 2020, with forecasts from 2021 to 2025. Last accessed on August 31, 2023.

  2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/rkulkarni/2019/02/07/big-data-goes-big/. Forbes: Big Data Goes Big. Last accessed on August 31, 2023.


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