Adventures in Machine Learning

Mastering SQL: Fundamentals Applications and Tips for Interviews

Introduction to SQL Interviews

As data becomes an increasingly essential asset, data-related roles are becoming more popular. One of the primary requirements for these roles is knowledge of SQL, or structured query language.

SQL is a standard programming language used to manage and manipulate relational databases. SQL is used extensively in industries such as finance, healthcare, marketing, and retail, to name a few.

In this article, we will cover the fundamentals of SQL, including its definition and purpose and the elements of a SQL query, among other topics. We will also discuss the importance of SQL in data-related roles and its widespread application in various industries.

By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of what SQL is and its significance in today’s data-driven world.

Importance of SQL in Data-Related Roles

Many roles today require knowledge of SQL. SQL is used in most data-related roles, including database administrators, data analysts, data scientists, and business analysts.

In these roles, SQL is used to extract, manipulate, and analyze data from databases. A database administrator is responsible for managing a company’s databases, ensuring that they are secure and perform efficiently.

They are also responsible for maintaining the integrity of the data stored in these databases. To achieve this, they must know how to use SQL, among other tools.

Data analysts are responsible for analyzing data to extract insights that help organizations make decisions. They filter and manipulate data to produce reports and summaries that provide useful information to managers.

Analyzing data often requires knowledge of SQL, among other statistical tools. Data scientists are responsible for designing and developing algorithms and models to analyze data.

They use a range of tools and techniques, including SQL, to preprocess, manipulate, and analyze data before using machine learning algorithms. Finally, business analysts are responsible for making data-driven decisions to help businesses grow.

They use SQL to extract and analyze data from databases, transforming raw data into useful insights that inform business decisions.

Widespread Application of SQL in Various Industries

SQL is used extensively in various industries, including finance, healthcare, marketing, and retail. Here, we discuss a few examples of its applications.

Relational Databases

Relational databases are widely used in many industries. They provide a flexible, scalable, and efficient way to store and retrieve data.

Data stored in a relational database is organized into tables, with each table containing rows and columns of data. SQL is used to manipulate this data, allowing us to extract, filter, and group data with ease.

Data Warehousing

A data warehouse is a database designed for storing and analyzing large volumes of data. It is used to support business intelligence and analytics functions.

SQL is used to extract data from these data warehouses, allowing analysts and data scientists to analyze and mine large data sets.

NoSQL Databases

NoSQL databases are used to store unstructured and semi-structured data, such as documents, images, and videos. SQL is used to query and manipulate this data, making it easier to extract useful information.

Distributed Data Processing

Distributed data processing refers to the use of multiple computers to process large volumes of data. SQL enables processing and analysis of this data in parallel, improving analytical efficiency.

SQL Fundamentals

SQL is a versatile language used in many fields, with a wide range of functionality. Below, we outline some of SQL’s fundamental features.

Definition and Purpose of SQL

SQL stands for Structured Query Language and is used to manage and manipulate relational databases. Its primary purpose is to extract, manipulate, and analyze data from a database.

Elements of a SQL Query

A SQL query typically contains several elements, including the SELECT, FROM, JOIN, WHERE, GROUP BY, HAVING, and ORDER BY clauses.

The SELECT clause specifies the columns to be retrieved from the database.

The FROM clause specifies the table from which the data will be retrieved. The JOIN clause is used to combine data from multiple tables.

The WHERE clause is used to filter data based on certain conditions. The GROUP BY clause is used to group data by a particular column.

The HAVING clause is used to filter data based on the results of an aggregate function. The ORDER BY clause is used to sort data by a particular column.

Functionality of WHERE Clause

The WHERE clause filters data based on certain conditions. It can filter data based on a specific value in a column, a range of values, or a combination of conditions.

Grouping Data with GROUP BY Clause

The GROUP BY clause groups data based on one or more columns. It provides a way to summarize data and aggregate statistics based on one or more columns.

Common Aggregate Functions

Aggregate functions are used to perform calculations on a group of rows or a single column. Common aggregate functions include COUNT, SUM, AVG, MIN, and MAX.

Filtering Grouped Data with HAVING Clause

The HAVING clause filters data based on the results of an aggregate function. It can be used to filter data based on the total count, sum, or average of data.


SQL is a standard programming language used to manage and manipulate relational databases. It is widely used in data-related roles and across various industries such as finance, healthcare, marketing, and retail.

SQL has a wide range of functionality, and it is important to understand its fundamental features, such as the WHERE clause, GROUP BY clause, and common aggregate functions. By understanding SQL’s core features, we can extract, manipulate, and analyze data more efficiently.

3) SQL Join and Set Operations

Merging Data with JOINs

When working with data, it is common to have multiple tables with related data that need to be combined into a single table for analysis or reporting purposes. This is where JOINs come into play.

A JOIN statement in SQL allows you to combine rows from two or more tables based on a related column between them. There are several types of JOINs, including INNER JOIN, LEFT JOIN (or LEFT OUTER JOIN), and RIGHT JOIN (or RIGHT OUTER JOIN).

Inner Join: Returns only the rows in which the matching values exists in both tables. Left Join: Returns all the rows from the left table and matching rows if they exist in the right table.

Right Join: Returns all the rows from the right table and matching rows if they exist in the left table.

Sorting Data with ORDER BY

The ORDER BY clause in SQL is used to sort the result set in ascending or descending order based on one or more columns. You can specify the order of sorting by adding the ASC or DESC keyword after the column name in the ORDER BY clause.

By default, the ORDER BY clause sorts the data in ascending order.

Understanding NULL values in SQL

NULL is a special value in SQL that represents an unknown or missing value. A NULL value can be assigned to a column when there is no data to enter or when the value is unknown.

It is essential to understand the behavior of NULL values when working with SQL data, as they may impact the results of operations such as filtering or sorting. Using Set Operations with UNION, UNION ALL, INTERSECT, and MINUS

Set operations are used to combine or manipulate sets of data in SQL.

The most common set operations include the UNION, UNION ALL, INTERSECT, and MINUS operators. UNION: Combines the result set of two or more SELECT statements into a single result set, removing duplicates.

UNION ALL: Combines the result set of two or more SELECT statements into a single result set, including duplicates. INTERSECT: Returns only the distinct rows that appear in both the result sets of two SELECT statements.

MINUS: Returns the unique rows that appear in the result set of the first SELECT statement but not in the result set of the second SELECT statement.

4) Advancing SQL Skills

Filtering Data with DISTINCT Keyword

DISTINCT is a keyword in SQL used to eliminate duplicates from the result set of a SELECT statement. It can be used with one or more columns in the SELECT clause to retrieve unique values.

The DISTINCT keyword operates on all columns specified in the SELECT statement, not just one column.

Creating Subqueries within SQL

A subquery, also known as a nested query, is a query within a query. Subqueries are useful when you need to retrieve data from one table based on the data from another table.

A subquery can be used in the WHERE clause, the FROM clause, or the SELECT clause of a SELECT statement.

Modifying Data in a Database with Data Manipulation Language

Data Manipulation Language (DML) is a set of SQL statements used to modify, insert, and delete data in a database. The common DML statements in SQL are UPDATE, INSERT, and DELETE.

It is crucial to understand how to use these DML statements when working with databases.

Tips for Succeeding in SQL Interviews

To succeed in SQL interviews, you should practice using real-world scenarios and become familiar with current database technologies. It is also essential to understand the specific job requirements and tailor your preparation accordingly.

During the interview, it is crucial to communicate effectively and ask questions to demonstrate your understanding of the SQL concepts and abilities.


SQL is a fundamental language in data-related roles, and its importance is growing in various industries. Understanding SQL fundamentals, such as the JOIN statement, ORDER BY clause, NULL value, and set operations, is crucial when working with data.

By advancing your SQL skills through techniques such as filtering with DISTINCT, creating subqueries, and using DML statements, you can demonstrate your expertise during job interviews. In conclusion, SQL is a crucial language in data-related roles and industries, providing a flexible, scalable efficient way to store and analyze data.

The fundamentals of SQL include JOIN and set operations, NULL values, ORDER BY clause, and data manipulation language. In addition, SQL skills can be advanced by using techniques such as DISTINCT, subqueries, and DML statements.

Preparing for SQL interviews requires practicing real-world scenarios, understanding the job requirements and communicating meanings effectively. By understanding and mastering SQL, individuals can become valuable assets in diverse industries.

SQL knowledge will also be beneficial in the future of data-driven workplaces.

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