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3 Things to remember before you go for Excel VBA Job Interview

Like giving interview is a skill, taking interview is another great skill. I've taken many in the past and given more than I've taken and here I'm sharing the content from my experience. Your interview experience may be totally different than this but you must be aware of it and should not miss some common things mentioned here. These are my personal views and have nothing to do any of my past or present employers.

If I will conduct an interview, I'll not probe your technical knowledge only but also how much logical and reasoning thinking you possess along with some programming etiquette.

First interviewer sees your general attitude towards programming and will try to calm down your blood pressure. While it seems very easy this is the biggest hurdle. He may give you a very easy program to write like sorting an array, coloring the sheet tabs, etc. The objective is not to see your technical knowledge but your programming behavior. Such programs are so obvious and easy that expectations are not about writing the program but to see comments, indentation, using meaningful variable names, declaring variables(which one don't needs to but considered a great practice), using Option Explicit, Debugging style etc. To know that good you're able to communicate your logic with other developers. This is very helpful for the team and is considered a good practice with fruits returned in long term.

Secondly, he will try to test your knowledge of Excel Object Model. They may ask you to sort and filter a range, or clean out duplicate data from a list, consolidate data from multiple files, import data from MS access databases etc . He will look for knowledge of and ability to work with fundamental Excel objects such as Workbook, Worksheet, Range etc; also he will definitely want to see that you neither use "Macro Recorder" nor macro recorder style code using Select and Activate everywhere.

Thirdly he would be interested in your excel knowledge as well as how VBA works. Like pivots, charts, UDF, volatile functions(Can you write code that runs every time the worksheet changes?”) etc. For list of 50 such ORAL Interview VBA questions, click here.

 Lastly, the questions would be job specific that if its a consulting firm questions will revolve around statistical models, SAS etc, in case of bank - financial dashboards,KPI etc. and in case of capacity management or databases they'll revolve around ADO, Basic SQL etc.

Good interviewers put “Knowledge of Excel” above “Knowledge of Excel VBA” as in their opinion, the latter is more straightforward and easier to learn but it’s harder to find people who are good at writing efficient Excel formulas(esp. Array Formulas) as often formulas can yield a far more efficient solution – faster by several orders of magnitude.

Excel VBA is a very vast field but interview questions revolve around common things. Interviewer may ask some stupid or Out-of-the-box question to worry you a little, may give you too less time to write a macro or do anything to worry about. YOU DON'T NEED TO WORRY, it's ok if you don't know answers to some questions. Maintain NEVER GIVE UP attitude and YOU'LL SUCCEED.


Anand Kumar said...

Hi Ashish,

I would agree to your inputs on things to remember as we all know that technical competencies keep on improving everyday but to change the programing behavior you need to make a lot of focused efforts. Most of the times in organizations we are modifying or improving upon codes written by someone else and indentation, comments become very very important.

Secondly I don't expect anyone to have complete knowledge of MS Excle object model but basic understanding and knowledge of larger objects like WorkSheet, Range, Chart are expected of everyone.

Lastly I would expect every above average MS Excel user to use inbuilt Excel formulas wherever possible (instead of writing UDFs), as the sheet performs better in that case.

I congratulate you and appreciate your efforts to put together these very much valid points.

Anand Kumar

Ashish Jain said...

Thanks Anand, you provided very valuable inputs to this article.

Briefing your points further, that's why in the last I mentioned that 'Knowledge of Excel' is more important than 'Knowledge of Excel VBA' and also expecting anyone to have complete knowledge of MS Excel Object Model is foolishness in itself.

Good, my blog readers must benefit from your words.

Ayush Jain said...

Great Article...keep it up...

Ayush Jain
Microsoft MVP

Robin said...

There are lots of important things what are really needed before going for Excel VBA job interview. Thanks for sharing.

Haney said...

Hi Ashish
how to do this "import data from MS access databases" i know how to do import data from SQL database so is it the same?

Haney said...

"nor macro recorder style code using Select and Activate everywhere" then what is the alternate way to do so.i learn macro by recording n debugging it and in that these things everywhere.please suggest my basic is not clear.if possible can u send me mail ab this. also keep our excel-macros google group in everybody will have benefit out of it.its a request.

Ashish Jain said...

@Haney - Good Question Haney. I'll soon post on my blog - Various ways of importing data from MS Access Databases.(won't delay it until next year)

Secondly - Read my latest post(17 ways to optimize VBA Code for faster macros) , if that answers your question, it will be good else I'll draft a proper answer for it as well :)

vishal g. b. said...

This article helps many persons. Appreciate your idea of putting the same at one place so that it will reach to many many persons.

Sachin said...

Thanks for valuable suggestions and points from your experience...Despite being commerce graduate, I am working as VBA anallyst for last 4 yrs and have faced almost all of thee above stated situations in interviews.

Rather, whenevr I took interviews, I looked for the same... I really appreciate the observations and many thanks...

Keep posting such nice stuff..


Anonymous said...

Thanks Ashish,

Beautifully crafted. I highly appreciate the way you have collected and arranged your thoughts on Excel/VBA Interviews.

As other readers mentioned above, it is awesome to see all great knowledge regarding Excel/VBA interviews at one place.

As they say in India, "Jug Jug Jiyo".

With Love
Richa, Sydney (Australia)

Bavya Bavi said...

Thanks a Lot Sir..