Know the Answers to These Top SAS Interview Questions
Statistics might seem like a boring topic to some, but that’s only because we don’t fully appreciate the role it plays in our lives. Statistics are useful and even critical in determinations as mundane as our car insurance rates and as noticeable as the timing of the stop lights that regulate traffic flow.
Those who specialize in statistics already know the importance of collecting and analyzing data for decision making. And as Big Data becomes a bigger part of our world, the role of statistics also grows, as does the need for trained professionals who know how to use SAS software for maximum benefit. In fact, a 2016 study found that SAS skills were determined to be the most important, topping a list of 21 skills considered by employers to be the most valuable in today’s job market.
If you’ve added SAS to your skill set and you’re preparing for a job interview during which these skills will be discussed, read on for a primer on preparing for SAS interview questions.
During your job interview, you will want to showcase your knowledge of analytics techniques using the SAS data science tool. However, SAS questions could get quite granular. If your interviewer asks you something as specific as, “How do you delete duplicate observations in SAS?”, you’ll need to think through the actual steps which might be hard to do unless you’re in front of a computer. For that reason, you might also want to be prepared to show your understanding of the software as a tool used by data analysts who play a role that’s a unique blend of science, IT and business.
Question 1: What is SAS?
SAS stands for Statistical Analysis System and it’s used for data analysis and reporting. More specifically, it’s an integrated suite of software used to store and retrieve data values, modify that data, compute simple and complex statistical analyses, and create reports. SAS is a leader in the enterprise analytics space because it offers a huge array of statistical functions, it has a user-friendly interface, and it has good technical support. It is used for economic analysis, forecasting, financial modeling and reporting, time series analysis and manipulation of time series data, and many other critical data-based tasks that drive business decisions.
Question 2: Why does a data scientist need to know SAS?
A data scientist using SAS has a unique role that combines an understanding of both data and IT, as well as how each fits into bigger business goals. SAS enables enterprises to use business intelligence and predictive analytics to discover underlying patterns and trends, and be more scientific when making business decisions.
Question 3: What do you like about SAS as an analytics tool?
SAS is so powerful that it can understand any type of data and access data from any software and any format. A logical operation can also be performed in SAS by using if-then statements. SAS runs all statements in a loop, step by step, and executes very quickly.
Question 4: How does SAS compare with other data analytics tools?
To answer this question, you might point out that there are many reasons to prefer SAS over other tools, but here are a few highlights you should include:
- SAS is easy to learn and provides PROC SQL for people who already know SQL
- SAS holds its own against competitors when handling huge amounts of data
- It provides functional graphical capabilities that a user can learn to customize
- SAS releases updates in a controlled environment after extensive testing, making it more stable.
Question 5: What is your experience with SAS?
To answer this question, you should explain your training, any certifications, and your hands-on experience, whether that’s experience gained through a previous job or as part of your SAS training and certification. You will want to show that you are an expert in analytics techniques using the SAS software and that you know how to apply data manipulation and optimization techniques, advanced statistical concepts like clustering, linear regression and decision trees, data analysis methods, predictive modeling techniques, and any other SAS knowledge you think should be highlighted to your advantage during the interview.
Question 6: What are the components of the SAS software suite?
With over 200 components, you won’t be able to list off all 200, but you should be able to name some of the more important and most-used programs that make up the SAS software suite, or those you’re most familiar with.
Question 7: What is PROC SQL?
Part of SAS, PROC SQL is for users who already know SQL, giving them SQL functionality in the SAS environment. It combines the functionality of DATA (for recovering and manipulating data) and PROC (for interpreting data) steps so you can sort, summarize, subset, merge, or concatenate datasets; create new variables, or create a new table or view all in one step.
Question 8: Explain different ways of combining and modifying datasets.
Show the interviewer that you know the various techniques for combining and modifying datasets like concatenation, interleaving, one-to-one merging and reading. You might also want to discuss the various SAS functions and procedures for data manipulation to show your depth of knowledge.
Question 9: When would you use SAS macros?
SAS macros are pieces of code that are coded once and referenced repeatedly to perform repetitive tasks. The SAS macro language is a versatile, useful tool. It’s used for faster data manipulation and for reducing the amount of regular SAS code required for analytics. In that way, it facilitates passing information from one procedure to another. You can also use macros to write flexible and dynamic SAS programs.
SAS is a software suite with many different components, functions, and uses. Therefore we can’t predict the specific questions you’ll be asked during a SAS job interview. Each business will have their own specific data science needs and questions. Be prepared to demonstrate your knowledge of SAS but more importantly your understanding of the role data science and analytics can play in making data-based business decisions using a tool like SAS.
If reading through this article on SAS interview questions has you a little unsure about your ability to answer these questions with enough knowledge, or if you would like your credentials to look more formidable before you apply for that first SAS job, consider getting certified with SAS Certification Training. You will learn how to answer all of the questions above plus countless more, you’ll grow confident in your SAS skills and knowledge, and you’ll get hands-on experience that might give you the edge over other applicants applying for the same data analytics job.
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