SSRS Interview Questions & Answers To Get You Hired

We've compiled the best SSRS interview questions and answers. SQL Server Reporting Services is a vital reporting aspect of website and application creation. Still, not many hiring managers for technical enterprises know enough about SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) in order to interview prospective engineers about it.

This is a grand mistake. All software engineers in any size of a company should know quite a bit about SQL Server Reporting Services and implement that knowledge into working on software products.

We’ll be dividing into some SQL Server Reporting Services interview questions and answers that hiring managers should be asking prospective developers in this guide. First, let’s take a look at what SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is in-depth and why engineers and developers use SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) in the first place.

What is SQL Server Reporting Services?

SSRS stands for “SQL Server Reporting Services.” It is a solution that users, namely businesses in the software industry, can use to deploy their own premises for managing, publishing, and creating reports. It is also used for delivering reports to the correct users in a variety of ways, including via web browser, via a mobile device, or via email.

SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) offers a range of suites of products. These include traditional paginated reports, new mobile reports, and a modern web portal. Traditional paginated reports are brought up to date so users can create modern and efficient reports with updated features and tools. New mobile reports have a responsive layout that works with different devices and the different ways those devices are held by users. Modern web portals allow full report viewing in any modern browser so you can display and work with report services and KPIs in-portal.

Why do Engineers Use SQL Server Reporting Services?

SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is valuable to the software engineer for a number of reasons. It allows developers to create tabular, graphic, and free form reports from multidimensions and relational data sources. SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) can easily be integrated with a company’s preexisting business process management tools, such as SQL-RD, in order to automate SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) reports and move data across different databases. SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) can also be used to drive tasks based on new and different events.

Software engineers use SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) in almost all software development projects to improve reporting, tool structure, and automation of a particular project.

Why is SQL Server Reporting Services Covered in Technical Interviews?

As we mentioned above, SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) knowledge and skills are very important to have for any type of software production, especially in the scope of applications and web-based services. Not only does it benefit the product and its user-friendliness, but it’s a great platform to use to improve reporting on all aspects of the product.

There are some cons to SQL Server Reporting Services. First, it only runs on Windows. If you’re creating a product that runs on Windows, obviously, this won’t be an issue.

Another perceived flaw is that the tool itself is made entirely for software engineers and developers. Because of this, it is necessary to hire a developer with SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) skills, even in a small company, because SQL code and SQL Server Reporting Services-specific functions may be lost on the average user or typical business head.

45 SSRS (SQL Server Reporting Services) Interview Questions and Answers

1. Describe in your own words what SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is.

SSRS stands for SQL Server Reporting Service. It is a server-based reporting software system built by Microsoft. It is part of Microsoft’s business intelligence (BI).

2. What is SQL Server Reporting Services used for?

SQL Server Reporting Services is used for preparing, implementing, and delivering a great variety of interactive reports.

3. How is SQL Server Reporting Services administered?

SQL Server Reporting Services is administered through a web-based interface.

4. Describe how SQL Server Reporting Services operates as a reporting service.

Through SQL Server Reporting Services’s reporting services, it utilizes a web service interface in order to support and develop outside custom reporting applications.

5. What type of reports does SQL Server Reporting Services let a developer create?

The reports SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) produces are very rich and can be tabular, graphical, or interactive. It can create these reports from different types of data sources with vivid data visualization, including sparklines, maps, and charts. SQL Server Reporting Services generates reports that can be exported in different formats, such as PDF, Microsoft Word, and Excel.

6. Please describe the architecture of SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS).

The architecture of reporting services is made up of integrated components. It’s multi-tiered in its server and data layers and is thus modular and scalable. One installation can be used across many computers at once. The components of the SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) architecture include Reporting Designer, Report Manager, Browser Types Supported by Reporting Services, Report Server, Report Server Command Line Utilities, Report Server Database, Reporting Services Extensibility, and Data Sources Supported by Reporting Services.

7. What are the components of the reporting life cycle?

There are several phases within the reporting services. These include the development of reports, management of reports, security, execution, scheduling of reports, and report delivery. Development of reports on the developer end involves the need for the report to be designed. Management of reports involves the “doing business as” end (also known as DBA) ensuring that the report was properly developed. Security involves only authorized users having access to the report. Execution involves how the report will be properly executed to optimize data performance in the end. Schedule of reports involves the scheduling of report execution. Report delivery, which involves both the DBA and developer, involves sending the report to the final recipients. At this stage, the users will need to understand and analyze report data. If any changes occur during this cycle, the report is sent back and returns to the development stages.

8. Describe the reporting services components.

Reporting services components aid in the development stages. These components for processing include different tools that developers use to create, manage, and view different reports. These include report designer, report server, and report manager. Report designer creates the reports, report server executes and delivers the reports, and report manager manages the report server properly.

9. Describe the differences between Crystal reports and SQL server report services.

Crystal reports are processed by Internet Information Services (IIS) which is an extensible web server from Microsoft for use within the Windows NT group. SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), on the other hand, has a report server. Crystal reports can be cached through a cache server, while SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) caching is available in Report history snapshots. Crystal reports have both standards as well as user-defined field labels, while SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) only has user-defined field labels.

10. How does the report manager operate within SQL Server Reporting Services processes?

Report manager is essentially a simple web application and can be accessed through a URL. The report manager’s interface depends on what permissions are established by the user. Because of this, access to different functions and task performance depends on the role assigned to the user. A user that has complete and total permission access can use all of the features and menus in the report. This can be configured via a defined URL.

11. How can a user add reporting services reports to their applications?

This is a simple process. Standard and Enterprise editions of Visual Studio, BI Data Tools, and SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) contain a wealth of redistributable report viewer controls. These controls make it much easier to embed reporting services functionalities into various custom applications. There are two versions of the report viewer. One is for particularly rich Windows clients and the other is for ASP.NET applications.

12. Is it required to have a report server in order to run reports on an application?

Not entirely. Other than being able to publish reports to a report server, one can build reports using the Report Design, which should be integrated directly within Visual Studio language projects. Reports can be embedded directly into any Windows Forms or ASP.NET application online without direct access to the report server. The data access inside of embedded reports is a normal extension of the Visual Studio facilities of data. You can use traditional databases as a data source for reports, as well as object collections.

13. Name all the different roles provided by SQL Server Reporting Services.

The different types of roles in SQL Server Reporting Services include report builder, browsers, content management, “My Reports”, and publishers.

14. In your own words, name and describe some of the console utilities for SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS).

You may receive varying answers to this question depending on how lucrative an engineer is in regards to SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), but there are some major answers to look out for. One would be RSConfig.exe, which is the configuration of connection properties that join the report server to the respective repository database. There is also RSKeyMgmt.exe, which handles the management of encryption keys through a command line. RS.exe is also a utility used for executing the report on the respective report server.

15. Name some major cons or drawbacks when it comes to reporting with SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS).

For quite a while, Microsoft did not implement a direct and effective solution for reporting with the SQL server, other than with Crystal Reports. Now that SQL Server Reporting Services has been implemented, a lot of issues have been resolved, but there are still some downfalls of the tool. It’s extremely complex and difficult to understand the extent of SQL Server Reporting Services’s functionality and structure, which means many users have chosen to rely on the more familiar application Crystal Reports. It’s also vital for developers to have extensive knowledge of the components within report builder and report design, despite the two being wildly different and having different uses. There are also still some serious problems with exporting particularly large reports to Excel, which sometimes leads to loss of data. Regardless, a capable software engineer with extensive knowledge of SQL Server Reporting Services can deal with all of these issues.

16. Explain the three parts of RDL files.

Within the Visual Studio, Report Definition Language (RDL) files are made up of three different parts: Data, Design, and Preview. Data contains the complete dataset where we would be writing the query. The data set is directly connected to the data source. Design involves designing the report, creating tables, making matrix reports, and dragging column values from the data source.

17. What is the language of RDL files?

Extensible Markup Language, or XML.

18. Can the code of RDL files be edited in association with a linked report?

No. A linked report does not have a RDL code of its own. It simply refers to the RDL code of the base report.

19. Describe report rendering.

Report rendering involves the export of a particular report data set with differing file types. SQL Server Reporting Services supports several rendering capabilities, such as HTML, PDF, CSV, Word, and Excel.

20. Name the title of the reporting services’ configuration file and what it is used for.

The reporting services configuration file is within ISS. It is used for report configuration information and details and holds the report format and report import variations.

21. Describe some of the data source types within SQL Server Reporting Services.

The major differing data sources SQL Server Reporting Services utilizes include Microsoft SQL Server, OLEDB, Oracle, ODBC, SQL Server Analysis Service, Report Server Model, SAP Net Weaver BI, Hyperion, Teradata, and XML, among others.

22. In your opinion, what are the major advantages of SQL Server Reporting Services, and why should our company utilize SQL Server Reporting Services?

There are many advantages to SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS). It is usually substantially faster and cheaper than other solutions. It allows for fantastic reporting access to details residing in MS SQL and Oracle server databases. There is no need for expensive additional specialist skills other than the software engineer assigned to handle SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS). SQL Server Reporting Services’s report designer is integrated into Visual Studio so that developers can build applications and their reports within the same environment. The security side of the application is managed via roles and can be applied to folders and reports. Once the proper parameters are defined during development, the user interface (UI) for the parameters is automatically created by the system. Subscription-based reports are sent via mail to the users automatically.

23. What are some limitations that SQL Server Reporting Services 2008 R2 has?

While SQL Server Reporting Services is great, it does have some limitations. There is, unfortunately, no print button, and users will have to export data to Excel or PDF formats in order to print. It’s particularly difficult to debug custom of expression code within SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS). SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) does not use page numbers or total pages within the report body, which can be annoying at times. It also does not support a rounding rectangle and there is currently no way to move values from subreports to the main report. It’s also not entirely possible to insert subreports into page headers or footers, and the page header tends to create extra blocks of space within the following pages.

24. Name the export options of SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS).

SQL Server Reporting Services provides a ton of ways to render different reports. These include HTML, MHTML, Excel, Acrobat, TIFF, XML, and CSV.

25. Describe a report snapshot.

Report snapshots are instances of a particular report needed for future reference that can be copied, freezing the data, and saved on the report server for future needs.

26. Describe data-driven subscriptions.

Data-driven subscriptions are provided by reporting services in order for users to customize the distribution of a specific report based on the dynamic subscriber data. Data-driven subscriptions are used for specific scenarios. For example, data-driven subscriptions would be utilized if reports need to be distributed to a particularly big recipient pool whose membership changes from one distribution to the next distribution, such as a monthly report that needs to be sent to all recorded customers.

27. How can a developer use null data-driven subscriptions?

First, one would create a data-driven subscription that utilizes the null delivery provider. When the null delivery provider is specified as the preferred method of delivery in a subscription, the report server identifies the report server database as the proper delivery destination. It then uses a special rendering extension, which would be the null rendering extension. The null delivery provider doesn’t have special delivery settings that a developer could configure through subscription definitions.

28. Describe the process of fine-tuning reports.

Tuning up the reporting services is simple, yet somewhat tedious in nature. A developer would execute the following methods: One could expand the server or utilize the necessary reporting services of a separate database server. To effective embed the report contents, the report application’s characteristics and logic will have a separate copy of the data. With the nolock command, the problems surrounding locking can be resolved and the overall performance of the query can be greatly improved. This is usually done by using a dirty read during the time in which the data duplication unavailable.

29. Say a particular user wants to display PDF and only PDF as an export option in the report manager. How would they do this?

They would need to edit the RsReportServer.Config file to command the exporting extensions to only use PDF. That command files can be found via %Program > Files%Microsoft > SQL > ServerMSRS10.Reporting > ServicesReportServer.

30. Can one import or export Excel data into SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)?

No. Reporting services is unable to import data. It can only query data in the format it is stored in the respective native storage system. If we’re talking about creating reports and using Excel files as data services, then yes, reporting services can support a big variety of data sources that include Excel files. The best performance one can give is via the native .NET providers. But a user can connect to any data source, either OLEDB or ODBC, regardless if it comes from a third-party business or Microsoft.

31. Describe the key differences between a logical page and physical page is SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS).

Logical pages breaks describe page breaks that one would insert before and/or after report groups and items. Pages breaks are useful in determining how the content is placed in a report page for the most user-friendly viewing while rendering and exporting the report itself. Logical page breaks are put to the side and ignored for report items that are usually hidden, as well as for report items that have their visibility controlled by another report item. Logical page breaks are typically applied to conditionally seeable items if they are presently visible during the time the report is being rendered. Space is then preserved between the peer report items and the report item that has the logical page break. These are usually inserted before a report item to push the report item down to the second page. That report item is then rendered at the top of that page. Logica pages breaks within items in matrix cells or the table are not preserved. It’s worth noting that this does not apply to data items that reside in lists.

32. What are a few of the endpoints that were exposed by SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) 2012?

Some exposed endpoints include Management Endpoints, Execution Endpoints, and SharePoint Proxy Endpoints.

33. Describe some of the new and beneficial features that were introduced in SQL Server 2012 Reporting Services.

Six major changes were implemented with SQL Server 2012 Reporting Services. These include: The interactive data exploration component Power View. Full integration with SharePoint. An introduction to Data Alerts, which are data-driven alerting solutions that inform developers and users about changes in report data that are of relevance at a relevant time. The SQL Server Data tool. New rendering extensions that fully support Microsoft Office 2010. The introduction of Project Crescent.

34. Describe some of the new data sources types that were implemented in SQL Server Reporting Services 2014.

All of the previously available data source types, including Oracle, SQL Server, OLEDB, and ODBC, were preserved. New data source type additions in SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) 2014 include SQL Server Analysis Services, SQL Server Integration Services, SQL Server Report Builder, and Models XML through web-based services.

35. Can the current version of SQL Server Reporting Services support outside databases?

Yes. SQL Server Reporting Services can be built with data sources such as ODBC, OLEDB, and Oracle.

36. Describe SQL Server Reporting Services’s query parameter.

Query parameters lie within the query of data sources that are meant to be included in the SQL script’s “WHERE” clause that can accept parameters. Query parameters typically start with the @ symbol, so they are easy to find. Query parameters code should not begin with a number and cannot contain spaces, only utilizing letters.

37. What is a matrix in the context of SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)?

A matrix is simply a data region that is connected to a report set. The matric lets developers create crosstab reports along with the report variables showing rows and columns. This allows for simple drag and drop editing processes.

38. Describe subreports and their creation process.

A subreport is not unlike any other report that can be used in and generated by the main report. Main report parameters can be sent from the main report to the subreport easily, and the basis of that report can be properly generated.

39. What is a chart in the context of a report?

Graphical representation is necessary for SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), and chart reports are used for this very reason. One can create pie charts, columns, 3D charts, and various other visuals with SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS).

40. Is it possible to use data grids for reports in SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)?

Yes and no. An ASP.NET project exists that populates new data grids. Using a data grid as a data source for a report via SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is a wise choice, but it isn’t entirely possible to do with ease. A new set of reporting controls was added in Visual Studio 2010 to allow developers to report in a specified dataset via data that was supplied. Thus, if a developer tried to retrieve their data into a new dataset, they would bind the data grid to the dataset so that it would have data to display. The developer could use utilize that data set and render it as the data source for the necessary reporting controls. It’s worth noting that this only results in client-side reports, not server reports.

41. Describe ReportServer and ReportServerTempDB.

ReportServer and ReportServerTempDB are the two SQL server databases by default for storage. ReportServer is the default main database that stores all of the internal configuration information and report metadata. ReportServerTempdb is used to store temporary files and data, session details, and cached data.

42. Describe the main configuration files for SQL Server Reporting Services.

All of the configuration files for SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) are found within the Install Director. These include: RSReportServer.config, which stores all of the configuration settings for key areas of the Report Server service. RSSrvPolicy.config stores all relevant code access security protocols for various server extensions. RSMgrPolicy.config stores all code access security protocols for Report Manager. ReportingServicesService.exe.config stores configuration settings that determine the correct logging options for the Report Server service. RSReportDesigner.config contains settings for the Report Designer. RSPreviewPolicy.config stores all necessary server extensions used during the report preview.

43. Name the major limitations present by SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) Express Edition.

SQL Server Reporting Services Express Edition is quite handy because it offers free reporting services. However, there are a few issues and limitations. These include: Management Studio can’t be used to administer the report server. Report Models are not available. Report Builder is not available. Caching, History, and Delivery of Report is not available. SQL Server Agent is not available. It is not possible to schedule. Remote server database is not available for Report Data Source, and Local SQL Server is the only available option. It is not possible to store the report server database on a specified remote server and is local-only. Reports can be effectively rendered in Excel, PDF, and image formats exclusively. Reporting Services will not be able to use more than 1 GB of RAM on the system. No Standard or Data Driven subscriptions can be made. SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) cannot be integrated with SharePoint or implement role-based security.

44. Can you name the major alternative tools available in the industry that compete with SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)?

Yes. The big ones include Actuate, Hyperion (BRIO), SIEBEL-CRM, BusinessObjects, Oracle Express OLAP, Qlikview, Cognos, Informatica Power Analyzer, Proclarity, IntelliView, Dundas, Chart for .NET, MS-Excel, SAS, Micro Strategies, Pentaho, Jasper Reports, JFreeReport, Business Intelligence Reporting Tools (BIRT), Open Report, Data Vision, and Pentaho.

45. Describe how you would properly deploy a report in the various available methods.

SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) can deploy reports in three different ways, including Visual Studio, Report Server, and by creating the utility. Visual Studio allows for the direct deployment of a report through the Solution Explorer by reporting the report server URL in project properties via Target Server URL. This deploys the entire project or a single project and is the go-to for many developers. Report Server can be directly accessed and the report can be deployed via the disk location of the server. SQL server also allows for the facility access in order to create a custom utility to deploy the report.

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.

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