Dropbox SQL Interview
Career Development

Top Dropbox SQL Interview Questions

SQL proficiency is the most important skill for data engineering and data science roles at Dropbox. As a company that manages vast amounts of data, Dropbox looks for candidates who can efficiently query and manipulate large data sets to derive meaningful insights and build data-driven solutions. The interview process often includes SQL challenges that require candidates to demonstrate their problem-solving skills with joins, aggregations, and advanced functions.

Let’s explore some of the top SQL interview questions at Dropbox. We’ll walk through real-world examples and provide detailed solutions to help you understand what to expect and how to tackle the challenges effectively. Whether you’re preparing for a technical interview at Dropbox or just want to hone your SQL skills, these questions will give you valuable insight into the types of problems you’ll encounter. We’ll also share tips on how to approach these interviews strategically, so you can confidently tackle SQL questions and present well-optimized solutions that align with Dropbox’s data needs.

Dropbox Interview Process

The Dropbox interview process starts with an initial screening where candidates speak with a recruiter about their background, relevant projects, and technical skills. This step helps identify whether their experience aligns with the requirements of the role and if they are genuinely interested in Dropbox’s culture and mission.

Once past the recruiter, candidates often participate in a technical screen led by an engineer. Here, the focus is on coding challenges and problem-solving skills. The interviewer might ask candidates to solve problems involving algorithms, data structures, and SQL queries. This stage evaluates the candidate’s foundational knowledge, coding ability, and logical approach.

Some candidates may receive a take-home coding challenge to solve real-world problems. The challenge requires candidates to work through complex data scenarios using the tools and programming languages commonly used at Dropbox. The goal is to showcase the candidate’s technical skills through clean, well-documented code.

Next comes the virtual onsite interview round. Here, candidates face multiple interviews with team members and engineering managers. Technical interviews focus on whiteboard coding challenges and system design problems. These challenges assess a candidate’s ability to design scalable architectures and solve complex data problems. Behavioral interviews are designed to uncover how well a candidate works with others and overcomes challenges. Finally, the cultural fit interview examines alignment with Dropbox’s values.

After the interviews, Dropbox conducts a thorough review to determine the candidate’s fit with the company’s needs and culture. Those who pass the assessment receive an offer detailing salary, benefits, and additional perks.

The total pay for a Data Engineer at Dropbox ranges from $218,000 to $308,000 per year, with a median total pay of $256,000. This range represents the comprehensive compensation package, which includes base salary, bonuses, and additional benefits.

Key SQL Topics for Dropbox Interviews 

Interview questions often challenge candidates to demonstrate their knowledge in areas like joins, subqueries, aggregations, and window functions. Key SQL topics that are commonly covered:

Joins and subqueries

Joining tables helps retrieve data from multiple sources by combining rows based on related columns. Candidates should be comfortable using different types of joins and understand the differences between them.

Subqueries, or nested queries, provide a way to filter, aggregate, or transform data within another query.

Join typeDescription
INNER JOINRetrieves rows that have matching values in both tables
LEFT JOINRetrieves all rows from the left table and matching rows from the right
RIGHT JOINRetrieves all rows from the right table and matching rows from the left
CROSS JOINProduces the Cartesian product of the two tables

Aggregations and Window Functions

Aggregations are vital for summarizing data, and window functions help analyze rows based on partitions.

  • Functions like SUM(), AVG(), and COUNT() are frequently used to compute sums, averages, and counts over grouped data.
  • These functions (e.g., ROW_NUMBER(), RANK(), LAG(), and CUME_DIST()) operate over a set of rows defined by a window or partition. They are essential for performing cumulative calculations or finding trends within data subsets.

Example window function:




  RANK() OVER (PARTITION BY customer_id ORDER BY order_date) AS order_rank



Filtering and sorting

Filtering data using WHERE and HAVING clauses helps refine query results based on specified criteria.

WHERE Clause: Filters rows before aggregations are applied.

HAVING Clause: Filters results after aggregation is performed.

Sorting is done using the ORDER BY clause, which arranges data in ascending or descending order based on one or more columns.

Example filtering and sorting query:



  COUNT(employee_id) AS employee_count




  hire_date >= '2020-01-01'




  COUNT(employee_id) > 10


  employee_count DESC;

Mastering these SQL topics will help you excel in your Dropbox interviews. By understanding joins, subqueries, aggregations, and window functions, you’ll be prepared to tackle a wide range of problems efficiently. Sign up on the Data Engineer Academy website to access a comprehensive set of resources and practice SQL topics online. With detailed tutorials, coding challenges, and expert guidance, you’ll refine your skills and increase your chances of acing technical interviews like those at Dropbox.

Top Dropbox SQL Interview Questions 

Preparing for SQL interview questions at Dropbox involves understanding key concepts like joins, subqueries, window functions, and aggregation. The questions are designed to test your problem-solving abilities and your skill in querying complex datasets efficiently. Let’s delve into some common types of SQL questions you might encounter, along with sample solutions:

Writing complex Joins and Subqueries

Question: “Write a query to find all customers who have placed more than three orders in the past year, including their names and the total number of orders.”




  COUNT(o.order_id) AS total_orders


  customers c


  orders o ON c.customer_id = o.customer_id


  o.order_date >= DATE_SUB(CURDATE(), INTERVAL 1 YEAR)




  COUNT(o.order_id) > 3;

The query joins the customers and orders tables based on the customer_id column. The WHERE clause filters orders to the last year, while GROUP BY aggregates the orders by customer name. Finally, the HAVING clause selects customers with more than three orders.

Aggregating data with window functions

Question: Write a query that ranks each employee’s salary within their department.






  RANK() OVER (PARTITION BY department_id ORDER BY salary DESC) AS salary_rank



The RANK() function ranks salaries within each department, thanks to the PARTITION BY clause that groups employees by department_id.

Filtering data with subqueries

Question: Write a query to find the products that haven’t been ordered in the last six months.






  products p


  p.product_id NOT IN (




      orders o


      o.order_date >= DATE_SUB(CURDATE(), INTERVAL 6 MONTH)


The main query retrieves all products except those that appear in the subquery, which finds products ordered in the last six months. Using NOT IN ensures that only products without recent orders are returned.

Advanced aggregations and grouping

Question: Write a query to find the average order value per customer in each region.





  AVG(o.order_total) AS avg_order_value


  customers c


  orders o ON c.customer_id = o.customer_id




The query aggregates the average order total per customer using GROUP BY, first by region and then by customer. This allows a detailed breakdown of order values per customer within each region.

List of potential real-world SQL interview questions you might encounter at Dropbox or other data engineering roles:

  • How would you write a query to find customers who have placed orders in both the last year and the year before?
  • Write a query to list all products that have never been ordered.
  • How would you join two tables, customers and orders, to find the total number of orders per customer?
  • Write a query to calculate the average order value per region and sort the results by region name.
  • How would you count the number of orders for each product category in the last quarter?
  • Write a query to rank employees based on their sales performance within each department.
  • How would you calculate a moving average of daily revenue over the past seven days?
  • Write a query to find customers who have placed more orders than the average number of orders per customer.
  • How would you identify orders placed by customers with a credit rating above a certain threshold?
  • Write a query to identify and return all duplicate entries in the users’ table based on email addresses.
  • How would you write a query to find the top three products sold by revenue for each month?

Tips for Excelling in Dropbox SQL Interviews by Data Engineer Academy

Master the fundamentals:

Brush up on the basics, including different types of joins (INNER, LEFT, and CROSS), subqueries, and group functions like SUM(), COUNT(), and AVG(). Ensure you’re comfortable writing efficient queries that accurately handle filtering and sorting data.

Practice on real-world datasets:

Use public datasets to simulate the type of data you’ll work with within a real-world environment. By solving challenges with realistic data, you’ll gain confidence in writing complex queries while uncovering edge cases and performance pitfalls.

Understand business context:

Dropbox’s SQL interview questions often involve business scenarios like customer orders and product trends. Be ready to interpret requirements within a business context and understand how data relationships impact the bottom line. This will help you present more insightful and relevant answers.

Optimize for readability and efficiency:

While accuracy is paramount, Dropbox also values clean, readable, and efficient SQL code. Always aim to write optimized queries that are easy to understand and maintain. Indexing and proper use of joins can help minimize query execution time.

Leverage window functions:

Become proficient in using window functions like RANK(), ROW_NUMBER(), LAG(), and LEAD(). They are vital for solving ranking, cumulative, and comparative problems in datasets and can be a key differentiator in SQL interviews.

Familiarize yourself with SQL Documentation and Blogs:

Explore the official SQL documentation and read blogs that focus on advanced query optimization, window functions, and new features. Staying current with SQL updates can give you new ways to solve challenges.

Review SQL query execution plans:

Analyze execution plans to understand how the database processes your queries. Execution plans can highlight inefficient joins or scanning patterns that slow down queries, allowing you to refine your approach.

Practice Mock interviews:

Simulate the interview environment with mock interviews. Work with peers or a mentor to practice coding challenges, refining your ability to articulate your thought process and identify potential blind spots.

Align with Dropbox values:

Demonstrate how your SQL solutions align with Dropbox’s collaborative and data-driven culture. Share examples from past projects that showcase your ability to solve technical problems and work with cross-functional teams.


Excel in Dropbox interviews by mastering essential SQL concepts like joins, subqueries, aggregations, and window functions. It’s not just about technical expertise; align your solutions with business implications to demonstrate how your skills can translate into meaningful insights for Dropbox’s data-driven culture.

Optimized and well-structured SQL code is key. Your answers should not only be accurate but also efficient and maintainable. Practice with realistic datasets to refine your ability to solve complex data challenges while ensuring your problem-solving approach is clear and logical.

Review and refine your SQL solutions to enhance your ability to tackle technical challenges methodically. This iterative approach helps you gain confidence and communicate effectively during interviews.

To fully prepare and increase your chances of securing a data engineer role at Dropbox, book a call with Data Engineer Academy. With personalized training, courses, and expert coaching, you’ll receive the tools and guidance needed to build comprehensive skills and ace the interview process.