67 SAS Interview Questions and Example Answers

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated December 14, 2021 | Published February 8, 2021

Updated December 14, 2021

Published February 8, 2021

Many companies use SAS software tools to promote their business growth and get the most out of their data. Being able to interpret and program SAS operations can help you qualify for a range of technical roles that engage your critical thinking and problem-solving skills. When interviewing for an SAS role, you'll need to be able to answer a range of technical, situational and behavioral questions to demonstrate your SAS skills.

In this article, we share some common SAS interview questions that you can use to prepare for possible discussion topics during your next interview.

Related: How To Write a SAS Resume (With Template and Example)

What is SAS?

SAS refers to a group of statistical software tools from the SAS Institute that businesses use to collect and analyze data. SAS is a valuable skill for helping companies gather business intelligence and interpret information about their clients, industry and business practices. You can use SAS to aggregate and process large amounts of data using different programming and statistical modeling techniques, producing tables, graphics and statistics based on user input. SAS has many elements that businesses can implement, including:

  • Data management

  • Cybersecurity

  • Fraud prevention

  • Marketing analytics

  • Machine learning

  • Risk management

  • Visual presentation

  • Quality control

  • Data mining

  • Trial analysis

  • Code editing

  • Project management

  • Grid computing

  • Econometics

  • Operations research

  • Statistical analysis

Related: 8 Invaluable Data Engineering Skills

Job paths related to SAS

SAS has applications across several industries including software development, IT services, financial services, healthcare management, government and financial services. SAS roles can range from interpreting data reports to customizing the code of SAS software programs to create useful data sets. You can also use your knowledge of SAS to help businesses make evidence-based decisions or help clients troubleshoot their data management procedures. Here are some of the popular job titles that could use SAS:

  • SAS Analyst

  • SAS Programmer

  • Security analyst

  • Database developer

  • Clinical data programmer

  • Quality analyst

  • Customer analytics manager

  • Decision analyst

  • Database administrator

Related: Data Scientist Skills: Definitions and ExamplesGuide To Writing an Analytics Resume

10 SAS interview questions and sample answers

To earn a job where you use SAS, you should be prepared to discuss your relevant knowledge and skills in an interview. In addition to basic questions about goals and work habits, interviewers ask candidates for SAS roles about their technical knowledge of SAS software and the skills they use to improve computing processes. Review these example SAS questions and answers to start preparing for how you'll answer questions during an interview:

1. What is the significance of the date January 1, 1960, in SAS?

This beginner-level question helps employers identify which candidates know the basics of the SAS system. Employers ask this question to determine if candidates understand database date values in general and in reference to SAS in particular. When answering this question, discuss the general meaning of the date and how it impacts SAS operations.

Example: "In SAS, all dates count backward or forward to midnight on January 1, 1960. It is the relative point in time that anchors all values in a database, simplifying calculations for statistical analysis. All dates after January 1, 1960, have positive values while all dates before January 1, 1960, have negative values."

2. How do you determine which functions to automate with a macro?

SAS programmers and developers create automated macros to help their employer consistently track common searches. SAS professionals should be able to take the initiative to program new macros to simplify their workflows. You can use your response to demonstrate your efficiency, observation and problem-solving skills.

Example: "Any time I notice a similar report being requested or anticipate the need to monitor a particular metric, I create a macro to ensure I don't have to repeat work."

3. What resources would you use to find the answer to a SAS programming question?

SAS has almost unlimited functions due to it many versatile functions. Even experienced SAS experts may discover problems that they don't have an immediate solution to. Your answer to this question can show that you're willing to learn and able to use your resources in the workplace to develop SAS solutions.

Example: "If I have a question, I start by reviewing the SAS handbook and searching SAS forums before reporting to my senior colleagues about the problem."

4. How do you maintain code quality standards in your work?

SAS roles require you to understand and write code, and employers want to ensure that you can complete a high standard of work. Interviewers look for candidates who know the basics of proper coding syntax. Use this question to explain your plan for upholding coding conventions when executing operations in SAS,

Example: "I make sure my code meets standard conventions by always reviewing my work for common issues like misplaced spacing and punctuation."

5. What strategies do you use to improve your SAS skills?

SAS roles require an extensive amount or problem-solving and troubleshooting, so employers seek out job applicants who show growth potential. When describing your ability to grow your SAS capabilities, focus on how you've learned new SAS features to solve problems in other professional environments.

Example: "I take regular continuing education courses to ensure my SAS knowledge is up-to-date and find new ways to apply my existing skills."

6. How would you integrate multiple data sets in different formats?

SAS experts should be able to manipulate data reports and synthesize various types of information into a single data set. When responding to this question, you can give examples of how you visually represent different variables in SAS and explain your process for re-categorizing information in a database.

Example: "In past roles, I started by translating both data sets to a neutral form of organization, using common data fields to connect the two formats. Then, I'm able to turn the combined data set into charts and other visualizations as necessary."

Related: Top 38 Data Analyst Interview Questions

7. How does SAS process missing data values?

Interviewers ask this question to learn about your understanding of how SAS processes information, ensuring that you can properly interpret data reports. In your reply, discuss how SAS responds to unknown variables and explain the impact of missing data on your statistical analysis.

Example: "SAS automatically represents missing values with a period in the database. When processing data, you can also create provisions to stop the report if a field is empty."

8. How would you learn about the features of a new SAS update?

SAS is an evolving software suite that releases regular updates. Employers look for candidates who can adapt to the changes and new features of each version of SAS. Discuss how you stay informed about SAS updates and practice those changes in your work.

Example: "I always review the official SAS update statement to learn about new features, then practice using those features in a real database to get comfortable."

9. Describe each of the SAS data categories

Knowing the main types of data that SAS uses is essential for running useful data modeling reports and writing code that correctly accesses database information. List each category and talk about how they sort information in SAS.

Example: "The two data types in SAS are fixed character values and real numbers. They generate numerical statistics based on whatever measurements the clients track."

10. What would you do if a SAS macro suddenly stopped working?

Employers may ask you to describe what you would do in certain situations to assess your problem-solving process. This question reviews your knowledge of SAS macros and your ability to troubleshoot issues. Provide an overview of the steps you would take to diagnose and fix a broken macro.

Example: "If a macro stopped working, I'd restart the session then review the source code to look for where the execution failed. I'd also make sure that all values fit the requirements of the macro."

Related: SAS vs. R: What's the Difference?

General SAS questions

Interviewers ask these questions to establish your general knowledge base of SAS functions:

  • What are the primary features of SAS?

  • What are the data visualization tools in SAS and how do you use them?

  • How does the output function work in SAS?

  • How do you use linear regression to interpret data?

  • Explain the top SAS frameworks.

  • Give an example of how to use the index function.

  • What are the top benefits of SAS compared to other analytics tools?

  • What is the process for incorporating compressed observations into a data set?

  • What code would you use to rename a variable in a data set?

  • What are the names and functions of the basic SAS syntax elements?

  • What is PDV and how does it work with SAS?

  • What are SAS PROCs?

  • Describe one strategy for testing a SAS program and removing bugs.

  • Explain the concept of factor analysis and provide an example of how it works with SAS.

  • What are the differences between SAS and SQL?

  • List some SAS programming errors and how they can impact operations.

  • How do you sort data variables in SAS?

  • Explain the difference between the nodup and noddupkey functions and when to use each one.

  • Give an example of coding a dataset to only display 10 out of 200 total variables.

Related: 7 Data Analytics Certification Options (With Benefits)

SAS questions about experience and background

These questions address your professional experience with SAS and determine your ability to apply SAS concepts and skills in the workplace:

  • What versions of SAS are you comfortable with?

  • How did you become interested in SAS?

  • Describe your experience using UNIX.

  • What is the most challenging aspect of processing data with SAS?

  • What size databases have you worked with?

  • Have you ever migrated a data set to a new system?

  • Tell me about a data presentation you were proud of.

  • What is your experience preparing raw data for analysis?

  • What soft skills do you have that help you use SAS?

  • What SAS tools are essential for managing large data sets?

  • Tell me about a time you worked with a team to process a complex project.

  • Have you user used mapping software?

  • What is your experience with data security protocols?

  • Describe your experience with HTML and Java.

  • What reporting tools do you use most often?

  • Have you ever used SAS macros on a project?

  • What different applications of SAS are you familiar with?

  • Where did you learn the SAS interface?

  • Do you have experience preparing proposals based on statistical analysis reports?

In-depth SAS questions

Employers may ask more complex questions about how you would use SAS in different situations and accomplish core data modeling and analysis tasks:

  • How would you apply your SAS experience to this industry?

  • What strategies do you use to recognize data trends?

  • How would you use data linkage in our organization?

  • What do you see as the primary role of application reporting in a business?

  • How would you sort a data set using multiple restrictions?

  • When analyzing a data set, how do you validate your conclusions?

  • What types of data are most relevant to evaluating business decisions?

  • How do you determine the number of observations in a given SAS program?

  • Describe the steps of the Software Development Life Cycle and how you use them as a SAS developer.

  • What kinds of surveys would you create to gather data in SAS?

  • How do you decide what visual representation to use when presenting data?

  • How would you teach SAS to a programmer that's only familiar with SQL?

  • What would you do if you were having trouble processing a complex external file?

  • How do you communicate complex data reports to non-technical staff members?

  • What are the best practices for documenting SAS updates?

  • How would you maintain confidentiality when working with sensitive consumer information?

  • What are some of the advanced uses for the DATA_NULL_ command?

  • What outside reporting tools would you incorporate into our company workflow and why?

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