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Top 40 Power BI Interview Questions and Answers

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Power BI is a Business Intelligence tool developed by Microsoft in 2013. It combines several add-ons of Excel to build a new and completely independent BI tool. The demand for professionals skilled in this tool has grown rapidly in recent years. This blog on Power BI Interview Questions aims to prepare you for Power BI related job roles in major companies that offer great salaries. Skim through these popular Power BI interview questions for experienced and freshers to prepare yourself for the job interview:

Q1. What is Power BI?
Q2. Why use Power BI?
Q3. What is the difference between Managed Enterprise BI and Self-service BI?
Q4. What exactly is Self-service BI?
Q5. Why are you interested in Power BI? What makes you think that Power BI would be a great career option?
Q6. Mention the important features of Power BI
Q7. Is Power BI free to use?
Q8. What are the versions of Power BI?
Q9. What is Power BI Desktop?
Q10. What are the major components of Power BI?

We have classified this top Power BI Interview Questions and answers blog into three sections as mentioned below:

1. Basic Interview Questions

2. Intermediate Interview Questions

3. Advanced Interview Questions

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Top 40 Power BI Interview Questions and Answers in 2021

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Basic Power BI Interview Questions for Freshers

1. What is Power BI?

Power BI is a collection of Business Intelligence tools, techniques, and process that is used to extract valuable information from the raw business data by connecting, transforming, and visualizing raw data sets from multiple sources.

It provides the right tools to create interactive dashboards and live reports that can be shared and published on various platforms to help the business users and stakeholders make better decisions. With the competitive and highly categorized information, planners and decision-makers can track their performance in the market.

2. Why use Power BI?

Power BI provides a simple setup to connect, transform, and visualize the raw business data from multiple sources. Even non-technical users can extract valuable information from their business data and use it to make better decisions. It provides a secure cloud service that enables the user to view dashboards, reports and share them with other business users and stakeholders in real-time analysis.

Power BI provides AI features in the form of Power Query and Power Q&A. With Power Query, you can create the dashboards by simply typing in the columns and the visual you want to include. While Power Q&A allows you to analyze your data by giving voice commands.

Small businesses can use Power BI Desktop to visualize their business data without spending their time and money in maintaining a separate team for data analysis.

3. What is the difference between Managed Enterprise BI and Self-service BI?

The limitations of Managed Enterprise BI led to the birth of Self-service BI. There are significant differences that separate them.

Managed Enterprise BI Self-service BI
Here, data flows in from a plethora of sources and, for this reason, there is no order in which companies ingest and manage their data sources. This enables companies to ingest data from any data source, seamlessly. Companies take in data from any source in any format.
Companies fail to conduct their business operations, effectively, as they are not able to report and analyze data and collaborate for collecting valuable insights from it. With data ingestion falling into order, companies are able to process data and, consequently, conduct business operations with ease.
There are time constraints and a lack of proper information when it comes to analyzing data. Analyzing data is easy, and it is done implicitly. Time constraints are hence alleviated.
Third-party vendors are employed to help companies make the most out of their data sources, leading to budget problems and slow productivity. There is no need for third-party vendors anymore and all associated constraints are eradicated.
Complex programming skills are necessary for generating reports. Users could generate intuitive and actionable dashboards almost instantaneously without executing complex programming codes.

4. What exactly is Self-service BI?

Self-service BI or Self-service Business Intelligence (SSBI) is an approach to data analytics, reporting, and visualization that enables users to generate easy-to-understand, intuitive, and actionable dashboards, almost instantaneously.

Self-Service BI

The most striking feature of SSBI is the fact that users are not required to be adept at technical expertise when it comes to data reporting. Using available filters and data manipulation options, they can influence data as per their business needs and further create reports. There are two parts to Microsoft SSBI:

  • Excel BI toolkit
  • Power BI

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5. Why are you interested in Power BI? What makes you think that Power BI would be a great career option?

A cloud-based data reporting and visualization tool, Power BI makes it possible for users to generate reports online. Once reports are generated, users can share them with their colleagues in their workplace. This aspect of Power BI makes it quite popular among business users. And therefore, Power BI is both an interesting and promising career option.

6. Mention the important features of Power BI.

Features of Power BI are many. The most notable ones are:

  • It allows users to transform data into visuals and share those visuals with colleagues.
  • It allows users to explore and analyze data from all sources (in an all-in-one view).
  • It allows users to scale across organizations with built-in governance and security.
  • Once an output is generated, users can display the same in multiple devices that are compatible with the Power BI application.
  • With Power BI natural language processing or Power BI Q&A, users can perform queries on reports using simple English words.

7. Is Power BI free to use?

Well, users can use Power BI for free. However, the best of Power BI can be availed with the Power BI Pro subscription account. This can be purchased from the Microsoft Store. The subscription account basically offers an enhanced version of several features that are available with the Power BI free account. Most business users use a subscribed account as it offers more data refreshes per day and other features as compared to the free version.

8. What are the versions of Power BI?

Power BI brings in a lot of flexibility when it comes to data reporting and visualization. For this reason, the complete Power BI package has been divided into three versions. These versions allow all kinds of users to leverage the functionalities of Power BI to the fullest.

The versions are:

  • Power BI Desktop: The on-premise version for Windows 10
  • Power BI Service: For publishing to the cloud
  • Mobile Power BI: For mobile users

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9. What is Power BI Desktop?

Power BI Desktop is a Windows desktop-based application for personal computers, primarily for designing, generating, and publishing reports to the cloud. Used as an on-premise version of Power BI, Power BI Desktop can run on PCs and work full-fledged even when the system is not connected to the Internet. Just when users want to publish their reports to the cloud or share with colleagues, they are supposed to connect to the Internet. Power BI Desktop is basically the first application that users jump into when they board on Power BI.

10. What are the major components of Power BI?

There are five different components of Power BI.

  • Power Pivot: Fetches and cleans data and loads on to Power Query
  • Power Query: Operates on the loaded data
  • Power Q&A: Makes it possible for users to interact with reports using simple English language
  • Power View: Lets users create interactive charts, graphs, maps, and other visuals
  • Power Map: Enables the processing of accurate geographic locations in datasets

11. What is the purpose of the ‘Get Data’ icon in Power BI?

When users click on the Get Data icon in Power BI, a drop-down menu appears and it shows all data sources from which data can be ingested.

Get Data in Power BI

Data can actually be directly ingested from any source including files in Excel, CSV, XML, JSON, PDF, and SharePoint formats and databases such as SQL, Access, SQL Server Analysis Services, Oracle, IBM, MySQL, and much more. Also, Power BI datasets and Power BI data flows are compatible. Data can also be taken in from Azure and other online sources.

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12. How can we filter data in Power BI?

Data can be filtered using various filters that are available in Power BI, implicitly. There are basically three types of filters, namely, Page-level filters, Drillthrough filters, and Report-level filters.

  • Drillthrough filters: With Drillthrough filters in Power BI Desktop, users can create a page in their reports that focuses on specific entities such as suppliers, customers, or manufacturers.
  • Page-level filters: These are used to filter charts that are present on individual pages.
  • Report-level filters: They are used to simultaneously filter charts that are present on all pages of a report.

13: How is Power BI different from other BI tools?

Power BI provides better features and data manipulation tools as compared to other BI tools like Tableau. A single user can connect with multiple data sources without any experience in coding and data analytics. As a product of Microsoft, Power BI is closely integrated with other Microsoft tools such as Office 365, SharePoint, and Bing.

In the free version of Power BI Desktop, the user can analyze datasets of up to 1GB in storage along with 10,000 rows of data steaming every hour. Moreover, it provides features like Power Query which allows the user to easily visualize the datasets by giving the command in the natural English language.

14: MSBI vs Power BI

Below are the key differences between the MSBI and Power BI:

MSBI Power BI
SSRS in MSBI is used to integrate the processing components and programming interfaces to test and share the reports on various devices. Power Bi is a collection of BI tools and techniques that allows the user to create dashboards and reports by transforming the raw business data into visually interactive charts, maps, and graphs.
It cannot access the data from cloud storage. Can access the data from both On-premise and cloud storage.
MSBI can handle large datasets without putting much stress on the computer systems. Power BI can handle datasets of a maximum of 10MB or 33,000 rows. The user has to run direct queries if the data exceeds the limit.
SSRS in MSBI can only be used to create visualizations and reports. Power BI is used to create data models, reports, and dashboards, which you can access and share via Power BI Apps and web browsers.

15: Power BI vs Tableau

Below are some of the major differences between Power BI and Tableau:

Power BI Tableau
Power BI can handle a limited volume of datasets. Can handle huge datasets without affecting the performance of the system.
Can be used by both naive and experienced users. Used by experienced professionals for data analytics purposes.
Power BI has an easy-to-learn interface that helps the user to visualize the data and create reports. The interface is difficult to understand by a non-technical user.
Provides an easy way for embedding the reports. It’s a real-time challenge for embedding reports in Tableau.
Power BI uses Data Analysis Expression(DAX) to build formulas and expressions for measuring the columns. Tableau uses Multidimensional Expressions(MDX) to create complex calculations and measure columns and dimensions.

16: What are the essential applications of Power BI?

Power BI is used by the following professionals and departments:

  • Project Management Office: Power BI is used by project managers to identify the current situation of various business units. It helps them to see the overall performance of the team and track the progress of various projects.
  • Business and Data Analysts: Business Analysts use Power BI to analyze the raw business data at greater speeds and efficiency. They prepare the data by cleaning and transforming it based on specific requirements and prepare live reports to express the raw in the form of visual insights.
  • Database Administrators: By using the PowerShell or Microsoft 365, the database administrator can increase the Power BI embedded capacity and assign the roles to different team members. With Power BI, the Database Administrators can set the passwords and decide who can access the reports and dashboards in Power BI.
  • IT Professionals: IT professionals can use Power BI to create stunning visualizations and dashboards to track their performance and visualize various log files for the meetings. It also helps them to find out the areas where the team needs to work on and improve their performance.
  • Reports for the consumer: With Power BI, the business user can add custom reports to various applications designed from the consumer’s perceptive. For example, you can create a report that shows your daily sales down in different countries and add it to your social media profiles, websites, and applications. This will show the consumer your product’s popularity and will motivate him to buy it.

17: Advantages of using Power BI?

Here are a few advantages of using Power BI over other applications:

  • ETL/Data Recovery Suite: Power BI has a robust set of tools for implementing the ETL(extraction, transformation, and loading the datasets) capabilities. Data preparation and transformation are very important before moving to the visualization part. Power BI allows the user to directly build reporting datamarts and remove any ambiguities present in the datasets.
  • Custom Visualization: Power BI provides you the flexibility of creating custom visualizations and add them to your dashboards and live reports. Custom reports help the planners and decision-makers to identify the problems and make the best decision to improve their performance in the market.
  • Q&A Capability: Power BI is capable of executing natural language queries with the help of Power Query and Power Q&A. Power Bi use AI and Natural Language Processing(NLP) algorithms to process the commands given by the user and produce the desired results.
  • Easy to use: You don’t need to be an expert to visualize your data and create reports in Power BI. It has a simple interface that allows even a non-technical user to transform the raw data into visually interactive dashboards and reports.
  • Price: Compared to other BI and data visualization tools, Power BI is highly affordable. Small businesses can use power BI for free and take smart decisions to improvise their performance in the market. Moreover, Power BI Pro comes with an array of features for just $10 a month.

18. What are the building blocks of Power BI?

Below are the building blocks of Power BI:

  • Visualizations: These are the visual representations of the raw data collected from varied data sources. Visualizations can be different types such as line graphs, donut charts, pie charts, bar graphs, maps, etc.
  • Datasets: It’s a collection that Power BI uses to create visualizations and reports. Datasets in Power BI can be of different types such as Excel sheets, CSV files, Oracle tables, and more.
  • Reports: A report in Power BI is a collection of visualizations bought together on a single or multiple pages. Each visualization in a report shows the specific aspect of the data based on the requirements. For example, profit by-products, sales by country, city report, etc.
  • Dashboards: Dashboards are single-layer presentations with one or more visualizations embedded on a single page. Dashboards can be shared on various platforms like Power BI Apps to provide live information.
  • Tiles: Tiles are the single visualizations in a dashboard or report. For example, a pie chart, line graph, or any other visualization is a single tile in Power BI.

Next up on this top Power BI interview questions and answers, let us check out some of the top Power BI questions that come under the intermediate category.

Intermediate MS Power BI Interview Questions

19. Where is data stored in Power BI?

When data is ingested into Power BI, it is basically stored in Fact and Dimension tables.

  • Fact tables: The central table in a star schema of a data warehouse, a fact table stores quantitative information for analysis and is not normalized in most cases.
  • Dimension tables: It is just another table in the star schema that is used to store attributes and dimensions that describe objects stored in a fact table.

20. What are content packs?

Content packs are packaged reports, dashboards, and datasets, which can be shared with other Power BI users in the organization. When a content pack is connected on the Powerbi.com portal, report items are merged into workspace lists.

The most notable features of content packs are as follows:

  • Provide access to specific groups or entire organizations
  • Can be customized with a title and a description to help users select the right pack
  • Users who have access to the content pack can create new dashboards from the contents

21. What are the different views in Power BI Desktop?

There are three different views in Power BI, each of which serves a different purpose:

Views in Power BI

  • Report View: Users can add visualizations and additional report pages and publish the same on the portal from here.
  • Data View: Data shaping can be performed through Query Editor tools.
  • Relationship View: Users can manage relationships between datasets in this view.

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22. What is row-level security?

Row-level security restricts the data that a user can view and has access to, based on filters. For configuring row-level security, users can define rules and roles in Power BI Desktop and publish the same to Power BI Service. Also, the username() function can be used alongside table relationships to restrict the data to the current user.

Row Level Security

However, for enabling row-level security, a Power BI Pro subscription account is required, and Excel sheets can only be used when they are converted to the .pbix file format.

23. What is DAX? What are the benefits of using variables in DAX?

DAX or Data Analysis Expressions can be used to query and return data by a table expression. It is a formula language that is used to perform basic calculations and data analysis on the data in Power Pivot. Also, it is used to compute calculated columns, calculated fields, and measures. However, data cannot be inserted or modified using DAX.

DAX Syntax:

Total Sales = SUM(Sales[SalesAmount])

Where ‘Total Sales’ is a ‘Measure’; ‘SUM’ is a ‘DAX Function’, and ‘Sales[SalesAmount]’ represents the referenced table and the referenced column name.

Benefits of using variables in DAX:

  • Variables can be reused in DAX queries, thus avoiding additional queries of the source database.
  • Variables make DAX expressions understandable.

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24. What is bidirectional cross-filtering in Power BI?

Bidirectional cross-filtering in Power BI Desktop allows data modelers to determine how they want filters to flow for data using relationships between tables. With bidirectional cross-filtering, the filter context is propagated to a second related table on the other side of a table relationship. This can help data modelers solve the many-to-many problem without writing complicated DAX formulas. Thus, bidirectional cross-filtering simplifies the job for data modelers.

25. How are relationships defined in Power BI Desktop?

If there are no null values or duplicate rows, relationships between tables can be defined in two ways:

  • Manually: Users can manually define relationships between tables using primary and foreign keys.
  • With the autodetect feature: When enabled, this inherent feature of Power BI detects relationships between tables and creates them automatically.

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26. What do you know about Power BI Query Editor?

By using Power BI Query Editor, users can load data from a wider number of data sources and apply transformations to them, including adding new columns and measures.
Power BI Query Editor comprises four tabs:

Query Editor Tab Use Case
Home
  • Import data from Query Editor into the New Query group
  • Use the Parameter group to create and manage parameters
  • Include a function to refresh the preview data for the current table, or all tables, in the dataset
  • Manage columns, reduce rows, and sort groups
Transform
  • Change the data types of columns, rename columns, replace values, and fix errors in the Any Column group
  • The structured column group provides options for working with the nested data
  • Run R Script function enables to run R Queries directly on Power BI Query Editor
Add Column
  • Use Add Custom Column to create a new column using a DAX formula
  • Use Conditional Column to add a column based on the values in another column
  • Use the From Number group to apply statistical, standard, and scientific functions to numerical columns
View
  • Show or hide Query Editor Settings
  • From here, the Advanced Editor window can be opened to view and edit the query code

27. What is Advanced Editor in Power BI?

Advanced Editor can be used to see the query that Power BI runs against data sources to import data.

  • The query is written in M-code, the Power Query Formula Language
  • To view the query code from Power BI Desktop, choose Edit Queries from the Home tab
  • From either the Home or the View tab, click on Advanced Editor to work on the query. The Advanced Editor window opens, displaying the code for the currently selected query
  • When we make transformations to our data in Query Editor, the steps are saved to the Applied Steps in the Query Settings
  • These steps are also applied to the code in the Advanced Editor

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28. Why should general formatting be applied to data in Power BI?

By formatting data, users can help Power BI categorize and identify data, making it much easier to work with.

  • Enter a custom formula to create a new column, including calculations using values from the other columns
  • To create a new column, click on Add Custom Column
  • In the new column name box, type the name of the column and add the formula to the custom column formula box; for example, [ShipDate] – [OrderDate]
  • Select a column from the available columns list and click on Insert or double-click to add it to the custom column formula text box. Then, click on OK
  • The new column is appended to the table, and the formula is visible in the Formula Bar

Custom Column Formula:

= Table.AddColumn(#"Sorted Rows",
"DaysOrderToShip", each [ShipDate] -
[OrderDate])

The above code is the formula to create a custom column, which calculates the days from when an order was placed to when it got shipped.

29: Name the different connectivity modes available in Power BI?

There are three main connectivity modes available in Power BI:

  • SQL Server Import: It’s the default and most commonly used connectivity option in Power BI. With SQL Server Import, the user can fully utilize the Power BI Desktop. You can easily connect the SQL Server data with Power BI and run queries on it.
  • Direct Query: Direct queries can be executed on datasets exceeding the recommended size. In this case, Power BI will only store the metadata of the source and execute direct queries on it. However, it limits the operations you can perform to prepare your data for reporting.
  • Live Connections: Power BI Service can be used to connect with live data sources such as SQL Server Analysis Services, Power BI Datasets hosted by Power BI Service, and Azure Analysis Service. In a live connection, all the interactions will be done using direct queries.

30: What are the different types of refresh options available in Power BI?

There are four types of refresh options available in Power BI:

  • Package Refresh: It synchronizes your data in Power BI Desktop or Excel files between Power BI service and SharePoint Online and OneDrive.
  • Model or Data Refresh: Refresh the data available in Power BI Service with the data stored in the original data source.
  • Tile refresh: This feature updates the cache for Power BI tiles every 15 minutes on the dashboards.

Visual Container Refresh: Used to refresh the visual containers and the visuals of cached reports once the data is changed.

Advanced Power BI Interview Questions for Experienced Professional

31. What are the most common data shaping techniques?

The most common data shaping techniques are:

  • Removing Columns and Rows
  • Adding Indexes
  • Applying a Sort Order

32. What is the difference between Calculated Columns, Calculated Tables, and Measures?

Calculated Columns Calculated Tables Measures
  • Added to tables by applying DAX formula on the existing data
  • DAX formula defines values in new columns rather than querying data sources
  • Useful when data sources do not contain data presented in the desired format
  • Created using DAX formula to define values
  • Created in both Report and Data views
  • Work well for intermediate calculations and the data that users want to be stored in the model
  • Use other DAX functions to create complex calculations
  • Used for highlighting running totals, comparing sales, sales forecasting, and other purposes
  • Created in both Report and Data views

 

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33. Which In-memory Analytics Engine is used in Power Pivot?

The primary in-memory analytics engine behind Power Pivot is xVelocity. This engine handles large amounts of data as it stores data in columnar databases. In in-memory analytics, all data is loaded to RAM memory, and therefore, the processing speed is really fast.

34. What is Power BI Designer?

A powerful and flexible new tool under the Power BI umbrella, Power BI Designer empowers users to create intuitive reports and dashboards, easily and quickly and also lets the users change visual views of their data at their fingertips for better analytics and informed decision-making. This designer is a host of drag-and-drop capabilities that help users place content exactly where they want it on the report canvas in a well-structured layout.

Power BI Designer

35. Is it possible to refresh Power BI Reports after they are published to the cloud?

Yes, it is possible. Gateways can be used to do so.

  • For SharePoint: Data Management Gateway
  • For Powerbi.com: Power BI Personal Gateway

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36. What gateways are available in Power BI, and why use them?

A gateway basically acts as a bridge between on-premise data sources and Azure Cloud Services.

  • Personal Gateway: Data can be imported and valid on Power BI Service only. Also, this gateway can only be used by a single person.
  • On-premises Gateway: This gateway is the advanced form of Personal gateway. It supports Direct Query, and multiple users can use this for refreshing data.

37. How can geographic data be mapped into Power BI Reports?

Through a map chart and a filled map chart, Power BI makes it possible for users to visually map geographic data, both globally and regionally.

  • Power BI integrates with Bing Maps to find default coordinates for locations in a process known as geocoding.
  • This integration means that users do not need to provide longitude and latitude coordinates.

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38. What happens when you click on a single data point in one of the multiple visuals in a report?

When we do that, data gets selected and copied to the clipboard. Further, the copied data can be pasted anywhere as per the requirement of the user.

39. What is z-order in Power BI?

Z-order is a design strategy that is used for arranging visuals over shapes. Also, z-order can be defined as an implementation method that can be applied when reports have multiple elements. Further, this can also be used to refresh the display after the order of items in a report is changed.

40. What is the prerequisite for connecting to a database in Azure SQL Database?

There is only one prerequisite for this. Before connecting to a database in Azure SQL Database, users should configure firewall settings to allow remote connections.

41: What are some ways that Excel experience can be leveraged with Power BI?

In Power BI, the excel experience can be leveraged in the following ways:

  • Power BI Publisher for Excel:
    • The charts, tables, and ranges can be pinned to Power Bi Service.
    • Datasets and reports stored in Power BI Service can be used to connect with the publisher for Excel.
  • Excel workbooks can be used for Power BI report creation by exploring the models in tables in Excel.
  • Pivot models of Excel workbooks can be imported to Power BI Desktop models and to save both time and effort.
  • You can upload Excel workbooks in Power BI and view them on a web browser, Power BI Desktop, or Power BI Apps.
  • Like any other report, Excel reports can be shared on Power BI Service with other users.

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