COBOL is the acronym for Common Business Oriented Language and precedes all other programming languages. The origin of COBOL is credited to the US Department of Defense and was formed during the Conference on Data Systems Language- CODASYL, held for developing a business data processing language. It is exclusively used for application program writing and not for software application writing.

With this short introduction, let’s introduce the COBOL interview questions containing 50 questions leading through the topic of COBOL and having increasing difficulty levels like Basic, Intermediate and Advanced questions asked in COBOL interviews.

List of Questions

The COBOL interview questions generally start with COBOL basic interview questions and definitions of COBOL DB2 interview questions, comp variables in COBOL, mainframe COBOL interview questions etc. The COBOL interview questions and answers for those who have some experience or knowledge in writing programs also include COBOL interview questions on file handling, which can quickly move into some tricky questions and differentiating between what commands can do and how they perform.

  • Simple COBOL interview questions:

1) What is the long-form of COBOL?

2) What data types are used in COBOL, and how are they different?

3) Explain the differences between what is index and subscript in COBOL.

4) When does one perform a PARAGRAPH and a SECTION, and what are the differences between them?

5) Explain the differences between the terms NEXT SENTENCE and CONTINUE.

6) What different modes of OPEN can one use in Cobol?

7) Explain the differences between Dynamic linking and Static linking?

8) Where is the EVALUATE statement used?

9) Explain the differences between the commands PERFORM … WITH TEST BEFORE and PERFORM … WITH TEST AFTER?

10) In a copy statement, what does the REPLACING option achieve?

11) Explain what is ON SIZE ERROR option and the different kinds of error trapped by it.

12) Explain the differences between Object-Oriented COBOL programming and Structured COBOL Programming.

13) What is meant by the term LOCAL-STORAGE SECTION in COBOL?

14) Explain the differences between the OUTPUT PROCEDURE and INPUT PROCEDURE.

15) How does one use the COBOL LINKAGE SECTION?

16) How does one use the various START statement access modes?

17) Explain what is meant by the operation in-line PERFORM in COBOL.

18) Which paragraphs and division are mandatory when using a COBOL program?

19) Explain the differences between External and Global Variables.

20) Explain what is indicated by Pic 9v99 in COBOL.

21) When writing a structured COBOL program, what guidelines should one follow?

22) How does one obtain from the system the current century and the current date?

23) Explain the COBOL program divisions.

24) What is meant by NOSSRANGE and SSRANGE in COBOL?

25) Explain what are COMP-2 and COMP-1 in COBOL.

26) Explain the difference in COBOL between PIC9v99 and PIC 9.99.

27) In a COBOL string, explain what is meant by the Purpose of the Pointer.

28) Explain the term binary search.

29) What are the fundamental differences between a sequential search and a binary search?

30)  If using COBOL to perform a search on a table, explain what is meant by without or with Index?

31) Explain the types of ‘Search’ rules in COBOL.

32) For a PERFORM statement, what is the default value? Explain the statements TEST AFTER and TEST BEFORE.

33) Explain the various rules of SORT in COBOL operations?

34) If a SEARCH statement is used on a table with 2 defined indices which one is used?

35) When does one mandatorily use a scope terminator?

36) When using REWRITE, why is it required to have the file opened in the I/O mode?

37) How can one find a called module STATICALLY and DYNAMICALLY?

38) Explain PERFORM…VARYING’s equivalent Search verb.

39) In Data Division, how many Sections are present?

40) Explain the differences between comp-3 and comp usage.

41) What happens with the statement Exit?

42) Explain a few of the command terminators with an example.

43) Explain the differences between a Link and a Call.

44) Explain the various modes used in sequential file-operations.

45) What is the maximum value in bytes that a S(8) comp field occupies?

46) What are arrays as defined by COBOL?

47) Explain what is meant by the term literals in COBOL.

48) What is meant by a COBOL report item?

49) Can the field of X(200) be redefined in COBOL to values less than 200?

50) Explain the length of COBOL programming.


COBOL interview questions cover definitions of COBOL, which is very popularly used for large data processing applications. It is a business language used to write programs for applications and is not used for writing software applications. In the above COBOL interview questions, the list is beginner’s COBOL interview questions, the COBOL interview questions for those who have a fair knowledge of COBOL programming and COBOL interview questions for those who have used COBOL before.

While preparing for the COBOL interview, it is a great idea to use online free resources to make up an exhaustive list of questions on COBOL, revise topics like the definitions of various terms from COBOL, prepare for easy questions regarding the uses and applications of COBOL and elucidate on how various commands in COBOL can be executed etc. All the best for the COBOL interview!

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