Responsible for conducting market analysis, examining product lines and gauging the overall profitability of a business, amongst a host of other things – a business analyst casts their magnifying glass over a range of systems and operations. Their analytical, technological and communicative skills help executives and managers make better business decisions.
But before any of that can happen, they need to succeed in their interview. And while job requirements can often vary depending on the company, similarities are sure to appear when it comes to the kinds of questions you’ll be asked.
To help you know what to expect from a typical business analyst interview, we’ll run through a selection of the most common interview questions, along with the answers that are going to seriously impress your interviewers.
The typical interview process for a business analyst
Generally, you can expect to attend two or three interviews for most business analyst positions.
The first of these may be a phone screening with either a third-party recruiter or an internal recruiter from the company’s HR department. Here, they’ll be looking to get a sense of your personal qualities, rather than specific skills.
The second and third interviews may involve several interviewees in a group or back-to-back individual meetings. During these interviews, you may meet with the hiring manager, one of your potential peers or stakeholders from the business or technical teams.
Whoever you meet with, it’s a good idea to research them on LinkedIn so you can better understand their roles and how they fit into the business.
General business analyst interview questions
“What are the most important qualities of a successful business analyst?”
You might see this framed as “what is the role of a business analyst?” or “what are a business analyst’s core competencies?”. However it’s phrased, the interviewer wants to know whether you understand what a business analyst does.
It also lets the interviewer gauge how you view the role within the organisation, and how you’d approach the role itself.
In preparing the answer, you’ll want to draw attention to both your technical skills and personal strongpoints, linking them to what is mentioned in the original job spec.
“How do you stay up to date with business trends?”
Here, the interviewer wants to determine your level of drive and self-motivation. They want to hear that you’re switched on even when you’re not in the office, so someone who’s actively involved with the latest business goings-on is sure to impress here.
In your answer, be sure to mention that you regularly read any news concerning your sector, as well as regularly attend conferences to broaden your knowledge. And if you don’t do those things, then now would be the time to start.
“Which tools or skills would you like to learn while working here?”
In other words: “how passionate are you about growing and developing in this role?” No interviewer wants to hear a candidate say they’re happy with where they are, or that they’re satisfied with their current skill set. They want to know that the person sitting opposite them is committed to taking their abilities to the next level, and that you’re passionate about doing so.
Even the most experienced business analyst has things they want to learn. So in your answer, be sure to highlight at least two examples of tools and technologies that you’d like to know more about should you be successful.
Technical business analyst interview questions
“Do you have experience with [x] tool?”
An evaluation of your technical skills, the interviewer here wants to get a grasp of your abilities, along with how much, if any, training you might need.
You’ll likely already have the tools you’re experienced with listed on your CV, but when answering this question, provide examples of how and when you’ve used them. Of course, if you have experience with the tools listed in the job spec, then there’s plenty of bonus points to be had here.
If you lack experience with said tool(s) then it’s worth double-checking with the recruiter at the phone interview stage if that’s going to be an issue. If you have experience with something similar, be sure to mention this too.
During the interview, state that while you don’t have experience with the tool, you’re a quick learner, and that you plan on familiarising yourself with the company’s preferred systems as quickly as possible.
“What methods would you use to begin a new business analysis project?”
With this question, the interviewer is mainly assessing your project management skills – an important part of any business analyst’s job. This question aims to assess your knowledge of industry best practices, giving you a chance to showcase what goes into your strategic thought process.
Your answer should explain the general phases of a business analysis project, with specific details on how you establish these. For example, point to how you meet with clients to establish specifications and learn more about their company.
“Which business intelligence metrics would you decide to analyse?”
The interviewer will probably want to hear you expand on the metrics you hinted at in the above answer, so here’s where you can highlight your system further. It’s also a great way for the interviewer to get to know your decision-making processes better.
Your answer should make note of the main business intelligence metrics you tend to use, as well as why they’ve proved useful to you in the past. Mention any factors that play a part in choosing data sets to analyse, and why these are important.
Experiential business analyst interview questions
“How would you handle any changes to requirements that a client made halfway through a project?”
The complexion of a business can change at the drop of a hat, so it’s not uncommon for projects to undergo alterations while they’re in progress. As such, a business analyst has to adapt to these changes by incorporating new details into reports, updating their strategy and making these updates clear to clients.
This question, then, is a measure of your ability to respond to new information and situations, along with your logical and critical-thinking skills. In your answer, run through your process for handling changes, highlighting how you meet with clients to discuss how these changes might affect the project’s timeline.
Next, mention any resources that would need to be redistributed, as well as any additional resources that might need to be brought onboard.
Once the client has ok’d your suggestions, talk your interviewer through how you’d communicate your approach going forward with your colleagues.
“How would you respond to difficult or challenging clients?”
Essentially, this question wants to get to the bottom of your people skills. As a business analyst, you’re going to meet business leaders, stakeholders and executives who may have different ideas to you. And sometimes, you’ll have to adjust your own processes to accommodate such personalities.
Your answer should be measured and tactful. Your interviewer doesn’t want to hear about how you clashed with certain clients and that conflict went unresolved as a result.
Note that, however difficult they may seem, you’re always respectful of others’ opinions. By acknowledging their suggestions, these clients can then become more open to hearing your own ideas, which helps to create effective solutions everyone can benefit from.
“Have you ever explained data findings to co-workers who weren’t familiar with business analysis?”
You’ll encounter a lot of people who don’t necessarily understand the concepts and implications of business analysis. As such, you’ll have to boil down complex information into easily digestible ideas that everyone can get a handle on. This question aims to investigate just that, assessing your ability to present information clearly and effectively to laypeople.
When answering, point to specific reports or presentations where your strong verbal and written communication skills came to the fore. You’ll impress the interviewer if you can also explain how this helped a colleague to make an important decision or improve in their own role.
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