Whether you’re looking for your first job as a business analyst or you’re hoping to take the next step in your career, preparing to address common types of business analyst interview questions can help you win over potential employers.
At most organizations, the work of a business analyst includes conducting market analysis, examining product lines and the overall profitability of the business, and developing and monitoring data quality metrics. Business analysts must have strong technology, data analytics and communication skills so they can help executives and management make better business decisions. Companies value business analysts with proficiency in Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, Visio and Project, along with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance or business administration.
Though the job requirements vary from company to company, there are a number of questions you’re likely to hear in any interview for this position. The more familiar you are with what you may be asked, the better your chances of acing the interview. Here are six typical business analyst interview questions and some advice on how to answer them:
1. Which business analytics tools or systems have you worked with?
This interview question is aimed at evaluating your technical skills. The tools you’ve worked with should be listed on your business analyst resume, so don’t just rattle them off. Instead, provide examples of how you’ve used them. If you’re experienced with a system the company employs, make sure to feature your experience with that tool or system in your answer. And always be honest: If you're not familiar with the technology the employer uses, don’t pretend that you are. Instead, discuss how you plan to get up to speed on the organization’s favored tools and systems quickly.
2. In your opinion, what is the role of a business analyst?
With this query, a hiring manager is trying to make sure you understand what a business analyst does, particularly if you haven’t held the position before. They also want to know how you’d approach the job, to ensure it fits with the company’s needs and their vision for the role. To prepare for this question, review the position description in the job ad, and craft an answer that spotlights the duties and responsibilities listed in the ad.
Curious about the hiring trends and salary ranges for business analysts? Access the Robert Half Salary Guide.
3. When you are given a new project, what do you do first?
With this question, the hiring manager is first and foremost assessing your experience with project management, as it’s typically an important facet of a business analyst’s job. There’s no single right answer. The best way to respond is to clearly communicate your project management style, including the different phases and the types of deliverables you might create. Providing examples of times when you’ve changed your methods to better fit a particular project can demonstrate your flexibility to the hiring manager.
4. Have you ever convinced a colleague to change course at work?
Hiring managers ask situational questions like this one (also called behavioral questions) to learn more about how you might react to certain challenges at work. Business analysts sometimes have to convince managers or executives to alter or even abandon a planned course of action, so the interviewer is also hoping to gain insight into how you might handle such a sensitive situation.
Think back to a time when you came late into a project and recognized there was a better way to approach it than the way it was currently being handled. Describe how your strong communication and persuasive skills tactfully led to a particularly positive outcome for your company.
5. How do you handle changes to requirements?
This situational question, like the one above, is meant to gauge your work style, particularly your approach to changing situations. It’s also a good way for the hiring manager to assess your logic and critical-thinking skills.
One potential response could be: “First, I try to gain a full understanding of what the requirement changes will entail. Next, I look at the project cost, timeline and resources. Finally, I evaluate whether the change could present problems to the rest of the design phase and subsequent development and testing.”
6. Have you successfully explained data findings to coworkers who are not familiar with business analysis?
Business analysts often have to create reports and give presentations about their findings to colleagues who are not as well-versed in data analysis and business information systems as they are. To be successful in the job, you must be able to communicate complex ideas in clear terms that anyone in the company can understand.
To answer this query effectively, mention a specific report or presentation and how it took your strong verbal and written communication skills to explain the concepts and recommendations it included. The best answers will mention how your information allowed a colleague to make a better decision or move the project forward.
When you’re answering business analyst interview questions, try to think like a hiring manager. Ask yourself, why are they posing this particular question? Use your critical thinking skills to try to better understand what information they’re trying to unearth, and you’ll be much better able to craft a response that will satisfy the manager. It might also bring you that much closer to landing the new business analyst job you’ve been hoping for.