Business analyst is a highly coveted position. Fortunately for job seekers, it’s also one that many employers need across all types of industries, from retail to healthcare to technology to real estate.
Still, even though business analysts are in demand these days, they must have highly specialized skills and be able to withstand a rigorous interview and hiring process. Looking to hire a business analyst? Here are 35 common questions to ask candidates, including both technical and nontechnical. If you’re preparing for your interview as a candidate, check out our sample responses, too.
Essentially, business analysts help organizations solve problems. Their purpose is to figure out ways for their employers to meet their objectives and deliver better products or services to their consumers and others.
Whether they’re full-time employees or consultants, their job is to gather information about the organization to figure out what the major needs are, analyze the data, develop goals and objectives, identify priorities and issues and work with the employer to create strategies for meeting these goals and solving problems.
Business analysts used a wide range of tools to help them do their jobs. They fall into a number of different categories. Some of these categories and tools are:
The questions below are a start for preparing for your business analyst interview. However, given that there is no set list of interview questions to ask a candidate seeking this role, you should also review common interview questions for any role and practice responding to them with a friend or colleague.
Another key step is to thoroughly research the company. This is important for any role, but it’s especially necessary for a business analyst position since it depends on understanding the organization and its priorities. You may well be asked about your initial thoughts about the employer, problems you see and what you might do to address them, so you’ll need to have a thorough understanding of where they are and where you think they need to go.
Of course, you should also review techniques and methods for gathering and evaluating information, as well as tools that business analysts tend to use. Make sure you read the job description several times as well so you know what the employer is looking for in a successful candidate.
Sample answer: “The role of a business analyst is to gather information about the organization to develop goals and plans for how to improve and grow the business. Ultimately, my job is to meet the needs of different stakeholders and help them define and achieve their objectives.”
Sample answer: “Just a few of the most important technical skills a business analyst should have include knowledge of programming languages, particularly SQL, databases and operating systems, as well as documenting requirements.”
Sample answer: “Business analysts need plenty of soft skills, including problem-solving, interpersonal, communication, analytical, research and decision-making.”
Sample answer: “It’s important to evaluate qualities of an organization against competitors or similar companies to determine how the business should proceed, what goals they should set and how they can improve.”
Sample answer: “Not everyone is going to agree on the best approach for solving problems. If a stakeholder disagreed with me, I would discuss the issue and explain my thinking. I would make an effort to involve them in the process so they can better understand my approach first-hand.”
Sample answer: “While there are plenty of tools that are helpful, I generally use Microsoft Office, SQL, Trello and Visio.”
Sample answer: “Some of the most important stages include generating ideas, screening, concept testing, marketability testing and commercialization.”
Sample answer: “Scope creep refers to uncontrolled changes in a project’s requirements after the project has begun. It can result from poor documentation of requirements, changing customer demands and miscommunication.”
Sample answer: “Examples of important documents include current state and stakeholder analysis, wireframes, test cases, use cases, functional requirement specification, data model documentation, system requirement specification and others.”
Sample answer: “Initially, I seek to understand the customer and stakeholders’ expectations for the project and the outcomes they want. Then, I’ll work with them to develop a plan and process proposal that meets their needs and fits in with my work style. I prefer to keep the lines of communication open so they are kept apprised of my efforts at every stage.”
Sample answer: “A persona replaces an actual user, serving as a fictional character on whom to base ideas and anticipate reactions and behavior.”
Sample answer: “My experience working with X fits in well with your mission of Y. I particularly appreciate your approach to Z and believe my skills of A, B and C align with it.”
Sample answer: “There are plenty of problems organizations face in today’s ever-changing business world. For example, some are relying on outdated and no-longer-effective models for ways of doing things. There also might be issues with technology.”
Sample answer: “User research is essential for developing a marketable product. I start with a hypothesis and then use methods such as focus groups and surveys, asking subjects to identify the emotions they have when using the product. Then I analyze the results and identify trends and patterns.”
Your response here depends on your personal experiences. Identify a past project you led and describe its completion from start to finish. Be specific about the processes you used and include plenty of facts and figures.
Sample answer: “It’s important to understand how to stand out from the competition. A SWOT analysis allows you to assess the market and see where you currently are and how you can fill a particular niche.”
Sample answer: “It’s essential to anticipate risks because you need to have a plan in place for addressing issues that arise.”
Sample answer: “Business managers evaluate and establish goals and plans, while project managers implement plans for a project. They should work closely together to accomplish objectives.”
Sample answer: “A requirement is an identification of a problem and solution for solving it.”
Sample answer: “A good requirement should be clearly defined and realistic. It should correlate with the objectives of the larger organization and understandable for the stakeholders and the people involved in achieving it.”
Sample answer: “I make sure I understand the requirements and stakeholder needs and check in with the stakeholders frequently to assess progress and confirm that everything is meeting their expectations.”
Sample answer: “I use the SMART method to evaluate requirements and determine whether I can meet them: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.”
Sample answer: “A visual representation of current processes and proposed changes helps stakeholders understand the current state of the organization and how the changes would improve it.”
Sample answer: “Agile is based on a philosophy of continuous improvement and collaboration. It allows us to better meet customer expectations.”
Sample answer: “I use activity, use case, cumulative and data flow diagrams.”
Sample answer: “I use several different ways of gathering data, including interviewing prospective customers and stakeholders, performing a SWOT analysis, staying apprised of the goings-on in the industry and others.”
Sample answer: “You must have concrete reasons for making decisions and creating plans. Otherwise, it’s difficult to justify your choices.”
Sample answer: “I understand that my job is to satisfy the objectives of the stakeholders and clients. If I believed a request was not in their best interest, I would clearly articulate why, pointing to specific evidence to support my perspective.”
Sample answer: “I use OKRs to establish objectives and KPIs to assess whether they’ve been met.”
Sample answer: “I believe communication and collaboration are the keys to success. While I would take the lead on projects that fall under my purview, I would also welcome and value the input of my peers.”
Sample answer: “I understand that there are many different perspectives and people who make a project successful. I believe in collaboration, so my first step would be to get to know the other team members and seek to understand what their particular roles are and how I fit into the bigger picture.”
Sample answer: “I would work with the stakeholders to understand what is most important at a given time, as well as explain how much work and time must go into a given project so everyone is on the same page.”
Sample answer: “A project is complete when it meets the established requirements and the stakeholders are satisfied with the results.”
Sample answer: “I would schedule a one-on-one meeting with the client to discuss whether the change is feasible and explain how this would impact the timeline.”
The best questions are ones that you come up with during the interview that relate to what you’ve discussed. However, it’s a good idea to develop some questions that specifically relate to the company and its priorities prior to the meeting so you have something prepared.
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