Business Analyst Interview Questions
A Business Analyst helps a company grow by serving as a mediator, advisor and go-between for companies and their stakeholders. They work with a business to identify new opportunities for growth, align stakeholders’ interests with company objectives, and analyze data to develop suggestions and devise solutions. One of their primary functions is to serve as a liaison between a business and its IT department.
A valuable Business Analyst will have a strong background in both project management and IT experience. Their data analysis and technology skills are combined with exemplary communication. They are team players, leaders and love approaching their job like a puzzle – it’s an analyst’s job to assemble the financial and functional aspects of a project into profitable outcomes. These analyst interview questions will make it easier for you to identify qualified candidates and find the right hire.
General interview questions (such as “Can you tell me about yourself?” and “Why are you looking for another job?”) are a great way to get to know your candidate’s personal history, interests, and goals. However, be sure to add inquiries specific to the role they’re interviewing for, so you can gain valuable insights into their likelihood of success in that position.
Below are Business Analyst interview questions to help you get started:
1. Have you ever found yourself working with a client who continually acted against your advice? How did you respond to the situation?
What you want to hear: Although their expert opinions are highly valued, not every client responds to advice the same way. Working with difficult clients requires patience, effort and strong communication to understand their perspective. Responses should focus on asking open questions, addressing key concerns and being open to feedback.
Red flag: If a candidate does not have any patience for clients who don’t hang on their every word, they could be prone to conflict in the future. Patience and composure are necessary at all times in order to foster positive business relations even during disagreements.
2. What is your familiarity with SQL inquiries?
What you want to hear: SQL, which stands for Structured Query Language, is a valuable skill for Business Analysts who often need to work with multiple databases to conduct a thorough analysis. A qualified candidate should be proficient in SQL and understand why it is important in modern business analytics.
Red flag: Little to no SQL training puts someone behind the curve and below current industry standards. Although a willingness to learn is a positive sign, it delays the analyst’s work and negatively impacts productivity.
3. How would you define your role within a company?
What you want to hear: Business Analysts are consultants and communicators; they translate data from the IT department into actionable recommendations for management and stakeholders.
Red flag: A candidate who understates their role will underperform at work; likewise, if a candidate assumes more responsibility than they are given, it could lead to burnout or even cross professional boundaries.
4. Can you describe the steps you take when you are starting to work with a new client?
What you want to hear: First impressions make or break a deal, and if a person does not establish rapport and seek to understand a client first, they are unlikely to succeed in building a long-term relationship. It’s imperative that every professional relationship starts off by asking questions to understand a client’s unique situation before establishing goals.
Red flag: Although they may be the one providing a service, the majority of an analyst’s work is rooted in listening to others. They must be receptive to their clients and approach each one with the desire to help them achieve their own unique objectives. A self-oriented answer could indicate a candidate is not good at reading their clients or has a strong interest in understanding them.
5. What types of diagrams do you find most valuable to an analyst?
What you want to hear: There are many types of diagrams that assist business analytics, but some of the most essential include activity diagrams, mind maps, project roadmaps, PESTLE analysis and process flow diagrams. Every candidate will have their preferred methods of communicating information, but they should be able to easily list several diagrams
Red flag: Visual representations of data and organizational charts are crucial to establish progress tracking metrics, objective alignment and ROI. Candidates who do not use diagrams have much more limited tools to help them communicate their work.
6. Describe a time in your career where you felt out of your depth. How did you adjust to the situation?
What you want to hear: Everyone is bound to feel intimidated or overwhelmed at some point; seek a positive response that focuses on learning from setbacks, reaching out to mentors and expressing the need for assistance when needed. Valuable prospective hires will be willing to learn from others and easily be able to recognize and work with their limitations.
7. Task lists are a priority, but sometimes you miss the mark. What do you do when you’re crunched for time and can’t tackle everything on your to-do list?
What you want to hear: A candidate may express that they always do everything they can to ensure they meet their deadlines, but they should add that they think ahead and notify their clients or managers when they know they will require additional time to complete a task.
Red flag: Candidates who seem uncomfortable with the idea of tight deadlines or cannot handle working under pressure could struggle in their role. It’s important to hire someone who is self-aware, pragmatic and plans ahead.
8. What was the most successful presentation you’ve given and why?
What you want to hear: It’s important for people to take pride in their work. Fulfillment comes from both large and small milestones, and there are many examples of personal achievements a candidate can consider noteworthy. Perhaps the first presentation they gave to an important client was their most successful, or it could be one that ultimately helped close a deal with an investor. Excellent responses will provide both an example and glimpses of a candidate’s values and intrinsic motivations.
Red flag: Analysts not only serve as the face of a company, they also provide expert advice to multiple department leads and shareholders. Because communication is one of the most important skills in business analysis, lack of presentation experience or a fear of public speaking will impact work performance.
9. What tools do you think every Business Analyst should use?
What you want to hear: Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, InVision, Viso and SWOT are a few examples of tools Business Analysts rely on to do their jobs. You may even discover new tools through detailed responses. Exemplary answers will include a short explanation of why each tool is valuable.
10. If you were the one conducting this interview, what are the top skills you’d want a candidate to have?
What you want to hear: Answers will vary based on a client’s own skills; they may even list the ones they possess and consider to be the most useful. However, all candidates should list core business analysis skills such as effective communication, time management, presentation skills, data analysis and modeling.
Red flag: A comprehensive understanding of one’s career is necessary in order to perform tasks efficiently and thoroughly. Without the ability to identify even basic skills that were likely listed as requirements on the job listing, an individual could quickly find themselves overwhelmed at work.
Every interview question can help get you closer to the right fit for your Business Analyst position.
Be sure to keep an eye out for candidates who:
- Are strong communicators and excellent listeners.
- Ask their own questions.
- Have strong project and time management skills.
- Approach problems with an open mind.