Overseeing the functioning of a business is a large responsibility that requires viewing analysis, planning, and progress as an art form. Without proper guidance in areas of business strategy and execution, a company is headed into unstable territory regardless of other factors.
That’s why organizations rely on business analysts to handle this component of their operations.
Business analysts act like the educated and technical fortune-tellers of the professional world. They have a deep understanding of what it means to function as a business and how particular practices affect a company’s operations.
Business analysts are brought on to review an organization’s functioning and communicate processes that could use improvement through analysis to stakeholders.
In addition to pointing out the strengths and pitfalls of an organization’s business practices, a business analyst sticks around to design and implement strategic changes with the intent of amplifying success. After the execution of strategies, their analysis continues to determine the effectiveness of the implemented processes and make revisions where needed.
The feeling of satisfaction that washes over after receiving a request to come in for an interview is short-lived in comparison to the nerves that overtake most applicants in the days of preparation.
Acing any job interview is stressful enough, but business analysts have a particularly demanding position that they’re lined up for. That can make it all the more nerve-wracking for job-seekers.
However, the interview process doesn’t have to be stressful if you take the proper steps beforehand. Below are a few ways you can prepare for an interview:
Do your homework on your potential employer. Going into an interview without any information about the company you’re interviewing for is risky business, but this is especially true when you’re going for a business analyst position.
Since the job requires a certain level of understanding for companies as a whole, your potential employer will likely expect you to have some background knowledge about them.
Perform a mock interview with a friend. One of the best ways to become at ease with the formal structure of an interview is by rehearsing it over a few times beforehand. Enlist the help of a trusted friend or family member to act as your interviewer and ask you the questions that you’ll probably receive.
Get comfortable with common job interview questions. The reason that many job applicants appear unprepared for certain questions during an interview is that they haven’t thought about them before.
Getting comfortable with the questions in an interview that you’ll likely be asked as a business analyst candidate is the best way to ensure you always have a thoughtful answer prepared.
Since getting familiar with the questions that will be asked of you during a business analyst interview is so important, why not start right now? Below are the top 8 most common business analyst interview questions to get you started on your preparations.
What do you consider the responsibilities of a business analyst to be? This question is a great opener in a business analyst interview because it asks the candidate to provide a synopsis of the job responsibilities from their perspective.
The duties and roles within the company that they describe show how they view themselves and their job.
How to Answer:
Based on your former experience, or education if you’re a recent graduate in your first interview, describe the overall responsibilities of being a business analyst. You don’t need to list off every daily duty associated with the position, but give a detailed general guide to their place in a company.
“The responsibilities of a business analyst boil down to performing detailed analysis on all aspects of a company’s functioning, communicating these findings in a meaningful way to stakeholders, and formulating innovative strategies for improvement over the long-term.”
Why do you see yourself as a fit for the position of business analyst in our corporation? While this question comes across as slightly intimidating, the hiring manager is just using it to determine a candidate’s qualifications.
They’re inquiring into why you decided to apply in the first place, and what part of your background meets the requirements of the position.
How to Answer:
The best way to answer this question is by matching your skills and experience to the role’s description and qualifications listed in the original job posting that you stumbled across.
For example, let’s say the job posting stated that the role requires a person with at least four years of experience and great communication skills. If that sounds like you, mention that to the recruiter.
“When I came across the job posting for this open business analyst position, I noticed that your company said you were looking to hire a candidate that demonstrates a strong knowledge of business structure, problem-solving, and a master’s of business administration (MBA). I fulfill each of these requirements, and additionally, I think I’d bring many more positive characteristics to the role, such as positivity and facilitation skills.”
Particularly in a position like business analysis, in which skills are shown primarily through prior projects and accomplishments, you should expect to go through your resume in more detail during an interview.
How to Answer:
You don’t need to go into vast detail about every experience on your resume, but you should give a brief overview of your experience and skills as a whole. It can be helpful to bring a copy of your resume to the interview for responding to questions like this.
Discuss any awards or promotions that you received during your employment.
“As you can see on my resume, I started my career as a business analyst a little under ten years ago when I graduated with my MBA. Immediately after my graduate program, I was taken on as a junior business analyst for a company called The Atkins Firm. I remained there, eventually earning a promotion to an associate position, for about six years. After that job I moved on to a role as an associate business analyst for an organization known as Growth Solutions, where I had remained until recently.
“In these positions, I learned a lot of skills that I intend on taking to my next job, such as analytical reporting, communication, and stakeholder analysis.”
Tell me about a time you had to negotiate with a stakeholder to change their course of action. One of the major responsibilities of a business analyst is persuading stakeholders of a company to act in their own best interest.
A business analyst’s job is to evaluate a business’ status and determine the best course of action, which oftentimes works in direct conflict with the current way of doing things. A hiring manager needs to know how you’ll deal with this situation if it arises.
How to Answer:
Answer this question using the STAR method. This is a technique for responding to situational interview questions to provide the most complete answer. It works by involving four aspects in your answer.
A brief description of the situation
Mentioning the task at hand
Outlining the action you took
Explaining the ultimate result
“When I was working in my last position, I was responsible for explaining a necessary change in business strategy to an, especially stubborn stakeholder. They were against the change and wanted to continue doing things the same way. I ended up taking him out to lunch to discuss his underlying concerns about the new direction. He confided in me about his real issues with the change, and we ultimately found a way of doing things that appeased everyone.
“I think most cases of negotiating with a stakeholder to change their course of action can be handled by straightforward communication.”
How do you keep your business and industry-related knowledge current? Business analysts are tasked with the tricky job of evaluating the functioning of a company and planning projects to improve upon it.
To perform this responsibility well, you must constantly be renewing industry knowledge. The business world is always changing, especially with the impact of technology, and business analysts need to figure out ways to stay on top of it all.
How to Answer:
As a business analyst, you probably have a system for gathering and retaining new field-related information. To answer this question, compile these tactics and why you believe this is the best way to stay current on the information.
“I use a few different methods to stay current on business and industry-related knowledge. One of the most effective tools I have for continually learning is enrolling myself in online business classes periodically. I find that this keeps me educated on the most recent, and useful, business procedures.
“Additionally, I stay up-to-date on reading breaking business news to stay informed about relevant trends and happenings in the field.”
Tell me about your typical approach to projects. Being a business analyst is a project-based position, so you’re likely to receive a few questions about your approach to taking on this type of work. The interviewer is curious about your process leading up to a business analysis project.
How to Answer:
Answering this question is accomplished most completely by breaking down your process steps into a list format. Describe what you do before, during, and after a project to ensure that it reaches the point of success.
“When I’m assigned a project, my first step is assessing it completely before I do anything else.
“I gather a complete understanding of what is being asked of me, when I need to accomplish it, and what resources I have to help me. Once I’ve built a foundation of this knowledge, I can move on to the analysis and implementation of project strategies based on goals. After completion, I monitor success over time.”
To appraise this information accurately, they throw out the question “where do you see yourself in five years?” This shows the hiring manager where you plan to be in the future, and how their company fits into that plan.
How to Answer:
The goal of this question is to assess your goals, planning skills, and career trajectory. It’s best to only discuss professional objectives, as opposed to where you want to be in your personal life. A satisfactory answer requires seriousness and honesty.
Don’t give them an answer just because you think it's what they want to hear. Be real with the recruiter about your career goals and how you plan to get there.
“Since I’ve been working as an associate business analyst for nearly a decade now, I’m hoping to take on more senior-level responsibilities in the next five years. I love the field of business analysis, and I’ve excelled in the field up to this point, so, I’d like to try my hand at working in a supervisory position during the next few years.”
Why do you want to work for us? Just like anyone else, a potential employer wants to feel like you picked them specifically because you were so drawn to becoming a part of the team. That’s why a hiring manager usually asks candidates why they want to work for the company when interviewing for a business analyst position.
How to Answer:
Since a business analyst’s job revolves around intricate knowledge of organizations, the recruiter will probably be expecting you to have a little background on the employer.
Research the values, history, and goals for the company you’re interviewing with before you walk in. These details should provide you with the information needed to articulate why you want to be a part of the team.
“Before coming in to speak with you today, I spent some time on your company’s website to better understand your history and business ethics. I discovered that your organization abides strictly by its values of teamwork and mutual respect. I’ve worked for a few different companies by now, and I have to agree that this is the best way of doing business. It was these qualities that made me want to work with, and be a part of, your team.”
Preparation is the best way to perform well in an interview, but there are additional methods for improving your chances of success. Below are just a few tips for succeeding in a business analyst interview:
Wear professional attire. The clothes you wear to a work interview provide the first impression that a hiring manager has of you.
The initial thoughts when you walk through the door for a business analyst interview should be, “wow, this person is a professional.” Brush up on what qualifies as business casual attire and follow these guidelines for your interview outfit.
Bring extra copies of your resume or portfolio. While a recruiter will usually arrive at an interview with your resume in hand, it’s always helpful to print out an extra copy just in case. Bring any other relevant materials to your work history too, such as a portfolio. It makes you come off as a more prepared candidate.
Stay calm before the interview and don’t be a perfectionist. At its core, a business analyst interview is just a conversation between two people with similar interests. Many candidates psych themselves out so much beforehand that it's noticed by a hiring manager during an interview. Stay calm and try not to nit-pick your performance.
Go with the flow and try to imagine the interview as just another professional conversation.