The Business Analyst main role is to assess a company's business needs and recommend solutions. However, when interviewing for a Business Analyst position, it is important to be prepared to provide good answers to common Business Analyst interview questions to express your fitness for the position.
In this article we provide some of the most common Business Analyst interview questions that you can prepare for in advance and walk into your interview confident and prepared! If you are looking for the answer of a question not in this article, please leave your question in the comments area at the end of this article.
1. So, Tell Me About Yourself
A question that makes many of us stumble, knowing that this the father of all interview questions. We may wonder whether we should start with our name, nationality, age, etc.. or should we talk about our education or just work experience?
It's really more of a request than a question, but it can put you on the spot like no question can. And if you're unprepared for such an open-ended prelude to the series of standard questions about your skills, background, and aspirations you've been expecting, it can stop you dead and earn you an immediate one-way ticket out of the interview.
Why is this question a favorite of so many interviewers? Many consider it a nice icebreaker, giving them a chance to gauge initial chemistry, get a little insight into the cipher sitting before them (that would be you), and force you to do all the talking, for at least a couple of minutes!
To answer “TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF” question, you may:
- Talk about relevant skills
- Tell the interviewer what you can do to help his or her company
- Discuss your previous experiences and what experience you hope to gain in the future
- Talk about your excellent track record as an employee
- Relate your answer to the job requirements
Example answer: “Well—I’ve been working for the past five years as a business analyst with IBM. During that time I’ve undergone multiple training courses, earned a number of certifications, and gained extensive software knowledge.”
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2. What is your biggest achievement?
You might consider winning a sports competition to be your greatest achievement, but keep your answer to this question work-related. Tell a story about a recent work success that shows the interviewer what benefits you’ll bring to the company. A good answer contains a problem and your solution such as the following:
“In my previous position, I identified a major issue with inventory control. The system wasn’t keeping close enough track, and the company was short on product each month. By investigating 12 months of previous data, I was able to identify the problem and implement a new control measure which allowed us to track product more closely. From that point forward, inventory was no longer an issue.”
3. How would you work with a difficult stakeholder?
The interviewer is trying to assess your soft skills, particularly your communication, collaboration and influencing abilities. Working with people from different areas of the company and perspectives is an area where non-technical skills are key.
Provide a direct answer and explain a related challenge you faced in past work. You can use the STAR interview response framework to structure your answer by addressing the following:
- Situation: Briefly explain the issue you were dealing with in a positive, constructive way.
- Task: Explain your role in the situation.
- Action: Explain what you did to resolve or address the situation.
- Result: Explain your learnings and how your actions resulted in a positive impact for the business.
Example: “I have found that nearly any issue is solvable with empathy, communication, and action. For example, I once had an angry client that felt she had received the wrong data that was useless and unhelpful. My role was to acquire and interpret said data. I decided to schedule a phone call with her and the other project stakeholders immediately to discuss the issue. After taking the time to hear her concerns, we found that she simply did not feel equipped to apply the findings of the data. We established a workshop with our team business consultant to help her feel more prepared and sent weekly updates by email to ensure she felt supported during the remainder of the project. She doubled her spend with us over the next two quarters."
4. What is your greatest weakness?
The interviewer knows you have a weakness and wants to see you confront it. In answering this question, it’s best to focus on a non-essential skill, highlight skills you have improved, and turn a negative into a positive like the following sample answer:
“I used to like to work very linearly and focus on one project at a time. This sometimes presented difficulties with taking on new work. I recently developed some organizational practices that allow me to work on multiple projects at once. I have found that this allows me to share learnings across projects and be more creative in my work.”
5. Describe a time when you had to advise a client toward a different course of action.
As a business analyst, it is your job to make recommendations both in the interest of the client and the organization. Your perspective should be based on the collected data as you interpret it. Should a client pursue a certain course of action you do not feel is in their best interest, you may be required to present the data in new and interesting ways to convince them otherwise.
In your answer, you should explain the ways you can apply your problem-solving skills to navigate potentially difficult situations with clients and other important stakeholders.
Example: "Once, I had a client who was looking to expand a product line for their store. At the same time, they were already struggling to sell many of the products they already carried. I used a detailed sales analysis to show them why they should focus on selling their current products instead of investing in new ones, and offered both suggestions about how they might increase sales along with areas in which they are already succeeding."
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6. Can you tell me about a time when you had to persuade someone to accept your decision?
In answering this question, you want to highlight your ability to influence others. Choose an example where your decision was clearly correct based on data, not opinion.
“In my current position, a vendor contract was up for renewal, and we had to decide whether to continue with them or evaluate other vendors. While most people wanted to stay with the current vendor, I knew they hadn’t been providing particularly good service. To support my argument, I provided a brief summary of the vendor’s cost and service record compared with other providers. With this evidence, I was able to convince others to select a new vendor, improving the service we received and saving the company money.”
7. How will you be able to handle the changes to requirements?
This is a logical question asked in an interview. As a Business Analyst, the first task will be to get a signature on a document by the user which states that after a point of time no changes to the requirements are accepted.
Example: "In case the changes to the requirements are accepted then:
- Firstly, I will note down the changes made to the requirements and will prioritize them.
- I will also go through those changes and find out the impact of them on the project.
- I will calculate the cost, timeline, and resources required to cover the impact of change requirements on the project.
- And will make sure that whether those changes affect or create gaps to functional design documents, testing or coding.”
8. What tools do you consider the most important for a business analyst to do their job well?
This question allows an interviewer to test your basic technical skills and familiarity with standard business analytics applications as well as those they may use at the company. BAs commonly use tools like the Microsoft Office Suite, though you may have used other tools or programs in your work. Tailor your answer to highlight your own unique experience and skills.
Example: "I commonly use tools like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, MS Visio and Rational tools. I also have advanced SQL skills—using SQL is helpful when I need to analyze items like customer purchases that would overwhelm Excel."
9. Describe how you typically approach a project.
Understanding a candidate's workflow can help employers gauge their teamwork, project management and organizational skills. To answer, explain general phases you work through with standard deliverables you typically produce instead of listing specific processes or tasks the interviewer may not be familiar with. Focus on your actual experience to describe your skills and how you use them.
For example, if you worked on the planning stages of a project, you could mention deliverables such as a communication plan, a work breakdown structure (WBS), a requirements management plan and a business analysis approach, including whether it is plan-driven or change-driven.
Speak about how you have customized specific approaches to the needs of a given project. You can follow up by asking about the organization's projects and processes to give yourself a better sense of how you would fit in and to show the interviewer that you are invested in the way they work.
Example: "I first listen to what a client needs, paying attention to what they articulate as their goals for the project. I then take a deeper look into our data to figure out how to guide them toward success or how to change the way they are looking at their goals to move forward in a more productive way. Of course, every project and every client requires something new, so I always make sure to consider the specific situation instead of automatically imposing a one-size-fits-all solution."
10. Name two diagrams you use as a business analyst, and describe how they impact your work.
The interviewer may ask this question to ensure that you are familiar with standard BA documents and how to apply them to a client's case. Even if they do not directly ask about your past experience here, providing examples can validate your ability to bring value to the employer.
Example: "Two diagrams I prefer using are Activity Diagrams and Use Case Diagrams. Activity Diagrams show the diverse activities that take place across various departments. I use Activity Diagrams to show who interacts with a system as well as the primary goals they achieve with it. I find Use Case Diagrams to be very useful when I need to visualize the functional requirements of a given system so I can make smart choices when it comes to design and figuring out development priorities."
What are your key strengths as a business analyst?
Be prepared to speak to the variety of business analyst roles within the profession and the key business analyst skills that are important for success in the role such as:
- Critical Thinking
- Analyzing the business process
- Developing use cases
- Data modeling
11. What sets you apart from other business analysts that we’re interviewing for this position?
This is your time to shine! Don’t hold back. Tell the interviewer about any skills or experience that make you special.
Try something along these lines:
“As a business analyst, I would be able to contribute to your company immediately with my deep understanding of how to deliver business insights from raw data. I have experience working with SQL, data models, and in Agile product development. I am also very comfortable working with clients to assess and analyze their business needs.”
These interview tips can help you make a good impression when interviewing for a business analyst position. Make sure to describe your experience and highlight your knowledge during the interview process.
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