Posted by Robert Half on 15 July 2016
Whether you’re just embarking on the business analyst career path or you’re a long-time professional in the field, preparing to address common types of business analyst interview questions can help ensure you’re ready to impress a potential employer when you’re looking for a new job.
Business analyst jobs vary from company to company, but 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.
It’s common for employers to assess your suitability for the job based on the below factors in the interview process:
- Culture fit and engagement with the interviewer
- Experience in the industry sector
- How you articulate and concisely answer each question
- Ability to provide a variety of examples when answering questions
The role of a business analyst is essentially about communication and documentation. Keep this in mind when you’re preparing your answers.
Here are eight typical business analyst interview questions and some basic tips for how to answer them.
1. What do you think are the key strengths of a business analyst?
Since business analysis is an evolving and multifaceted profession, hiring managers want to know that you are aware of the necessary skills for success. You probably have your own list, but make sure to highlight both technical and non-technical attributes you can bring to the job.
The job description should provide clues as to what types of skills the employer is looking for on both fronts — especially technical requirements. Learning what you can about the company culture prior to the interview can also provide insight on interpersonal abilities that will likely be valued.
2. What is your understanding of the SDLC?
The hiring manager wants to ascertain how involved you’ve been in past projects. Most employers are looking for business analysts with end-to-end project experience so being able to demonstrate your understanding of scoping a project, all the way through to go-live will be highly desirable, if not essential.
Rather than listing numerous projects and processes, talk more about the general phases or types of deliverables you might create, while letting the hiring manager know you can customise your approaches to projects.
Prospective employers love to hear about what you have learnt from the projects you have worked on so make sure you share examples of creativity and adaptability.
3. Explain to me the structure and governance in place in your past/current role.
The hiring manager wants to understand what type of working environment you’re familiar with. Are you used to working for an organisation with full documentation and templates for each stage of the cycle? Or are you suited to an unstructured, immature delivery cycle?
4. What is your involvement in testing and/or user training?
Most employers will be looking for business analysts who have experience in User Acceptance Testing. Talk through an example of how you’ve tested a new software to make sure it can handle required tasks in real-world scenarios.
This is also a good opportunity to show how you’ve been involved in user training and demonstrate your ability to articulate the changes and the functionality to the everyday user.
5. Describe a time where you had to influence your stakeholders or deal with a difficult stakeholder.
Answer this one head on. The hiring manager 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.
Prepare a scenario in advance where you can talk through a situation you faced with a challenging stakeholder. Break it down using the STAR technique – explain the Situation or Task, outline the Action you took and the Result you achieved.
6. Outline your technical skills (Business Intelligence and/or Database skills for example)
The more technical skills you have as a business analyst, the less developer time required. Simply put, you’ll be more valuable to the organisation.
SQL skills are the most sought-after and widely used, so being able to explain how you’ve written SQL queries to integrate a database will be regarded highly.
Cite the specific business intelligence tools and describe how you've used them. If you have used a system the company employs, mention your experience to the hiring manager. If you're not familiar with the technology the employer uses, discuss how you plan to get up to speed quickly.
7. What are the main documents you produce (functional/technical)?
In a project lifecycle there are various documents (initiation document, process mapping, business requirements document, etc.) and the hiring manager wants to understand if you’ve produced all of the different types of documents.
Are you capable of not only delivering business specifications but technical specifications as well? If so, detail this to the interviewer as it shows your versatility and ability to cover both the roles of business analyst and technical analyst.
8. Tell me about a challenging project you worked on and how you handled it.
This is the time to display your ability to influence and deal with conflicting priorities. It’s not uncommon to face difficult or disengaged stakeholders and it is important that you can show how your strong communication skills helped get buy-in on the project and kept it within timeline and on budget.
Create a resume that will impress
This is an exciting time for business analysts: Employers of all types are looking to hire these specialists to help support big data-related initiatives, improve fiscal efficiency and more. However, despite the urgent need to hire these professionals, many companies are very selective in their hiring process.
Therefore, in addition to preparing for business analyst interview questions, be sure to take the time to develop a business analyst resume that will stand out from the crowd — otherwise, you may be overlooked by hiring managers.
This article has been adapted from 8 Common Business Analyst Interview Questions on the Robert Half Management Resources blog.