Interview Questions For Data Analysts: What To Expect

CAREER ADVICE, SYSTEMS & TECHNOLOGY   |   3 minutes  |   April 23, 2019

GetSmarter Blog Image GetSmarter Blog Image  

Data analysis is the most in-demand job of the future, according to the World Economic Forum.1 We are living in an ever-increasing age of mass data creation and consumption, as more and more of the world population begins to leave increasingly large digital footprints.2

As data analysis becomes an ever more important job title, it means that companies will also become more and more selective in their interview process for these roles. That’s why it’s vital to research which data analyst interview questions to expect, prepare yourself, and move your name to the top of the list.

6 Data Analysis Interview Questions to prepare for:

 

1. What do you expect from your job?

You can expect to receive the most basic, and possibly most important, question up front in your interview. That’s because there is a lot wrapped up in this question. Before even considering you as a fit for their role, your potential employer wants to know if you understand what a data analyst does, how do they do it, and why you are applying for a job at their specific company.3

A data analyst, quite literally, analyses data to improve a business. The best analysts are able to consider a problem or a challenge; understand what data they need to solve it; gather and analyse this data (often in big sets), and then present their actionable, data-based solutions clearly to their team or manager.4 This means it requires you to be good at team communication, able to work data analysis software, and able to interpret problem-solving briefs.

2. What software have you used before?

  GetSmarter Blog Image GetSmarter Blog Image  

This question will likely build on the first, because your potential employer will want to know how proficient you are at analysing data, and whether or not you can use the software they use. 5

The kinds of software companies are likely to expect you to have a reasonable level of competence can include:

  • Stata
  • SPSS
  • SAS
  • Apache Hadoop
  • Google Marketing Platform
  • H2O
  • Power BI

You wouldn’t be expected to have experience in all of these, but a good level of experience in two or three types of commonly-used software highlights that you have the right foundation of knowledge to learn any new system that you need to.6

3. How do you work within a team and communicate your findings?

It may not sound like the kind of job that requires good teamwork, but it is a key skill for any great analyst. You need good communication skills to be able to understand briefs, action them, and then explain your conclusions to your team.7 Without being able to communicate conclusions clearly, the entire purpose of data analysis is undermined.

4. What has been your most difficult challenge in a previous role?

  GetSmarter Blog Image GetSmarter Blog Image  

This is difficult to expand on, because it must be a personal experience, and demonstrate that you learnt from it. However, don’t brush over the challenge or your solution, because your interviewer will want to know the details of big challenges you have overcome and what you have managed to take away from them.

Some interviewers might rather phrase this as common problems or challenges you have run into in the past. This is just as important to answer sufficiently, because it shows the extent of data projects you have been exposed to, and what you have learnt from them. Some common problems could be:8

  • Data cleanliness
  • Missing or misspelt entries
  • Overlapping data
  • Team miscommunication

5. What is your process when beginning a new task?

Interviewers are testing your organisational skills here, and also trying to discover your ability to do your job independently (without a manager looking over your shoulder). Everyone’s answer will differ slightly, but you must have clear and simple steps that will reveal a deliberate process such as:9

  • Read the brief and/or define the problem
  • Become familiar with the data
  • Prepare the data for modelling (and then cleaning, if necessary)
  • Analyse the modelled data to come up with founded conclusions

6. Where are you hoping this job will lead you?

You will be expected to have a particular motivation for joining the company you have applied to. What attracted you to this company and to this specific role? Spontaneity is exciting, but an employer wants to see that you have long-term goals in mind, because it will be their hope that you will add to and help build their current team.

You are in the interview because this company thinks they need you.

Above all, remember that you are in the interview because this company thinks they need you. Data has fast become an incredibly important aspect of business for owners and managers, because the numbers have become so incredible. Every minute of each day, people are sending 31.25 million messages and watching 2.77 million videos on Facebook alone – and 40,000 searches are done on Google each second.10 All this data accumulation means that your skills are in high demand and you have the authority to lead an interview. As businesses value the ability to analyse this massive amount of data increasingly more, data analysts jobs are more required, and candidates are placed in a far stronger position to negotiate for a work environment that they need and want.

  • 1 (2018). ‘The future of jobs report 2018’. Retrieved from World Economic Forum.
  • 2 (Jan, 2018). ‘21 Big data statistics & predictions on the future of big data’. Retrieved from New Gen Apps.
  • 3 (Nd). ‘7 Data analysis interview questions and answers’. Retrieved from Indeed. Accessed on 18 Mar, 2019.
  • 4 (Nd). ‘7 Data analysis interview questions and answers’. Retrieved from Indeed. Accessed on 18 Mar, 2019.
  • 5 Robinson, A. (Nd). ‘Data analysis interview questions’. Retrieved from Snag.
  • 6 (Nd). ‘7 Data analysis interview questions and answers’. Retrieved from Indeed. Accessed on 18 Mar, 2019.
  • 7 Robinson, A. (Nd). ‘Data analysis interview questions’. Retrieved from Snag. Accessed on 18 Mar, 2019.
  • 8 (Nd). ‘Top 30 data analyst interview questions and answers’. Retrieved from Career Guru. Accessed on 18 Mar, 2019.
  • 9 Robinson, A. (Nd). ‘Data analysis interview questions’. Retrieved from Snag. Accessed on 18 Mar, 2019.
  • 10 (Jan, 2018). ‘21 Big data statistics & predictions on the future of big data’. Retrieved from New Gen Apps.