Business analysts have an extremely important job, and thus, business analyst interviews tend to be a bit difficult. Many business analysts start to panic when they finish college and begin their first job search.
The job application process may be smooth, but few business analysts do not stress when it comes to interviews. They may believe interview success only comes with experience or hundreds of dollars spent.
However, this could not be further from the truth. By following just a few simple steps, you can dramatically improve your odds of acquiring the job you dream of. In this article, we will highlight the numerous strategies you could use to perform your best in a business analyst interview.
What are employers and hiring managers looking for when interviewing people for a business analyst position?
Every employer is different. They have a different sets of values, goals, customers, standards, and more. As such, it is difficult to know exactly what your employer believes to be an ideal candidate.
But, when you look at the vast majority of businesses, they agree on something: some qualities are almost essential for every business analyst, regardless of the particular business they are applying to work for. Here are just a few of those skills:
Understanding the Business Objective
Business analysts need to have a strong understanding of their business’s goals. After all, their job is centered around helping the business achieve their goals and objectives by collecting data. They would not be able to perform their duties without first knowing the business’s goals.
Understanding the business objective requires a sharp mind, active listening, willingness to learn, and staying open to new knowledge the business gives you.
Analytical and Critical Thinking Skills
As a business analyst, you will need to think critically every single day. You will be met with numerous challenges, and critical thought can you navigate and even overcome those difficulties. In addition, much of a business analyst’s job is working with data.
To leverage this data to the business’s advantage, you will need to have analytical thinking skills. Analytical thinking helps you interpret that data to create improvement plans and make decisions.
Communication and Interpersonal Skills
Business analysts will need to report their results and data to large groups of individuals at times. This is often done to clients in meetings. However, those same business analysts may also need to network one on one.
They may need to speak personally to the organization’s director or CEO. This would require the business analyst to change their speaking style depending on who they are talking to, a key communication skill.
Negotiation and Cost-Benefit Analysis
A major part of the business analyst’s job is performing cost-benefit analysis. This type of analysis involves looking at both the pros and cons of a decision in an organized manner.
Performing this analysis requires critical and analytical thinking, as well as a strong focus on the task. Negotiation is also key, as it helps your organization acquire the best deal possible.
Decision-making is perhaps the most important skill a business analyst could learn. If you want to make the best decisions you can for yourself and your team, this skill is a must. Decision-making skills not only boost your efficiency and help you avoid frustration. It also helps your entire team achieve its goals. This is so because decision-making skills contribute to a team running smoothly.
You do not have to be a brilliant engineer or world-class coder to get a job as a business analyst. Still, knowing how to use several coding languages would certainly be to your advantage in the interview process.
These coding languages allow you to develop unique programs for data collection. Python could be used for machine learning, which helps you interpret data, too.
Creation of Reports and Dashboards
Another crucially important technical skill to have as a business analyst, creating dashboards and reports will help you greatly in your career. If these reports can be shown to clients in an understandable way, they will be far more interested in buying products from your company.
These same reports and dashboards can also help your administrators and executives make key company decisions.
Database and SQL
Knowing how to use databases is also crucial to being a successful business analyst. Large databases are often the greatest place to look when you need to gather information on an overarching topic or major company decision. SQL is a commonly used tool to help with the creation of these databases and filtering down the data to get it into more manageable forms.
30 Business Analyst Interview Questions and Sample Answers
Even the greatest business analysts tend to get nervous about their interviews. And, it is no wonder why.
Most people feel stress when preparing for one of the most important parts of their career (choosing a job). This is especially true when the candidate has their eye set on working for a particular individual. However, stress is not inevitably uncontrollable.
By preparing well, you can decrease stress significantly. One great way to prepare is by learning about the most commonly asked business analyst interview questions. A few of those queries are:
1. What role does a business analyst play on their team?
The business analyst’s role must be clearly defined in your mind. You need to have a clear understanding of your daily duties and how you will fit into the team.
This will make you seem prepared for the job and ready to work with the already existing team. If you do this, your odds of getting hired will be much higher. Highlight what you know about business analysis and the benefits it brings to an organization.
For example, you could say: “The business analyst’s role on a team is to help team members make rational, data-driven decisions. The business analyst will collect data and interpret it. Then, they will communicate that information to the team. This will help team members avoid mistakes and boost their odds of successful decision making.”
2. How do you think you will fit into our company as our newly hired analyst?
Building strong company relationships is crucial to the success of any team. With those relationships come to trust and mutual respect.
Therefore, the interviewer needs to test that your personality aligns with their current team. They need to see how you view your own role in their business, and if this aligns with their goals for you.
A sample answer would be: “I believe my role as the business analyst should be closely aligned with helping the administrators reach their goals. For example, your company site notes you would like to acquire 300 new customers weekly in the next few months. I would collect data and communicate strategies which will help the team achieve that.”
3. What do you think the main strengths every business analyst should have are?
There are a plethora of different skills that every business analyst would benefit from. The way you think about these skills is crucially important to the interviewer.
It allows them to see what you value most in business analysts, which reflects your own goals. Clearly outline some of the top skills analysts should have and why they are beneficial to a team.
One way to respond would be: “I believe the most important business analyst strength is critical and analytical thinking. As a business analyst, I analyze dozens of different data sources to make business suggestions. These suggestions could have an immense impact on a team and how many clients we attract. So, it is crucial to properly collect and analyze data.”
4. What are the tools and abilities every business analyst should master using?
There are numerous different programs you will likely use on a daily basis during your work hours. However, some of them are more crucial than others.
The interviewer wants to make sure you can use your resources well when they hire you, and this is what the question is testing. Your own skills and abilities also count as your resources. You need to actively use them, too.
When answering this question, you could respond with something along the lines of: “One tool I used extremely often in my prior job was SQL. With the use of SQL, I could efficiently filter data. This allowed me to see patterns and make conclusions from the data. Thus, I could give my colleagues better business advice. I also often used my active listening skills, and I believe all analysts should be great listeners. It allows us to constantly learn new strategies for business growth and improve ourselves.”
5. What are your top hard skills? Tell me about your database analysis abilities and other analytical abilities.
Soft skills get lots of attention in the personal development world. They are crucially important, but so are hard skills. Hard skills are the technical abilities that help you be an efficient and successful employee.
Highlight the technical abilities that allow you to perform your best at work. Also, note how your use of these skills can help your entire team, not just you.
A sample answer would be: “My too hard skill is using Google Sheets. Google Sheets helps me create extremely interactive and easy-to-understand presentations. As a result, I can display my data results and analysis in a straightforward plus engaging manner.”
6. Do you know what IVEST is and how the outline is used?
This question simply tests how familiar you are with business analysis as a whole. Businesses want to hire analysts who are prepared and well aware of their industry. INVEST is an acronym meaning Independent, Negotiable, Valuable, Estimable, Sized-Appropriately, Testable. By giving these responses, you will show your general knowledge of business analyst approaches. However, you must go into more detail about what each of the letters mean and how INVEST is practically used, perhaps by giving an example.
One way to respond would be: “INVEST stands for Independent, Negotiable, Valuable, Estimable, Sized-Appropriately, Testable. With INVEST, companies can evaluate how useful a consumer’s feedback story is. This can help companies like yours know more about their strengths and weaknesses.”
7. Tell me what you think of MoSCoW and SWOT, including their differences.
MoSCoW and SWOT are both acronyms that help you create better business analysis reports. Both are commonly used by analysts. MoSCoW is short for Must Have, Should Have, Could Have and Won’t Have. On the other hand, SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. These methods make the decision-making process a bit easier for business analysts.
When responding to this question, you could reply with something along the lines of: “I have used both SWOT and MoSCoW throughout my career as a business analyst. The main difference I see between them is their application and when to use them. I use SWOT when there is a clear competitor our organization needs to overcome. However, when less information is known about the market, I will use MoSCoW.”
8. Many business analysts often speak of ‘project deliverables.’ What does this refer to?
Business analysts use numerous standard phrases when communicating results to their teams. One such phrase is ‘project deliverables.’ In short, project deliverables refer to numerous tools which display analysis results and business suggestions.
For example, product backlogs, communication plans, system update requirements, business plan analysis, and other business documents would be project deliverables.
Your answer could be similar to the following: “Project deliverables are any document which suggests a certain course of action to the organization. I have used business plan analysis as one of my first form of project deliverables, for example. I also often analyze and present communication plan updates.”
9. How do you ensure you are aware of newly developed technologies and new business analysis strategies/best practices?
Staying on top of the latest industry standards can benefit you immensely as a business analyst is absolutely crucial. If you do not, your business analysis approaches will soon become irrelevant to the current business climate.
Thus, you should tell the employer how you plan to keep up to date on the new business analysis methods, competitors in your field, and more. Mention a few technologies you could leverage to achieve this goal.
One way to respond is: “I often read business analysis overviews from different journals to stay aware of new analysis technologies and methods. Some are published in scientific/tech journals, which I read often, too. In addition, I am aware of our top competitors, and will watch their moves closely.”
10. Take me through the steps of a business project.
Most businesses break their goals down into projects. This question seeks to test how well you know the inner functions of a business. If you give an in-depth and accurate answer that matches the employer’s business project approach, you will seem like a good fit for the company. This is why it is ideal to have a solid understanding of your industry before you apply for a business analyst job.
When responding to this query, you might say something like: “The first step of a business project is to initiate data collection. Then, you should look over the data, and start planning your next business decision based on the data. After that, execute your plan. Next, monitor the results of your decision. Make changes as necessary. Finally, you can end the project after it achieves its goals.”
11. What is the UML? How can UML be used?
This is yet another query which tests your general knowledge about business analysis and preparedness. In particular, the interviewer is testing your technical knowledge here. UML stands for Unified Modeling Language. It is used mostly by software developers, and it helps individuals visualize designs and blueprints. It can also be used by analysts, though. Analysts use UML to visualize the potential outcomes of decisions.
You could respond to this question by saying: “UML is an acronym for Unified Modeling Language. As a business analyst, I use it to get a visual representation for the potential outcomes a decision has. It helps me understand the flow of a system as well.”
12. What is SRS? What are the key parts of SRS?
At its simplest, SRS is a tool used to help analysts answer the question: what should software do to help our team achieve its goal? SRS is an acronym standing for Software Requirement Specifications. It helps business analysts to choose the best software for their organizations. By describing SRS, you can prove your familiarity with the more technical analyst terms and show your preparation.
An answer could look like this: “SRS stands for Software Requirement Specifications. When I use SRS, I am able to make more informed decisions regarding which software I should be using while at work. If a software does not meet our SRS requirements, I eliminate it from my list of potential technologies I could leverage for data collection.”
13. Explain the basics of BRD. How does it differ from System Requirement Specification?
BRD is easy to confuse with SRS. Therefore, if you can accurately distinguish between the two of them, you will seem detail-oriented to the interviewer, which is a great advantage. It also displays your strong overall knowledge of analysis tools. BRD stands for Business Requirements Document. State how BRD is used by analysts and how it can benefit your entire team.
When answering this question you could respond with something along the lines of: “BRD is an acronym for Business Requirements Document. It is used to describe an organization’s overarching goals. In essence, it is providing the answer to: why do we want to make this product? BRD is non-technical and includes overarching goals, while SRS is system specific and detail-oriented, often including technical details specifically.”
14. When you, as analysts use the word requirement, what do you mean? What is the difference between needs and requirements?
The requirement is one of the most commonly used words by analysts. You need to ensure your language is defined and purposeful. By answering this question, you prove your awareness of not just your own speech but of industry-related definitions. In general, remember that a requirement includes the step a business must take to achieve a goal, while the need acts as the goal itself.
To respond, you could say: “When I saw requirements, I mean the tasks we must take to achieve our goals as a team. They are specific and actionable steps we could take. On the other hand, a need is our overarching goal. So, one need could have numerous requirements associated with it, for instance.”
15. Is it possible for a requirement to be perfect? If so, how?
You may have been told that there is no such thing as perfection. The same is true for requirements in the world of business analysis. Requirements help you to achieve a goal. However, they are not guaranteed that the goal will be reached. It is impossible to fully accurately predict the future. Giving an answer that acknowledges will make you seem nuanced and details.
One way to respond would be: “I always strive to make requirements detailed and helpful, but I do not believe they can be perfect. There are often unpredictable events that occur and make requirements less helpful to analysts. After all, the world of business is constantly changing!”
16. Describe the purpose of the Requirement Traceability Index.
As with numerous other questions, this query aims to help the interviewer get an understanding of your preparation and knowledge for this industry. The Requirement Traceability Matrix helps the business analyst ensure the project’s requirements are clearly defined and kept track of.
It is a way of organizing requirements and helping the analyst understand the relationship between different requirements in the project. Note how using this strategy helps not just you, but the whole organization.
A sample answer would be: “I have used a Requirement Traceability Matrix many times during my time at my last organization. Usually, it was used to help me get a clearer understanding of a project’s requirements and how they are interrelated. This helps me clearly explain projects to other members on my team.”
17. Describe what business modeling is.
Business modeling is one of the most gives business analysts a way to organize and strategize how they will create value for their employer.
Simply put, it helps you answer the questions: how will our business achieve its goals? How will we make a profit? By answering this question clearly, you will show your preparedness and understanding of the business’s overall goals.
A sample response is: “Business modeling is use by me to help individuals to help us make plans and answer key business questions. If we are in the early stages of a project, we need to know how to profit off of it and how the project can help us advance our goals. That’s when business modeling comes in. With this strategy, we get a clear picture of the project’s direction.”
18. Describe the project life cycle. Which models do you use to implement this life cycle, and why?
The project life cycle is simply defined as the steps taken by an organization/team throughout the course of a project. Having a clear project life cycle in mind when starting a project helps guide individuals working on that project.
That guidance is the role of the business analyst, and you should capitalize on that during the interview. Also, note which specific methods you use to create and implement these life cycles as well as the method’s positive impacts.
When answering this question, you could say something along the line of: “The project life cycle includes all the steps it takes to finalize a project, from the planning phase to the finish. When I create project life cycles, I use the initiation, planning, execution, and closure style of organization. This helps me get a clear picture for the project’s direction and the role I play in the project.”
19. What is GAP analysis? Describe a few gaps that could occur when you analyze data.
Nobody is perfect. Even if you have great methods for evaluating and assisting businesses, there will still be flaws. Therefore, it is crucial to recognize your method’s gaps. Gap analysis is a way of comparing your goals with the outcomes your business plan had. By being open and honest with the interviewer, you will seem sincere and more employable.
You could answer the question like this: “GAP Analysis is used by business analysts such as myself to get an understanding of, simply, put, expectations/goals vs reality! It helps us compare how well our plans worked in achieving our goals. Some gaps can come from unexpected changes in the market, like a new competitor entering the completion, for example.”
20. Which work tactics do you most commonly use during projects?
Every business analyst has their own unique set of strategies for creating business plans and projects. The way you answer this question could set you apart from the crowd. If your answer aligns with what the interviewer is looking for, you will surely be paid extra attention to it. Ensure your response is industry-appropriate and relevant to their clients. Try to describe a tactic you have previous success with. Highlight how this strategy could help benefit their team, too.
A sample response is: “My most commonly used tactic for successfully completing projects is to use lots of graphic organizers. I often use strategies like deploying a requirement traceability matrix to help with organization and knowing how all of my requirements are interrelated. Then, I take action and observe the results.”
21. Describe requirement elicitation. Do you have experience attending requirement elicitation meetings?
As a business analyst, you need to have strong and constant communication with your brand’s stakeholders and customers. Requirement elicitation helps you do just that. Describe not just what this process is, but what it accomplishes and why it is meaningful. If you have experience participating in requirement elicitation meetings, this could be used to your advantage. Describe those meetings, what you learned, and the outcomes for your team.
Your response could sound like this: “Requirement elicitation is a process in which I as a business analyst speak to stakeholders and customers. From there, I create a more detailed project plan. I do have experience with elicitation meetings. In one meeting, I got insight from our customer on the specific type of data collection they desired. Then, I communicated this to our development team, and they created a product the customer was more than satisfied with.”
22. Tell me about the diagrams and graphic organizers you use for your work. What is their impact on your job?
Organization is a crucial part of succeeding in any role. It helps boost your efficiency while decreasing frustration. Therefore, you need to use both diagrams and organizers as a business analyst. Outline a few examples of when using these tools helped you and your team. Then, outline how your use of these tools can help the new employer.
To respond to this question, you could say something along the lines of: “I use diagrams to help me see the relation between different requirements and how making certain decisions contributes to achieving a goal. Graphic organizers also help me keep my data organized and easy to read. This saves me time and helps me clearly communicate my data to other team members.”
23. In business, what is a persona? What role do customer personas play when creating business plans?
Nearly all businesses strive to be customer-oriented. This allows them to make the most profit and achieve their goals. A customer persona describes a customer’s personality, desires, and pain points. They should be well understood by a business analyst to create the best business plan possible. Highlight your understanding for customer personas by giving a few examples if you have any.
One way to respond would be: “A business persona describes several key traits of a customer, such as their needs, wants, and overall personality. Customer personas are crucial to understanding our consumers. This helps the business analyst make plans and goals that are detailed to our specific audience. It helps us become a more customer-centric company as a whole.”
24. Suppose a project consists of multiple stakeholders. How would you work with them? Imagine one, or numerous of them, is difficult to work with. How would you overcome this challenge?
Being a business analyst is not an easy job. You will sometimes need to work with difficult individuals. However, the best business analysts know how to unite multiple stakeholders behind a common cause.
They understand the importance of working closely with individuals they may personally dislike, too, if it is for the good of the team. If you state this to the employer, they will view you as a team-oriented individual. Such a response will show your critical thinking skills.
When responding, you could say: “I always try to keep all stakeholders on the same page. I want everyone to find common ground and unite behind a single goal. If one of the stakeholders was difficult to work with, I would still try to hear them out. They may just need extra attention and listening to since they felt unheard or frustrated at other companies.”
25. What are your strategies for planning before the implementation of your business plan and after the implementation?
The most exciting part of creating plans and analyzing data is trying out new strategies and making decisions, then seeing their impact on your company. However, you need to be engaged before and after the implementation of these plans, too. This will show your focus and commitment as a candidate. It shows thoroughness in your planning, too.
A sample response could sound like this: “I first use numerous graphic organizers to find out the numerous ways my project’s requirements are interconnected. With that knowledge, I suggest an action plan to my team. When the team implements the action plan, I continuously monitor the effects of the plan. Once the project is over, I reflect on its successes and flaws to learn for the future.”
26. Suppose you are creating a new plan/system for a client. What would you do if their standards and requirements constantly changed?
Some customers are known for being indecisive. Sometimes, this means they will constantly change their requests. You need to adapt to a customer’s requests to the best of your ability. However, you should also stay aware of the company’s resources and time. Both are limited, so you need to make the most of them. Finding a balance between these two factors is key, and if you can describe your method of finding a balance, the interviewer will be impressed.
When responding to this query, you could state something along the lines of: “I do my best to meet the needs of every customer I encounter. I will try to change my approach to fit the customer’s needs. Yes, this will take time. But in the end, if the customer is satisfied, they are more likely to visit our company again. That is what I am passionate about: helping the customer and furthering our team’s reputation.”
27. Give me a general overview of requirement prioritization. Which techniques are the most commonly used?
Some projects have a plethora of different requirements listed underneath them. However, you may not have the resources to meet all the requirements. This is why requirement prioritization, or stating which requirements are most crucial to achieving a project’s goal, is important. Having a solid understanding of requirement prioritization will show you know how to think about the big picture.
One way to respond is: “Requirement prioritization is the process of stating which requirements are most important in achieving the success of a project. It helps analysts rank the importance of different requirements. One of the most commonly used techniques is the MoSCoW method, and another would be the Bubble Sort method.”
28. Describe Parento Analysis. What is it, and why is it useful?
Parento analysis is used by business analysts to identify an organization’s strengths and flaws. This is extremely useful when evaluating a business in comparison to its competition. It helps the analyst suggest how a business can improve. By demonstrating your familiarity with Pareto Analysis, you will show your knowledge about business comparisons and competitiveness.
When responding to this question, you could say something along the lines of: “Parento Analysis is used by business analysts to find a team’s strengths and their drawbacks. This would help me formulate a plan for overcoming the problems my team faces while helping them stay true to their strengths. Thus, the team would get a competitive advantage in the market and attract more customers.”
29. Describe BPMN. What does this strategy entail?
BPMN is one of the most important strategies for business analysts. The acronym stands for Business Process Model and Notations. In short, the strategy allows the analyst to better visualize the participants and potential decisions included with a project. It is often depicted as a flowchart. If you are familiar with BPMN, you will show your preparedness and knowledge of different analysis strategies to the interviewer.
To respond, you could say: “BPMN is the Business Process Model and Notations. With the use of the BPMN method, I can clearly outline who will be impacted by a decision, who is involved in the decision-making, and the potential outcomes of a decision. This helps me articulate the pros and cons of making certain choices in a more manageable way.”
30. Describe Kano analysis. What is it, and why is it beneficial?
Kano analysis is used by business analysts to better understand their customers. Specifically, it categorizes a consumer’s desires into 5 categories. Individuals who are familiar with the Kano analysis method are likely to appear educated, experienced, and customer-oriented to the interviewer. State not just what Kano analysis is, but how it is useful, and if you have experience using it.
A sample answer could be: “Kano analysis is a strategy for better understanding and classifying customer needs. You must gather customer feedback and data to create a Kano analysis. From there, you can make conclusions about what a customer liked and disliked about a product. So, in the future, you can create products specifically tailored to their needs.”
Questions for You to Ask in a Business Analyst Job Interview
Knowing about the numerous different questions you could be asked during an interview is extremely important. It gives job candidates a sense of security, helps boost their confidence, and decreases your chances of being caught off guard by an interviewer.
However, just knowing about the top business analyst interview questions might not be enough to stand out from the crowd. By taking your preparation one step further, though, you can further boost your odds of getting the job you dream of.
This simply involves asking the interviewer a few questions. Doing this shows your engagement and attention as well as genuine interest in their organization.
A few questions you could ask are:
- What timeline do you have in mind for hiring your next business analyst?
- Do I report to the customers, department heads, executives, or someone else? Or a combination of these individuals?
- How do you review analyst performance? How often do check in on analyst success?
- Which leadership methods do your administrators use?
- Which skills, personality traits, and experience do you think an ideal business analyst should have?
How To Prepare for a Business Analyst Job Interview
Hopefully, all of the above information is making you more relaxed about your next business analyst job interview. Still, there are numerous other starves you should be aware of when you are preparing for your job interview. Knowing about the most commonly asked interview questions is a great starting point, but employing a few other preparation methods can further boost your odds of getting the job you dream of.
For one, pay some extra attention to those potential job interview queries.
Do not just read over them. Instead, try to process them on a deeper level. Think about the personal connections you have with these questions. And, formulate responses to each do the queries. You do not have to be too in-depth with these responses. But, they should be specific enough for your to remember during the interview.
Another step you should take is doing some industry and common research.
Learn about your dream employer’s top competitors. Who are their customers? What do their customers need? Where is their business succeeding, and what is it not performing so well in? What are new industry innovations relating to your dream employer’s product? These are all questions you should ask yourself when preparing for a job interview.
Finally, you should consider speaking to someone who already worked there.
This would give you a deeper insight into the interview process and company culture. Besides that, ensure that you carefully read the job description. See if the company lists their goals on their website or if their executives ever spoke about their brand’s goals. These ideas can all be brought up during the interview.
Business Analyst Interview Questions FAQs
What are the 3 most important skills or qualities of a good business analyst?
Great business analysts need to ah expect a variety of both soft and hard skills to be successful at their job. Most individuals agree, though, that some skills are more crucial to maintain than others. One of the most necessary skills for a business analyst is critical thinking.
Analysts make decisions on a daily basis, and they impact the entire team. So, critical thinking helps them make the most beneficial choices. Analysts must also be great communicators. They will need to speak about business plans and strategies to many team members, sometimes having to change their communication style depending on their audience.
Finally, an analyst must stay organized. Organization saves the analyst time and also helps them communicate their ideas in a compact as well as easy-to-understand way.
What are the three main roles of a business analyst?
Business analysts are known for managing numerous key roles in their organization. One such important role is evaluating your business’s strengths and weaknesses. The analyst can do this by collecting vast amounts of data, often directly from customers.
Another key role the business analyst performs is keeping up to date with their business’s competition, new industry innovations, and best practices relating to their industry.
Finally, the business analyst also suggests different decisions and presents business leaders with the pros and cons of certain choices. They often analyze business plans to see if listed decisions are the best for accomplishing their company’s goals.