Show you have the skills for the job

During a job interview, data analysts can expect to answer a variety of questions. Hiring managers and recruiters want to know if a candidate can use common (as well as esoteric) data analysis tools and how their analysis has positively impacted the strategies and results of their previous employers.

As a data analyst, you’ll likely be answering questions about your previous work experience, including the size and complexity of the datasets you’ve analyzed. Depending on the needs and technology stack of potential employers, you might face questions about your proficiency with flat file databases, Hadoop, Apache Spark, SQL or NoSQL, and other tools and platforms.

Josh Drew, regional manager at Robert Half Technology, said data analyst candidates can also expect questions about their specializations and future career plans. “If the company has a specific requirement where they are looking for everyone to have some level of proficiency with certain tools, you should be prepared to answer questions about your ability and willingness to receive training and development to those skill sets,” he said. added.

Sample Questions: Overview

  • “What technological tools did you use? »
  • “How did you use data in your last role to help drive the business?”
  • “What was the end goal of the most recent initiatives or projects you were working on? »
  • “Which stakeholders did you interact with on a regular basis? How did you share your findings? »
  • “Have you supervised or managed teams? What exactly was your role within the data team? »

These “global” questions come up frequently. Make sure you can describe how your analysis played a crucial role in the planning and strategies of your previous employers. Come prepared with stories of how you’ve used your “soft skills” (such as empathy and communication) not only to lead teams, but also to communicate your findings and insights to other parties organizational stakeholders, such as senior management.

Recruiters and hiring managers want to know you can drive meaningful results for organizations and get a 35,000-foot view of critical issues. If you can demonstrate that you are more than capable of abstract thinking and deep strategizing, your chances of landing the job will increase exponentially.

With data analysis tools incorporating technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), DevSkiller CTO Tomasz Nurkiewicz said candidates should also be ready to answer simple questions about their familiarity with AI and ML.

“There are some very simple algorithms like linear regression, and if anyone claims to know something like machine learning, they should know what it is,” he said.

Sample Questions: Data Skills

  • “What are natural networks and how can they help in every position?”
  • “What is the grouping? »
  • “What is linear regression? »
  • “How did your analysis support business decisions?” »

Drew pointed out that, on both the business and data side, being able to apply business brain and logic to the data you are reviewing or evaluating is extremely valuable. “You want to convey that you really understand the business and the market they’re in,” he said. “The ultimate goal is to be able to not only take that insight, but also provide suggestive insights to management on how the data can drive the business.”

He said an interview is a chance to demonstrate that you are naturally curious and truly understand the power of this data. “You want a data analyst who has really good communication skills,” he added. “If it’s just compiling the data, it’s not necessarily as important. But when sharing and giving business ideas and suggestions, you need to be persuasive and share the argument behind the data and why you came up with the suggestion.

Hiring managers often phrase these questions in a certain way; for example, they may ask you if you are comfortable talking to executives and sharing insights from data. “This level of comfort in sharing insights and supporting business decisions around data is hugely beneficial,” Drew said. “It’s also an opportunity for you to demonstrate your passion for data and the power it holds.”

Sample questions: The future of data

  • What excites you about data?
  • Where do you see the future of data headed?

If data analyst candidates only talk about technology, tools, and math, it suggests to the interviewer that they have absolutely no interest in the business – and that’s a problem, because data analysts data is ultimately there to serve the larger business. “I would look for balance – someone who sees a business problem and uses technology to solve that problem,” Nurkiewicz said. “You create value by solving problems with code.”

When it comes to tests given as part of the interview process, data analysts can expect to be asked to sift through datasets to look for patterns and provide insight into what they find. These types of open-ended questions can reveal how the analyst thinks and demonstrate whether or not they understand the company’s business goals.

“This way you also ensure that the candidate knows what Hadoop or HDFS is and knows how to load data from that file system and then perform aggregation in their tool of choice,” Nurkiewicz said. . “If you’re at least moderately proficient with your tools, you should be able to make some connections.”

Sean N. Ayres