Most problems inside an organization are deep-rooted. Identifying the causes and intricacies and providing high-level solutions are tasks that require more than just domain knowledge. Business analysts tackle these problems daily — and business analyst interview questions seek to find the best candidates that will solve the problems.
In this module, we talk about the two crucial parts for acing the business analytics interview.
First, you should know and understand the business analyst role to heart. Second, you must be prepared on the tool and skillsets required for a business analyst role.
Let’s start by understanding the role.
At a high level, business analysts bridge the gap between the IT and business domains inside an organization. Business analysts play the role of “problem solvers” to meet an organization’s processes, goals, and strategies.
For example, suppose that you work as the Director of Operations for a fast-food restaurant chain, Wacky Donald’s. Over the last six months, Wacky Donald’s has seen a decline in overall sales despite lowering prices during a high inflation period.
With stiff competition, declining sales figures, and higher costs, Wacky Donald’s will struggle without any action. As the Director of Operations, it’s your task to hire the right people— a business analyst, to assess how to fix issues.
The interview process for a business analyst is straightforward, functional, complex, and multi-faceted, depending on the company.
When we pivot to examine an industry giant like Google, their process for hiring a business analyst is known for its depth and thoroughness. Let’s delve into the specifics of Google’s Business Analyst interview process as an example.
1. Technical Assessment: At Google, interviewers evaluate your technical knowledge and experience with relevant tools and systems. This includes discussing how you’ve utilized specific technologies in past roles and your ability to adapt to new tools. For example, the interviewer might ask you to calculate the cumulative sales of each product.
2. Understanding of Role and Responsibilities: Questions are designed to gauge your understanding of the business analyst role. This part of the interview process often involves discussing how you would handle typical tasks and responsibilities associated with the position.
Google’s interviewers might ask questions such as “When dealing with a logistics problem caused by delayed invoices, what department should you approach first? The accounts payable or the logistics department? Why?”.
3. Behavioral and Situational Analysis: The process includes situational and behavioral questions to assess your problem-solving abilities, decision-making skills, and how you handle various work-related scenarios, especially in challenging situations or when dealing with changes in project scope.
At Google, business analytics behavioral questions don’t necessarily have to be related to business analytics. For example, some interviewers might ask how you might deal with team conflicts or how clashing ideas might be resolved.
Like most interviews, business analyst interview questions are loosely based on what business analysts do on a day-to-day basis.
Business analysts are often concerned with cross-functional collaboration, problem-solving, and leveraging business tools to formulate solutions, identifying and querying business data sources, and knowing the proper toolkits for data manipulation and presentation.
When do you get technical questions vs non-technical ones?
Business analyst positions have vastly different job descriptions, and the role is definitely non-uniform throughout different industries. For example, some business analyst roles might focus more on data analysis for solving and identifying business problems. These are common for positions in large companies (think Google and Amazon) where data (both from operations and internal) are abundant and ripe for analysis. For these companies, technical questions are of greater importance.
On the other hand, for startups and smaller organizations, there might not be enough data for insight, so most business analysts work with simpler tools such as Excel, or PowerBI at most. In such cases, business analyst roles play more into making a seamless cross-team collaboration platform, identifying and formulating solutions affecting multiple teams. In such instances, having robust interpersonal skills is a big plus, making non-technical, behavioral questions a common category of interview questions in these roles.
The role of a business analyst can vary significantly between different organizations. This variation is due to factors such as industry, company size, and project specifics— even company culture plays a role. To address how job descriptions differ from company to company, let’s look at how industry leaders define the business analyst’s role, and assess how technical and non-technical questions come up.
Amazon’s Business Analyst interviews focus on both technical and behavioral aspects. Interviewees should anticipate questions on SQL, data modeling, and other technical skills alongside behavioral questions aligned with Amazon’s leadership principles. SQL questions might cover joins, aggregations, and basic data manipulations, while behavioral questions aim to gauge the candidate’s fit with Amazon’s culture and problem-solving approach.
Preparation should include practicing SQL, understanding Amazon’s leadership principles, and being ready to discuss past experiences in data analysis.
Google evaluates Business Analyst candidates through a mixture of technical, case, and behavioral questions. The technical portion often encompasses SQL and data analysis, while case questions explore problem-solving and business acumen.
Behavioral questions, on the other hand, assess how candidates align with Google’s culture and values. Preparing for a Business Analyst role at Google entails brushing up on SQL, data structures, and practicing case studies, along with understanding Googleyness and showcasing a passion for the role.
The interview process at Facebook requires candidates to understand the necessary skills for Business Analyst roles and practice real interview questions. It’s important to research the company, review job requirements, and be ready to work with business intelligence solutions like Power BI and Tableau. Facebook values effective communication and problem-solving skills, which are often assessed through behavioral questions.
Microsoft’s interview processs for Business Analyst roles includes a series of interviews. Initial interviews analyze communication skills and alignment with the role, followed by technical interviews covering programs and analytical skills.
The interview process might also include a review of financial statements and contracts. Candidates should demonstrate how they meet the job qualifications by sharing specific examples or ideas on accomplishing tasks.
Interviews at Apple encompass a basic conversation with recruitment, technical assessments on forecasting, Excel, SQL, and evaluations, followed by further discussions on background and interest in the role with team leads and managers.
The interview process is known to be competitive and thorough, aiming to evaluate a candidate’s skills, and knowledge, and fit with Apple’s culture and values. Discussion on business models and presenting ideas to Apple representatives are part of the process.
Behavioral interview questions play strong with the first narrative of what business analysts do on a day-to-day basis— which is “cross-functional collaboration” Behavioral interview questions, at its core, test an applicant’s ability to communicate effectively.
As mentioned earlier, business analysts need to collect primary and structured data. Primary data collection is what we refer to as interviews and surveys. In order to be able to do proper primary data collection, a business analyst must have strong social skills. To test your social skills, here are the most often asked business analyst behavioral interview questions.
This question aims to assess a candidate’s teamwork and collaboration skills. In their answer, the interviewee should demonstrate their ability to work effectively with others, communicate their ideas, and possibly even lead a team towards a shared goal. This question also offers insights into how candidates navigate group dynamics.
As a business analyst, it’s your task to build a bridge between the technical and business departments. Knowing how to collaborate between teams is an essential skill.
This question focuses on the candidate’s communication skills, particularly their ability to simplify and convey complex information. A competent business analyst should be able to translate complex data findings into clear, actionable insights that stakeholders from various backgrounds can understand and act upon.
Here, the focus is on a candidate’s problem-solving and adaptability skills. Projects often face unforeseen challenges, and it’s crucial to know how to navigate these setbacks. Business analysts are often the ones speaking to stakeholders and relaying the issues to the relevant people. By discussing a challenging project, candidates can highlight their approach to troubleshooting, adapting, and possibly even turning the situation around.
Handling conflicting requirements is a common challenge in the business analyst role. Translating client requests to technical requirements is already a tough task, which can be more stressful with conflicting requests. This question examines the candidate’s negotiation, prioritization, and interpersonal skills. The candidate’s response should highlight how they negotiated and ultimately prioritized requirements based on the project’s goals and constraints.
This question delves deep into a candidate’s analytical and decision-making abilities. More often than not, you’re given incomplete data, and it’s your job as the business analyst to figure out what the client needs and wants. Because some stakeholders may not fully understand the full scope and potential of a project, it’s important to demonstrate that you can recognize gaps in requirements and fill them in.
In a dynamic business environment, waiting for complete data might not always be an option. A seasoned business analyst should be able to discuss their method for evaluating available data, gauge risks, and make informed decisions even with missing information. The outcome– positive or negative– offers further discussion points on adaptability.
In a nutshell, all of the problems business analysts face on a day-to-day basis are case studies, with the organization as the context. Case studies play with the second narrative of what business analysts do on a day-to-day basis, which is “problem-solving and leveraging business tools to formulate solutions”.
Here are some of the best case study interview questions to explore if you want to ace your business analyst interview.
This analytical challenge requires you to understand quantitative data and interpret the qualitative nuances behind the numbers. With the given datasets, can you build a predictive model to forecast sales, evaluate the potential success of a new e-commerce entity, and pinpoint any gaps in the provided data? Your insights should be cohesive and well-structured to present to a data-savvy audience.
Consider different user groups on the platform and how engagement varies across these groups. How would this help you decide whether to add a new Stories feature?
Let’s say we offer a subscription where customers can enroll for a 30-day free trial at Netflix. After 30 days, customers will be automatically charged based on the package selected.
How can we measure acquisition success, and what metrics can we use to measure the success of the free trial?
Let’s say you work on the growth team at Facebook and are tasked with promoting Instagram from within the Facebook app.
Where and how could you promote Instagram through Facebook?
Note: Like typical product questions where we’re analyzing a problem and coming up with a solution with data, we have to do the same with growth, except our solutions are in the form of growth ideas and provide data points for how they might support our hypothesis.
For example, we can explore network effects to see how the presence of relevant users (such as friends or people with mutual interests) adds value to a product for an individual.
Let’s say you work on the revenue forecasting team at a company like Facebook.
An executive comes to you asking about how much revenue Facebook will make in the coming year.
How would you forecast revenue for the next year?
Let’s refer again to what was mentioned earlier: “business analysts need to collect primary and structured data”. When we say structured data, we often refer to data from an organization’s database pool. Going back to the narratives of what business analysts do on a day-to-day basis, the third point, mentions that they must know how to “identify and query business data sources“.
Most organizations use databases that follow the relational model, and to access these databases, business analysts must know Structured Query Language (SQL). Here are some of the most common SQL questions business analysts encounter.
You’re given two tables: payments and users. The payments table holds all payments between users, with the
payment_state column consisting of either
How many customers who signed up in January 2020 had a combined (successful) sending and receiving volume greater than $100 in their first 30 days?
recipient_id both represent the
Let’s say you are managing products for an eCommerce store. You think products from category 9 have a lower average price than those in all other categories. Calculate the t-value and degrees of freedom for such a test. You do not need to calculate the p-value of the test.
Let’s say you work at Costco. Costco has a database with two tables. The first is
users composed of user information, including their registration date, and the second is
purchases that has the entire item purchase history (if any) for those users. Write a query to get the total amount spent on each item in the ‘purchases’ table by users that registered in 2022.
Given a table with event logs, find the Top 5 users with the longest continuous streak of visiting the platform in 2020. A continuous streak counts if the user visits the platform at least once per day on consecutive days.
Let’s say we have two tables,
products. Hypothetically, the
transactions table has over a billion rows of user purchases.
We’re trying to find paired products that are often purchased together by the same user, such as wine and bottle openers, chips and beer, etc.
Write a query to find the Top 5 paired products and their names.
Now you have the data collected, aggregated, and prepared. You have digitized and analyzed interview reports; now, what are you going to do with it?
Business analysts are not known to delve into the software engineering intricacies, despite heavily working with IT teams. However, Python programming plays an important role in data preparation and presentation, as mentioned in the fourth narrative.
Business Analysts need to know how to present data such that it is comprehendible, even with non-technical peers. Here are some of the common Python interview questions you might encounter in your next business analyst interview.
You’re given a dataframe
df_cheeses containing a list of the price of various cheeses from California. The dataframe has missing values in the price column.
Write a function
cheese_median to impute the median price of the selected California cheeses in place of the missing values. You may assume at least one cheese is not missing its price.
Let’s say you’re given a dataframe of standardized test scores from high schoolers from grades 9 to 12 called df_grades.
Given the dataset, write code function in Pandas called bucket_test_scores to return the cumulative percentage of students that received scores within the buckets of <50, <75, <90, <100.
Given a dataframe with three columns:
Write a function to fill the NaN values in the value column with the previous non-NaN value from the same client_id ranked in ascending order.
If there doesn’t exist a previous client_id then return the previous value.
You’re given two dataframes:
The transactions dataframe contains transaction ids, product ids, and the total amount of each product sold.
The products dataframe contains product ids and prices.
Write a function to return a dataframe containing every transaction with a total value of over $100. Include the total value of the transaction as a new column in the dataframe.
grades_colorsto select only the rows where the student’s favorite color is green or red and their grade is above 90.
You’re given a dataframe of students named
Write a function named
grades_colors to select only the rows where the student’s favorite color is green or red and their grade is above 90.