Interview Query

23 Data Analyst Behavioral Interview Questions (Updated for 2022)

Data analyst behavioral questions tend to be vague and open to interpretation. Learn how to approach these questions, so you don't get tripped up.

Overview

When data analysts prepare for interviews, they tend practice technical questions most. But one area they don’t spend nearly enough time on is the behavioral interview.

Data analyst behavioral questions are tricky to answer.

They seem benign and very easy to answer. However, each question is an opportunity to show your value and make it clear you’re the best candidate for the position.

Generally, these behavioral questions for data analysts are open-ended, and are designed to assess your experience, your ability to communicate, and if you’re the right fit for the company and role.

You can expect behavioral questions in these five areas:

How to Prepare for Analyst Behavioral Interviews

Specificity is the key to answering data analyst interview questions. Use specific examples, clearly outline steps you took to solve problems, and describe any lessons or new skills you learned in the past. One helpful tip: Consider using a framework to structure your answers.

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The STAR method is a commonly used framework for behavioral questions. With this method, you would first describe the Situation, cover the Task you had to solve, describe the Action you took, and finally, highlight specific Results you achieved.

This is particularly helpful for outlining past projects and handling experiential questions. For example:

1. Tell me about a time when you used data to solve a problem.

You might respond with:

  • Situation - In a previous hospitality job, we noticed our conversion rate was decreasing.
  • Task - My goal was to better understand our customers to help the sales and marketing team develop more effective UX strategies and promotions to improve conversion rates.
  • Action - In the past, many of the marketing decisions had been made based on our average customer. But I felt that there was an overreliance on the average, and decided to cluster customers and better segment them.
  • Result - We found that our real customers weren’t very similar to the average metrics that were being used. The customers segments I created helped to better guide product and UX decisions, resulting in a 30% lift in conversion rate.

This is a general outline. You’ll want to add more depth, but it gives you an idea of how to use the STAR framework to structure your answers.

Job Experience Questions for Data Analysts

For interviewers, behavioral questions are a useful tool for cross-checking a resume, and seeing if someone’s career level aligns with the role. Therefore, a lot of behavioral questions for data analysts will explore prior experiences, past projects, and how you’ve handled adversity in the past.

2. Describe a data project you worked on. What were some of the challenges you faced?

When you’re asked about a project, use a format like the STAR method. You should walk the interviewer through the project, from start to finish. Begin with the business problem and conception. Describe your approach and how you executed it. And always end with the results.

Hint: Project questions give you a chance to show off your iterative process and how well you work with stakeholders.

3. Describe an analytics experiment that you designed. How were you able to measure success?

Data analysts get tasked with experimenting with data to test new features or campaigns. Many behavioral questions will ask about experiments, but also tap into how you approach measuring your results.

With questions like these, be sure to describe the objective of the experiment, even if it was a simple A/B test. Don’t be afraid to get technical; explain the metrics you used and the process you used to quantify the results.

4. Describe a time when you were going to miss a deadline. How did you respond?

With a question like this, remember these tips:

  • Describe the scenario that led to the missed deadline.
  • Avoid talking about what others did that put the project behind schedule.
  • Be honest about what went wrong and what you learned.

You might say: “I was in charge of creating an important data analytics report in my previous role. Due to an ETL error, the data we were using for the project the data wasn’t available. As the deadline approached, I knew the report wouldn’t be finished, so I informed my manager about the issue, provided a revised timeline for when it would be done, and worked with the data engineering team to fix the ETL error.”

5. Tell me about a project in which you had to clean and organize a large dataset.

A good clarifying question would be: “What do you consider a large dataset?” This won’t necessarily change your answer, but it will show that you’re detail-oriented. Note: If you haven’t worked with a “large” dataset, choose a project with a smaller dataset that required a lot of data cleaning and describe how you might scale what you learned to a larger dataset.

Technical Communication Behavioral Questions for Data Analysts

Many behavioral questions will assess your ability to communicate tools and techniques, your results, and insights to a lay audience.

6. How would you convey insights and the methods you use to a non-technical audience?

You’ll find a lot of variations to this question, but the objective is always the same: to assess your ability to communicate complex subject matter and make it accessible. Data analysts often work cross-functionally, and this is a key skill they must possess.

Have a few examples ready and use a framework to describe them. You might say:

“The marketing team wanted to better segment customers, so, after gaining an understanding of their motivations and goals for the project, I presented several segmenting options and talked them through trade-offs.

I felt that K-means clustering would be the best method for their objective, so I made a presentation about how the method worked, potential strategies for visualizing the new segments, described key benefits, and ultimately, talked about potential trade-offs.”

7. How comfortable are you presenting your insights?

Interviewers want to know you’re confident in your communication skills and can effectively communicate complex ideas. With a question like this, walk the interviewer through your process:

  • How you prepare data presentations
  • Strategies you use to make data accessible
  • What tools you use in presentations

Also, the ability to present virtually is vitally important in today’s market. Have several recent experiences to talk about, both in-person and virtual. This is a common question in data visualization interviews.

8. Have you ever had to use data to persuade stakeholders?

Interviewers ask a question like this to see if you can make insights actionable. You might say: “In my previous position, I was in charge of identifying opportunities to optimize our marketing efforts. Specifically, I was analyzing the types of ads that were generating conversions. Through my analysis, it became clear that one type of ad worked on Platform A, but not Platform B. I was able to persuade the marketing team to optimize the ads it created for Platform B, resulting in a 10% lift in conversions.”

9. What are some effective ways to make data more accessible to non-technical people?

A question like this is designed to learn about your data visualization and reporting knowledge. Plus, it assesses if you’re comfortable and know how to present data insights. Data presentation techniques you might talk including:

  • Talks and presentations with slides
  • Short documentation videos
  • Written documentation
  • Visualizations and visualization design
  • Dashboards and reporting

10. Talk about a time when you had trouble communicating with stakeholders. How were you able to overcome it?

A question like this explores how you handle adversity and adapt in the moment. Be honest about what went wrong. Then, describe how you apply what you learned to future tasks.

For example, you might say: “I presented a data analytics project to non-technical stakeholders, but my presentation was far too technical. I realized that the audience wasn’t following the technical aspects, so I stopped and asked for questions. I spent time clarifying the technical details until there were no questions left. One thing I learned was that it’s important to tailor presentations to the audience, so before I start a presentation, I always consider the audience.”

Data Sense Questions in Analyst Interviews

Interviewers want to see that you’re data savvy, and that you can assess data quickly, know when something’s amiss, or have ideas about where to start when investigating a problem.

11. Describe a time when you spotted a data inconsistency. How did you respond?

Successful data analysts help businesses identify anomalies and respond quickly. You might say: “I was working with an univariate dataset, which would follow a fairly normal distribution. Before jumping into analysis, I ran a normality test and the distribution looked skewed.”

12. Talk about a time you were surprised by the results of an analytics project.

When working on an analysis, you’ll likely have a prediction about what you’ll find. How do you respond when your prediction is wrong? This question gets asked to see a) if you’re open to change, and b) that you’re dedicated to making data-driven decisions.

Your answer might be: “While working on a customer analytics project, I surprised to find that a subsegment of our customer base wasn’t actually responding to the offers were providing. We had lumped the subsegment into a larger customer bucket, and had assumed that a broader segmentation wouldn’t make a difference. I relayed the insight to the marketing team, and we were able to reduce churn among this subsegment.”

13. Describe a time when you made a mistake and used the wrong dataset. How were you able to identify your error?

This is the data analyst version of the classic behavioral question: “Tell about a time you made a mistake at work.” Remember, you don’t want to blame someone else in your response. Be honest about the error, describe what you did, and tell the interviewer what you learned.

You might say: “Due to a mislabeling error, I was using the wrong data for a conversion analysis project. The data I was using wasn’t current. I was able to spot the error after checking for minimum and maximum conversion rate values, and noticing that the range seemed off.”

14. Tell me about a time when you had to use data to make a decision.

This is an open-ended question that interviewers use to a) understand your experience, b) assess your decision-making skills, and c) understand how you take action based on insights. In your answer:

  • Define the problem you were trying to solve
  • Outline the techniques and approach you used
  • Describe the actions you took, and if you had to change course
  • Provide an overview of the results you saw

Culture Fit Behavioral Questions

These questions are designed to see if you’re the right match for the team. They assess your passion for analytics, how you work with others, and why you want to work for the company.

15. Why did you choose analytics as a career? Or what made you want to be a data analyst?

This question gets asked a lot, especially for entry-level data analyst positions, and yet, it trips up a lot of candidates. It’s not enough to simply state, “I have always loved statistics.” Be honest about what makes you passionate about data and analytics.

Maybe it was a project you did in an undergraduate class or a book you read that ignited your curiosity. Maybe you read an interesting case study and wanted to help businesses better utilize data. The key is to show genuine passion for data and analysis in your response.

16. Why are you interested in working for our company?

Again, this is a super common question that trips up a lot of candidates. Have a strong answer for this question. You might focus on the company’s data culture, or you might mention a connection you have to the company (e.g. a former colleague).

For a Meta data analyst interview you might say: “I’m excited by the possibility of using data to foster stronger social connections amongst friends and peers. I also like to ‘go fast’ and experiment, which fits into Meta’s innovative culture.”

17. What are some qualities that every data analyst should have?

With this question, the interviewer is probing your work style and your passion for analytics. In your response, you might include these qualities of a data analyst:

  • Ingenuity - A good data analyst is an innovator that’s always looking to find new ways to experiment.
  • Curiosity - A curious data analyst can take a problem and find relevant ways to analyze and hypothesize about it.
  • Technical expertise - Strong data analysts are technicians in SQL, have a knack for learning new tools and platforms, and have a strong basis in statistics.
  • Effective communication - The best data analysts can distill insights and make them relevant for their audience.

18. Do you prefer a particular niche in analytics, like say, customer analytics? Why or why not?

Your response should be tailored to the position and where you are in your career. For example, an entry-level data analyst might say, “I love analytics in general, and I’ve always excelled in statistics. I have a strong interest in investigating problems with data. However, at this point in my career, I know I have a lot to learn, want to gain experience and work on a lot of different tasks and projects.”

Someone with more experience might tailor their response to the niche they’ve worked on or are most passionate about.

19. Do you work well under pressure? Do you work well on teams?

This is a classic culture fit behavioral question. Interviewers ask it to see how well you take direction, how you collaborate, and how you might fit in with the team. Your response might be:

“My last job was at a start-up, and I essentially had to build the analytics processes from the ground up. As a start-up we had to move quickly, which was a great experience, because I learned continuous iteration techniques to maintain high output with seemingly impossible deadlines. In that job, I also had to work closely and collaborate with various teams, and help build analytics solutions tailored to various stakeholder needs. I really enjoyed serving others and building reporting solutions that made their lives easier.”

Scenario-Based Behavioral Questions

This type of question is used to probe your work experience and understand the types of analytics problems and projects you’ve worked on. Scenario questions often start with “What would you do if…” and ask you to describe your approach.

20. What would you do if you were unclear on what your role was in a project?

This question assesses how you deal with ambiguity, set priorities, and your decision-making process in unclear situations. You could say:

“I joined a company that had just started embracing data analytics. My role hadn’t really been defined and day-to-day responsibilities were a bit of a clean slate. In my first 30 days, I spent a lot of time organizing the existing analytics tools, as well as learning the company’s core objectives. Then, I created a plan for aligning analytics output for the next 6 months to those core objectives, which I presented to my manager. Together we prioritize tasks, and we were able to quickly scale up the company’s analytics capabilities.”

21. What would you do if you noticed a decline in revenue?

This is more of a technical question, and you might be provided with a sample dataset to help solve it. If your response was more generic, you might describe how the drop could be a result of declining sales, of rising costs, or a mix of both. You might say:

“If I noticed a drop in revenue, I’d first check to identify if it was, in fact, out-of-line with historical revenue data. Then, I’d gather metrics like revenue per marketing share, profit margin per item sold, and revenue by project and category, and discounts applied. This would help us begin to explore potential causes for the drop.”

22. You have an idea for a time-consuming data analytics project with big potential for the company. How would you go about gaining buy-in for the project?

This question is a bit of an ambiguous time management question, because you have day-to-day responsibilities to consider. You might say: “Before approaching leadership, I would set aside a few hours to do the initial research, while maintaining my day-to-day tasks. If, after that initial research, I did believe that the project would have an impact, I’d communicate with my boss about the project, provide an overview of the opportunity costs, and work with my manager to gain feedback and direction on how to proceed.”

23. You work for a ride-sharing company and notice a 5% increase in rider cancellations. How would you investigate this problem?

For a question like this, always start with clarifying questions. You might ask: Have there been any internal changes recently? Is a particular type of ride? What is the timeframe?

Then, talk through the external and internal factors you would consider in your investigation. External factors might include:

  • Seasonality
  • Weather
  • If the rise was from a particular geographic location

On the internal side, you might talk about metrics like cancellations by device type, a change in cost per ride or average time per pick-up, or UI changes.

More Resources for Data Analyst Interviews

Interview Query offers a variety of resources to help you ace your interview. Start with our resources: How to Prepare for Data Analyst Interviews and Top Data Analyst Interview Questions.

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