Business Analyst–Another fancy job title designed to attract young talent. Business is a proven buzzword, and analyst doesn’t sound bad either. Or does it?

Big corporations love the job title. The truth is that you can’t tell what you’d do in your new job with them, until you start working on day one.

For this exact reason, it is difficult to predict the exact questions you will get in your interview.

But forget about consulting company executives and giving suggestions on how to improve the business process. This may happen one day, when you’ll be promoted, when you will specialize. Then you will focus on one specific area of business operations, and get chance to have some impact on the actual results the business will achieve.

You may become a financial analyst, or information security analyst, or budget analyst, or any other analyst–the options are endless, and just then it will become clear what you will do, and what you won’t do in the job.

In this article, however, we’ll have a look at interview questions for an entry level “Business Analyst” job, which tend to be more more generalized, testing rather your attitude and predispositions for the job then actual skills needed for all kinds of analysis. Let’s go!

Two women shake hands in a corridor in a corporation

Why do you want to work as a business analyst?

In my opinion, there are two good answers to this question. One is citing the specialization you want to achieve later on, such as a management analyst, or system analyst, and say that you consider this job as an ideal starting position for you, to be able to get your “dream job” one day–of course with their corporation.

The second good answer is saying that you aren’t really sure what you want to do in your professional career, and considering the wide range of working duties business analyst may have, the plenitude of career paths you can take later on, and a general understanding of business you will gain in this role, business analyst seems like a perfect choice for you.

 

Why do you want to work for us?

Any given day of a year, in any big city, you will find dozens of job openings for business analysts advertised on online job boards. And while in economic expansion companies do not question your choice (they are happy to see you in an interview, and you may well be the only candidate), in times of recession (and this article is written for both good and bad times :)), they will want to know. Because there will be ten or twenty other people competing for the job with you.

Do some research about their company. Perhaps you like the services the company offers, their particular field of business is close to your heart. Or several college friends and pals work for the company, and you’ve heard great things about the training program and working environment.

Or maybe you like their vision, the mission statement on their website. Or perhaps you live just five minutes walk from the building where the company resides. Any reason is better than no reason–so give them at least one.

 

What do you imagine you will do in this job?

This is a tricky question. You should not show excessively high expectations. During the first year of the job, you will likely only help other, more senior employees, with their jobs. You will do simple analysis for them, and collect data, and create simple reports.

In big corporations one can not skip this step, especially when we speak about financial and management jobs. So set your expectations low. Say that first and foremost you are eager to learn, and to cooperate with other people, trying to help the business to meet their goals.

Of course, if a job description gives an extensive list of clearly formulated duties, you can list them. But do not repeat the buzzwords that mean nothing, and promise you doing things which you  eventually won’t do anyway, at least not during your first year in the job…

Man with glasses tries to express his thoughts in an interview.

 

Why do you think you are ready for this role?

Here you can refer to two things. First one is your education. Do not hesitate to list the courses that relate the most to the job (management, accounting, financial analysis, time rows analysis, any IT subjects, databases, etc).

Second are your skills and attitudes, that make from you a good fit for the job. You can say that you love analyzing data, that you love to be a part of a hard working team. You can also say that your math and computer skills are strong, that you are a quick learner, responsible, and strong in communication with the others.

Of course if you had a similar job in the past, or did your internship in the same/another corporation, you should mention it. Anything you relate to, try to show confidence. Unless you believe to have what it takes to be a great analyst, other people will find it hard to believe the same thing.

 

Tell us about your technical knowledge relevant for business analysis

This is again a tricky question. First of all, unless you interview with a senior analyst from the company, the interviewer may not even understand what you are talking about. HR managers and generalists know little about SWOT analysis, Gantt Chart, Agile methodology, or product life cycle…

On the other hand, saying that you can work with MS Word and PowerPoint would sound rather ridiculous, since everyone can work with them nowadays. Even a ten year old kid.

I suggest you to mention any advanced software program you can work with, and say that you are proficient with MS Excel and the entire functionality it offers for business and financial analysis.

 

Describe a conflict you had with someone.

Behavioral (or situational) questions will play a big role in most interviews for business analyst jobs. They will ask you about some situations from the past, and how you reacted in them, trying to understand more about your attitude to work, problems, successes and failures, people, and so on.

The most important rule to remember is this one: Narrate a situation that had a happy ending, and do not get carried away by your emotions.

Happy ending in this case does not mean winning a conflict–that wouldn’t show the things the interviewers want to see in a good applicant for the job. It means rather a conflict when you came to a compromise, or even one when you realized you made a mistake, and learned from the conflict…

Three women are talking in a job interview

 

Tell us about a time when you had to meet a tight deadline

It is a tough word out there. Competition is enormous, managers ruthless, and people in corporations must try their very best, in order to maintain a competitive edge. Or to simply survive on the economic battlefield.

You will face pressure. You will have to meet tight deadline. And it won’t always be easy–or even possible. Show the interviewers that you are ready for the challenge. Speak about a situation from the past (can be also from school), when you successfully managed to prioritize your tasks, when you found the way, and eventually met a deadline.

Once again, the attitude you present it more important than the particular situation you narrate in your answer…

 

Other questions you may face in your business analyst interview

  • Describe a situation when you reached a goal and tell us how you achieved it.
  • Describe a situation when you did not agree with the opinion (or decision) of your superior or supervisor, and knew that they were wrong. How did you handle that?
  • Describe a time when you struggled with motivation in job (it was repetitive, you did not enjoy your duties, there was no work to do, etc). How did you overcome the crisis?
  • Describe a time when you struggled to communicate something to your boss, colleague, or to a customer. How did you manage to get your message over?
  • Describe the biggest failure of your professional career.
  • ….

Special Tip: If you struggle with answers to behavioral questions, have a look at our Interview Success Package. It includes brilliant answers to all difficult interview questions, and it will make your life much easier in your upcoming interview. Thank you!

 

Summary

Interview for a business analyst job is a tricky one, becasue you can’t really tell in advance what exactly the company means when using this job title on their job ad.

Sometimes also they do not know what they want, and simply use this fancy job title to attract talent, people who will later have all kinds of different roles in the company.

For this reason, especially when we talk about entry level business analyst job, you should not waste your time preparing for technical or IT questions–since you won’t have to answer any such questions in your interview.

You will deal mostly with personal and behavioral questions. Learn how to answer them, and show the right attitude to work in your interview. Once you do it, you’re chances to succeed will be more than good… We wish you good luck!

 

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Matthew Chulaw

Matthew Chulaw

Matthew has been working in international recruitment since 2008. He helps job seekers from all walks of life to pursue their career goals, and to prepare for their interviews. He is the founder of InterviewPenguin.com website.
Matthew Chulaw

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