The most successful companies are always reinventing themselves. They are never satisfied with their operations, with the effectiveness of various processes, and with the profit margins they achieve. Trying to improve this detail by 1% and another detail by 2%, they constantly strive to find ways of earn more, or spend less. Working as an Operations Analyst, your goal will be to identify the areas for such improvement.
You will gather information by observing and interviewing employees, reading company reports, spending hours in corporate analytics, eventually pointing out areas for improvement. Then you will document your finding, prepare reports, and make recommendations to the management. All with a simple yet profound goal: to improve the daily operations of the corporation, or a unit within it.
This interesting position attracts plenty of job candidates, offering an opportunity to learn a lot, and earn in average more than $60,000 annually (statistics from the United States). Let’s have a look at the questions you may face while interviewing for the position.
Why do you want to work as an Operations Analyst?
This is undoubtedly a specific job, and not one young people dream of doing once they grow up. I suggest you to try to explain how your skills and personality fit the job, and perhaps also explain the place it has on your career plan.
Perhaps you have excellent analytical and observation skills. You love to dig deep, to break down operations to processes and processes to individual tasks, analyzing each one, how they relate to each other, trying to find areas for improvement. It fascinates you to discover a minor detail that can change the effectiveness of some process by 1%, because you understand that businesses operate with small profit margins, and each 1% can turn into thousands of dollars saved each year, on a large scale.
What’s more, you’ve always wanted to working in operations analysis and management, and consider this entry level job (or not entry level, depending on what’s behind you already) an ideal choice, at least at this stage of your professional career. It will allow you to further specialize in the field later on, or perhaps even get a material role in Operations Management in a few years time.
Tell us more about your previous experience with analyzing business operations.
You can find yourself in two positions here--either you have experience (from job, internship, or even from school), or you are just starting out in the field. The first case is easier, of course, but you still have to do it right, to talk about your experience in a right way. What does it mean?
You should describe, with some detail (but not necessarily in depth), what kinds of processes you analyzed, what analytical tools and methods you used, what areas for improvement you found, and how they eventually benefited your former employer. Show them that you do your analysis with a clear final goal in mind–to eventually save money of your employer, or gain other advantage for them.
If you have no experience, you can turn the situation up-side down, and praise the training program in their company. You believe to have the skills to become a great operations analyst, and want to bring your own ideas onboard later, but now, fresh of the college, you are eager to learn and follow the standard analytical processes they have in place. And for that you do not need any experience…
What do you consider the most effective way of identifying opportunities for improvement in this field of business?
My suggestion is to demonstrate a complex way of thinking about operations analysis. Do not point out one way only. Talk about observation, deduction, working with hypothesis, interviewing employees, working with historical data, mathematical models, and anything else that comes to your mind.
Basically you do not look at the processes from one angle only. Because you know that everything relates to everything, and sometimes it’s the link we have to change, and not the process itself. Digging deep and analyzing things in detail, you are able to identify areas for improvements others struggle to see.
Of course if you apply for an operations analyst job in some specific field of business, and have your idea about the most effective ways in that field, you can point them out, instead of talking about holistic approach.
People are reluctant to change. How will you motivate the managers, or the staff members directly responsible for some process, to proceed with the changes you suggested?
It’s actually easier with the managers. At the end of the day, it is the reason why they pay you a hefty salary each month–to see you recommending changes that can lead to improvements in their operations. There’s only one way to find out whether they work or not–implementing them, at least on a small scale, in the production process (or in the daily operations, depending on the changes you suggested).
But how to motivate the common employees, who are used to their routines and hate changes, because it means they have to learn something new? You can suggest a few ways of doing so:
- Clearly explaining, with the help of demonstration, how the changes will eventually make their job easier, or at least more efficient.
- Ensuring that the employees receive a proper training on how to work with the changes in place, and that it either takes place within regular working hours, or they get extra compensation for it.
- Going by example. If we talk about some unpopular change that touches both managers and laborers alike, it always help when people see that managers are also abiding the new rules, that it’s not just something the laborers have to bear with.
Tell us about a time when you implemented some changes to a process, which resulted in significant operational improvement.
You should try to come up with something, even if this is your first job application. At the end of the day, our life also resembles a project, or an “amazing operation” if you want, and I am sure you’ve come up with some changes to your daily routine (regular exercise, waking up early in the morning, changing your diet, buying ergonomic chair, etc) which improved your quality of life.
Just describe it in a way you’d describe a situation in the corporate sphere. First of all, you did not feel good. Perhaps your back ached–a doctor said it’s as sign of aging, or too much sitting, but you knew it wasn’t that simple.
You analyzed your day, from morning to evening. The routines you do, how many hours a day you sit, and in which positions, how many hours you move, etc. Realizing that you spend 14 hours a day sitting, you knew you had to improve something. So you got an ergonomic chair, started to change positions, worked on your computer standing, and, when you relaxed watching movies, you took a yoga mat and did some exercises while watching, to strengthen and relax your back, and give this time some meaning.
All of this resulted in an improvement of your condition, which improved the quality of your life. Because it sucks when our back aches…
Of course if you have an experience from corporate sphere, and participated on some significant improvement of a process, you should narrate that experience. Proceed the same way you’d proceed with an example from your personal life. Identify the issue, how you analyzed it, areas for improvement you found, changes you implemented, and eventually the result you achieved…
Other questions you may face in your Operations Analyst job interview
- Tell us about a situation when you demonstrated your problem-solving skills.
- How do you ensure that the changes you suggest or implement are in compliance with regulatory and quality standards?
- If we hire you for this job, what goals will you set for yourself for the first 30 days?
- Describe a situation when you had to meet a tight deadline with your work.
- Imagine that you suggest some change which eventually results in some catastrophe in the workplace–a serious accident of an employee, a stop-line, or something similar. How would you react in such a situation?
- What is most important to you in your next position?
- Tell us about a time when you used logic to solve a problem.
- When you work on multiple projects, how do you prioritize?
- Describe a time when you had to make a decision without having all information about the problem.
Conclusion, premium interview answers
Interview for a job of an Operations Analyst belongs to tricky interviews. You will typically face plenty of behavioral questions, and you will have to demonstrate right attitude to various situations that happen daily in the workplace (meeting a tight deadline, having conflict with colleague, making a mistake, failing to achieve your goals, etc).
What’s more, if you apply for a job in a big corporation, you will typically have to pass an assessment test, and you will always compete with many other people for the job. Try to prepare for the things you can prepare for in advance. Think about your answers to behavioral questions, and do not forget to learn something about your future employer, their operations and corporate values.
And if you are not sure how to answer the questions from my list, or experience interview anxiety, have a look at our Interview Success Package. Up to 10 premium answers to to 31 tricky behavioral questions (+ more) will help you streamline your interview preparation, outclass your competitors, and eventually get the job. It can be the last part of the puzzle you are missing….
Thank you for checking it out, and I wish you good luck!
Matthew Chulaw, Your personal job interview coach
May also interest you:
- Project Analyst interview questions.
- Operations Manager interview questions – You may face some of these while trying to get a job of Operations Analyst. Get ready and avoid any negative surprises.
- Budget Analyst interview questions.