The power is in data–we will all agree upon that. But raw data does not tell us anything. In order to benefit from the information we gather in the company (about our sales, customers, our website traffic, and dozens of other important things), someone has to analyze the reports, draw conclusions, and make suggestions for the managers.
Reporting Analyst is a repetitive entry level job, advertised by many big corporations. Most of the days you will enter data into predefined spreadsheets or databases, waiting for the software to do the magic (the calculations and reports) and you will analyze these reports, again, according to strictly set rules.
There may be some room for creativeness and self realization in this job, but this changes from one place to another. In some cases you may suggest improvements to the reporting and analyzing processes they already have in place, or even design your own processes…
In other cases, you should take this job as a springboard to more interesting positions you may get within the corporation in the foreseeable future. Let’s have a look at some questions you may face in your interview.
Why do you want to work as a Reporting Analyst?
Try to be honest, and talk about the future rather than about the past. Nobody really dreams of spending their life sitting in an office, entering data to spreadsheets and analyzing reports. Surely it wasn’t your idea of a perfect day when you studied at the college, and dreamed about your future.
But everyone has to start somewhere. You know that you cannot lead the entire department, or manage a small team, or design some complex processes that may have a huge impact on the profit and loss of the company, when you barely left the college, and have no real working experience.
You consider this a great opportunity to learn the ins and outs of business–because numbers tell the story of each business. What’s more, it will allow you to get your feet wet, to understand what’s going on in a big international corporation, and to make qualified decisions about your future career goals.
On the top of that, you have excellent analytical skills, strong attention to detail, and can work with all common office software. You believe you have what it takes to become a great reporting analyst. Considering everything, you find this job a great choice in the current state of your professional career.
How do you imagine a typical day in work, working as a Reporting Analyst?
Try to keep your expectations low, or at least realistic. If you started to talk about meetings with executives, business trips, private jets, or whatever, they would not hire you for the position. And while it is good to show proactive approach to work, you should not dream of any major achievements or innovations you’d bring to their business.
Say that you expect to spend most of your day in front of a computer screen. You aren’t sure yet what kind of data you’ll work with, but you imagine organizing and classifying information, entering or exporting relevant data to various spreadsheets and software programs, trying to come up with meaningful reports and perhaps some conclusions and suggestions for the managers.
You can also say that you expect to attend team meetings and present your conclusions to either your superior or the entire team. But this is the minor part, the majority of your days you will spend in front of your laptop–and you are okay with that.
This is quite a repetitive job. What will motivate you to work hard, day after day, week after week.
Speaking honestly, most entry level jobs in big corporations are utterly repetitive. Because big corporations have processes and metrics in place for everything, and do not expect any creativity or inventions from their employees.
However, you should find something positive about the job, something that will drive you forward. You have some good options:
- Your vision of the future, an amazing job you want to have. Keeping this vision on your mind, and understanding that you can not attain it without starting from the bottom, can give you a boost of motivation when you need it the most.
- You can try to convince the hiring managers that you love the process of analyzing and reporting so much, that you won’t get bored in job. Most of them won’t believe you, but you can certainly try to convince them :).
- Another option consists in referring to the goals you have outside of work. Perhaps you want to start a family or buy a house, or whatever. It is impossible to do so without having money, and there is hardly a more reliable source of money than a job in a big successful corporation (which isn’t prone to financial crisis or pandemic or other things that happen ever more often in the world).
Having said that, you will still experience some low days in work. We are human beings, not robots. Until robots replace us in our jobs (which may happen in the future), employers have to count with some crisis of motivation and low days in work… Ensure them that you have your remedies and will try your best to stay motivated…
Can you tell us more about your experience with mathematical and statistical analysis?
Speaking honestly, you do not need any experience to handle this job. You will learn everything important in your training, and as I already said, they do not expect you do devise new ways of analyzing data or modelling time rows…
Nevertheless, they will often ask about your experience. Maybe just to hear your tone of voice, the way in which you talk about your future job–whether there is some enthusiasm in you, or you are bored before you even started.
I suggest you to mention the following:
- Any software programs for data analysis you have experience with. This includes software such as MS Excel and their more elaborate competitors, but also online tools for data analysis, for example Google Analytics.
- You can briefly mention any courses and subjects you had at school that rely to the topic. Statistics, Financial and Economical Analysis of a Business, MS Excel, etc.
- Of course if you had a similar job before, or analyzed some datasets in your free time (for any purpose), you should also mention it.
* You can also download the list of questions in a one page long PDF, and practice your interview answers anytime later:
How do you ensure you make no mistakes in your work?
Everyone makes mistakes, but you should at least try to minimize the number of mistakes you make in your work. Ensure the interviewers that you try your best to stay focused while in the job. No Facebook or smartphone, no music playing in the background. You do your best to eliminate distractions.
You can also say that you prefer to double-check all results of your analyses, or even triple-check the most important conclusions. Designing some control mechanisms (they likely already have them in place) is another idea.
Just like with everything else in the interviews for entry level jobs, your attitude matters the most. As long as they see that you try your best to stay focused and to avoid making mistakes, they will be happy about your answer…
Other questions you may face in your interview for a job of a Report Analyst
- Where do you see yourself in five years time, and how does the position of a Reporting Analyst fits into your career plan?
- Describe a time when you had to meet a tight deadline in work. What did you do to meet the deadline?
- What does integrity mean to you?
- Describe a time when you struggled to communicate something to one of your colleagues. What did you do to eventually get your message over?
- In your opinion, what is the most important part or thing when we talk about a successful data analysis?
- What two or three things do you enjoy doing in your leisure time?
- Do you have any experience with auditing data storage systems and databases?
- What does diversity mean to you?
- Describe a time when you were under pressure in work. How did you react to the pressure?
- What are your salary expectations?
- Why shouldn’t we hire you?
Final thoughts, premium interview answers
Interview for a job of a Reporting Analyst belongs to interviews with average difficulty. Big corporations rely a lot on scenario based questions (describe a situation when …), and they may also use some forms of personality or IQ testing the interviews.
On the other hand, they typically advertise a lot of vacancies, and as long as you do not remain silent in an interview and give them some decent answers, they will typically give you a chance in the job.
Try to prepare a short answer to each questions from our list. If you find it difficult, however (you are not alone) check our Interview Success Package (multiple premium answers to all tricky interview questions). And do not forget to make a good research about your prospective employer–it also matters… I wish you good luck!
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