I have both good and bad news for you. Good news is that you will compete with only a few other applicants for a position of a system analyst (unless you apply for the position with one of the most popular corporations).
The bad news is that you can expect a complex interview, consisting of personal, behavioral and technical questions, and short case studies that will test your readiness for this special job. Let’s have a look at some questions.
Why system analyst?
Focus on your education and experience in the field. Tell them that you enjoy doing what system analysts typically do in work, that your work is also your passion.
You can also say why you apply for a job with them–complimenting them for the good work they do, for their corporate values, their products, reputation, or anything else that caught your eye on their job description.
What motivates you in this job?
System Analysts earn a lot, but you should find other things motivating as well. For example, you can say that you find it fascinating to help the company to improve the efficiency of their business process, or even the overall results of the business, by improving the way they work with information technology in the company.
Describe a situation when you were under pressure in work.
Try to stay relevant. You can talk about a situation when you had to troubleshoot a network, or a device, in a short time. Or you can talk about something else. The most important thing is to show them that you can handle the pressure, that you do not panic, or collapse, when the workload is heavy.
If this is your first job application, you can talk about a situation from school, for example when you had to prepare for an important exam but did not have time, or when you had too much on your plate, and had to prioritize.
Describe a conflict you had with your colleague.
The same applies to this question–your attitude matters more than the situation you describe. One of the most important duties of System Analyst is to motivate other people working in the company to change the way they work with information systems, and to train them how to do it.
Most people are reluctant to change, and conflicts pop up on a regular basis. Try to show us that you are aware of the fact, and that you do your best to solve the conflict with your friendly and empathic approach to each person in the company. It is also good to emphasize that constructive conflicts are actually good, as they help you and the others to move forward with new interesting ideas and concepts.
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?
This happens quite often in a job of a system analyst. You will have to describe technical matters in a simple way, often to people who can’t tell the difference between software and hardware….
The key is to show us that you are patient, and that you use all possible means of explanation, such as charts, presentation, demonstration, etc. to get your message over. You will repeat it and simplify it as many times as needed, until they finally get your point.
Other questions you may face in your system analyst job interview
- Describe a situation when you reached a goal and tell us how you achieved it.
- Tell us about a time when you showed initiative at work.
- Describe a situation when you did not agree with the opinion (or decision) of your superior or supervisor, and knew that they were wrong.
- Tell us about a time when you used logic to solve a problem.
- Describe the most difficult decision of your professional career.
- 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?
- How do you manage your time at work?
- Describe the biggest failure of your professional career.
Special Tip: Many technicians struggle with answers to personal questions, and especially with answers to behavioral questions. This costs them their chances in the interviews, and they keep failing time and again.
If you are also not sure how you’ll answer these questions in your system analyst interview, consider having a look at our Interview Success Package, where you will find multiple brilliant answers to each difficult question you may face in this interview. Thank you for checking it out!
Technical questions for system analyst interview (interviewing with an IT expert)
- If we hire you, what will be the first thing you do in your job?
- Considering the size of our company, and what we do here, what ERP solution would you suggest for us, and why?
- How often do you think the systems should be updated?
- Tell me about your latest process engineering experience. How did it impact the company you worked for?
- What firewall do you use, and tell us why.
- What is your experience with network engineering? Do you prefer solutions from CISCO, Juniper, or other, and why do you prefer them.
- How do you monitor the cost efficiency of IT systems?
- Explain hat a spoofed packet is, and try to do it in a simple language, so a person with minimal knowledge of IT will understand you.
- Short case study: Some production processes have changed in the company the last month. The current ERP (name of the ERP) can not handle the changes. What steps would you take in this case?
* The case studies will differ from company to company, depending on the job description, and on the expectation the managers have on a new System Analyst.
** You can also download the full list of questions in a one page long PDF, print it and practice your interview answers anytime later:
Everything depends on the interviewer–and their level of technical skills
Whether technical or personal and behavioral interview questions prevail depends on the person who leads an interview with you. A CTO, or other senior IT officer, or an external recruiter specializing on IT recruitment, will ask mostly technical questions.
Any other person (HR generalist, HR manager, CEO of the company, external recruiter who doesn’t specialize in IT etc.) will focus on behavioral questions (and easy technical questions).
They won’t use complex technical questions, because they don’t have the capacity to interpret your answers to them, and to assess your technical skills accordingly.
In most cases you will actually have to pass two interview sessions (or even three), one with an HR person, and another one with a technical expert. Questions will be different in each interview…
Preparing for your interview – what you can and cannot prepare for in advance
As you can probably guess, technical questions vary a lot, and they will depend on the IT infrastructure in the company, the networking solution they use, and the reasons why they want to hire a new system analyst.
The job description, and some research you do about the company prior to the interview, should help you to foresee the technical questions–at least to a certain extent.
Nevertheless, you won’t succeed in answering technical questions, unless you really understand the job of a system analyst.
The situation differs with behavioral and screening questions. These questions are similar in every interview, because employees experience the same situations in work, regardless of their role (managers, blue collars, IT specialists, secretaries–all of them experience conflicts with their colleagues, pressure in work, tight deadlines, goals they have to achieve (and sometimes fail to achieve), etc).
If you would like to learn how to answer these questions, check our Interview Success Package. An in-detail analysis of each question, and multiple brilliant answers to each question, will help you to relax, and to prepare for the big day. Thank you, we wish you good luck!
Alternatively you can continue your interview preparation with one of the following articles:
- Salary negotiation tips – Learn how to negotiate a better salary in your job interview.
- Network engineering interview questions – Some questions overlap with system analyst interview. Learn how to answer them.
- How to answer interview questions – It is not only about what you say, but also how you say it in an interview. An interesting article that will help you to understand how to make a right impression on the hiring managers.