3 Business Analyst Interview Tips

Business analyst interviews require a lot of assessment in advance. The nature of the job can include specific areas of expertise and in some cases require a thorough knowledge of an industry and business practices in that industry.

The safest approach to interview preparation is a form of lateral thinking: Assess the job, and evaluate its requirements. This is easy for those qualified for the position. In many cases, the nature of the work and the job description are reliable maps of the job's fundamental issues. If possible, it's strongly advised to get all available information from the employer for your interview preparation.

The employer's website will also be valuable as a source of current publicly available information, which often forms the basic sales pitch for clients. Most importantly the website is also the public profile of the employer's business. It will give very strong indications of important areas of business and operating policies.

1. Behavioral Interview Issues

Business analyst interviews are professional level interviews which may differ significantly from standard behavioral job interviews. These interviews may be structured in stages at higher levels.

Behavioral issues regarding the job are likely to be strictly functional and natural issues, as follows:

  • Problem solving
  • Communications
  • Client relationships
  • Organizational skills

2. Core Skills Interview Issues

The natural emphasis of the interviews will be upon core specialist issues. Your research of the position will be very useful in preparation. Business analysis has some generic aspects, and likely areas of standard questions include:

  • Requirement documents
  • Data modeling
  • Vendor dealings
  • Business models
  • Cash flow
  • Unified Modeling Language
  • Gap analysis

You'll be asked to provide situational examples of your experience at your professional level. Your interview answers will be rated on information quality, so you'll need to select and develop your examples into effective showcases for your skills and experience.

The best way to approach this is actually a variation of the STAR technique. The all-important STAR structure is the same, but at the "Action" and "Result" stages, you also give a statement of the expertise and employer values of the action and result.

For example, for a cash flow question:

Action: "We completely restructured the business operation to ensure maximum cash flow, cutting out unnecessary stages. That removed a lot of built in overheads which amounted to 50% of the monthly business cash flow."

Result: "The removal of overheads resulted in turning the business around completely. It went from a state in which it wasn't viable, and was technically insolvent, to a very strong capital earnings base. We achieved a net profit of $1.6 million in the first quarter, and a new outlet was opened using the earnings. The business has since opened another two similar outlets, and profits are basically similar for each outlet."

As you can see, this form of answer gives the interviewers definite, verifiable values, and clearly shows very strong levels of expertise.

3. Presentation

Presentation is particularly important. To present effectively, you need to:

  • Communicate clearly
  • Project good personal character
  • Show professional competence
  • Show strong interpersonal skills 
  • Avoid jargon
  • Use correct professional terminology
  • Engage the interviewers
  • Provide professionally interesting as well as relevant information when answering questions.