As with any interview, it’s important to ensure that any potential candidate for data analyst jobs presents a professional impression. It’s important for them to dress smartly, to offer a firm handshake, to always maintain eye contact and try to act confidently. As well as technical skill, employers are weighing up whether or not a candidate will fit into their company in a personal sense. It’s important to always be positive and friendly.

It’s also important that time is spent researching the company.  As well as taking the time to learn about what they do and who they provide their services to, an
applicant should also look at how they started and what their current structure is.

The more interested a candidate is in the company, the better.

Finally, applicants should re-read their initial application so that they don’t provide any answers that contradict what they’ve already said. If you don't have an interview yet, read these data analyst cv and cover letter tips.

Information for data analyst candidates

A data analyst will be responsible for inspecting, cleaning, transforming and modelling data in order to help discover useful information that will help improve the company’s decision-making process as well as improve general performance and increasing awareness of opportunities within the market.

Because of this, it’s important to ensure that applicants offer a genuine enthusiasm for all forms of data in general.  The interviewer will want to see that a candidate is genuinely passionate about what is quite a specialist area and that they’ve matched their enthusiasm with constant expansion of their skill set.

As with any interview, an applicant should thoroughly prepare.  As well as making sure they can provide examples of previous work, they should also prepare for questions that ask the candidate to deal with hypothetical situations.  Finally, they should always make sure they have questions of their own to ask.

Data analyst job interview questions and answers

When encountering a problem, how would you obtain the necessary information to find a solution?

Gathering data is an essential skill for data analysts. Interviewers will expect candidates to demonstrate knowledge and experience of a range of data collection techniques such as surveys, archive searches, and interviews.

When you’ve found the relevant information, how will you filter out the unnecessary detail?

This is another fundamental skill that all data analysts should possess. Candidates should ideally be able to illustrate their answers with practical examples.

Which domains have you worked on previously, and which of these presented you with the greatest challenge?

Interviewers will be seeking people who ideally have a range of experience across domains. If a candidate’s experience is limited in this regard they should consider the range within the experience they do have, such as the diversity of tools and situations for example.

What is the most challenging problem you have solved to date, and how did you solve it?

The answer to this question should be based on a real-life example, and told as a story in the most compelling and engaging way. It should demonstrate a range of technical and behavioural skills and focus on the contribution of the individual.

Have you performed statistical analysis of corporate data, and which tools (if any) did you use to do so?

Candidates should be able to provide a positive answer to this question and immediately move on to the second part. Interviewers will want to hear specific tools referred to, such as tests for bias and precision, but not simply a list.

What do you think is the most effective way to document business information, and do you have your own preferred method?

This is potentially a great opportunity to demonstrate a good understanding of the industry as a whole but more importantly creative and independent thinking. Interviewers will be impressed by people who can show that they have their own ideas beyond the basic application of existing tried and tested techniques.

What are the essential steps within an effective data analysis procedure?

A candidate’s answer should be structured around posing the question, defining what to measure and how, collecting, summarizing and displaying data, then interpreting results.

Can you provide us with a short description of IDocs?

Intermediate Documents, known as IDocs, are used to transfer data between SAP and other systems.

Can you provide us with an example of recent data report formats?

Interviewers will want to be reassured that the candidate is familiar with the latest industry thinking, and therefore expect to hear about formats that have been recently implemented and their advantages and disadvantages.

General interview questions:

Where do you see yourself in five years time?

Candidates should always have a clear answer to this question that shows professional development is an ongoing consideration for them.

How do you deal with problem-solving?

An answer should be concise, specific and backed up with examples of technical expertise. It should also be personalised, demonstrating originality rather than a generic approach.

What would you say are your main weaknesses?

Discussing weaknesses can feel awkward but is important to demonstrate self-awareness. Candidates should avoid answers that sound insincere or attempt to dress up strengths as weaknesses, and instead focus on areas for development that they have identified and already taken steps to address.

How do you stay on top of the latest developments in the industry?

Interviewees should consider the range of options available to them to show and enthusiasm for the role and a good understanding of the industry. They could consider journals, blogs, and websites, as well as networking opportunities.

What questions do you have for us?

It is critical to have questions for the interviewers, to avoid appearing disinterested. As well as an opportunity to clarify details of the role itself, it can be used to find out more about the company in preparation for the next stages in the recruitment process.

Scenario based interview questions

If you were asked to look for unusual and interesting trends within a database, how would you go about doing so?

Scenario-based questions such as this one are increasingly common so candidates should consider frequently occurring situations in advance of the interview.

Here is some basic data on our most recent sales figures. If asked to, how would you present this information to management?

Scenario-based questions may also focus on the skills required outside of the usual technical toolkit. To really impress, particularly when interviewing for more senior data analyst roles, it is critical to demonstrate these.

Further reading: Top 25 oddball interview questions