10 Essential Business Analyst Interview Questions and Answers
For those with a passion for tech and the savvy for business, a career as a business analyst is a dream come true. Working at the intersection of economics and IT means you’ll have abundant opportunities, connecting people, processes, and projects. Once you’ve scored an interview, make sure you’re well prepared by reviewing our interview basics. Then, read our top 10 business analyst interview questions below. With a little preparation, you’ll take care of business and be on your way to a great career.
- What motivated you to pursue a career as a business analyst?
- Why are you interested in this company?
- What do you think are the key strengths of a business analyst?
- What is your biggest achievement?
- Tell me about a time when you failed to meet a deadline.
- What is your greatest weakness?
- Tell me about a time that you provided exceptional customer service to a client.
- Can you tell me about a time when you had to persuade someone to accept your decision?
- How do you stay up-to-date on general business knowledge and trends?
- What sets you apart from other business analysts that we’re interviewing for this position?
This is a common interview question that interviewers use to get a better understanding of your interests and career goals. Use this question as an opportunity to speak to your professional or academic achievements, highlighting any related jobs you’ve held. Be sure to convey your enthusiasm for the role.
“One of the main reasons I want to be a business analyst is because I find it really gratifying to see a direct relationship between my efforts and the company’s success. In my summer work term, for example, I was able to improve the company’s operational efficiencies, resulting in a cost savings of two percent. Additionally, I love doing IT work, but I also love working with others. A career as a business analyst allows me to combine these two interests.”
This is your interviewer’s way of asking, “Why us?” While they know that you’re probably interviewing with other organizations, this is your chance to demonstrate a genuine interest in this specific company. The best way to do that is by showing off what you know, so prove that you’ve done your research. The company’s website, social media posts, and recent press releases are a great place to start to prepare an effective and impressive answer:
“I associate your company with a commitment to sustainability. For me, this is the overriding issue of our time, and your recent green initiatives have been well thought out and impactful. Working for a company that has a genuine commitment to sustainable practices has always been a goal for me, so I know this company would be a great fit in terms of both work and values.”
Your answer to this question should show your interviewer that you understand what skills and abilities are necessary to achieve success in this role. A strong response to any interview questions about strengths and weaknesses should include the hard and soft skills necessary in your profession. Back up your answer with specific examples of how you’ve demonstrated those skills in the past:
“I think business analysts need strong technical skills, like an aptitude for numbers and the ability to quickly pick up new systems and technology. I pride myself on learning new systems and programming languages quickly—plus I really enjoy it—which is one of the reasons I was drawn to this role. In addition, people skills, like communication, facilitation, and negotiation, are crucial. A good business analyst knows technology and knows people.”
You might consider winning an eating competition to be your greatest achievement, but keep your answer to this question work-related. Tell a story about a recent professional success (extracurricular successes definitely count! Maybe you raised a record-breaking amount for a fundraising event) that shows the interviewer how you’ll add value for the company. Use the STAR method to structure a strong response in which you explain a problem and how you solved it.
“At my previous internship, I identified a major issue with inventory control. The system wasn’t keeping close enough track, and the company was short on product each month. By investigating 12 months of previous data, I was able to identify the problem and work with my supervisor to implement a new control measure that allowed us to track product more closely. From that point forward, inventory was no longer an issue. I was really proud to have made such a big impact in a short time.”
This is one of the more difficult business analyst interview questions to answer. No one likes to talk about their failures, but they allow us to learn and grow, both professionally and personally. The good news is that the interviewer knows you’re not perfect—no one is. You should once again use the STAR method to answer this behavioral interview question. In your response, select a failure that didn’t have catastrophic consequences, describe it briefly, and then focus on what you learned from the experience and how you’ll avoid making a similar mistake in the future. Be sure to acknowledge your responsibility and avoid blaming others.
“In my junior year of college, I had two papers due the same week. I accidentally switched the due dates, and one paper ended up being submitted early and the other late. It was an easy mistake to make, but I should have been more on top of the deadlines. I was in good standing in both classes, so I spoke to my instructor about the missed deadline, and he was kind enough to only deduct 10% from my grade instead of 20%. From that point forward, I made a point to note all deadlines on my calendar—and I still do that with projects to this day.”
One of the main functions of a business analyst is to work with clients to help them achieve process improvements—whether that’s product design, operational functionality, or team efficiency. When answering this question, support your response with specific evidence, highlight what you achieved for your client, and keep in mind that clients can be internal or external.
“My previous role was focused on finding production efficiencies, and my internal client was the head of manufacturing. I really enjoy working with clients to understand their pain points and create solutions to solve those issues. I worked closely with my client, checking in twice a week to ensure we were on track. Seeing those solutions implemented, and the resulting business improvements, was very rewarding.”
This ever-popular question is similar to the business analyst interview question on failure (#5). The interviewer wants to check whether you’re self-aware enough to recognize and overcome your own shortcomings. In your response, it’s best to focus on a non-essential skill. Then, be honest and focus the majority of your response on what you’re doing to address your area of weakness and improve. You can read more about the tricky “greatest weakness” question here.
“I used to like to work in a very linear way, focusing on one project at a time. This sometimes created difficulties when it came to taking on new work. I got stressed out because I didn’t know how to manage a shifting workload. However, I recently began using Trello, an online organization tool, which allows me to work on multiple projects at once. I have found that this allows me to seamlessly shift priorities and multi-task. As a bonus, I can share learnings across projects and be more creative in my work.”
You’re working in business in a role that requires both strong communication skills and strong problem-solving skills, so you need to be able to change minds skillfully and diplomatically. In your response, you want to highlight your ability to influence others. Choose an example where your decision was clearly correct based on data, not opinion.
“In my current role, a vendor contract was up for renewal, and we had to decide whether to continue with them or evaluate other vendors. While most people wanted to stay with the current vendor, I knew they weren’t providing particularly good service. To support my argument, I provided a brief summary of the vendor’s cost and service record compared with other providers. With this evidence, I was able to convince others to select a new vendor, improving the service we received and saving the company money.”
In asking this question, the interviewer is trying to assess whether you’re proactive and driven enough to keep your knowledge and skills up-to-date outside of your day-to-day activities. Your answer could reference industry publications, news, and/or conferences and events:
“I start my day by checking my news app over my morning coffee. In addition, I set Google Alerts for things that I’m specifically interested in, such as financial news. I also try to attend at least a couple of networking events or conferences each year to keep connected with the business community.”
This is your time to shine, so don’t hold back. Use this opportunity to tell the interviewer about any skills or experience that make you stand out from other candidates. When choosing which areas to highlight, be sure to emphasize traits that were outlined in the job description.
“As a business analyst, I would be able to contribute to your company immediately with my deep understanding of how to deliver business insights from raw data. I have experience working with SQL, data models, and in Agile product development. I’m the rare IT person who also loves working with people, so I’m also very comfortable working with clients to assess and analyze their business needs.”
Prepare your own responses to the business analyst questions above, practice your interview skills with a friend or family member, and get ready for a career that’s anything but business as usual.