Insight

10 Questions to ask every data analyst before you hire them

By David Lawrence |

Finding the right data analyst for your company can be a tiresome task. This is down to the fact that the role can have subtle, but important differences. A data analyst at one company may have specific requirements which differ to one at another company. One example of this is the name of the role - data analyst, data architect or data scientist are all common terms.

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As such, a candidate's resume might not tell you all that you need to know. Naturally, you get a sense of their experience and credentials, which is a positive. But, it can be hard to figure out whether or not they’re the right fit for this particular role.

The secret to hiring the right data analyst is asking clever interview questions. You must ask things that provoke detailed and thoughtful answers. Then, you have a greater idea of the candidate's capabilities.

Bearing that in mind, I’ve got ten of the best interview questions written down in this article. Give them a read, and it will help you hire the perfect data analyst.

 

1/ What Makes You Unique To Other Candidates?

This is a great question to help you dig a little deeper and find out more about a candidate. It’s a classic interview question designed to make the candidate assess their abilities. Their answer will give you a clear view on if they fit the role or not. You’re looking for someone that relates to not only quality and delivery but also how it brings value. Someone that shows you how they can benefit your business. What you don’t want is someone to list off their personal achievements, which you can read from their resume.

 

2/ Tell Me About Yourself

If you’re looking for a good starter question, then this is your best bet. It’s a simple question that gets the ball rolling. Ideally, you don’t want someone to give a long answer and waffle on about their life story. You want someone that’s straight to the point and tells you relevant information that focuses on the job.

 

3/ What Is Best Practice Data Analysis?

Clearly, you need to include some technical questions here, to allow them to demonstrate knowledge of the role at a deep functional level, related to the data analytics role. With this example, you want them to give a detailed description of maybe data management, techniques, manipulation, reporting, systems and quality and compliance processes. And, they should provide first hand examples, scenarios and use cases.

 

4/ What Is The Typical Role Of A Data Analyst?

This question is great because it helps you see if the candidate understands their role. If they can tell you what a software developer should do, then that’s a good sign. Plus, you must remember that roles differ depending on the organization. So, ensure they give an answer that fits your company, rather than a generic one. See if they can 'helicopter up' to give a wider view of how the role fits into the business.

 

5/ Why Did You Choose To Become A Data Analyst?

I like this question as it often puts candidates on the spot. Here, you get a chance to see how passionate they are about their job. Watch out for their facial expressions and body language when they answer this question. It’s easy to see who’s truly passionate about their work and who isn’t. If someone says they wanted to be a data analyst because they couldn't think of anything else to do, then you’re looking at a bad candidate. A good candidate may  talk about how they always loved analytical problem solving. They may speak about past experiences that helped them realise this was the career for them. It’s important to hire passionate people, as they’ll strive to work much harder for you. Someone that’s in it for material reasons may lack the motivation.

 

6/ What Are The Key Strengths Of Any Data Analyst?

This is another question that will show how someone understands their role. Look for answers that are more in depth than simply listing off some skills. The candidate should tell you a strength, and then give examples of how and why it’s important. For example, it’s not enough for someone to tell you that good numeric and detail skills are key strengths. You might ask what else is key in this role for success? This will give them the chance to explain why  and if someone is provides personal examples, then it puts them ahead of the rest.

 

7/ Which Other Departments Would You Mainly Deal With?

Again, this is a question that can vary from company to company. A question like this will show which departments such as marketing, product management, IT, quality etc that they would be used to working with. Another question might be what are the biggest challenges and how do you deal with them for a successful project. Ideally, you want someone to give you a clear and concise answer here. Good candidates will tell you an approach for dealing with difficult situations and stakeholders. Bad ones will waffle on and not come to a complete conclusion as to the best way to go about things.

 

8/ With The World Constantly Changing, How Will You Remain Competitive With Other Data Analysts?

I love this question because it’s hard. Candidates find it tricky to come up with a clear answer to what you’re asking. And, that’s what you want! You want a tough question that gets people thinking on the spot. The world of data analytics is constantly evolving, you need to see how they are keeping up. The candidate must show you that they have the ability to change and a hunger to learn new techniques and skills. Again, they must provide you with examples to back this up. If they can tell you stories from previous jobs, then you should consider them highly.

 

9/ What Is The Single Biggest Contribution To A Company Made By A Data Analyst?

A question like this will show you how capable people are of thinking at a business level. If they simply answer 'really accurate data' it might be time to think again! Modern data analysts are no longer just 'down in the engine room', but need to deliver information, outputs, conclusions and trends  that contribute to real business value. For me, this is a brilliant question to ask towards the end of an interview. It shows the candidates take ownership and helps separate the best from the rest.

 

10/ Do You Have Any Questions For Me?

The best way to conclude an interview is to ask the candidate if they have any questions. If they say no, then it’s a bad sign. You want them to quiz you about the job and ask some intelligent questions. The best candidates will take this as an opportunity to flip things around on the interviewer. They’ll make you feel like the interviewee as they ask important questions about the role and your company. Obviously, they can’t ask you totally irrelevant questions. Some candidates will ask random questions because they know it’s bad not to ask any!

If you’re interviewing a data analyst, then these ten questions will make your job much easier. They’ll help you narrow down the candidates, and ensure you hire the right person for the job.


David Lawrence

Written by David Lawrence

David is the founder of Vine Resources.

 

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