What your interviewer really wants to know


Navigating a tech interview isn’t easy. You need to be across your chosen tech stack, be up to date with current trends and be able to come across as the perfect fit for a team you haven’t met.

This post hopes to help juniors or those new to tech interviews prepare for, interpret what the interviewer is asking with 10 questions that may be asked in a Data Analyst interview.


Business and Career

Understanding Requirements

Data Cleansing and Analysis

Data Visualisation



Business and Career

What unique skills do you think can you add to our team?

Good:

You may hear ‘skills’ and think that you need to start reciting how you know your JOINs and can Index a table like a pro. This is an ok answer but doesn’t answer why you are unique.

Better:

The interviewer is asking what makes you ‘unique’ and why they should consider you over other candidates. While you are preparing, go back to the job description and look for what problem this new hire will be solving.

Highlight how you have read the job description and understood the problem they are trying to solve with this new hire. You are a problem solver after all 🙂


What do you do to keep your technical skills up to date?

Good:

Let the interviewer know what you’re reading right now, what your favourite Tech Twitter accounts are and any tutorials or projects you’ve been working on.

Better:

Expand on this by talking about the interesting things that have been happening in the industry right now.

Relate these current trends in technology and tools to what the company is working on.


Describe an example where you played an active role in solving a business problem through an innovative approach

Good:

Describe the project:

Better:

Focus on your specific contribution, rather than that of the team. Show how you were:

Talk about customer or manager feedback and how you’re interested in continually improving, whether that’s through your own innovation or by taking on suggestions from your team.



Understanding Requirements

Provide an example where you had a customer extend the scope of work after the scoping had been completed and signed off?

Good:

Describe an example of how you managed to work under pressure successfully. The interviewer is asking this question to gauge your ability to handle it.

Better:

Be specific and realistic about how you deal with customers. The interviewer wants to see that you show empathy and assertiveness.



Data Cleansing and Analysis

Is more data always better? Do you prefer raw or enriched?

Good:

Describing the trade-offs between quality and quantity is a good start to show your understanding in this area:

Better:

It really depends on the project you are working as to whether you go with quality or quantity. However, the tradeoffs can always be tackled with tools:


What steps do you go through when processing and cleansing data in a typical project?

Good:

Describe the different steps of a typical data analyst process:

Focus on why data cleansing is important:

Better:

Take this one step further by talking about the best practices for data cleansing:


Which tools are you familiar with? What’s your preference?

Good:

This question isn’t just about which tools you use, it’s also an opportunity to talk about your experience with each tool. Analysts should be familiar with ExcelSQL, a visualisation tool and if required a statistical analysis tool or scripting language.

Show the interviewer that you are familiar with a suite of tools, even better if they are the prefered tools for the role you are interviewing for. But also make sure that you use examples to show your level of experience and the kind of tasks you use them for.

Better:

Take this one step further by talking about any up and coming tools you have read about or tried using. Big data tools like Hadoop and Spark, scripting languages like Python, libraries like D3 that make visualisations more interactive.


Describe an example of a complex analysis that you ran that you are particularly proud of, your approach and the insights gained

Good:

The interviewer is looking for examples where you are not only proud of the work but can enthusiastically describe what you did and what the result was. This is hopefully the kind of work that you enjoy and may enjoy in the new role.

Make sure your example is:

Better:

Talk about how this project helped push you forward:



Data Visualisation

What tools have you used to publish data to end users?

Good:

This is an opportunity to show your understanding of the range of options for data visualisation and when they are appropriate.

Better:

Show that you know when to use one over the other and the drawbacks given each scenario:

Excel

Enterprise Tools

Statistical Tools

Web-based Tools


What form of supporting user help would you include?

Good:

The interviewer is looking for your preference in delivering support once you have completed a project. Do you prefer:

Better:

Show that you can evaluate what is more appropriate for the user and what ongoing help they might need.



As hard as it is to believe, interviewers are not expecting perfectly prepared, scripted answers. The interviewer knows you are human and is looking for not only technical knowledge but cultural fit and how you communicate and think on your feet.

Good luck with your interview preparation!

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June 5, 2019

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