Data Analyst

There are lots of great roles available for talented data analysts in the UK, but as with just about any career, you'll only get the job if you ace the interview.

When applying for a job in data analysis, you can expect all the usual questions about your biggest weaknesses, where you see yourself in five years' time, etc. But you will also be asked some more specific questions that are unique to this particular field.

Every employer will ask different questions, of course, but here are 5 examples of the sort of question you can generally expect to hear:


In your own words, describe what a data analyst does.

This question may crop up if the employer wants to make sure you actually understand the role that's up for grabs. It can also give them a bit of insight into how you see yourself and what you'll prioritise if you get the job.

Try to go into a bit of detail here, as this will demonstrate that you have a firm grasp of the subject in question. A generic answer that only scratches this surface might make the interviewer suspect that you don't really know what you're talking about.


What software are you proficient with?

Obviously, the interviewer will want to make sure you're familiar with the programs that are necessary to the job. The job description probably specified certain requirements (e.g. 'knowledge of MySQL'), and hopefully, you wouldn't have applied for the job if you didn't meet them!

Of course, you should always be honest with your answers in a job interview, especially when it comes to questions like this. The interviewer will probably be able to tell if you're lying about your ability to use a particular type of software, and even if you manage to convince them, you'll soon be found out when you start work.


Explain how you'd solve this problem...

Data analysis is all about solving problems, and it's quite common for applicants to be given specific examples during a job interview. This will give the interviewer a chance to see you think on your feet.

The point of this exercise isn't to provide the solution right there and then, but to explain the process you would use to find it. You'll get extra points for creativity and clarity, so be sure to think carefully before you respond.


Tell us about a problem you failed to solve, or a deadline you failed to meet.

This is a twist on that old classic: 'tell me your biggest weakness'. Pretending that you've never, ever failed at anything is a bad idea - instead, you should try to talk about a disappointing experience that nevertheless taught you an important lesson. The right response is one that demonstrates your ability to learn from your mistakes while also showing that you're able to cope well with stress and setbacks.

Try to avoid blaming other people when responding to this question. The interviewer wants to know about your failings, not somebody else's, and shifting the blame can make you seem like someone who can't admit when it's their fault - not an attractive quality in a potential employee.


Why did you choose to become a data analyst?

Employers generally prefer to recruit people who are genuinely interested in their work - after all, we tend to try harder when the task is something we care about.

This question is an opportunity to give the interviewer a glimpse of your personality, and again, it tells them more about what the job means to you. Try not to focus too much on the money - instead, explain why you enjoy problem solving, working with data, and using numbers to tell stories and make decisions.

Apply for Data Analyst Jobs >

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