Why you should prepare for BI analyst interview questions?
So, you’ve got an interview for a BI analyst role coming soon. Congratulations! As businesses strive to maximize the benefits of their data, the demand for BI analysts is massive…But so is the competition.
We know that preparing for a BI analyst interview can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you’re just starting your career. So, to help you find your way through the BI interview maze, we created this article. Here’s what you’ll discover:
- How to prepare for the BI analyst interview;
- What questions you can expect to be asked (we’ve listed some real BI analyst interview questions and answers).
- How the BI interview process goes in 3 real major companies.
Finally, we’ll share some tips on how to make your BI analyst interview performance mistake-free.
What skills do you need to ace the BI Analyst Interview?
To successfully answer BI analyst interview questions, you need relevant knowledge and skills. And that means acquiring the following:
- Advanced SQL, Python, and/or R skills;
- Experience with Power BI;
- Advanced Tableau Desktop and Server abilities;
- Advanced Excel skills.
If you lack the technical background and need to build up your BI analyst skillset, then our online Data Science program is a great place to start. You can preview the program (12 hours of video instruction) for free.
What BI Analyst Interview Questions You Should Prepare For?
General BI Analyst Interview Questions
1. Tell me about your educational background and the business intelligence analysis field you’re experienced in.
How to Answer
A business intelligence analyst can concentrate on various industries, such as finance, economics, IT, statistics, manufacturing, and more. Share with the interviewer which area you specialized in while obtaining your university degree, and briefly outline where your career journey has taken you so far. Make sure to demonstrate a keen interest in the company’s industry or business sphere.
“I’m a Finance Graduate specialized in Business Administration. My education has helped me greatly on my business intelligence career path, as my interest and expertise evolved in fields such as business law, microeconomics, and financial accounting.”
2. What’s your experience in SDLC and UAT?
How to Answer
A seasoned BI analyst will have exposure to systems development life cycle (SDLC) and user acceptance testing (UAT). When a company introduces a new software or application to their business, the transition must be well thought out, carefully tested, and then effectively deployed within the organization. An experienced business intelligence analyst can facilitate this process, saving the company time and financial resources. Talk about your exposure to SDLC and UAT. In case you lack the experience, emphasize your interest in becoming familiar with these activities and learning.
“Although I have limited exposure to SDLC, I’ve been involved in the UAT phase of some projects. I enjoy analyzing which aspects of a new software program or application are the hardest to implement, which are the easiest to accommodate, and how to proceed from there.”
3. Do you plan on continuing your education with an MBA?
How to Answer
A lot of accomplished BI analysts have a Bachelor’s degree, while others hold an MBA. With this question, the hiring manager wants to assess your interest in further development that would result in greater career opportunities. As a Master of Business Administration, you’ll have an in-depth understanding of enterprise business, the economy, and how various economic and social factors affect the business environment. That said, an MBA isn’t a must-have for BI analysts. However, showing an interest could give you some competitive edge.
“I have certainly thought about earning an MBA parallel to advancing in my career. As a Business Intelligence analyst, I believe that having an MBA will undoubtedly expand my knowledge of business economics. And that will definitely be beneficial to my future employer and their clients.”
4. What is your opinion about Agile software development for BI projects? Do you support employing Agile methodologies with your company’s clients?
How to Answer
Agile software development has received a warm welcome from companies worldwide since its onset. Agile stimulates collaboration with a team’s clients and the end-users, enabling more cross-functional projects to run smoothly. However, there are still some who strongly prefer the structured development methodology of Waterfall, for example. So, before sharing your thoughts on Agile with the interviewer, make sure you know where the company stands on Agile.
“As far as I know, Agile software development is much more collaborative in comparison to other software development models. I believe Agile can be the best solution in many projects. However, maybe that’s not always the case. That said, I’d love to get familiar with the methodologies employed here. At the end of the day, it’s the end results that matter most, and not the methodologies behind the projects.”
Technical BI Analyst Interview Questions
5. Which data modeling software do you prefer to use?
How to Answer
BI analysts mostly use Microsoft Excel or Power BI for their data modeling needs. The required or preferred tools will be most probably listed in the company’s job description, so it would be best to refer to those. If you have relevant experience, share your level of expertise with the interviewer. In case you lack exposure to their preferred software or programs, explain how you can incorporate your skills into their systems.
“I do most of my data modeling in Excel, as I find it most convenient for data mapping. I have some exposure to Power BI, as well. However, I believe I can benefit from sharpening my skills in that program. That’s why I’m currently taking a Power BI online training.”
6. What specific technical skills do you have as a BI analyst?
How to Answer
Your BI analyst experience and skillset are closely related to the focus of your career. Depending on whether you are a data BI analyst, an IT BI analyst, or a strategic BI analyst, your answer to this question will be different.
If you’re applying for a data-focused role, your technical skillset may include proficiency in data analysis software and visual presentation tools, such as Power BI. A BI analyst in the IT field would probably have exposure to some software development programs. While a strategic BI analyst would be well-familiar with business case analysis software and applications. Taking that into consideration, share with the interviewer the technical skills you will bring to the company.
“As a data BI analyst, I’ve been exposed to data mining and big data software, such as LIONsolver and Oracle. I’m highly skilled in Microsoft Excel which I use for data modeling and Power BI where I create rich visuals and client presentations.”
7. Specify two important chart types in your BI analyst arsenal. Why do you find them important?
How to Answer
The hiring authority wants to see that you have basic knowledge when it comes to the diagrams and charts that you will be using during your business analyst career. Some examples include:
The interviewer wants to check your basic knowledge of charts you’ll be using in your BI analyst’s tasks. Some examples include:
- area charts;
- bar charts;
- clustered column charts;
- combo charts;
- doughnut charts;
- funnel charts;
- gauge charts;
- line charts;
- pie charts;
- scatter plots;
- waterfall charts.
You are probably familiar with most of these, so just choose two options which you have experience with and can easily talk about.
"The two types of charts I use most often are area charts and bar charts. In my role as BI analyst, area charts have helped me display where a specific trend is headed in the future, which, in turn, makes planning easier. Bar charts, on the other hand, can show clearly which products are most popular among customers or display the number of unique visitors on a landing page based on various criteria.”
If you want to learn more about the different chart types, read our article on visualizing data through charts. And, by the way, if you’re finding this answer useful, consider sharing this article, so others can benefit from it, too. Helping fellow aspiring BI analysts reach their goals is one of the things that make the data science community special.
8. How would you define benchmarking and why do you consider it important?
How to Answer
Benchmarking is the practice of evaluating and comparing the business processes in a company with the best competitors’ practices and use these insights to set standards and make improvements to your company’s business performance. When a BI analyst is benchmarking, they study various metrics and processes, such as product development, manufacturing procedures, and more. Discuss with the interviewer how you use benchmarking to help your company achieve its goals.
"Benchmarking is an important practice of comparing your business against other businesses that are already very successful. It's like a smart, analytical comparison. I believe it's essential to benchmark when a company is looking at making a significant change, are seeing a loss of revenue, are anticipating the launch of a new product, or need to recalibrate their business operations in one way or another."
9. How do you differentiate between a risk and an issue?
How to Answer
If you’re an experienced BI analyst, you know for sure there’s a tremendous difference between real risk and an issue. The interviewer wants to check if you can be mindful of probability, while, at the same time, stay focused and hands-on when it comes to current issues.
“In my role as a business intelligence analyst, my focus is more on risk than issues. I view risk as a predicted problem that could come up in the future, so it’s up to me to assess this risk and help my clients prevent it. An issue, on the other hand, is a risk that has already happened. In such cases, I can advise my clients on how to do damage control. But I’d strongly prefer helping them avoid the issue altogether.”
10. What’s your preferred decision-making technique?
How to Answer
The interviewer wants to see what you know about decision-making and what techniques you use to arrive at reliable conclusions in your projects. Some of the common decision-making techniques are T-Chart Analysis, Pareto Analysis, a.k.a. the 80/20 rule, etc. Discuss the techniques you utilize with the interviewer and the reasons for your preferences.
“I don’t limit myself to one technique only. In decision-making, my choice depends largely on the stage of the project. That said, sometimes, I use a variety of techniques within the same project, such as Pareto Analysis, T-Chart Analysis, SWOT Analysis, or decision trees. All of these help me resolve certain issues and come to a decision.”
11. Explain Selection Bias.
Selection bias is the bias introduced by the selection of individuals, groups or data during the sampling process when randomization is not achieved. This means that the sample we created does not represent the general population properly. It is called ‘selection’ because it refers to the ‘sample selection’.
Selection bias is a very broad term that encompasses many different biases. Here are some examples:
Also known as ‘sample selection bias’ occurs when not everyone in the general population has an equal chance to be in the sample. Let’s say that we want to make a survey about students in one university. We can go to the university, enter random classrooms and ask all of them to participate in our survey. Great, right? Well, not exactly. There are two main issues:
- We assumed that everyone who is a student at the university will be present at the chosen time and date. And that’s never the case, since students don’t have lectures every day, work part-time, get sick or even go on holiday.
- We also expected that everyone who is present will want to answer the survey, which is a very optimistic assumption. Students can be forced to, but in that case, one shouldn’t expect a great quality of answers
Length time bias
It occurs when different observations in our sample have different development cycles. The most common case is when we are dealing with diseases like cancer. Some types of cancer develop faster than others, so examining 6 months of disease development for 2 different individuals may result in one having no change, while the other passing away. The reason is that they may be in different stages of cancer or different organisms react differently to the disease so time is extremely problematic in general for our sample.
This one is very common and problematic. Imagine you’ve got funding to explore everything about a group of your customers, for instance, female customers. You complete your study and everything is great. However, you are then asked to conduct another study – about the shopping habits of your customers overall. Problem is – you don’t have data on the male customers. Using only the female data would lead you to some results, but they would definitely be problematic. If you are not provided with male data and are forced to complete the study, you will experience exposure bias. This is not uncommon when resources are limited – sampling has been done once and nobody wants to pay for another sampling process.
There are several popular examples, but one such case is removing outliers with correct data. Usually, we remove the outliers to get better results, but sometimes some important patterns may be contained there.
It occurs when we use only the studies, where we have reached a good result. Often, we have formed a hypothesis and we look for studies that support it. In this effort, one could be misled to reference only papers that support their claim and thus introduce a bias. Note that in general academia is extremely biased in that regard. There is research that suggests that papers that reach results are 4 times more likely to be published than papers that have non-satisfactory results. This is very problematic as we know that determining there is ‘no effect’ is still a valid result.
it is related to survivorship bias. The most common example that everyone uses is businesses (e.g. startups). All companies that could be studied are successful (profitable ones). Those that are non-successful seize to exist and cannot be studied.
This is the tendency to see what we expect to see – meaning we have already “decided” what outcome we want and we strive for them to be right. As you can sense this one is related to the ‘studies bias’ from above.
Okay. So, there are a lot of problems around selection bias, right?
The best way to get rid of selection bias… is to not introduce our sample to it. No joke, right? What we mean by that is that selection bias is formed in the sampling process. If we are not careful when we collect our data, our analysis will definitely be flawed.
12. What is Kano Model Analysis and why is it important?
How to Answer
The Kano Model Analysis taps into customer’s emotions and needs to improve product development.
It helps a company add certain features to their product that would increase customer satisfaction without costing a fortune. According to the Kano Model Analysis, there are 3 types of attributes to products:
- Basic attributes;
- Performance attributes;
- Excitement attributes, a.k.a. Delighters.
When answering this question, demonstrate that you’re not only familiar with the three points of satisfaction but you also know how they act together to help customer satisfaction analysis.
“Kano Analysis is of major importance to developing new products and services. It helps companies understand customer needs and make sure they have a competitive edge before launching them on the market. The threshold attributes are the basic features a customer expects from the product. The performance attributes also called “satisfiers”, are additional features that increase customer satisfaction. And “delighters” are the elements of surprise that can really increase the product’s competitive edge.”
13. What are the most important SDLC models?
How to Answer
SDLC denotes Software Development Life Cycle. It’s a concept in IT that is often employed by BI analysts in the field. In its essence, SDLC is a process that starts with the decision to launch a product and ends with the full removal of the software product from exploitation. There are various types of SDLC models, each predetermined by the software product type in development. The most popular are:
- Waterfall model;
- Iterative model;
- Spiral model;
- V-shaped model;
- Agile model.
Even if you have no experience in the field, show the interviewer that you understand the differences between the models by briefly outlining them.
“Although I don’t have practical experience with ADLC models, I learned in college that there are 5 primary SDLC model types: Waterfall, Iterative, Spiral, V-shaped, and Agile. The Agile model is related to flexibility and adapting to change. The Iterative model refers to the “incremental build” approach in large development efforts. I’m less familiar with the rest but I would enjoy diving deeper and learning more.”
Behavioral BI Analyst Interview Questions
14. How do you demonstrate to your clients the importance of dialogue during a project?
How to Answer
When it comes to clear communication through every stage of a project, leading by example is key. As a business intelligence analyst, it is your job to establish the tone of the dialogue and the means of communication. Show the interviewer that you know how to set the foundations of proper communication with your clients and their teams. If possible, give examples of projects you’ve worked on.
“As a business intelligence analyst, I like to keep everyone in the loop about the development of a project. I often promote the use of project management apps that make collaboration easier and gives access to every detail of the project at any stage.”
15. As a business analyst, when do you regard a project as complete?
How to Answer
A great business analyst knows that when a client signs off a project, it doesn’t mean it’s successful (or finished) yet. So, make sure you explain to the interviewer that you remain available to your clients and you support them until you’re sure their expectations are met and they are happy with the results.
“As a BI analyst, I always make sure there are no unresolved issues when the client signs off a project. Nevertheless, I’m available in case their expectations aren’t fully met and I need to make adjustments to deliver what has been promised. However, this rarely happens once there are no outstanding invoices and documentation is archived.”
16. How often do you brainstorm new ideas with your coworkers?
How to Answer
Having regular discussions with other team members is of great importance when it comes to project plans and aligning ideas. Let the interviewer know that you’re a team player who is open to others’ views and opinions.
“I believe learning from each other’s working styles and approaches is invaluable for any project. I support the collaborative spirit in my team and I’m sure we always come up with better ideas together rather than individually.”
17. Is there a case in your experience when you broke a confidentiality agreement?
How to Answer
Confidentiality agreements ensure the protection of company trade secrets. This question gives you a chance to present yourself as a trustworthy individual that abides by their company’s policy and respects their clients.
“I have signed NDAs on countless occasions in my career as a business intelligence analyst. When working on a project, confidentiality is one of my team’s top priorities. None of us has broken the trust of our company and clients.”
18. How do you respond when you’re unhappy with the end result of a project?
How to Answer
Even the best BI analysts experience failure at times. Not all projects are perfect, and not all clients can be satisfied. What the interviewer would like to know is if you’re capable of accepting disappointment and responding in a mature and productive way.
“I think business intelligence requires perfectionism at all times. When I’m not happy with my performance, or I make a mistake, I take a step back and take my time to fine-tune my work before submitting it.”
19. How do you plan to improve yourself professionally this year?
How to Answer
Employers are seeking BI analysts who are constantly upgrading their skills and strive to stay relevant. You can set career development goals and accomplish them by attending conferences, earning online certificates, listening to podcasts, or even joining a mentoring program. When you mention some of these examples and the goals you’ve set for yourself this year, make sure you bridge the knowledge you’ll gain with the benefits you’ll bring to the company.
“This year, I’ve enrolled in a Power BI online course to refresh my expertise, and I’ve also signed up for a few TDWI seminars in Predictive Analytics and Data Modeling. I can’t wait to take my skills to another level and, hopefully, apply what I’ve learned as a BI analyst in your company.”
20. You have 100 balls (50 red balls and 50 blue balls) and 2 buckets. You can choose how to divide the balls into the two buckets so as to maximize the probability of selecting a blue ball if 1 ball is chosen from 1 of the buckets at random.
Put 1 blue ball in one of the buckets and put the rest of the balls in the other bucket. This way you will have 50% chance of selecting the bucket with only 1 ball and then, even if it is not selected and you have to draw a ball from the other bucket you would have almost 50% chance of selecting a blue ball (49 blue balls versus 50 red balls). The joint probability of the two events would equal almost 75%.
21. How would you estimate the weight of the Chrysler building?
This is a process guesstimate - the interviewer wants to know if you know what questions to ask. First, you would find out the dimensions of the building (height, weight, depth). This will allow you to determine the volume of the building. Does it taper at the top? (Yes.) Then, you need to estimate the composition of the Chrysler building. Is it mostly steel? Concrete? How much would those components weigh per square inch? Remember the extra step - find out whether you're considering the building totally empty or with office furniture, people, etc? (If you're including the contents, you might have to add 20 percent or so to the building's weight.)
What is the BI analyst interview process like?
Typically, you’ll get a phone screen call from a recruiter first, followed by a few technical phone interviews with the BI team members. Prior to the onsite interviews, the recruiter will give you an overview of the BI analyst interview process. What comes next are 6 to 8 interviews with members of the BI team (plus some important employees your team works with). Usually, there are 1-on-1 and 2-on-1 interviews.
Be prepared for some whiteboard coding tasks and a lunch interview with your potential manager.
Similar to other companies, the BI analyst interviewers’ questions are centered around different areas and sharing feedback isn’t a common practice. Once that part of the process is over, your interviewers will compare notes. Then, only if they agree that you’re a suitable candidate, you’ll have interviews with the director and the VP of the company. Of course, the latter can reject any candidate at their own discretion. Ultimately, if you’ve made it, you’ll hear from a recruiter a few days later.
However, if it takes longer to receive an answer, a polite nudge for updates won’t harm. As a final note, being familiar with Apple application and operating systems definitely helps (yep, all employees are huge Apple fans). And one more thing – consider presenting yourself as someone who is eager to adapt and learn new things. Why? Here’s what a BI Analyst working for Apple says: “Apple is looking for people who continually show they are willing to challenge themselves and take risks throughout their career.” So keep that in mind.
Usually, the BI analyst interviewing process starts with an email or a phone call with a recruiter, followed by a phone screen or an in-person interview. The screening interview is conducted by a coworker and takes about 45 minutes. It consists mostly of coding tasks you must solve using a collaborative editor. Of course, you’ll also answer BI analyst interview questions related to your resume, skills, interests, and motivation. If those go well, you’ll be invited to a longer series of BI analyst interviews at Facebook’s offices.
What’s typical for Facebook BI analyst interviews is that many questions are focused on a deep understanding of their product, so make sure you demonstrate both knowledge and genuine interest in the job.
You’ll be asked questions about issues that the company is facing and how you can help solve them. So, think about metrics when preparing for the Facebook BI analyst interview. Once the interviews are over, everyone you’ve interviewed gets together to decide if you’ll be successful in the BI analyst role. Then all left to do is wait for your recruiter to contact you with feedback from the BI interview.
Here’s how the BI analyst hiring process goes at Amazon. It starts with 1 or 2 technical phone screens with a BI team member or, quite surprisingly, a hiring manager (mainly SQL, SAS, and econometric questions, plus some behavioral questions).
If everything goes well, you can expect to have 4 - 5 hour-long onsite interviews, with 1 or 2 teams. But be patient – sometimes the onsite interviews are scheduled a month after you’ve passed the phone screen. Each team focuses on BI analyst interview questions in different areas. Some of them involve statistical modeling and data sets. So, some experience with those will be definitely helpful.
Each BI analyst interviewer can see the others’ evaluations but only after they’ve submitted their own feedback first. Then there’s a meeting where the BI interviewers discuss the candidate’s performance and make the final hiring decision.
Is there anything we’ve skipped mentioning? Yes – the Bar Raiser.
Bar Raisers have rich interviewing experience and hold the supreme veto power in the hiring process. The bar raiser’s final decision can’t be overruled even by the hiring manager. But what exactly does the Bar Raiser assess? Amazon VP of Worldwide People Operations Ardine Williams says one of Amazon’s hiring principles is that anyone they bring in should raise the bar on the company’s internal performance, which means that Bar Raisers are looking for someone who's better than half of the people currently working there at that level.
That said, if you’re considered one of the top 50%, Amazon’s recruiters should follow up promptly. However, you don’t have to act coy – if you’re still waiting for an answer after a week, a friendly status-update request won’t hurt.
A Final Note on the BI Analyst Interview Questions
Acing the BI analyst interview is not just about being qualified and practicing the BI analyst interview questions in advance. So, as a final note, we’ll share 5 common mistakes BI analyst candidates make (so that you’ll know better and avoid them at your own BI analyst interview):
Cramming is not helpful when it comes to business intelligence interview questions. Instead, focus on quality. Don’t just go through the solutions. Try to learn the logic behind the answer and use it as a stepping stone to improve your approach to new problems.
Too much talking
When asked BI analyst interview questions, try to be as specific and to-the-point as possible. There’s nothing worse than rambling about a topic (especially if it happens to be a BI topic you’re not an expert on). So, try breaking down your reply into meaningful parts and say a few sentences about each. If the interviewer needs more details, they’ll certainly continue with a follow-up question.
Not uttering a word
Nobody can read your thoughts, including job interviewers. So, unless you want to appear as if you’re stuck beyond repair, speak up often. Make sure you guide the interviewer through your thought process when solving a BI analyst problem. This way, even if your explanation isn’t perfect, they will be able to give you a hint and you will arrive at the solution faster. What better way to show good communication skills and willingness to collaborate?
Rushing in coding tasks
Hurry slowly. Trying to solve a coding problem as fast as possible makes you appear nervous and sloppy! So, take your time, approach the task methodically, and test often (unless you’re doing whiteboard coding). This will help you finish the problem quicker. Not to mention you’ll avoid making hasty mistakes you’ll later regret.
Hope you’ll find this article useful in the preparation for your future BI analyst interviews. Last piece of advice - be persistent. Put in the necessary work, stay enthusiastic in the process, and sooner or later, you’ll reap the rewards.
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