Job interviews can be daunting. Traveling to an unfamiliar location, meeting strangers, and getting assessed is an uncomfortable experience for most people. If you’re passionate about data analysis and think you’ve found the perfect job, you’ll have the added pressure of wanting to succeed and leave a great impression.
Well, fear not! This article will help calm the nerves and prepare you for your interview. It’ll provide you with some example data analyst interview questions, offer tips for telephone and video conferencing, and teach you how to carry out mock data analyst interviews.
Being invited for an interview is actually something to celebrate, not worry about. Your prospective employer has seen something they like in your application. They understand you could be feeling anxious, so just prepare, be yourself, and you’ll breeze through the process.
In any industry, impressing your future employer is all about preparation. We'll help you get ready for your data analyst interview, whether it's in person, over the phone or via Zoom.
The Difference Between a Data Scientist and a Data Analyst
Before we delve deeper, we want you to be clear on the basic differences between a data scientist and a data analyst. Let’s compare the two roles:
A Data Analyst:
- works with structured data. The data comes from a single source and is held in a database or spreadsheet.
- is expected to solve well-defined questions with the help of structured SQL and other BI tools.
- makes around $70,000 a year.
- typically needs to learn machine learning, Python, R, SQL, Java, Microsoft Excel, Tableau, Scripting, Microsoft SQL Server, and SAS.
A Data Scientist:
- works with both structured and unstructured data. The data can come from several disconnected sources.
- is expected to use data-visualization skills to convert data into a business roadmap, formulate questions, and look for solutions.
- makes around $92,000.
- typically needs to learn all the skills of a data analyst, plus build a working knowledge of Hadoop, data mining, Stata, and Spark.
It’s important to note that there is some overlap between the two roles. Your responsibilities may vary depending on the specific company you’re working for.
How to Prepare for a Data Analyst Interview
Data analysts are hired across many different industries. This means preparation will vary from one data analyst position to another.
For example, an agricultural data analyst uses data to assess and track changes in land quality. The findings are used to help farmers make better use of their resources. Data analysts in fashion and retail use their knowledge to create algorithms to boost the company’s sales performance.
However, all data analyst positions do have one thing in common. They’ll involve a lot of mathematics and statistics. Here are some tips to help prepare you for a data analyst interview:
Read the Job Description and Research the Company
The job description shouldn’t be overlooked. It contains vital information that can help you nail the interview. Identify key vocabulary used within the job description by studying it word for word. Shape your interview answers around these key terms.
Next, research the company. Check out the company website and learn how the company came into being. What is their vision? What products and services do they offer? Who are their major clients? Knowing this information will demonstrate you are motivated, passionate, and committed to the role.
Video Conferencing and Phone Interviews
The way in which interviews are conducted is changing. We’re heading towards remote video conferencing rather than traditional face to face meetings. Working from home as a data analyst is becoming the new norm. Even tech giants like Google, LinkedIn, and Amazon have announced a switch to online interviews.
Interviews over video calls don’t feel much different from in-person interviews. Just make sure your Internet connection is stable and background noise is kept to a minimum.
Voice-only interviews can prove more challenging. You can’t pick up on body language and facial expressions so communication is limited. If you don’t understand a question or didn’t quite catch it, always ask the interviewer to repeat it. They’ll understand the situation. It’s important that you’re both on the same page.
Here are some reminders for your phone interviews:
- Keep your phone charged and close all unused apps.
- Tell your friends and family about the interview in advance to minimize incoming calls and text notifications.
- Ensure your environment is quiet and your phone signal is strong.
- Keep a pen and paper with you.
- Eat or drink anything during your interview.
- Keep that casual or joke voicemail greeting you’ve had since high school.
- Arrange to talk while traveling.
- Talk about salary (unless you're asked directly).
What to Wear to Your Interview
Don’t assume formal wear. The choice of outfit should complement the working culture of the firm. When researching the company, you should have picked up some clues. You can connect with current employees and ask them how they dress for work. If you’re really struggling, just call up the reception and be honest. Inform them you have an interview and you’d appreciate any pointers on dress code.
Dress for a video interview the same way you would for a face-to-face interview. For phone interviews, it obviously doesn’t matter, just wear something comfortable.
When to Arrive
Aim to check-in 10 to 15 minutes prior to your scheduled meeting. Always give yourself extra time just in case you encounter any traffic. If you arrive early you can always go grab a coffee while you wait.
Practice with a Mock Data Analyst Interview
A mock interview is a practice run to help you prepare for the real thing. You can simulate a real data analyst interview scenario. Ask someone to act as your interviewer, preferably someone with experience in interviewing people and an understanding of data analysis.
If there’s no one available to help, you can be the interviewer and the interviewee. Record yourself asking questions then playback the recording and use the pause button while you answer.
Example Data Analyst Interview Questions
Interview questions typically come in two different types: behavioral and technical. Behavioral questions test your soft skills, while technical questions test your hard skills.
Interviewers typically ask behavioral-based questions to determine if you’ll be a good fit for the company. They analyze how you reacted to tricky work situations in the past in order to get an idea of your future behavior.
These questions usually start with “Tell me about a time when…” and are meant to be answered in detail. Some of the behavioral questions you can expect are:
- Tell me about a time when you thrived under pressure.
- Tell me about a time when you made a mistake. How did you handle it?
- Tell me about a time when you had to convince your manager, supervisor, or co-worker about an idea. How did that turn out?
- Tell me about a project that you led.
- How do you handle failure? Can you give me an example?
The interviewer expects your answers to be clear, accurate, and specific to the question. Fortunately, there’s a method designed to help you answer these questions. It’s called the STAR method. It’s an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, and Result.
To answer behavioral questions, start with describing the situation, follow this by mentioning what you were tasked with, and then describe the actions you took. Conclude your answer by describing the outcome of your actions.
Technical Data Analyst Interview Questions
Depending on the company and how they structure the interview process, the interviewer may change for the technical questions. You’ll meet a member of the data analyst team who will specifically assess your data analysis skills.
You can expect questions on data science, machine learning, and programming concepts. Some common technical data analyst questions include:
- How is data analysis different from data mining?
- What is data cleansing? Why is it important?
- What do data analysts do when they are faced with missing or duplicate data?
- What are the key skills required to become a data analyst?
- Can you name 5 tools used for data analysis?
- How is data mining different from data profiling?
- What is the KNN imputation method?
- Can you write an Excel macro to calculate the average value of a data set?
- How is 1-sample T-set and 2-sample T-set?
- What are the different types of hypothesis testing?
- Describe normal distribution.
- What is the difference between variance and covariance?
Your Future Career in Data Analysis
You should now have a good grasp of the interview process and should be feeling more confident. Remember, data analysis is an in-demand skill; even if you’re not successful on interview day, there’ll be more opportunities coming your way.
If you’re yet to secure an interview and want to boost your chances of getting hired, enroll in our data analytics bootcamp. This structured learning program will teach you everything you need to land a highly-paid data analyst job. Our experienced mentors will even guide you through the interview process, supporting you every step of the way.