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Amazon Business Analyst
Interview Questions

20 Questions and Answers by
| William Swansen is an author, job search strategist and career advisor who assists individuals from all over the world.

Question 1 of 20

Talk to me about your specific technical skills as a business analyst.

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Business Analyst Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    Talk to me about your specific technical skills as a business analyst.

      Whether your career focus is on being a data business analyst, an IT business analyst, or a strategic business analyst, your response to this question may be entirely different.

      If you are interviewing for a data-focused role, your technical skills may include data analysis software and visual presentation programs such as PowerPoint. As an IT business analyst, you likely have exposure to software development tools and templates. Then, as a strategic business analyst, your technical skills may be better suited for professional industries and include strategic and business case analysis software and applications. Discuss with the Amazon interviewer which technical skills you will bring to their organization.

      William's Answer

      "As a data business analyst, my strongest technical skills include data mining and big data programs such as Oracle and LIONsolver. I am also active in Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint, as I create data models in Excel and robust client presentations and visuals in PowerPoint."

  2. 2.

    Tell me about your involvement in systems development life cycle and user acceptance testing.

      An experienced business analyst will have exposure to SDLC, which is systems development life cycle, or application development lifecycle. When a business introduces new software or applications to their organization, they need to make sure the change is well planned, adequately tested and then properly deployed company-wide. A seasoned business analyst can make this process run much smoother, saving an organization like Amazon valuable time, resources, and funds. Describe your experience with SDLC and user application testing. If you do not have exposure to these activities, be sure to express your interest in becoming involved and learning.

      William's Answer

      "I have worked with dozens of clients on developing a life cycle for new software or applications. As far as user acceptance testing, I have tested on groups as large as 1,000 people. I enjoy analyzing the data that comes from beta and even final-phase software testing."

  3. 3.

    What does the acronym INVEST mean to technical teams and project managers?

      A good business analyst should understand that the acronym INVEST is for:

      - Independent
      - Negotiable
      - Valuable
      - Estimable
      - Sized appropriately
      - Testable

      Show the Amazon interviewer that you are familiar with industry terms by explaining what INVEST means, breaking down each word. If you are not familiar with INVEST, that is okay. Likely, this means that you do not often work in the IT space.

      William's Answer

      "I understand INVEST best for creating user stories with product managers, developers, and IT teams. The acronym is for Independent--the story should be self-contained. Negotiable--user stories can always be altered. Valuable--meaning there should be a goal or a value attached to the user story. Estimatable--the size of a user story should always be easily estimated. Sized appropriately--meaning the user story should not be too small or too large. Finally, Testable--when user stories are testable, it's easy to see when the project is correct and complete."

  4. 4.

    What does the acronym PEST stand for, and have you ever used it?

      PEST is a form of analysis, used to pick apart a business environment like Amazon's, allowing a business analyst to understand all of the external factors Amazon may be facing. PEST stands for Political, Economic, Social, and Technological. As a seasoned business analyst, you should have an idea of what PEST is, and how to tackle this type of analysis. Show the interviewer that you have the knowledge they are seeking.

      If you have never used PEST analysis before, that is okay too, merely show the hiring authority that you understand the concept and that you are eager to work with this form of analysis in the future.

      William's Answer

      "I have used PEST multiple times as it pertains to seeking out the major external factors that all businesses face which include Political, Economic, Social, and Technological. It's essential that a business analyst single out these factors and study them before making recommendations to a client on specific areas for change and improvement."

  5. 5.

    What key strengths should a business analyst possess, and how do these apply to our work here at Amazon?

      An excellent business analyst will be analytical, a great critical thinker, and a fantastic problem solver. There are many essential strengths that a business analyst should have, and it may be hard to choose. Start by reviewing the job description or job posting, and pick out a few key strengths that the potential employer is seeking. Then, form your response based on those keywords that you possess.

      William's Answer

      "Looking at my key strengths, and the strengths of other business analysts that I admire, I would say that an elevated sense of business operations through a variety of industries is fundamental. Also, to be a skilled listener who can read between the lines of what is said and what is truly happening is very helpful. Excellent data analysis is also an area where every business analyst should be highly skilled. These skills and my experience will help Amazon optimize its operations and identify new opportunities."

  6. 6.

    Here at Amazon, we use a variety of data modeling tools. Which data modeling software do you prefer to use?

      Most commonly, business analysts will use Microsoft Excel or Visio for their data modeling needs. Likely, the preferred software or program will be mentioned in Amazon's job posting, so be sure to refer to that. If you have experience in the software or applications Amazon uses, be sure to mention your level of exposure and expertise. If you do not have experience in their preferred programs or software, discuss how you can apply your current knowledge to their systems.

      William's Answer

      "I have the most experience with Visio for data modeling, and I see in your job posting that you are seeking at least three years' exposure to that particular program. I have used Visio for five years now, and consider myself an expert user. I have created hundreds of entity relationship diagrams and other flowcharts within Visio."

  7. 7.

    When planning, how often do you create alternative scenarios to help you adjust to changing situations?

      A talented business analyst will have the ability to pivot, adapt, and change at a moments' notice. As a business analyst, you know that being able to problem solve and think outside the box when it comes to changing situations is a valuable skill set. Talk to the Amazon interviewer about your ability to create a variety of potential scenarios for your clients and accounts. You may never need to take on these scenarios; however, it's great for the interviewer to know that you can adapt your plan on the fly.

      William's Answer

      "I love having contingency plans. It's important for a business analyst to understand that ideally, we are going to do 'X,' but if that fails, we need to be ready to pivot and make sure that 'Y' happens. Having alternate scenarios mapped out takes out the uncertainty, and is sure to prepare everyone to adapt if a problem should arise."

  8. 8.

    Tell me more about your degree and the business analysis field in which you are most interested.

      A business analyst can specialize in a wide range of industries including finance, economics, statistics, computer or information science, manufacturing, and more. Discuss with the interviewer where you focused while obtaining your university degree, and then set the scene for them as to where your career path has taken you. Be sure to express interest in Amazon's target industries or area of focus.

      William's Answer

      "I have a Bachelor's Degree in Finance with a focus on Business Administration. My education has been a significant factor in my success as a business analyst, as my interest and knowledge grew in areas such as financial accounting, business law, microeconomics, and even marketing."

  9. 9.

    Cross-organizational collaboration is important here at Amazon. Tell me about your experience working with teams from various departments of the organization.

      The Amazon interviewer would like more information on your exposure to working in a cross-functional environment. If you work for a larger company, you may have been asked to work on a project with teams from another department. Your ability to work with cross-functional teams will be a significant asset to Amazon since they are a large organization.

      Maybe you headed a project which required you to collaborate with the members of the human resources, IT, and sales teams. Share any challenges that came up and what you learned from the experience.

      William's Answer

      "Exposure to cross-functional teamwork in my current position is common. I believe that when expectations are communicated clearly from the beginning, a cross-functional team project can be very successful. I go into these types of projects with an understanding that everyone has their strengths and limitations based on their expertise and job function. In my current business analyst role, I collaborate primarily with our IT department, as well as the HR partners."

  10. 10.

    Name two important types of charts or diagrams a business analyst would use. Why are these important?

      The Amazon 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:

      - Data Flow Diagrams
      - Activity Diagrams
      - Use Case Diagrams
      - Brainstorm Mind Map
      - Feature Roadmap
      - Organizational Chart

      You are likely familiar with a few of these charts and diagrams, so be sure to choose a couple of options that you know well and can easily discuss.

      William's Answer

      "The two types of charts and diagrams that I use most frequently include organizational charts and use case diagrams. When it comes to an organizational chart, I can map out a businesses' hierarchy, helping me to analyze the stakeholder structure further. Once I have a solid understanding of the organizational makeup, I can then begin to plan what models will work for organizational change. Then, a use case diagram can be created to show the relationships between everyone, and the activities within the organization."

  11. 11.

    What is benchmarking, and why is it important?

      By definition, to benchmark is to evaluate or compare with a pre-set standard. When a business analyst is benchmarking, they take a deep dive into a competing organization and then use those marks to set a standard for the company with which they are working.

      This deep dive could include hiring practices, return policies, product development, manufacturing procedures, and more. Explain to the interviewer how you, as a successful business analyst, use benchmarking to help your clients achieve their goals.

      William's Answer

      "In a nutshell, benchmarking is the practice of setting your business standards against your competitors. When properly utilized, benchmarking can help an organization, like Amazon, to take a critical look at their competitors' performance and learn from mistakes of the past while benefiting from best practices which may already exist. This dive could include dissecting existing processes, the analysis of different sets of data, and developing an action plan around what your competitors may or may not be doing."

  12. 12.

    How do you determine the difference between a risk and an issue?

      If you have experience as a business analyst or a project manager, you know full well that there is a world of difference between a genuine risk and an issue. The Amazon interviewer wants to see that you are not going to overlook probability, but that you can also focus your attention on matters that are current problems.

      William's Answer

      "I treat risk as something that could occur in the future, and an issue is a risk that is currently happening. It's imperative to pay attention to both a risk and an issue; however, issues are usually more pressing, from my experience."

  13. 13.

    Amazon values transparent and timely communication, both internally and with our partners and customers. How do you show your clients the importance of communication during a project?

      The Amazon interviewer would like to know that you lead by example when it comes to communication in the workplace. Breakdown of communication in a business setting can have dire effects on the profitability of an organization. This effect is why it is essential, as a business analyst, to understand that 'telling' and 'showing' are two very different things when it comes to proper communication with your clients and their teams. Give examples of how you put dialogue into action throughout your projects.

      William's Answer

      "I show my clients the importance of clear communication through every step of a project, simply from leading by example. I set the tone and expectations for how we should communicate by utilizing all forms of written, verbal, and interpersonal communications to a tee."

  14. 14.

    As a business analyst, when do you consider a project successful and complete?

      Just because a client has signed off on a project, that does not mean your job as a business analyst is done. The Amazon interviewer would like to understand when you consider a project to be successful and complete. Share that you are available to your clients when they need you and that you do not abandon them the moment they sign off on a project.

      William's Answer

      "When I start a project, I am sure to set evident expectations with my clients on what a completed project may look like. I do not consider a project complete until we have delivered what we have promised, and the client can pick up where we sign off."

  15. 15.

    Amazon values decisiveness and encourages our employees to use a variety of decision making systems. Which decision-making technique do you deploy most often?

      The Amazon interviewer wants to understand the types of techniques and thought processes you use to come to conclusions when working on projects. Pareto Analysis or the 80/20 rule is a commonly used decision-making technique, as is T-Chart Analysis, and more. Discuss with the interviewer what you know about decision-making and the importance of coming to accurate conclusions.

      William's Answer

      "Most often, I find myself utilizing Pareto Analysis. I agree with the fact that about 20% of causes are responsible for 80% of outcomes, or results. With this style of analysis, I can more easily break down which part of the workflow is causing most of the issues. Once we identify that 20%, it's much easier to problem solve and make decisions. I understand that this is a popular decision-making technique used here at Amazon."

  16. 16.

    Describe Kano Analysis and why it is important.

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  17. 17.

    What are the various SDLC models?

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  18. 18.

    Amazon is a Six Sigma organization. Are you Six Sigma certified? Why is Six Sigma important to you, as a business analyst?

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  19. 19.

    What are your thoughts on Agile software development? Do you encourage Agile methodologies with your clients?

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  20. 20.

    How do you react when you are dissatisfied with the quality of your work or the outcome of a project?

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