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Data Analyst Interview
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25 Questions and Answers by Helen Lee

Updated June 26th, 2018 | Helen Lee is a freelance data analyst and writer with over 15 years of experience in marketing.
Question 1 of 25
What tools/software do you have experience using in each phase of a data analysis project - from cleaning/preparing data to data exploration to final presentation?
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How to Answer
Data Analysts should have experience with a variety of tools as they work with the data and build their analyses. Hiring managers will be aware that sometimes one tool may be used for multiple phases. If this is what you have experienced, do not be hesitant to share this. It will highlight your expertise with that particular tool. If throughout your career you have used multiple tools for a particular phase, communicate that as well because it showcases your breadth of experiences.
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Top 25 Data Analyst Interview Questions with Full Content
1.
What tools/software do you have experience using in each phase of a data analysis project - from cleaning/preparing data to data exploration to final presentation?
Data Analysts should have experience with a variety of tools as they work with the data and build their analyses. Hiring managers will be aware that sometimes one tool may be used for multiple phases. If this is what you have experienced, do not be hesitant to share this. It will highlight your expertise with that particular tool. If throughout your career you have used multiple tools for a particular phase, communicate that as well because it showcases your breadth of experiences.

Helen's Answer
"Throughout my career as a Data Analyst, I have been fortunate to have opportunities to strengthen my skills using a variety of tools. In the data cleaning or preparation phase, in most cases I have used Microsoft Excel, and depending on the complexities of the datasets, Microsoft Access if the need arises. I have also used these tools for the data exploration phase. In this phase, there are several other tools I have used to extract learnings from the data including statistical programs such as SAS and SPSS and analytical tools such as Tableau and Cognos Analytics. I have also used Tableau and Power BI to present my findings through data visualizations in a dashboard format. In addition, Excel and PowerPoint are some of the more basic tools I use to build presentations for internal clients."
2.
Considering all the phases of data analysis, what tools/software do you feel work the best for you or you feel the most comfortable using and why?
Over a Data Analyst's career, it is likely they have had exposure, training and experiences using different tools, and over time, they begin establishing preferences for specific ones. However, employees' options for data analysis tools are limited to what the company has already chosen. If you have experience working at different companies, you are more likely to have exposure to a variety of analytical tools. This question is aimed at understanding what types of tools you are comfortable with and not necessarily the number of different tools you have used.

Helen's Answer
"As a Data Analyst, I find basic tools such as Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Access work the best for me. I feel the most comfortable using these tools, because they are the ones I have the most experience using since most, if not all, companies have them readily available. Although most consider these tools basic, I believe with the right training and knowledge you can accomplish many things using them."
3.
What scripting language have you used in your past projects as a Data Analyst? Which are you most confident using?
Many companies work with multiple scripting languages, so knowing more than one is definitely an asset. If you do not have extensive experience programming with the main language used by the company, highlight your eagerness to learn or strengthen your skills with new scripting languages. Many find that, at a general level, their experience with one scripting language helps them learn new ones.

Helen's Answer
"I have primarily used SQL in my projects as a Data Analyst, and therefore am the most comfortable with it. I have had experience executing some basic Python commands and have made it a goal of mine to receive additional training for it. I have found that my extensive SQL experience has helped me learn Python more easily."
4.
Which, if any, certifications have you earned related to your career as a Data Analyst?
Hiring managers will be interested in training you have received related to your job as a Data Analyst. Certifications ensure that you have attained a level of achievement set by industries or specific vendors. It provides a form of measurement for hiring managers to assess skills or knowledge of a particular subject or tool. While answering this question, briefly explain how the certifications you have earned have helped you in your career as a Data Analyst. If you have yet to earn any certifications, consider mentioning which ones you may be interested in pursuing in the future and why.

Helen's Answer
"Based on my skills, experiences and education, I have earned the designation of a Certified Analytics Professional. Earning this designation also required me to take a certification exam that measured my knowledge in the field of Data Analytics. I take a recertification exam every three years to ensure that my skills and knowledge are up to date. The requirements of this certification drive me to advance my analytics education and equip me with a stronger toolset to execute my job as a Data Analyst."
5.
Describe your experience creating dashboards. If you have experience, what tools have you used to create them?
Dashboards are snapshots of Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) and metrics. Managers and their teams use them to track a particular business objective or goal. With the input of others, Data analysts are often asked to build and update dashboards. There are several tools that can be used to build dashboards including Tableau, Power BI and even Excel. In addition to these well-known tools, there are many free tools available online. If you do not have experience building dashboards, talk about how your data visualization skills can help you in this area. Do not get too detailed describing your experience, but include the purpose of the dashboard, types of data visualizations you used and a few metrics that were included. If the interviewer would like more detail, he/she will ask additional questions.

Helen's Answer
"I have experience creating dashboards that included Marketing metrics. The metrics included brand awareness, customer satisfaction and sales by quarter. I used pie charts, bar and line graphs, as well as tables to present the data in the dashboard. I have created dashboards using both Power BI and Excel."
6.
Thinking about the different industries you may have worked in, from a data perspective, which company and industry is most similar to the one in which our company competes?
Interviewers would only pose this question if you do not have industry-specific experience related to their company. Without this experience, they want to know how you can apply what you learned from previous positions to the one for which you are interviewing. Be ready to answer this question by conducting research ahead of time.

Helen's Answer
"There are a few similarities between the financial services and healthcare industries, specifically related to data and the work of a Data Analyst. One of the most important is the security of customer or patient data. Both industries work with highly personal and sensitive data that must be kept secure at all times. Because of this, access to data may be more restricted and analyses may require more time to complete as you navigate through all the security. To be successful as a Data Analyst in these industries, you will need to be, not only organized, but able to present a clear case for the data your analyses require."
7.
Tell me about the different types of audiences to whom you've presented. Were these presentations done in person or remotely?
Hiring managers look for Data Analysts with strong presentation skills - someone who can present analyses and answer questions clearly and with confidence. It would be ideal if you had experience presenting to an executive level audience, but this is not always necessary. When describing the types of audiences, include approximate size, whether it included executives and possibly what departments within the company were present. For example, in many cases, hiring managers look for candidates that can clearly present their findings to people with different backgrounds. More specifically, experience communicating with both technical and non-technical audiences is a highly valued skill. With the rise of remote work, some hiring managers will want to know if you have experience presenting analyses via phone or video conference calls, since these types of presentations can present unique challenges.

Helen's Answer
"As a Data Analyst, I have presented to a wide variety of audiences made up of people with differing backgrounds. The groups ranged in size from one person to 25 people, with the larger ones composed of co-workers from different departments in the company. Most of these presentations were conducted in person, but I have presented a few analyses remotely via video conferencing to smaller audiences. In addition, about one-third of my presentations have had audiences made up of senior managers."
8.
Describe a project where you used both quantitative and qualitative data to conduct your analysis.
Data Analysts should use all the data available to them to conduct the most impactful analyses. This could include both quantitative and qualitative data. The hiring manager wants to know how much experience you may have marrying qualitative to quantitative data. Sometimes it is straightforward, as is the case when working with survey data that has both qualitative and quantitative questions. Other times, it may take some creativity to find applicable qualitative data to use in conjunction with your quantitative data. If you have several projects to choose from, share about the project where you used the most creativity in merging the two types of data.

Helen's Answer
"If possible, I always try to incorporate qualitative data to support what the quantitative data is telling me. I have been fortunate enough to have conducted several analyses where qualitative survey data was readily available to me. However, when working with survey data, I don't think you should limit yourself to the qualitative data from one survey. When appropriate, I have found that there can be valuable qualitative data from other surveys or external sources. For one particular marketing analysis dealing with a new product evaluation, I reached out to the operations department to utilize qualitative data they had collected from distributors. Using this qualitative data strengthened the validity of my recommendations to the product development group."
9.
In your opinion, what soft skills do you believe to be most important in your role as a Data Analyst and why?
Soft skills are personal attributes that help people work well with others and perform their jobs at a high level. Many refer to these skills as 'non-tangible' and 'non-technical'. As with most jobs, it is important that Data Analysts have strong soft skills, because they do not work in isolation, and therefore their work habits and performance affect others on their team. Interviewers want to know that you understand the importance of these types of skills. Use your past work experiences to support why you find a particular soft skill important and try to include how you have developed it over time.

Helen's Answer
"Personally, as a Data Analyst, I have found leadership skills to be one of the most important soft skills. In my experience, exercising leadership skills does not require you to be in a managerial role. In a team environment, leadership skills are displayed when you take initiative to guide and help others. In many cases, Data Analysts are in a position where they need to educate others on the data and how to interpret it. I have found it has been crucial for me to speak up and become an expert in interpreting the company data. Being able to take the initiative has become easier for me over time. I have been able to strengthen this skill by educating myself and finding more opportunities to share my learnings with my team. As a result, I became more confident and built myself up as a leader in this area amongst my team members."
10.
How would you rate your writing skills, and in what ways do you use this form of communication as a Data Analyst?
Although Data Analysts spend much of their time working with numbers, having strong writing skills is very important as well. They will need to interpret the results of their analyses into words to present to stakeholders. Data Analysts should be able to tell the 'story' with words and numbers together. If you find that you have not had many opportunities to use or strengthen your writing skills, state the extra measures you are willing to take to change that, whether it be through training or by proactively seeking opportunities.

Helen's Answer
"I have a high level of confidence in my writing skills. As a Data Analyst, I surprisingly have had many opportunities to strengthen these skills. Whether it is through email communications with team members or more formal analytical summaries, I find that I am able to get my point across in a clear and concise manner. I continually look for ways to exercise and strengthen my writing skills."
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