IT Business Analyst Interview Questions
Business analysts help businesses implement technological solutions in a cost-effective way. They typically test systems and processes in order to devise competitive commercial solutions.
Business analyst positions are a unique blend of technology and business. Analysts need to understand business operating procedures as well as possess knowledge of information technology (IT) in order to help businesses save as much money as possible.
Business analyst responsibilities may include:
- Serving as a liaison between business and IT staff
- Identifying and prioritizing technical and functional requirements
- Gathering and presenting user requirements
- Identifying integration and compliance points
- Utilizing analytic programs to identify trends
Businesses are becoming increasingly reliant on technology. In order to best bridge the gap between business and technology, a skilled business analyst will:
- Possess excellent communication skills to convey information between departments
- Understand the inner workings of the business
- Understand information technology concepts and the latest trends
- Utilize creative thinking to continuously provide money-saving solutions
- Possess sales attributes in order to guide management toward better solutions
- Possess leadership abilities
In order to gain an entry-level position, candidates are typically expected to possess a bachelor’s degree in finance, business administration, or computer science. Candidates with a master’s degree in a relevant field can expect to be given priority. Additionally, candidates can obtain BCS certifications to make themselves more appealing to employers.
If you’re getting ready to interview for a position as a business analyst, you can prepare by researching the company as much as possible. Learn about the 9 things you should research before an interview.
Salaries for business analysts range between $56K and $91K with the median being $74K.
Factors impacting the salary you receive as a business analyst include:
- Degrees (bachelor's, master's, BCS certification)
- Years of Experience
- Reporting Structure (seniority of the manager you report to, number of direct reports)
- Level of Performance - exceeding expectations
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Business Analyst Interview Questions
Question: In your opinion, what is the role of a business analyst in an organization?
Explanation: This is an opening question which the interviewer will ask to begin the conversation early in the interview. The purpose of this is to understand how you think a business analyst contributes to the organization. It provides you with an opportunity to start to guide the interview in a direction in which you are comfortable.
Example: “The role of a business analyst varies from organization to organization. However, the common element is understanding the needs of the organization and developing recommendations for technology solutions that will address them. Roles a business analyst plays include systems analyst, consultant, leader, and technical architect.”
Question: Can you identify some tools that are helpful for business analysis?
Explanation: This is an example of an operational question. Interviewers ask operational questions to get an idea of how you perform the job for which you are interviewing. Operational questions are best answered with straightforward and concise information. The interviewer will follow up if they need additional information.
Example: “Each business analyst uses different tools which are based on their education, experience, and preferences. The tools I use include Microsoft Office Suite and a variety of ERP systems which vary depending on the organization with which I’m working. I spend most of my time with Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint as well as MS Project.”
Question: How do you handle situations when a business stakeholder changes the requirements for a project on which you are working?
Explanation: This is another operational question that has an element of a behavioral question in it. It presents you with a scenario and then asks you to respond to it. You can base your answer on either direct experience you've had with a similar situation or by projecting what you would do if you encountered a new situation.
Example: “As the saying goes, change is a constant, especially in the role of a business analyst. While I try to scope the project completely before I begin working on it, change invariably occurs. When this happens, I meet with project stakeholders to discuss the new parameters to both confirm the changes and appraise the team of changes impacting the project. I then publish the notes from the meeting to confirm our agreements in writing so everybody is on the same page.”
Question: What is meant by the term benchmarking, and how is it used in your job?
Explanation: This is an example of a technical question. Interviewers ask technical questions to help them understand your qualifications for the role. Technical questions are similar to operational questions. They should be answered directly with little embellishment.
Example: “Benchmarking means setting a standard. All of the organization’s processes, policies, programs, and other operational parameters are then measured against the benchmark. This provides the leadership team with an assessment of whether the organization is exceeding expectations or underperforming against the standards they established. Benchmarks can also be set for an industry and will give the leaders an idea of how the company is performing against its competitors.”
Question: How do you know if a benchmark is a good one or appropriate for the organization?
Explanation: This is a follow up to the previous question. When answering operational or technical questions, you should anticipate follow-up questions. This helps the interviewer further qualify your expertise in the area they are exploring. Follow-up questions demand more details than the original ones.
Example: “Determining if a benchmark is a good one or appropriate for the metric the organization is trying to measure can best be accomplished by applying the SMART rule. This technique is commonly used when setting organizational or individual goals. The criteria include that the benchmark should be Specific, is Measurable, can be a reasonably Attained relative to the Results the organization is trying to achieve, and is Time based (has a deadline).”
Question: Can you describe the difference between a risk and an issue?
Explanation: This is another technical question in which the interviewer is asking you to differentiate between two terms used in this role. When asked this type of question, you should respond by first defining each term, stating the differences between them, and then providing an example of how you would use them in your job.
Example: “A risk is either a problem or event that may occur during the course of a project and would impact the outcome of the project. It is usually quantifiable both in the percentage of probability that it will occur and the impact it would have on the project if it did so. An issue, on the other hand, is an event that has already occurred. An example of this is predicting the impact of a competitor releasing a product similar to the company’s product which is the risk, and the issue created when a competitor actually releases the product. Risks can be mitigated, and issues need to be addressed.”
Question: Please define Pareto Analysis and describe how you use it in your role as a business analyst?
Explanation: This is a very specific technical question related to your profession. It asks for a definition of the term and a description of how it is applied. As you progress through an interview, the technical questions will become more difficult and complex. You should take the time to review these questions and practice responding to them out loud so you will be prepared for the interview.
Example: “Pareto Analysis is based on the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule. This states that 80% of the results are based on 20% of the effort or input. Using this technique, you can identify the key contributors to a project or business process that will yield the majority of the results you are looking to attain. This provides a framework for making business decisions related to the project, including where to make investments that will have the most impact.”
Question: What are some of the documents you encounter in a project as a business analyst?
Explanation: This is another operational question that helps the interviewer understand the types of things you’ve encountered in your previous roles as a business analyst. An interviewer will ask this type of question to determine if you are familiar with the documents, processes, procedures, and other aspects of projects their company uses.
Example: “Business analysts deal with a wide range of documents, depending on the project they are working on or the organization of which they are a part of. Examples of these include functional specifications, technical specifications, business requirements, case use diagrams, and traceability matrices."
Question: What do you do when you are required to manage difficult stakeholders?
Explanation: This is a behavioral question. It presents you with a scenario and then asks you how you would react. Behavioral questions may be hypothetical, or they may describe a situation you’re likely to encounter in this role. Behavioral questions are best responded to using the STAR framework. You State the situation, describe the Task you need to complete, discuss the Action you will take, and then describe the Results you achieved.
Example: “Dealing with difficult stakeholders is part of being a business analyst. I’ve had to deal with this on virtually every project I’ve been a part of. What I’ve learned is to be patient, listen to the stakeholder's input, acknowledge their role, and thank them for their contributions. On a recent project, one of the stakeholders was impeding our progress by making unreasonable demands. I had to settle them down so we could proceed with the project. I used the techniques described above and got them on board with the rest of the team. As a result, the project was finished on time, under budget, and met the group’s expectations. Even the difficult stakeholder was happy with the results.”
Question: As a business analyst, when can you say the task of setting a project’s requirements is done?
Explanation: This is an operational question that requires you to make a judgment call. Since there is no definitive stage in which everyone will agree that a project planning exercise is complete, the interviewer is asking when you believe it is complete and how you would communicate this to the team. This type of question should be easy for you to answer based on your experience as a business analyst.
Example: “It is sometimes difficult to determine when the project planning process is complete and all the requirements have been met. I use a set of criteria to determine this and then communicate these to the team, at the beginning of the project as well as once the planning phase is complete. The criteria I use include aligning the requirements with the business objectives of the organization, ensuring each stakeholder has had the opportunity to present their views and ideas, having established metrics for each stage of the project, and ensuring the resources needed to execute the project are available.”
Additional Business Analyst Interview Questions
What is the difference between a system and functional requirement?
What tools or methods do you use when writing requirements?
How would you perform an application upgrade?
Would you be comfortable giving weekly presentations to senior management?
How would you deal with a stakeholder who insists a complex process would fix an existing problem?
How would you manage multiple deliverables?
A word of warning when using question lists.
Question lists offer a convenient way to start practicing for your interview. Unfortunately, they do little to recreate actual interview pressure. In a real interview you’ll never know what’s coming, and that’s what makes interviews so stressful.
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