How to Face an Interview for Data Analyst
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Facing a job interview for a data analyst position, sometimes referred to as a statistician position, can be intimidating. Analysts often have to evaluate, sort and report on data that is incomplete or erroneous, so an interviewer will likely ask how you handle those assignments. Don't get rattled by tough questions. Stay positive and use personal examples from previous projects to support your skills and experience.
Data analysts are often responsible for gathering and compiling data from various reputable sources before making evaluations, drawing conclusions and issuing reports. Expect the hiring manager to ask questions like, "How do you go about collecting information to support your analyses?" or, "What types of data have you researched and analyzed in the past?" The employer might need data analyses to create new advertising strategies, prepare short and long-term finance budgets, or determine which company products are most profitable. Answer data-collecting questions with specific examples of how you successfully used group samples, conducted market research, reviewed financial reports or analyzed surveys to make fair and consistent assessments.
Validity of Data
Data isn't always accurate, complete, understandable, consistent, predictable or beneficial to meeting a company's goals, so expect interview questions about your methods for verifying and validating information. You might discuss ways you take averages, find medians, double-check questionable entries, find alternative research to support your findings or consult specialists. Most importantly, you want to show the interviewer that you are an effective problem-solver, troubleshooter and decision-maker so she has no reason to question your skills or capabilities.
The hiring manager will likely ask about your computer skills and experience using analytic software. Data analysts process collected data and reach conclusions with the help of computer software, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Discuss any experience you've had with statistical software, such as Stata, RStudio, PSPP or GMDH Shell. If most of your previous work has been with inter-office spreadsheets or Microsoft Excel files, assure the interviewer that you are proficient with those types of data files and would be willing to learn any new software programs necessary for the job.
Communication and Presentation Skills
Data analysts must communicate results, findings and future goals using visual aids, such as charts, grafts and infographics. The interviewer will likely ask, "What are your communication strengths?" or, "Explain how you organize and create presentations to report analytical findings?" Answer these questions with specific examples of presentations, reports and seminars you've created or hosted. The interviewer wants assurance that you have the people skills and interpersonal strengths to effectively relay your analyses and results.
As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.