So you want to become a data analyst? Perhaps you earned a certification or degree in data analytics or a related field. Looking for data analyst jobs and navigating the interview process can be overwhelming. Interviewing for a job can make even the most confident person feel nervous.
To assist you, we have compiled this list of commonly-asked data analyst interview questions. When it comes to many technology-based careers, hiring managers use interview questions to see if you know what you’re talking about. As you prepare, be sure to brush up on your data analysis skills.
General Data Analyst Interview Questions
Why do you want to become a data analyst?
You can answer this interview question in many ways. The purpose of the interview process is to get to know you and your qualifications for the data analyst role. What motivates you in your work? What led you to consider this path?
To answer this question, focus on why you decided to become a data analyst and what skills you developed to complement that decision. A personable answer will show the hiring manager what specifically about the role appeals to you and what skills you have already developed.
What does a data analyst do?
While a hiring manager may not ask you this question directly, you should of course be familiar with what a data analyst does.
A data analyst observes streams of data and runs statistical analyses to test hypotheses and reach conclusions. The field is broad and examines data related to many subjects, fields, industries, and purposes.
Data analysts are critical thinkers. By processing data and identifying patterns, they try to answer important questions. In business, finding a pattern could mean finding the next consumer trend. In psychological research, it could mean identifying a link between certain populations and behaviors. Almost all fields utilize data analysis.
Try not to confuse the responsibilities of data analysts with those of data scientists. Data analysts focus on identifying trends in data, while data scientists develop models or algorithms to analyze data. In other words, data scientists develop ways to better process and organize data. Data analysts then apply those methods.
Why do you want to work in this data analyst position?
Data analysts have the opportunity to work in a variety of industries. As a data analyst, you can choose where you want to work—for example, in retail, healthcare, nonprofits, or for a large company.
Furthermore, data analysts work in a digital landscape focusing on consumer data for marketing research, or you could be analyzing inventory data or patient data at a healthcare facility. Your tasks will not vary too much, but the environments, purposes, and people with whom you work may.
Therefore, you should have a concrete answer for why you chose the specific job you’re interviewing for. Hiring managers know that data analysts have the world at their fingertips. When you write your cover letter, make sure you connect your message to the company’s values. It is worthwhile to research the company beforehand and to express an interest in it. Hiring managers want to hear that you are serious about the specific job you are interviewing for and not just looking for any data analyst job.
What responsibilities do data analysts have?
Interviewers ask this question to determine how much you know about the position and your responsibilities. When you think of a data analyst, you may picture someone sitting at a computer all day scrolling through and making inferences about data. However, the role actually involves an assortment of skills, including teamwork. Furthermore, the work can vary from day-to-day and can be incredibly dynamic.
Your day-to-day schedule as a data analyst may vary widely depending on where you work. Generally, the process of data analysis involves several steps and a lot of teamwork and collaboration with other people. For example, in order to streamline a process, data analysts may collect and analyze data and then share their results with developers. Once compiled, data analysts examine data individually or as a team, depending on the workload. It is critical for data analysts to maintain good communication to prevent errors. Data analysts must report data findings at certain intervals—sometimes weekly or monthly.
What programming languages are you skilled at?
A data analyst should know at least one programming language. R is a popular language used with the data analytics tool R Programming. R offers a variety of statistical methods of analysis. SQL, or Structured Query Language, is another common language. As suggested by the name, SQL helps query, store, and access a vast amount of data. Most companies prefer that their data analysts use SQL to manage their database systems. SAS, or Statistical Analysis System, is a type of software and language that focuses on more sophisticated processes, usually in business or predictive analysis. Top companies like Google, Facebook, and Netflix use SAS programming.
Other programming languages relevant to data analysis are Python, Scala, and Java. These and other general-purpose languages can be extremely helpful to know in the data analysis field.
What data analysis tools are you familiar with?
There are many tools available for data analysts. Chances are you already encountered at least one of them during your studies. Every data analysis job may involve different tools. Informing the hiring manager about what tools you have used gives them a sense of what you are proficient in and what tools you may need to learn.
The most common tools in data analysis include SQL databases, Excel and other Microsoft programs, Google Fusion Tables, KNIME, RapidMiner, Tableau, Apache Spark, SAS, and R Programming. Each tool in data analysis is tailored to specific tasks, from data mining to data visualization.
What is your biggest strength (in relation to data analysis)?
An interviewer uses a question like this to assess how you perceive your own skills. Because it is a common interview question in general, hiring managers may ask it without associating it with data analysis. However, you can always focus on strengths related to data analysis. Even if you haven’t had any formal or professional practice, think back to what you excelled at when completing certain projects.
Here are some skills necessary to be a proficient data analyst:
- Analytical thinking. You are attentive to detail and make connections from the data you see in order to make hypotheses or draw precise conclusions.
- General math knowledge. Data and statistical analysis involve a lot of math. Many complex, long-form equations make up the back-end programming of software used to process data. A basic understanding of theoretical math is necessary to know how these processes work.
- Communication. A data analyst role involves a lot of communication. When working with a team or with other departments, you must accurately communicate your conclusions and be ready to explain your reasoning. Being able to discuss your results in terms non-analysts can understand is a huge plus.
The following skills are more preference-based. Hiring managers may be curious about what type of data analysis skills you know well.
- Data visualization is the visual portrayal of data using graphs, tables, maps, and charts in order to communicate findings to a general audience.
- Data mining is looking for any unusual patterns in large data sets to discover new, potentially useful information.
- Data cleaning is the act of efficiently locating data errors and extracting them from a data set.
- Data profiling is grouping information extracted from data to create an organized summary.
We hope this brief list of data analyst interview questions will help you succeed in your interview and win that rewarding data analyst position. Please comment below if you think of any other data analyst interview questions you’d like to share to help others succeed!