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Answering Interview Questions About Analytical Skills

Updated: May 13



In a job interview, your interviewer might ask you some difficult questions to see how you manage analyzing and evaluating processes using data. The power of data analysis is that you are problem-solving with evidence, instead of trial and error. Data analysis is also a powerful way of using statistics to improve processes before there are problems, and to recognize opportunities to create new processes that would benefit the company.

 

Most analytical interview questions will focus on your ability to:


  • collect useful data to help you make decisions.

  • use data to improve your processes.

  • create processes to benefit from new opportunities.

  • use critical thinking to analyze problems and find solutions.

  • set and achieve goals.

  • share your knowledge and decision-making process with your team.


To give a good impression in your interview, you will need to carefully think of your answers to these questions and prepare your answers to these questions before the day of your interview. But, don't worry! You'll find example questions and answers, and tips and advice, here for the most common analytical interview questions:

 

"Describe a Time You Needed to Solve a Problem but Didn't Have Enough Information. What did You do?"


Your interviewer is asking you this to learn about your problem-solving methods and evaluate your research skills. They also want to know if you will go ahead and "solve" the problem without the information you need, which is a big red flag!

 

To give the best impression, you need to show how you took the opportunity to get the information you needed so you could make a decision using evidence. Show how your individual methods are analytical, organized, and detail-oriented.

 

Explain how you:


  • identified what information was missing.

  • got that information.

  • analyzed that information.

  • reached your decision based on the research you did.


Example answer:

"Sales were down, and I needed to find out why and improve them. So, I gave surveys to my team members to work out what the source of the problem was. The survey asked questions about client numbers, repeat clients, lead numbers and follow-up statistics. It was clear, when I analyzed those statistics with the statistical software SPSS, that sales were down because employees were not following up on leads. Sales increased by 10% after I implemented a new project management system."

 

"How do You Evaluate Advantages and Disadvantages Before Making a Decision?"


Your interviewer wants to know what your personal decision-making process is. Do you create a list of advantages and disadvantages, evaluate the importance and impact of each, and then make your decision? Or do you simply see which list is longer?

 

You need to explain how you make decisions, what systems you use, and why you use them. There is no such thing as a good or bad system, as long as it works!

 

Example answer:

"When I make decisions, I make sure I have all of the information I need. I look at the situation in detail to see which options are realistically available, and weigh them based on how beneficial they are for the company. I then assess the likelihood of each outcome, and I remove all the options with significant disadvantages or a low likelihood of success. Then based on the ideal outcome, I choose the option with the best combination of likelihood of success and benefit for my company."

 

"Your Manager Asks You for Advice on Buying New Software to Improve Team Efficiency. What do You do?"


There are many steps to answering this question. Your interviewer is asking you to use this scenario to:


  • explain your decision-making process.

  • explain how you get the information you need to make this decision.

  • demonstrate your understanding and use of statistical information.

  • show how you share this information with your manager.


To give a good impression in your interview, you need to show what your personal processes are and how you would follow these analytical processes in a detail-oriented way. Don't forget to explain how you would present this information to your manager in a way that is easy to understand, but detailed enough to fully explain the situation.

 

Example answer:

"I would start by asking what the budget was and researching the recommended industry metrics for team efficiency. I would then bring these recommendations to my manager, and find out which metrics were most important for them, and then list them in order of importance. Then I'd look for productivity tools that would best match the metrics list for current and future demands. I would then create a detailed list of around 5 options, with my top 3 recommendations, detailing the specifics of each."

 

"Explain in Detail How You Would Troubleshoot <X> Problem."


You can relax, your interviewer is not asking you to solve the problem in the interview! They want to know how you usually manage troubleshooting problems in general. Think about problems that have come up in your career, and how you normally look for ways to solve them. To give a good impression, you are looking to show your focus on finding the information you need, the use of statistical evidence to make your decisions, and achieving the overall goals of the company.

 

When planning your answer think about these questions:


  • How do you separate each piece of the problem?

  • What information do you look for and include?

  • How do you evaluate possible solutions?

  • Do you do this process alone?

  • What tools do you use?

  • When do you bring the problem to your manager?


Example answer:

"First, I try to understand the situation in detail, and often that includes some research into the processes involved, and breaking the problem down into smaller parts. Then I take a step-by-step approach to determining what could have caused the issue, and the different solutions available for each possible cause. When choosing the best solution I'm looking for the one that would work most consistently now, and in the future. If I can't do it myself, I'll ask for assistance. We should have found something that works by that point. If not, I'll go over the process again to see if there is another step I missed or contact my management."

"What Metrics Do You Track? What Information Do You Research? And How do You Use it?"


If your interviewer is asking you this, you must be applying for a job where tracking metrics is important. Your interviewer wants to see if you are someone who uses data analysis to keep things working well, or if you only use it when there is a problem.

 

You want to show that you understand the importance of keeping track of statistical information about your job role, and that you use this in your everyday decision-making. Give an example of a metric that is important for the position you're applying for if you can. Show how you tracked the information, and how you used it to improve your work. If you can't give an example with a relevant metric, make sure that you show you understand the metrics that are important for this new position.

 

Example answer:

"I use analytics software to track where visitors to our website are coming from, and what they are doing while they are there. This helps me assess how effective our existing campaigns are and how frequently new visitors come to our site. These figures help me suggest possible next steps for the company at strategy meetings."

Wrap Up


It's always a good idea to have some answers prepared for your interview, to help explain your thinking process. The easiest way to do this is to practice adjusting these example questions and answers to your job. It's also a good idea to research the kinds of decision-making questions that an interviewer is likely to ask in your particular field.

 

When you are preparing your answers, don't focus too much on the way you will say things in your interview. It is much more important that you demonstrate your research methods and analytical skills, and that you understand the importance of informed decision making.

 

Check that your interviewer understands the process as you explain it, and you will also show that you can present that information to others clearly and responsively. You have the skills, you just need to show them!

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