Why this matters:

Analysts work with data daily: collecting it, analyzing it, identifying patterns, and unearthing insights to drive business performance. The tools they use — and how they use them — are vital to the job. Gain a sense for their familiarity with the current platforms of the day, as well as their understanding of your specific software.

What to listen for:

  • Robust knowledge of industry-standard software tools and capabilities
  • Examples of how they’ve used software to drive business performance
  • Enthusiasm for keeping up with the latest developments in BI software

Why this matters:

An analyst must be capable of not only gathering information, but translating it into actionable recommendations — and then getting stakeholders on board. Using a combination of critical thinking and data skills, the analyst must transform raw inputs into strategic outputs that can advance company objectives.

What to listen for:

  • Understanding of how analysis aligns with — and helps drive — business objectives
  • Strategic decision-making around tools, stakeholders, and processes to achieve a goal
  • Examples of learnings from projects that didn’t sync with business needs

Why this matters:

No single analyst candidate can specialize in everything, and you want to understand their comfort zones, as well as where there’s room to grow. At the same time, analytical skills are highly transferable, so even if a candidate lacks experience in a particular business function, they could eventually contribute value in that area with time and support.

What to listen for:

  • Confidence in their strengths, and how they add value
  • Honesty and self-awareness in recognizing areas for improvement
  • A willingness to learn, take on challenges, and grow

 

Why this matters:

Good analysts do more than simply respond to requests from leadership. They assume a leadership role themselves by continually looking for opportunities to improve company performance and operations — and then making that competitive edge a reality.

What to listen for:

  • Evidence of a general business sensibility
  • Examples of projects or changes candidate suggested and implemented
  • Enthusiasm for going above and beyond basic job responsibilities

Why this matters:

By asking about a difficult project, you’ll get a sense for how the candidate acts in the face of difficulty, both the attitude they bring to tough situations as well as the behaviors they take to overcome obstacles on the way to success. You’ll also gain further insight into their work history.

What to listen for:

  • Description of what made the project so difficult
  • Taking accountability and not blaming others
  • Candid discussion around how obstacles were overcome

Why this matters:

In addition to being able to transform data into meaningful insights, an analyst needs basic project management skills to ensure outcomes are produced in a timely fashion. Discerning key business objectives, setting up a project timeline, and communicating with stakeholders are all vital steps an analyst will follow to guide a project from inception to completion.

What to listen for:

  • Basic knowledge of project management tasks
  • Ease in communicating the goal or purpose of a given project
  • Ability to reverse engineer a project timeline and course correct as necessary

Why this matters:

The skills of an analyst add value across an entire organization. As a result, analysts end up interacting with a wide range of people, departments, and positions. Conflict is inevitable and a successful analyst needs to demonstrate empathy, strong communication skills, and a bias toward action to resolve any potential disagreements with a difficult stakeholder.

What to listen for:

  • Strong listening skills and an ability to consider an issue from varying perspectives
  • Ability to self-regulate and not letting emotions get in the way of solving a problem
  • Open, honest dialogue helped advance a project with a difficult stakeholder

 

Why this matters:

Change requirements are simply a reality of most major projects. A skilled analyst understands this and knows how to field, manage, and execute scope and directional shifts smoothly — from clarifying the reason for the change and analyzing its impact, to offering recommendations and helping to shepherd teammates and stakeholders through the process.

 

What to listen for:

  • Experience with understanding, prioritizing, and implementing change requirements
  • Ability to perform an impact analysis on project cost, timeline, and resources
  • Effective communication throughout the change requirement process

Why this matters:

Rather than simply following orders, the successful analyst has a strong point of view and can voice their opinions and recommendations with confidence — even if they’re at odds with those of others. A good analyst must present their ideas, defend them with data, and persuade teams to buy in, all while maintaining diplomacy and preserving team morale.

What to listen for:

  • Examples of how a candidate took a contrary point of view and backed it up with data
  • Signs that the candidate navigated the situation with empathy and sensitivity to others
  • Details on how the new course of action ended up benefitting the business — or not
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