Common Business Analyst Interview Questions

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Reviewing the role of a business analyst and possible business analyst interview questions is a helpful way to prepare for an upcoming job interview.

[Featured Image] Woman in interview

To prepare for an upcoming business analyst interview, it's a good idea to review potential interview questions and brainstorm ways to answer them. Interviews for this role may include different types of questions to reveal your experience within the industry and with specific software. Your interviewer may ask you a variety of situational questions to gain insight into how you would approach different business analytics scenarios, as well as behavioral questions to find out how you've actually handled scenarios in the past.  

Since the primary goal of a business analyst is to review data and processes to make improvements for a company, expect business analyst interview questions to lean into project examples and their measurable outcomes.

Keep reading to review commonly asked interview questions and practice your responses. 

When answering situational and behavioral questions, use the STAR method to tell compelling stories about your capabilities and experience. STAR stands for situation, task, actions, and result. This method can help you structure your answers to interview questions to help employers see your potential in the job you seek.


1. How would you describe the role of a business analyst?

This is a common opening question. The role of a business analyst will vary by company, but this is your opportunity to define the position at this particular company. 

How to answer

Before you go to the interview, review the job description. Pay particular attention to the tasks this company needs a business analyst to do and pull a few keywords from the job description to weave into your response. In addition, review the company's website, online presence, and products and services. Gather insights about the company's mission statement, values, business objectives, and customer focus. Reflect on how your work as a business analyst can contribute to this company's growth and success.

When brainstorming your answer, start with your broad skills, like communication, coordination, and problem-solving, and then get more technical by discussing the specific skills you’ll bring to the role. 

2. Tell me how you approach projects.

While projects and companies differ, the employer wants to know how you take an assignment from concept to completion. What's your workflow? How do you collaborate with others? What do you do to project deliverables are complete on schedule.

How to answer

Explain how you approach a project in easy-to-understand steps. For example, you might start a project by talking with stakeholders to understand the project’s goals and set objectives. You’ll create a plan with actionable steps to achieve your goal and deadlines for each phase. Coordination with IT, implementation plans, and project assessments should also be part of your process. 

3. How do you handle difficult stakeholders?

As an analyst, your job is to improve processes, but you must understand the company’s operations and requirements from stakeholders first. During this learning stage, you’ll work with many different people in the company, and some may hesitate to change. This question assesses your ability to manage personalities and resolve issues while doing your job. 

How to answer 

To answer, you need to highlight a specific example where you dealt with challenging personalities or opposing views and explain how you resolved the issue. Perhaps an operational manager wasn’t keen on making your suggested changes and you had to support your suggestions and explain how to implement them. What did you say to show the advantages or potential outcomes of the changes? How did you walk them through the change process?

Read more: What Is Change Management + How to Use It Effectively

4. What tools do you use, and how much experience do you have with them?

With this question, the employer assesses your technical skills and experience with the tools you’ll need to succeed in this role. The more experience you have with a particular tool that you'd be using for the job, the more job-ready you may be.

Depending on the specifics of the job, the tools might include software for data analysis, visualization, project management, or documentation. Analysts often use standard workplace software like Microsoft or Google products, which provides access to documents, spreadsheets, and slideshows. You’ll probably use Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, their Google counterparts, Microsoft Access, SQL, or visually appealing data-crunching software like Tableau, Qlik Sense, or PowerBI. 

How to answer

Reflect on different tools you've used and the projects you've completed using these tools. What did find useful or challenging about each tool? In addition, reflect on how you go about learning to use unfamiliar software. Discussing this learning process demonstrates your willingness to adapt and be proactive.

Read more: The 7 Data Analysis Software You Need to Know

5. Can you please describe your familiarity with SQL?

Structured Query Language, or SQL, is a programming language that allows analysts to work with relational database systems. Most analysts need a basic understanding of this language, though some job descriptions may require advanced knowledge. The question inquires about your technical skills, so you must demonstrate your proficiency. 

How to answer 

You need to showcase your skills without getting too bogged down in details. To start, define SQL. Then tell about a time when you used SQL to improve a business process.  

Read more: Your Guide to Preparing for Your SQL Interview

If you’d like to add a job certification to help bolster your skills, consider a class like Excel to MySQL: Analytic Techniques for Business Specialization offered by Duke University. Developing your interview or technical skills can be a productive way to prepare for a new career.


6. What do you think is the most important part of analytical reporting?

Assessing and quantifying problems often requires the use of analytical data. The results are data-driven, making decision-making easier for crucial business players. As a business analyst, you should know what situations analytical reporting applies to, why it’s helpful, and its drawbacks. 

How to answer

Briefly explain your experience with analytical reporting and offer an instance where you used it. Talk about its application, what the data showed, and how the information was helpful to business leaders. Then, highlight the different aspects of analytical reporting, such as the insights you gather and how these lead to empowered decision-making, and identify what you value most and why.

An employer wants to know you actively investigate and educate yourself on the ever-evolving field of business analytics, including the latest tools, techniques, and processes. This question explores your motivation and the different skills and technical knowledge you learn along the way.

How to answer

Mention publications or online resources you subscribe to, as well as business analytics influencers or brands you follow. You can also mention previous or upcoming training sessions, conferences, or webinars that will keep your skills sharp. What have you learned from each of these resources and how have you applied your learnings?

8. How do you manage your time and ensure you meet deadlines?

Employers want to assess your ability to handle the workload associated with the position, multitask, and complete projects reliably. Deadlines may be self-set or set by stakeholders, but the overarching point of this question is to ensure you’re detail-oriented and can stay on task. 

How to answer

Tell interviewers about your time management skills and the tools you use to keep projects on track. You can also talk about when you needed to multi-task several projects and explain how you completed them on time.  

9. What do you do when you miss milestones?

In business analytics, projects are often time-intensive. Adhering to timelines and is crucial to success. There may be times, however, when you've planned out your steps and you still miss a milestone. What matters in these instances is how you handle the missed milestone with grace and resilience.

How to answer

Use an example to explain when you missed a deadline but worked to resolve it. Perhaps a project was more complicated than expected, or you needed more data in order to complete tasks. Explain why you missed the milestone, but be careful not to blame others. Focus on how you communicated with supervisors and hit the milestone as soon as possible. You can also talk about a new workflow or tool that you use to improve your time management and reach milestones in subsequent projects.

10. What do you think are your key strengths as a business analyst?

Consider the critical responsibilities of a business analyst. An employer asks this question to ensure your strengths align with the daily rigors of the job. 

How to answer

To answer, you should mention both technical skills and workplace skills. For instance, mention your aptitude for numbers, specific software applications like Tableau, and communication and problem-solving skills. When possible, connect your strengths to details in the job description.

11. How do you handle projects with limited budgets or resources? Provide an example.

Employers want to know how you handle constraints and succeed in projects while being resourceful. As a business analyst, you are in a position to help companies operate more efficiently and achieve their business goals, so answering this question with examples and specific ideas can position you as a potentially valuable member of the organization you want to work for.

How to answer

To answer, prepare stories about times in the past when you faced this challenge. What was the project? What constrained you? And how did you create solutions that still allowed you to deliver great results? If you have not had this particular experience of dealing with budget or resource limitations, be honest with the interviewer about it and provide an example of how you could deal with project constraints in a future or hypothetical situation.

12. Why do you want to join this company or project?

When this question comes up, you have the opportunity to showcase your enthusiasm for the job, your insights into the company, and passion for business analytics. This is where you can leverage your research into the company. Employers value candidates who are skilled in their field as well as knowledgable of the company's mission, values, and relationships with customers.

How to answer 

Your response should explain how your skills are compatible with the company’s mission and culture. Take some time to review the company online. Look at the company website, review news stories, and read through its social channels. Using this intel, you can showcase your knowledge of the company and share ideas about how you can help the company meet its business objectives. 

Business analyst interview: General tips

Preparing thoroughly for your interview is a great way to boost your confidence. Aside from studying the common business analyst interview questions, these tips can help you stand out from other candidates:

  • Study the job description and your resume and look for ways to connect your qualifications to what the employer is looking for.

  • Practice short, informative descriptions of your previous experience. 

  • Reach out to a current employee through social media to gain insight into their experience with the company. Be sure to keep their insights anonymous.

  • Share your enthusiasm for the role of a business analyst and for the field of business analytics in general.  

  • If you don’t receive an offer, ask for feedback to improve your interview approach.

Read more: What to Wear to an Interview: 2023 Guide

Learn more about preparing for interviews with this video on behavioral questions from the Art of the Job Interview course:

Advance your career with Coursera

As additional preparation for your interview, consider taking an online class like Advanced Interviewing Techniques offered by the University of Maryland. These skills can serve you in an upcoming business analyst interview and throughout your career journey.  

Taking a course in business analytics can be a great way to build job-ready skills and prepare talking points for an upcoming interview. Consider the Tableau Business Intelligence Analyst Professional Certificate.

Google's Business Intelligence Professional Certificate is tailored toward more experienced analysts ready to advance their skills in data modeling, data visualization, and dashboarding and reporting.

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