Business Analyst Interview Questions

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How important is job security to you?

If asked some variation of this question you should make it clear that job security isn't high on your priority list for the reasons above. To summarize, top performers derive their sense of security through confidence in their own abilities and through the deliberate execution of an action plan established to achieve strategic career goals.

How are personas used in requirements elicitation on agile projects?

A persona is a description of a fictional person, representing key characteristics of a specific user class or group. Personas provide models of the user community that make it easier for project teams to understand and predict how users will act and react, based on characteristics such as age, education, knowledge, and attitudes.

A key purpose that personas serve on agile projects is in the formulation of user stories, so that each story is written from the perspective of a distinct person with known attributes – rather than a generic “user” or job role.

Personas are also invaluable in making design decisions, and determining how usability can be optimized for the user community.

As with all other aspects of Agile projects, personas should be developed collaboratively amongst the team and refined iteratively over the course of the project.

Here is a short video that highlights the need to validate personas against real data and real user information, as well as the benefits of building personas iteratively as more information becomes known – The Secret to Developing Effective Personas.

Sandy Lambert
Business Architect
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What is Active Listening and how can it benefit the business analyst?

Active Listening is a method used to listen and respond to others in a structured and deliberate way.  It requires a listener to understand and actively evaluate what he or she heard. 

What are some of the problems you are faced with when gathering requirements?

While this is a broad question, it is often used by interviewers to find out whether the candidate has actually performed requirements elicitation in the past and has experienced its challenges. Once challenges are mentioned many interviewers proceed to ask what the candidate has done or would do in order to overcome those problems.

So, here are some of the problems faced by business analysts during the requirements elicitation/gathering activities:

What steps do you take to familiarize yourself with a new organization or assigned project?
In addition to any formal new hire procedures, there are a number of things that a Business Analyst can do to acclimate to a new organization, and prepare to tackle new project assignments. Review company protocols, project protocols, project information, business analysis standards, and build relationships
What are the four fundamental methods of requirement verification?

The four fundamental methods of verification are Inspection, Demonstration, Test, and Analysis.  The four methods are somewhat hierarchical in nature, as each verifies requirements of a product or system with increasing rigor.


How should you prepare for a business analyst interview?
I am a BA and Project Manager leading a team of roughly 10 Business Analysts, 10 Project Managers, and 5 Project Analysts. During my career I have both sat for and conducted hundreds of interviews. It still surprises me, even today, that so many people turn up to an interview with little or no basic knowledge of the role for which they have applied or the company for whom they want to work.  All it requires is a little time and effort. I hope the below helps.
What are a few characteristics of a top business analyst?
1) They deeply understand the business problem being solved.  
2) They are excellent translators and negotiators.
3) They must be able to view the project from the highest to the lowest levels.
4) They understand technology and its limits.
5) They have credibility with the business.
6) They enjoy interacting with people and are excellent communicators.
What is a logical data dictionary and what are the benefits of maintaining one?

A data dictionary, also commonly called a metadata repository, is a centralized repository of data elements and other metadata about them.  This may include the meaning of a piece of data, relationships to other data, origin, usage, type and length.

How do you explain a complex technical solution to non-technical stakeholders?
You are the BA for a complex technical project. You have to explain to all of your (mainly non-technical) stakeholders how it works. Describe what method you use, and how you go about explaining the solution.
What is a Product Manager?
The role of the Product Manager resides at the intersection between business, technology and user experience.  The paramount responsibility of a Product Manager is to ensure that the product they manage (software, service, or other tangible product) creates value for the business.  In turn, to create value for the business the product needs to be of value to customers or to internal business employees. 
How do you define Agile?
Agile is a general term and conceptual framework used to describe a number of “light-weight” methodologies, such as Extreme Programming (XP), SCRUM, and Rapid Application Development (RAD), which exhibit a series of common characteristics.
What is the 4-D framework for Time Management?
Competing demands on our time ensure one constant; we rarely have enough time to complete everything we would like to do.  Time management skills are critical to our success and productivity. The 4-D framework is a simple, yet effective, technique for determining how to react to requests on our time. 

The 4 Ds are: Do, Defer, Delegate, and Drop (Delete).  It can often be helpful to approach the framework in the reverse order listed to whittle down the list of requests.
What is the “First-Time First-Use Penalty”?
The First-Time First-Use Penalty states that the first time undertaking anything new it’s impossible to know how long it will take to complete.  A fairly simple principle that absolutely plagues the IT industry due to the complexity and variability of IT systems. IT systems are so unique and so multifaceted that the constant movement of its variables create an incredible challenge to estimating costs accurately.
How to answer a question that you don't know how to answer?

It sounds silly, but we have all been in an interview and been asked a question that actually we don't know how to answer. 

You could try bluffing, but the likelihood is that the Interviewer knows the answer, so what do you do?

Those of you that will have read posts by me will know that I am a BA Manager. Therefore I interview a lot of people. Not just for BA roles, but also for Project Managers, Product Owners and many more.

Its intriguing to see how people deal with this scenario. Bluffing, wild guesses and answering a totally different question, that you do know the answer to, seem to be the preferred way.

So what is the right way?

First of all, be honest. We all have 'fuzzy moments' where our brain just shuts down and even answering our name becomes a real challenge. 

Being honest tells the interviewer that you are human. But that alone isn't enough. 

My answer, if I was in that situation, would be this:

"I am sorry, but I don't think I have ever come across that [term, solution - whatever it is you have been asked]. But I am keen to broaden my knowledge. Can you talk me through what that is and how it would impact my role?"

So why answer like that? Well it shows the Interviewer that, OK he doesn't know the answer, but he is honest enough to admit that - BUT he wants to learn, he is enthusiastic to learn and isn't put off his or her stride by a curve ball question. 

These are positives because, as a Business Analyst, you WILL get these during your working life with Stakeholders. The reason why you talk to Stakeholders is because you don't know what their role/process/system is. So why not act in the same manner for an interview?

Of course, not every company will think the same, but if you be honest, but turn it into a positive in asking them about it, and showing an interest, then you will hopefully find that they like your response.

One other thing, don't be afraid to tie in other answers to the question you didn't know. It shows that you have grasped the context and understand it - another key skill for the Business Analyst

What is the AARM Framework and how is used by Business Analysts and Product Managers?
The AARM Framework can be used to evaluate a product idea, develop a strategy, guide the success of its launch, and understand how customers move through the different stages of a customer purchase funnel. The framework is generally applied to software, applications, or service oriented products. AARM stands for Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Monetization.

What is Multi-Dimensional Prioritization of Requirements and What is the Benefit?
Multi-Dimensional Prioritization is a structured and methodical approach to prioritizing requirements by evaluating each across multiple factors. It’s something that stakeholders and analysts often due intuitively when huddled together in a meeting. However, multi-dimensional prioritization brings structure, rigor and efficiency to this process. By assigning a numerical weight to each requirement across a number of predetermined categories, a resulting requirement priority can be obtained.
What is PEST Analysis?
PEST is an acronym that stands for Political, Economic, Social, Technological. PEST analysis is one way that a business can analyze the environment in which it operates.
What is a business rule and how does it differ from a business requirement?
Business rules often tell you whether you may or may not do something. They may also be the input criteria used for making more complex business decisions that will ensure compliance throughout the business. Business requirements are used to implement business rules. They ensure compliance with the business rules. 
What strategies could be used on a project to deal with undesirable (negative) risks?

Common strategies for dealing with negative risks include Acceptance, Transfer, Avoidance, Mitigation

How do you resolve an issue involving conflicting requirements from two or more stakeholders?

In order to determine what action should be taken to resolve conflicting requirements, the analyst must first determine the root cause of the conflict.  The causes of conflicting requirements are typically the same, time and time again.   
What is Water-Scrum-Fall?
Water-Scrum-Fall is a term first coined by Forrester to describe the reality of the current state of Agile as it exists in many organizations today. It's hybrid approach to application lifecycle management that combines elements of both Waterfall and Scrum development methodologies. 
What is DevOps and how does it relate to software development?
As the name suggests, DevOps represents a union of two different sub-disciplines – Development and Operations. Most analysts are highly familiar with the Development portion of DevOps.  This is the traditional software development lifecycle used to create or make major changes to software applications.  It includes a vast network of people who assist in developing a product including product managers, business analysts, software developers, quality assurance engineers, and others. From the DevOps perspective, this stage end just prior to software release/deployment.

The Operations portion of DevOps tend to be less familiar to analysts. In years past Development and Operations operated almost entirely in their own silos.  The Ops team is made up of system and network engineers, DBAs, and others that build, manage, and monitor the IT infrastructure required to ensure the software can be properly deployed and supported.  They receive the tested software builds  and manage the release and deployment of the software onto the IT network while monitoring network stability. 

What are the traits that differentiate a great leader from and a good leader?
All leaders are usually rather intelligent and many possess hard skills and technical skills that help them perform well. But more important than IQ or hard skills is emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to monitor your feelings and those of others to guide your behavior.  Studies have found that emotional intelligence is twice as important at all levels of leadership. And when studying top tier leadership positions emotional intelligence accounts for nearly 95% of the difference between average and star performers.
What is the 90-9-1 rule and how can a business analyst take advantage of it?
The 90-9-1 rule is a popular concept among marketing professionals, but has a much wider application which can serve a business analyst well.  The basic principle is that the behavior of a community of people (or a group of users) naturally falls into 1 of 3 groups with the relative  population sizes of 90%, 9%, and 1%. 

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