Today we’re going to talk about job interviews,
specifically, how do you sell your skills in a business analyst job interview? Let’s jump right in. In my experience, there are two kinds of questions
where employers are looking to understand your skills and the competencies that you
bring to the table. The first is a knowledge-based question, which
would be along the lines of, “Can you tell me what a business process
is?” “Can you tell me what a use case is?” These are general questions about a specific
skill that feels like they’re asking you to tell them what you know about that skill. The second is a behavioral interview question,
which is, “Tell me about a time when…” “Tell me about a time when you used a use
case.” “Tell me about a time when you analyzed
a business process.” This is a different kind of question because
they’re asking for you to talk about your experience. Now, here’s the catch. I really think that for both kinds of questions,
what employers are really looking for or what an individual is really looking for is to
understand that you can do the things that they need you to do to be successful in that
job role. That means, they want to hear about your experience. You could simply answer,
“Oh, a business process. That’s a step-by-step workflow of how a
business user completes a task.” Great. You could have learned that out of a textbook. If you answer the question, “Can you tell
me what a business process is?” with a textbook answer, no matter how correct it is, it’s
not going to feel nearly so awesome and validating and confidence-building as,
“You know, a business process, that’s a step-by-step workflow of how a business
user completes a process or adds value to the organization. One time I had this project where we had to
analyze five different business processes and they were all related and it was in the
accounting department. We looked at their accounts receivable processes
and we discovered all these issues about why we weren’t receiving as much money as we
should be.” And now you start talking about how you improved
the process and engaged stakeholders in the process and analyzed the process. Who is going to stand apart? The person who has the perfect textbook answer? Which is why nobody else can give you an answer
to a job interview question because that textbook answer isn’t what people are looking for. They ’re going to be like, what I really
want to know is that this person can do business process analysis or do use case modeling or
do whatever it is that I’m asking them about. That experience, that sharing of a specific
example is going to build that rapport, is going to build that confidence that they have
in you and your skill set. Be thinking about how you can share those
examples in an interview. This approach works for all kinds of topics
too. Another typical interview question that a
business analyst might face is, “Tell me how you handle difficult stakeholders.”
or “What do you do if nobody shows up to your
meeting?” Again, you can give that theoretical hypothetical
answer like, “Oh, if I have a difficult stakeholder,
I’m going to try to build a relationship. I’m going to work with them 1:1.” That’s all good stuff, all things that you
want to be saying in a certain way, but what’s going to be more powerful is,
“There’s this project where I had this really challenging stakeholder and I didn’t
think I was going to be able to break through it. Here are some of the reasons that they were
challenging to work with. Here are some of the problems that caused
and the requirements process. Here’s what I did and here is what our end
result is.” Just that flavor of how that shifts the conversation
from what you hypothetically would do, to what you’ve actually done. As much as possible in a job interview, I
think, especially if you’re having issues getting to the second interview or getting
the job offer once you get a second interview, be thinking about how can you share those
experiences and how can you demonstrate that you have those skills that the employer is
looking for. This is going to make a difference in terms
of how they come away from the interview and their experience with you as a potential candidate. I knew there was one more important thing
I wanted to cover, and that is how to figure out what job interview questions they might
ask. You want to start with a job description. Most people do this, but there have been times
when I’ve heard people say, “Yeah, it was the job posting, but I just didn’t think
they’d ask about it.” No, if it’s in the job posting, make sure
you know all the terms in the job posting, what they mean, what the alternative variations
of those terms are. Do the research on the terminology so that
you can say, “Yes.” Adam Haesler has a great case study about
saying “Yes” in a job interview instead of, “No, I don’t know how to do that.” How can I say yes? And to what degree can I say yes? That starts with knowing the terminology so
when they ask you a question and use that term, you can say, “Yes.” For example: “Yes, I have done a wireframe. We actually call them prototypes, and here
is the kind of user interface model I created.” You want to say yes, and that requires knowing
the terminology. The second place, though, to get the terminology
is in the LinkedIn descriptions or the LinkedIn profiles of other business analysts, or whoever
has that job title that you’re interviewing for, inside their LinkedIn profiles, what
words do they use to talk about their responsibilities, and what they contribute to the organization? It’s another area to research. Not all the time do job postings have the
most current information. Sometimes they’re old. Sometimes they’re created by somebody that’s
not actually doing the hiring. There are a lot of reasons they can have outdated
information. LinkedIn would just be another resource. Not, necessarily, a more definitive resource,
because sometimes people don’t always update their profiles either, but another resource
to understand the terminology that is being used by the business analyst inside that organization. Just a quick insider tip for you. I do have an interview prep guide, completely
free. If you want to go through our process at Bridging
the Gap of how to prepare for a job interview, be sure to download the interview prep guide. It will walk you step-by-step through how
to put together your stories, how to think about the research that you do, what steps
you need to go through to walk into that interview with confidence and ability to handle the
unexpected. That’s the final piece I’ll tell you. No matter how much preparation you do, no
matter how well researched you are, you’re going to have unexpected things come up in
a business analyst job interview, and you’re going to have unexpected things come up in
a business analyst job role. Showing that you can handle that with grace
and ease and confidence is part of the battle of being successful in a business analyst
job interview. I hope these tips help you. Share your successes. Let us know how this goes. I hope your next business analyst job interview
goes absolutely awesome and that you get that position and it’s what you were hoping it
would be.