A business analyst is somebody who examines and analyzes the way a business or an organization is set up or should ideally be set up. A more formal definition —that of the British Computer Society (BCS), the Chartered Institute for IT is paraphrased here— would be “an internal consultant who investigates business systems, looks for ways to improve them and uses IT to bridge those needs.” The position can be divided into four tiers—strategical planning, business model analysis, process definition, product design and technical business analysis—each of which involves a different perspective on the business: Technical analysis, for instance, means interpreting the business requirements of a technical system.
The rest of this article will be about how to perform at a job interview for business analyst in such a way that will significantly increase your chances of hearing those words we all long to hear at the end of “The Apprentice”—“You’re hired.”
Like most job interviews, that for the business analyst will be divided into two or even three sessions. The first session will in many —if not most— cases be a phone screen, while in the two subsequent ones may be conducted in groups with others who are also being interviewed. Typically, it is the hiring manager who is responsible for conducting the interview, although other staff members—such as the peer business analyst, a stakeholder from the company’s technical team or even a recruiter from an external agency—may also want to meet with and learn about you.
The purpose of a job interview is to find out if you have the skills and knowledge necessary to perform the tasks that the job requires, and you should treat it as such. Therefore, you should do some homework beforehand to figure out what answers you will give to the interviewer’s questions. Find out what skills the position that you are seeking calls for, and figure out what education, training and work experience you have had that have resulted in you acquiring those skills.
Succeeding at a job interview does not just involve answering questions. Just as important will be your ability to think of questions to ask the interviewer—this will be a demonstration of your ability to assess what you already know and what you need help in. Remember that the only stupid questions are the ones you fail to ask.
It may not sound exactly pleasant to hear this, but the old saying is quite true: you only get one chance to make a good first impression! A bad first impression will decrease or even ruin your chances of getting the career that you have always wished for.
The most important aspect of your appearance—besides personal cleanliness and neatness—lies in the way in which you comport yourself in public; this is what conveys an idea of whether you are competent and sure of yourself or whether you are incompetent and “wishy washy.” So be sure to walk with your body held straight and your arms by your side, looking straight ahead and taking broad steps, not shuffling or stomping. Look at the interviewer while he is speaking so that he knows you are paying attention, and when you speak, enunciate clearly—no mumbling; this will only communicate that you never pay attention to what you are doing.