You probably already know that Business Analyst interview questions can be very tough.
Especially if you have little or no BA experience.
So how do you better prepare yourself as a BA job candidate?
Well today you’re in for a treat because I’ve put together a very comprehensive list of the Top 53 Business Analyst interview questions.
Some are questions you MUST know how to answer.
Some are “bonus point” questions if you answer them correctly.
Either way, knowing this list of questions gives you a huge edge over other candidates.
1. Why are you looking out?
Here’s one of most important questions you WILL be asked: What is your motivation for switching jobs?
The interviewer wants to know if you are applying for the job for the right reasons.
Whether you’re switching for better money, interest or other reasons, the interviewer wants to know.
So always think through and list down the reasons why you are applying to the BA job.
Here’s a good reason I’d use: “I’ve been in an operational role in IT or Finance for a number of years. I’d like to become a BA so I can work more with business users, pick up domain knowledge and implement strategic projects.”
A “wrong” reason would be “I don’t like my current company, I hate my boss and my pay is way too low”.
2. Why do you want to be a BA?
In a way, this is similar to the first question.
However, notice that here, you’re asked you want to be a Business Analyst.
So I’d suggest you be more specific about the BA role and why you think you’re a fit.
A good answer here would be: “I’ve been involved in a number of projects as an end user in my current company. I’ve seen how the Business Analysts in my Transformation Office work – they plan and deliver strategic projects and are extremely structured and analytical in their approach.
I’m also highly analytical by nature, like to solve business problems and also understand the Finance domain. I believe that this combination of skills would allow me to perform well as a Business Analyst.
3. Why not join Company X?
This is a great question designed to check your “sincerity” in joining the potential employer.
For example, in my consulting firm, I have many candidates who mention they want to join us as Business Analysts, specializing in Business and IT strategy.
I always follow up with a question like: “Have you applied or considered Competitor A”? (Competitor A happens to be our competitor and they are rated much better than us in the market for Business and IT strategy).
It’s a bit like asking, why are you joining the No. 3 or 4 in the market instead of No. 1 or 2?
Your answer should be something along the lines of why you think your target company is special or more suitable for you.
For example, say something like: “I did consider Competitor A but I know the culture in your firm is more suitable for me”.
Alternatively, give an answer like: “The kind of BA work I want to do is in banking and insurance, which your company has a special focus on, something your competitors don’t have”.
4. Talk me through your resume.
You know, I’ve seen some good (and some really bad resumes) over the years.
If you’re applying for a Business Analyst role, it helps to structure your BA resume in a way that brings out your best, most relevant expertise up front.
Here are some tips on writing your Business Analyst resume:
Once you’ve structured your resume, make sure you rehearse how you want to talk through it.
I usually make three observations about candidates when they talk through their resumes:
Candidate talks too much. Many candidates I see go on and on about their resume, until the interviewer loses track of what is being said (and usually switches off after that).
Candidate talks too little. If you sound hesitant or unsure about your experience, then that’s also not a good thing. Talking too little about your resume tells the interviewer that you basically “can’t be bothered” about the Business Analyst job.
The correct way. The correct (and best) way to talk through your resume is to run through a summary of your experience and highlight some key experiences.
You don’t run through every single line in your resume.
For example, I’d say:
“I started my career in Company ABC as a System Engineer. After 2 years there I felt I wanted to work in IT, and specifically with business users, so I could pick up industry domain knowledge.
I switched to work for IT consulting firm DEF, and spent seven years there. Thereafter, I joined a bank to further build up my banking domain knowledge. After three years there, I joined a management consulting firm and started to leverage my banking and consulting skills“.
5. Looking at your resume, why did you leave Company X?
The interviewer may ask you about why you left a company in your resume.
If your tenure in that company was short, don’t try to make up excuses for it.
Tell it like it is.
For example, for myself I spent only 8 months in Bank X. In this case, my answer would something like:
“I stayed in Bank X for about 8 months due to a mismatch in job expectations. During the interviews I’d believed my role was that of a Functional Lead, interacting with business users to implement the Core Banking solution.
Instead, it turned out that my role was to perform Quality Assurance for the Business Analyst Team.”
6. What do you want to do in three to five years?
A standard interview question you must always be prepared for.
Try to give a special answer, instead of a stock one.
A stock answer might be: “I want to make Manager in three years and make Senior Manager by within another two years”.
That’s a “bleh” answer.
Instead, say something like: “I think in two to three years, I want to have significantly built up my Business Analyst skills, and become primarily known for Wealth Management domain expertise“.
I’m also interested in Data Analytics so I want to become an expert there as a secondary skill.
Profession-wise, I see myself moving on to a Project Manager or Director role, overseeing programs of projects.
That’s far more detailed answer and also gives the interviewer a feel of where your aspirations and interests lie.
7. What is your current drawn salary?
This is a standard interview question. You should ALWAYS be prepared to quote your current drawn salary.
But here’s what I observe:
Many candidates are thinking of a significant pay hike when they come for any interview.
If the interview is the first or second interview, the candidate is usually not prepared to talk about salary.
However, you should not assume this is the case. Many interviewers MAY ask about your current drawn and expected salary in the first or second interview.
Especially if they’re in a hurry to hire.
What you need to do is to be prepared with the following information:
- Current monthly salary
- Current annual salary, including variable and performance bonuses
- Other allowances you get, including health benefits, etc.
These things should be at your fingertips.
Many candidates I see only mention their monthly salary and ignore things like benefits, allowances or bonuses.
These can be significant so make sure you take them into account.
And remember, don’t ever lie about your monthly pay (your potential employer will do a background check and ask for your monthly pay slips).
And if you’re asked about your bonuses, give an accurate range. Don’t quote something like 5 to 6 months when your bonus is more like 2 to 3 months. Again, your potential employer WILL do a background check.
8. What is your expected pay?
This is sort of similar to the previous question.
What you need to consider here is the salary you’d be comfortable with to jump to the new firm.
And here’s a bit of advice for you:
Whilst money is important, don’t put it as the ONLY factor you consider.
Have a figure in mind that compensates you well. But you should not go overboard.
Try to do some market research and ask your friends what the going market rate is.
This is really important.
Many candidates I see walk into a Business Analyst interview and ask for 40% to 60% pay hikes.
Now, this would NOT be the first thing I speak to the interviewer about.
The interviewer needs to first understand your skill set and IF you’re invaluable to them, they should give you a proper pay package.
Waltzing into a job and expecting a large pay hike is equivalent to saying something like:
“Hey, look at me – I’m the best thing that ever happened to you. So pay me. And pay me WELL”.
Would YOU hire someone like that?
9. What is your notice period and when can you start?
You’d be surprised how many candidates (especially the junior ones) mess up this question.
Many would-be Business Analysts, eager for the job, promise a start date that they can’t achieve.
So here’s the important thing:
If you have a one month notice period, say you have a one month notice period.
If you have a two month notice period, say you have a two month notice period.
Don’t try to lie or promise earlier dates when you sense the interviewer needs you to start earlier.
You never know when your current employer will let you go, even if you have tons of annual leave to clear.
So be clear about your notice period and don’t over promise your future employer.
10. Can you travel?
The ability to travel is often a pre-requisite for being a Business Analyst.
I’m not saying all Business Analysts need to travel.
But here’s the thing:
If you’re in a large-scale bank Business and IT transformation, you can be sure the change happens in multiple geographies, within very tight timelines.
At some point, you WILL need to travel to implement business and IT changes in different countries.
For young folks, this is usually not a problem. Most of my younger colleagues would jump at ANY chance to travel.
Asians, for example, love to go to the US or Europe, and many US or European employees like to visit “exotic Asia”.
If you’re married and especially if you have kids, then travel could be a problem.
In any case, always be prepared to answer how much travel you can take. Is it 30%, 50% or 75% of the time?
And remember that if your expectation is 0% travel, then perhaps a Business Analyst role is not really for you.
A BA, by definition, has a global mindset and rolls out projects on a regional and global basis.
11. Do you have issues traveling to Location X on a daily basis?
Another travel related question.
Now, I know many younger job candidates would LOVE to travel regularly to e.g. New York, San Francisco, London, Stockholm, Milan, Frankfurt and so forth.
However, note that the question includes “on a daily basis”.
The way I think about this is more like “Are you comfortable making short haul trips between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur on an almost daily basis”.
If you’ve flown from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur on a weekly basis (especially if you’re on a budget airline like Air Asia) – you will know just HOW PUNISHING it is.
A 45 minute flight on a budget airline on a daily basis.
That sure doesn’t sound like an 8 hour flight from Singapore to London on a fortnightly basis.
So before you say “Sure, no problem” – clarify what country starting from and which country you’re going to.
12. Tell me about the kind of work you love, that will keep you looking forward to going to work each day.
Here, it’s important to relay to the interviewer what kind of work you are passionate about.
Now, I’d be careful about being brutally honest here.
Here’s the thing:
All of us may have a HUGE passion outside of work, e.g. working with children, painting or helping out in some social or community cause.
However, this is a JOB interview, so don’t go off track.
What I can say is – try to emphasize the kind of work you love that is RELEVANT to the job you’re after.
- You like to work with people and you’ve done this outside in the community as well. So it is relevant to the BA job here because you will work with business users on a project.
- You like to do analytical work and it relevant to the BA job here you will be expected to develop business cases and specify system requirements.
13. I assume you’ve read up about our company. Tell me about our company’s mission and strategic direction.
I always tell my juniors to read up on the target company they’re applying to before the interview.
You’d be surprised how many candidates DO NOT read up on the company beforehand.
They just waltz into the Business Analyst interview and hope to “wing it”.
“Winging it” does not work!
The interviewer will know.
Do yourself a big favor before you attend that BA interview.
Go to your potential employer’s website and just run through their mission, their About Page and also the products and services they provide.
Do not go into a Banking Business Analyst interview and answer something like “Oh, your bank is looking to become a digital bank in three to five years.”
If you’ve read up on the bank, your answer has to be way more specific. Something like “The bank is looking to become a digital bank in three to five years.
One of the interesting concepts I read on the bank’s website was its desire to make “banking invisible”. I like the bank’s vision that banking is usually not at the forefront of people’s lives.
The more “invisible” banking is, the more successful it is”.
I think this concept has the power to really galvanize and bring an entire digital strategy together for the bank.”
MUCH more effective and it really shows you’ve made the extra effort to understand your target employer’s mission and strategy.
14. Tell me about our competitors.
A question about a firm’s competitors is designed to understand how much you’ve learnt about the industry you’re getting into.
As an example, if you’re applying for a Business Analyst role in a bank, you should be prepared to understand what other banks are doing with regards to banking products and services
Provide some special information about other banks that the interviewer may not know about (without disclosing confidential information, of course).
You could say something like:
“I read that Bank X is in fact also embarking on a digital transformation of its Relationship Manager sales dashboards, as well as a core banking system replacement.
Bank Y, on the other hand, is focusing quite a bit on middle-office compliance system enhancements, e.g. revamping and renewing its Know-Your-Customer (KYC) and account opening process & support systems.”
15. Why should I hire you?
Another loaded question and one that you should be prepared for.
To be fair, if the interviewer asks such a question, he or she is actually being a bit nasty.
It’s a bit of an arrogant question.
However, you should learn to expect it and have the answers ready.
To respond to this, I’d typically say something pretty specific and say it confidently, e.g.
“Well, I think I should be hired for three reasons.
First, I have knowledge of the banking industry, particularly in the loans and credit card domains, which will be very relevant when working with your stakeholders in Project X.
Second, I have worked with Software Package ABC before, which is an important component of this implementation. I can contribute by sharing my knowledge of specific modules XYZ which I’ve worked on before.
Third, I’ve a number of transferable skills that can be utilized effectively in Project X. For example, in my past role as a Credit Card Operations Officer, I was involved in several rounds of User Acceptance Testing (UAT). I hence have good knowledge of test scenarios and how these are done in a typical system implementation project. I believe these skills will help me as a Business Analyst in your organization.”
Incidentally, in the second point above, I mean software packages like Temenos, Avaloq – where you might know e.g. the Reconciliation module or Fees & Billing module.
I DO NOT mean generic software skills like Microsoft Word or Excel. Please DO NOT mention those as a differentiating factor and a reason for the interviewer to hire you.
Another tip is NOT to mention things like: “Oh, I know this and that person in your company and I work well with him or her”.
Why? Simple – you NEVER know how well the interviewer or hiring manager gets on with “that person you know”.
So, this is a very dangerous interview question response – please keep that in mind.
16. Do you have any questions?
When the interviewer asks you if you have any questions, ALWAYS say yes.
And ask some intelligent questions.
The reason is that you NEED to demonstrate you have interest in joining the company (even if you’re not fully sure yet).
And one of the best ways an interviewer can gauge your interest is to see what kind of questions you ask.
Some bad (actually VERY BAD) questions to ask:
- If I don’t like the project I’m placed on, do I have an option to switch?
- How much is the typical bonus payout, do you have an indication of the number of months?
- If I need to travel long haul for a project, will I fly Economy or Business Class?
If you notice, any question that is more directly for your own self-interest (salary package, benefits and perks) – SHOULD NOT be asked during earlier interview rounds.
You only discuss these when you’re almost closing the deal with the employer.
Some great questions to ask:
- What are the top growth areas for the company in three to five years?
- What kind of training can I get to upgrade myself so I can do my work better?
- How are performance appraisals done in the company?
Business Analyst Skills
17. What BA skills and experience do you have?
This is an important question to get right.
Many employers will ask if a potential hire has Business Analyst skills.
Here’s where you need to know what the critical skills a BA needs to have.
In my opinion, there are two possibilities here:
- You have prior experience as a BA. In this case – great! Highlight your project experiences, your analytical capabilities and also some of the differentiators you have. For example, you may be skilled in a particular software solution that your target firm uses.
- You don’t have experience as a BA. In my opinion, you should say “I’ve no experience as a Business Analyst but I’m willing to learn”. What you should do is to highlight transferable skills.
For example, if you’ve supported a marketing campaign and worked with a large variety of business stakeholders, you should highlight that you have stakeholder management skills.
Another example would be User Acceptance Test (UAT) you’ve been involved in – perhaps an operational user, but not a BA. You can highlight it as it demonstrates you have been part of projects before and understand how they work to some extent.
18. What industry skills do you have?
Here, the employer is checking if you have domain knowledge – specifically around the industry you’re joining.
As I mentioned before, domain knowledge is an important skill set of Business Analysts.
As an example, if you’re applying for a Banking BA role, your potential employer would probably like you to have some requisite banking domain knowledge.
I’d definitely suggest that before the interview, you get an overview of how the banking industry works. There are a number of good resources out there you can check out, from short banking courses, through to more full-fledged certifications.
19. What solution skills do you have?
The market place will pay for Business Analysts with “solution skills”. When I say solution skills, I mean that you have some specialty skill or capability that sets you apart from a “generic Business Analyst”.
For example, you may be skilled in or have worked with:
- A core banking software package like Temenos
- A HR or financial management software package like SAP
- A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software like Microsoft Dynamics CRM
- Business strategy and Target Operating Models
- Digital innovation and agile project implementation
In my experience, highlighting your skill sets in popular domains like the above (no matter how small your involvement was) – will give you bonus marks in the interview process.
This is especially the case if your potential employer is looking to implement one of these solution areas.
20. What are you known for in your present company?
I often ask this questions to candidates whom I interview.
The fact is, every individual has some skill set he or she is known for.
If one has been in a company for a number of years, there are some areas where one may be the “Go To” person.
For example, in my consulting firm, I’m known to be the “Target Operating Model” guy. I’m also known for my banking and insurance front-to-back knowledge.
This kind of situation only arises after you’ve been in a firm for a number of years and have consistently delivered significant amounts of work in one or two domain areas.
Try to highlight these domain areas which you specialize in to the interviewer.
It strongly demonstrates what you’re known for and the specific skill sets that your new employer can and should tap on so you’re doing your best work.
21. Have you been a Project Manager before?
You may wonder why this question gets asked in a Business Analyst interview.
Well, I’m not surprised.
Here’s the thing:
A Business Analyst does play some Project Management roles from time to time.
For example, here are a few scenarios where I’d think a BA needs to have PM skills:
- Building a business case for the project and getting it approved
- Controlling and managing business stakeholders who are giving requirements
- Scheduling a mini work plan for gathering and signing off system requirements
- Controlling scope creep by identifying and raising change requests from business users
- Presenting a list of business benefits delivered by the project to senior management.
What would I answer in such a situation?
Assuming you’ve not been a Project Manager before, but want the BA job, I’d say something like: “Although I’ve not officially been a Project Manager before, but I’ve applied PM skills during Project ABC, where I was a junior BA.
For example, I helped to develop a work plan for the requirements work stream and also helped monitor change requests coming in from business users. I was also the focal point to business stakeholders for requirement clarifications and sign offs“.
22. What PM or BA certifications do you have?
Those of you seeing this question may wonder – gosh, do I need a PM or BA certification in order to clinch a BA role in the market?
Well, here’s what I think:
The most important thing an interviewer looks for is your Business Analyst experience.
PM and BA certifications, whilst definitely useful, are not the be all and end all.
However, I will say this:
If you have little or no BA experience, THEN a BA certification is a good way to demonstrate your interest in the profession.
It signals to a potential employer that you’re willing to go out of your way to learn formal Business Analyst skills.
That would definitely give you an edge over a similar candidate who does not have such certifications.
23. What is your opinion of SDLC vs. agile delivery?
The Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) is a traditional method of delivering a software application (in the IT industry, this method is called “waterfall” delivery).
This is in contrast to “agile delivery”, where shorter bursts of business benefit delivery are scheduled and executed.
If you’re applying for a BA role for delivering a software application and the interviewer asks this type of question – he or she is trying to access how experienced you are in the two main project delivery methodologies out there.
If you say something silly, e.g. “What is SDLC?”, or “What do you mean by agile?” – you can be assured you’ll not be getting another call from the interviewer.
Make sure that you understand, at least at a high level, the differences between SDLC and agile.
SDLC methods of project delivery focus on large-scale releases of a software for business benefit. However, there is a lot of planning, sign-offs and documentation to do, and a lot of project risk is kept till the tail end of the delivery.
Agile methods of project delivery are newer (but not that new) and focus on small, incremental releases of a software for business benefit.
The approach is centered around “sprints”, which are small bursts of development and user validation effort. This method is more experimental and ensures risks are tested and checked upfront, rather than wait till the tail end of the project schedule.
24. What are some of the common strategic business frameworks you use regularly? E.g. The BCG matrix, the 80-20 rule?
This is a good challenge question from the interviewer, who wants to know if you understand some of the most common frameworks a Business Analyst might use.
You should be prepared to answer with a couple of common frameworks, e.g.
- The McKinsey 7S Framework
- The BCG Matrix
- The 80-20 Rule
- Blue Ocean Strategy
- Business Model Canvas
If you’re not sure of what frameworks are out there, do a search on Google or check out this great resource from Harvard.
Whilst you won’t need to know all the strategic business frameworks out there, you should know the key ones that consultants or Business Analysts commonly use.
25. Are you trained in Lean and Six Sigma?
Lean and Six Sigma are important skills for Business Analysts who need to improve supply chain operations and throughout in a company.
Some definitions here:
According to Six Sigma Daily, Six Sigma refers to the set of management techniques that improve business processes by removing the causes of errors that lead to defects in a product or service.
There’s a good Six Sigma introductory tutorial here.
According to the LEAN Enterprise Institute,
Lean refers to the set of techniques that create more value for customers with fewer resources. A lean organization understands customer value and focuses its key processes to continuously increase it.
If you’re applying for a BA role to improve business processes and throughput, you’d do well to learn more about Lean and Six Sigma.
I’d even recommend getting certified in these skill sets – they can be very useful to a BA.
26. How do you go about performing Change Management for a Core Banking delivery program?
If you’re a Business Analyst interviewing for a Change Management role in a Core Banking project, this is an important question to get right.
I’d suggest you read up on Change Management and what it entails.
Typically, the flow of a change management methodology goes like this:
- Identify stakeholders of the core banking project.
- Align expectations with these stakeholders.
- Set up communication protocols to broadcast project progress
- Get feedback from stakeholders
- Develop training materials on the new core banking system
- Deliver training on the new system to work teams
And here’s the thing:
In corporate life, we have frameworks for almost everything.
If you want to learn more about change management frameworks, here’s a good resource to check out.
27. How would you go about performing a system vendor evaluation?
If you’re applying for a Business Analyst role in e.g. a system implementation project, one of the things you may be involved in is a system vendor evaluation.
- Core banking system evaluations, from the likes of Temenos, Avaloq, Olympic, SilverLake.
- Treasury system evaluations, e.g. Murex, Summit, Charles River, SimCorp
Now, the interviewer wants to know how you would go about a system vendor evaluation, so you do need to go into some detail, e.g.
- Research and compile a long list of suitable system vendors
- Define high-level evaluation to reduce long list to a short list of three to five vendors
- Define detailed criteria for evaluating the short list of vendors
- Develop a Request for Proposal (RFP) to send to the shortlisted vendors
- Invite vendors for a demonstration and also submit responses to the RFP
- Evaluate vendors based on detailed evaluation criteria
- Select and award the chosen vendor
28. Tell me about use case methodology. What are the pros and cons?
The use case methodology is a traditional and waterfall approach to implementing systems.
The interviewer may want to understand how you, as a Business Analyst, go about gathering system requirements. Some of the high level steps may include:
- Prepare use cases that illustrate how a user interacts with a system, e.g. “View Shopping Cart”, “Place Order”, “Make Payment”.
- Document use cases based on main flows, alternative flows and error flows. This illustrates the complete view of how a user may interact with the system.
- Attach any supporting documents, e.g. screenshots, user interface screens, reports or correspondence that support the use cases.
For a Business Analyst, the good thing about use cases is that they help to give a good view of user touch points with a system. Use cases are also usually pictorially shown and are easy for business users to understand.
The down side of use cases is the amount of time they take to write. Remember, a Business Analyst has to write very detailed use case pre-conditions, flows and also support the document with specifications like screens, reports and business rules.
If a project is under time constraints, it will be very hard to get all the documentation in order on time.
29. Tell me about agile project delivery methodologies.
Many companies now deliver system projects using agile methodologies.
The interviewer probably wants to understand whether you have agile project delivery capabilities.
If I were asked this question, I’d probably answer something like:
Agile project delivery methodologies allow firms to incrementally deliver business benefits, whilst increasing transparency on statuses and progress.
Take Scrum as a good reference agile methodology.
In Scrum, you identify a Product Owner, Scrum Master and Delivery Team.
The Product Owner owns the Project Schedule, Cost, Quality and Scope. He or she is required to track these and make trade-offs where needed to deliver what the business wants.
He or she is also in charge of the Product Backlog, which is a list of deliverables sorted by business value.
The Scrum Master facilitates “scrums” with the Development Team. Scrums are, in a way, the basic building blocks of work in agile and serve to deliver items in the Product Backlog.
The Development Team manages the individual tasks to deliver the Product Backlog items and is “self-organizing” – meaning the Scrum Master and Product Owner do not need to micromanage the Development Team.
30. If I’ve a deliverable that takes one person 20 work days to complete, how can I make the deliverable ready within 5 days instead?
Here the interviewer wants to test if you understand basic project effort estimation.
So in this example, we have:
One person takes 20 work days of effort to complete Deliverable X.
To make Deliverable X ready in 5 days, we either:
- Have 2 persons work 10 days each
- Have 4 persons work 5 days each
- Have 10 persons work 2 days each
- And so forth
From another perspective:
You can also talk about reducing the SCOPE of Deliverable X so that the work effort becomes 5 days instead of 20 days.
That will probably impress the interviewer because you demonstrate that you understand project scope management as well, i.e. there’s more than one way to skin a cat.
31. Tell me how you’d plan requirements for a new client-facing, Investment or trading app in a bank.
As a Business Analyst, one of the important things you need to know is how to gather system requirements.
And I’ll let you in on a secret too:
With the fast-paced, technology driven world we live in, corporations are looking for Business Analysts who can gather requirements FAST.
That means that you should obtain new age requirements gathering skills aligned to agile methods of project delivery.
Here, the interviewer is asking how you’d plan requirements for a new client-facing, investment or trading app in a bank.
Of course, we’d need to assume here that the job interview is for a Banking BA position.
Now, I’d be inclined to give the interviewer an answer like:
“Given that most firms these days use more agile methods for project delivery, I’d be inclined to gathering the app’s requirements using agile methodologies:
- Identify the product (i.e. the app) stakeholders and users. If we use Scrum, the most popular agile management process, then we need the Product Owner, Scrum Master and Development Team roles as a minimum.
- Identify the high-level scope of the app through an initial requirements envisioning workshop. Here I’d make sure there is a domain expert who can give input on the investment and trading app (usually the Product Owner or a team of business users).
- Usually, the requirements envisioning workshop would include some high-level, essential features, user stories or use cases of the app, e.g. Login To App, View Account Balance.
- Create the Product and Sprint Backlogs with the Product Owner and Scrum Master.
- Plan the app development agile sprints
- Within each sprint, there will be feedback on the app’s requirements which need to be fed back into the Product Backlog and planned into the next sprint.”
I can go on into a lot of detail about how to plan and get requirements for the app.
But the essential thing is to communicate to the interviewer that you understand industrial-grade requirements gathering processes. If you can communicate that you understand agile and Scrum, that will suffice.
Of course, it’s even better that you know both traditional waterfall and Scrum techniques.
32. Have you used ARIS before? Describe to me some examples of Level 1, 2 and 3 business processes.
A tricky question for Business Analysts who need to do business process modeling in their target company.
If you don’t know ARIS, you will be in trouble because this is an extremely popular Business Process Management Tool(BPM) from a company called Software AG.
Here’s an important tip:
If you’re intending to specializing in Business Process Re-Engineering or Business Process Management as a solution, then you’d do well to certify yourself in the ARIS BPM tool.
33. Tell me about the typical test management process, in terms of test execution and defect management.
Assuming you’re interviewing for a System Business Analyst position, you will probably be involved in the testing phase of the project.
Let’s be clear on some terms:
A typical “test management” process is used in waterfall, Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) methodologies to validate the quality of an application.
“Defect management” refers to the management of quality issues and fixes that arise during the testing process.
For test management, here are the steps I’d take to execute testing:
- Identify testing stakeholders
- Develop test strategy and test management plan
- Plan out test scenarios
- Write test scripts for each test scenario, i.e. test steps and expected results
- Get sign-offs on test strategy, plan, scenarios and scripts with business users.
- Draw up test execution plans and procedures for reporting testing progress.
For defect management, here are the steps I’d take:
- Each time a new defect is raised, assign it a Defect Status (e.g. “New”) and Defect Severity (Critical, High, Medium or Low, or Unknown)
- Assign the defect to a programmer to analyze. Defect Status goes to “Under Analysis”.
- If the defect needs fixing, assign the defect to the programmer who will fix it and Defect Status goes to “Under Fix”.
- Once the fix is done, tag the Defect Status to “Ready for Re-Test”.
- Once the defect is re-tested and passed, then we set the Defect Status to “Closed”.
- Draw up procedures for reporting defect statuses and closure rates to management.
- Again, we can go on to a lot of detail about test and defect management, which I won’t do here.
But suffice for you to know that you MUST be prepared to share some thoughts on how you’d manage software testing if you’re interviewing for a System BA position.
34. You don’t seem to have much Business Analyst experience. Would you be able to play the role we’re hiring for?
This type of question is always an issue for candidates who lack Business Analyst experience.
Let’s look at some scenarios:
You’re in IT and have been programming or doing system architecture work for many years, but you want to switch into a BA role
You’re in Finance and you close the books at the end of every month dutifully, but always wondered what it’s like to be that BA helping to strategize and implement a new SAP system.
You’re an IT Architect working for multiple industries but you see your friends entering the banking industry as Business Analysts – with interesting job roles, closer to the business and at a significant pay hike. So you wonder about moving into a similar role.
Try to answer from a transferable skill set point of view.
Whether you’re in IT, Finance or an IT Architect, there would be skills like team leadership or stakeholder management that will apply equally well when you’re a BA.
Be sure to bring those points out to the interviewer.
35. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your spare time?
As an interviewer, I think this is a GREAT question.
It’s applicable not just for Business Analyst interviews, but for any interview in general.
What’s this question trying to figure out?
It’s real simple:
The interviewer wants to know if you have a LIFE outside of work.
Case Study. In my company, when I interview candidates, especially those fresh out of school – I really want to know if they have some interesting hobbies or extra-curricular activities.
A candidate who “likes to read and play tennis” will send “bleh” signals to me.
On the other hand, I once had a Business Analyst candidate who ran an online art gallery as a hobby, and she had also volunteered in disaster relief programs in China and Cambodia.
That’s MUCH more interesting.
AND also very relevant to a Business Analyst.
A Business Analyst needs to present and manage stakeholders. A person who does the above interesting hobbies gives me confidence that he or she will be able to handle stakeholders with gusto.
So get some interesting hobbies (don’t just read, jog, cycle or play tennis!)
Business Analyst Work Scenarios
36. If you’re the Business Lead in a Core Banking Project, what are the first three things you do when starting your role?
This is not a difficult question, but it’s important as it shows the interviewer you have a structured approach to starting a piece of business analysis work.
Of course, this question assumes you’re applying for a Banking Business Analyst role, but the thought process is essentially the same if you were applying for an Insurance BA or a Telecommunications BA role.
In my opinion, a good sample answer would be: “As a Business Lead in a Core Banking Project, there are three critical things I execute when starting my role.
First, I try to understand who my stakeholders are, align their expectations and gain buy-in. Who are the potential users of the Core Banking platform? Who holds the influence and are they bought into the project? If not, how do we win them over?
Second, I will try to ask if a business case and Project Charter for the project exists. These documents lay out the vision and mission for the Core Banking project. If the delivery is not aligned to these, there will be major problems downstream.
Finally, I will check, on a high level, the actual Core Banking platform being used, and particularly what has been customized for the company.
A highly customized Core Banking platform may mean some of the stock standard features of the software are not utilized properly and may lead to longer delivery time frames.
37. What BA methodologies do you know?
For a Business Analyst, this is actually a very generic question.
Some of the methodologies a BA may use include:
- Stakeholder analysis
- Business strategy – BCG matrix, Porter’s Five Forces, Blue Ocean Strategy, etc.
- Business case development
- Target Operating Model design
- Business process analysis – LEAN and Six Sigma and process workflow documentation
- Use case methodology – object oriented analysis & design and use case documentation
- Unified Modeling Language (UML) documentation techniques
- Database and Entity Relationship Modeling (ERM) techniques
- Agile project delivery and Scrum techniques
- Change control management
- Test and defect management methodologies
The point is, there is a huge library of BA methodologies out there. The important thing is to highlight what is relevant to your potential employer.
If you know they are implementing a large-scale SAP solution and need you as a BA to gather system requirements, you should talk about things like business process analysis, use case methodology and UML.
38. What are the top three critical success factors for X type of project?
If you get this question, the interviewer is interested if you’ve had specific experience in X type of project.
What do we mean by X?
Well, X could be mean any project delivery:
- Target Operating Model Definition
- IT Cost Optimization & Analysis
- Customer Relationship Management Software Implementation
- Core Banking System Implementation
- Financial Accounting Software Implementation
If you’re interviewing for a BA position in a Target Operating Model project, for example, be sure you come prepared with some answers, e.g.
Target Operating Model projects typically have three critical success factors:
- “Tone From The Top” – top management has to set the tone and support firm-wide transformation in business processes and systems.
- “Cultural & Mindset Shift” – the entire organization needs a cultural and mindset shift – away from old ways of working to new, innovation and more agile methods of work.
- “Change Management” – the ground level staff need to be led through the change program. Regular roadshows and presentations about why a transformation program is taking place needs to happen at all levels of the firm.
Business Analyst Challenges
39. What has been your most challenging project to date? How did you overcome those challenges? Explain in detail.
If you’re asked about your most challenging project to date, you can bet the interviewer is trying to do a behavioral assessment.
He or she wants to understand how you think – step by step – and conceive a solution to those challenges.
I’ve seen this kind of interview done at the top consulting firms so that the employer understands how you react to challenges and stress.
Here’s how I’d respond to this kind of question:
I’d say something like: “My most challenging project was on a Sales Management platform roll-out for a leading bank, in which I played the role of Business Analyst.
Our Project Sponsor was the CIO, but the business users (Relationship Managers and sales staff) did not see value in the system. Basically, the project had kicked off long ago without any business buy-in.
As a BA trying to gather system requirements to be signed off, I faced tons of issues. Users did not turn up for my workshops, and when the time came for them to review and sign off documentation, they’d kick up a fuss and say that this or that was missed out.
So here’s what I did:
I escalated this to my Senior Project Manager and together we went to see the Project Sponsor. The Project Sponsor was close to the CEO and we went through that channel. The CEO was initially not happy the project was in such a state. However, we managed to get the CEO to understand the project had not got buy-in from the start and to continue in the current project state would be a total waste of resources.
Eventually, the CEO spoke to the CIO and Head of Sales and Marketing (boss of the Relationship Managers and sales staff) together. It was then that we managed to get the Head of Sales and Marketing and the sales teams to truly collaborate and sit down and do a re-baseline of what they truly wanted from the system.
Things picked up from there. Users started getting more involved and the project eventually went live“.
40. Why do you think projects fail?
If the interviewer asks this question, he or she wants to know if you’ve a good understanding of projects in general.
As we all know, projects NEVER move according to plan.
To answer this question effectively, you need to be prepared with a few bullet points about why projects fail.
Here are some reasons I’d use in replying to this question:
- Projects fail because of a lack of communication. This lack of communication can happen at many levels, but often is a misalignment of expectations. The Project Sponsors want the project to deliver ABC, but the project delivers ABD.
- Projects fail because there is no strong governance and methodology presiding over the project. For example, if there are risks and issues on the ground which can’t be resolved, is there an effective mechanism for these items to be raised to senior management for discussion and decision?
Now, the above questions and answers are equally relevant whether you’re a PM or a BA. So be sure you are able to ensure these in your BA interview.
41. Tell me about a project conflict you had to resolve.
Again, this is one of those “real life project situations” a Business Analyst may encounter.
To answer this question, you need to think about a past project or issue you faced that gave you a LOT of pain.
More often than not, issues in projects are due to people.
Here’s an example which would qualify as a good answer to this question:
“Five years ago, I was a junior Business Analyst trying to in charge of gathering and documenting requirements for a new bank loan origination system.
One of my business users was a super sharp lady who could cut right through to the essence of an issue.
For example, she wanted to know if the system could allow users to flexibly configure loan interest rates.
So as a BA, I had to go to the loan origination system vendor and ask this question.
It turns out the system could NOT allow flexible configuration.
I went back to the business user with this reply.
She shouted back incredulously “No way! Their sales folks said the system could do that and more!”
It got to a point where she confronted the software vendor consultant and had some REALLY heated exchanges.
Eventually, we had to surface the issue to the Project Steering Committee to flag out that in reality, loan interest rates had been hardcoded into the software.
Senior management decided that the project would accept the hardcoded loan interest rates.
However, they wanted a commercial discussion with the software vendor to understand why the flexible configuration was not possible (and whether the software sales guy had indeed overpromised).
That was a good outcome, in my opinion“.
42. Do you think technology and new ways of delivering value will render Business Analysts obsolete?
Here, we need to understand carefully what “technology and new ways of delivering value” means.
I’d take it that “technology” refers to tools or software that help project delivery become more efficient and less error prone. So the following examples come to mind:
- Atlassian JIRA
- SalesforceYou should probably read up on enterprise software applications to understand what tools are used in big corporations these days to deliver projects and manage business operations.
And here’s another thing:
You should also understand agile modes of delivery.
These days, no one goes around touting their waterfall and SDLC knowledge too much.
Most of the corporate world has gone agile to deliver incremental business benefits through sprints and scrum masters.
You should follow suit. Talk in an agile language and also specify agile tools like:
- Active Collab
- Agilo for Scrum
Finally, you should answer whether these new technologies and agile tools will render Business Analysts obsolete.
Here’s what I’d say:
“I think Business Analysts will always have a role to play as the bridge between Business and IT. In the traditional waterfall, SDLC world – BAs would develop business cases, document requirements, plan test scenarios and perform testing.
In an agile world, and with new technological tools, they would still do many of these tasks.
However, we should be clear that for agile project delivery methods like Scrum:
- The more business-oriented Business Analyst would play a role in supporting the Product Owner (e.g. cover the business case, Product Backlog).
- The more IT or system oriented Business Analysts may play a role in the Development Team doing testing (e.g. SIT and UAT as tasks needed to complete a Product Backlog item)“.
43. How do you get senior management buy-in for your project?
Senior management buy-in is one of THE MOST critical success factors for any project.
As a Business Analyst, the interviewer would expect you to understand this.
In addition, he or she would want to know HOW you gain that management buy-in.
If your project stakeholders have full support of senior management, all the way up to the CEO, then well and good – you’re all set to deliver the project.
But if senior management is not supportive, here is what I’d do:
- Identify the correct stakeholders. The first thing I’d do is to locate the highest level person who has an interest in the project. Usually, and particularly for large-scale business-led projects, this would be the CEO or COO.
The word “business-led” is key here. A common misconception I see amongst PMs and BAs is to see the CIO as the major stakeholder for a business-led project.
This is sometimes because some sexy software product has been pitched to the CIO and he wants to launch a big project around it. However, the true stakeholder is the “business”, usually the CEO or COO.
So get the correct stakeholders identified first.
- Demonstrate the business value. The MOST fundamental thing you have to do to gain senior management buy-in for your project is to demonstrate business value.
Take for example, a core private banking system delivery. What is the business value? It would include:
- Relationship Managers being able to see all client and contact information so they can increase conversations and make more sales
- Compliance officers seeing suspicious transactions placed by the front-office
- Automated nostro and vostro reconciliations in the back-office
If there is an existing business case document that lists these benefits, take them to the stakeholder you identified. Walk through it with him or her and help the person understand how the solution would benefit HIS or HER business.
If there is no existing business case document, then in my frank opinion, that’s a VERY BAD sign. You probably need to talk to your identified stakeholders about creating such a document so that business value is clear to all stakeholders right off the bat.
Nothing is worse than delivering a project that ultimately has no business value and no business users.
44. You have a very difficult stakeholder who keeps increasing a project’s scope. What would you do?
When the interviewer asks this interview question to a would-be Business Analyst, he or she is trying to assess if the candidate can react well to common BA situations.
A difficult stakeholder causing scope creep in a project is an extremely common occurrence in Business Analyst work.
There are many techniques you can apply to control scope creep.
In my opinion, a good answer would be something like: “I’d arrange a one-on-one meeting with the stakeholder to explain that:
As a project we would like to help make sure he or she (the stakeholder) gets the intended business benefits.
However, given that project has a fixed timeline, scope and cost, we need to determine the best way to get this done.
Perhaps there’s another requirement we can de-prioritize in order to squeeze this new requirement in? Or if the requirement cannot be done in Phase 1, we will do it in Phase 2.
And if the stakeholder still refuses to budge, I’ll tell him or her we will raise this together at the next Project Steering Meeting.
Senior management can then make a group decision on which path to take – include the requirement and delay the project timeline, or de-prioritize the requirement.
45. A user doesn’t want to sign off a deliverable. What do you do?
Here, the interviewer wants to know how you react to one of the most common challenges a Business Analyst will encounter – difficult users.
Imagine you’re a Business Analyst who has just documented a set of thick Business Requirement Documents (BRDs) for a new payment system.
You’ve gone through many workshops with the Head of Payments in the bank. Although he or she gave a full set of requirements in these meetings, after you documented them in a Business Requirement Document (BRD), he or she is still not happy and refuses to sign off.
This is actually a very typical project scenario.
You should be able to answer along the lines of: “I would find some time to sit alone with this user and understand his or her concerns on providing a sign-off.
Perhaps there is a major requirement he or she needs but it’s not there, or there is some organizational politics at play.
The key thing is to communicate and understand where this user is coming from. A refusal to sign off is usually a symptom of deeper underlying problems”.
46. What are the common problems you’d encounter in testing, e.g. during SIT and UAT?
Again, if you’re applying for a Business Analyst role in a large-scale system implementation project, you need to demonstrate you understand the traditional, waterfall-based Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC).
For this specific question, you need to demonstrate know-how of the System Integration Test (SIT) and User Acceptance Test (UAT).
These are testing phases which Business Analysts should know at the back of their hands.
Common problems I’d say you encounter in SIT:
- Lack of clear interface specifications, test scenarios and test scripts
- Lack of clear owner to sign off for SIT test scenarios, scripts and test completion (business users usually won’t sign off on SIT – a senior IT person should be empowered to sign off on SIT)
- Environments are not properly configured or set up prior to SIT, particularly periphery systems surrounding the system being tested.
Common problems in UAT:
- Lack of clear functional specifications, test scenarios and test scripts
- Lack of business user buy-in and sign off for UAT test scenarios, scripts and test completion
- Lack of strong test execution and defect management, resulting in:
- Unhappy users who keep complaining they are invited to validate UAT results but often results are not ready.
- Users may also complain about having no transparency on defects surfaced.
Business Analyst Industry Knowledge
47. What trends do you see in X industry in the next three to five years?
This is a very common question – used to gauge if you have broader viewpoints on your potential employer’s industry.
Failure to answer this usually means you don’t read widely or are too silo-ed in your approach to work.
So here’s the thing:
You need to really be clued in on the broader trends in the industry. I’d take this from two angles – the industry and solution.
Industry viewpoint. Try to find out where the industry is headed. For example, if we look at the banking industry:
- Industry viewpoint– five broad trends would be:
- More sophisticated customers or millennials who want to directly manage their own investments
- Increased usage and proliferation of digital banking, and reduction of physical bank branches
- Hybrid business models where banks combine a human touch through their Relationship Managers, together with automated investment advice through robo-advisors
- Solution viewpoint:
- Greater adoption of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Machine Learning solutions
- Increased usage of data analytics to drive insight in business operations
- More use cases of the block chain, e.g. banks may start performing Know-Your-Customer (KYC) and Trade Finance transactions on the block chain
48. What do you think keeps a CEO awake at night these days?
This is an industry trend and solution question disguised as a “CEO awake at night” question.
Don’t panic – most CEOs are actually kept awake by one broad question and it is:
How do I increase shareholder value?
Which usually translates to “How do I increase revenue and reduce costs, whilst operating within the confines of regulations?”
If you think about it, increasing revenue and reducing costs, plus being compliant with regulations are all about industry trends.
Essentially, what keeps a CEO “awake at night” would be the broad industry and solution trends that are occurring in the market.
Because these trends show what other players and competitors are doing to increase revenue and reduce costs.
So any CEO worth his or her salt would want to think about how to ride the same train and implement these solutions.
Keep that in mind as you try to answer this question in the Business Analyst interview.
49. What do you think of Current Affair ABC?
To me, as a consultant, I think that knowledge of current affairs is a HUGE differentiator for BA candidates (and for any other job role, really).
Let’s try to understand what I mean:
If I asked you:
- What do you think of the Brexit situation?
- How do you feel about gun laws in the US? Why can’t they be abolished?
- Do you think China can surpass the US as an economic superpower? Why?
- What do you think about Putin’s stance toward Ukraine?
- What do you think about the US policy towards North Korea?
Would you know the answers? Would you have an opinion?
I’d recommend that you have an opinion.
You may say: “Hey! I’m applying for a Business Analyst position. Not a journalist or position at the New York Times or The Economist“.
But here’s the thing:
Business Analysts need to have a global mindset and must be good conversationalists. Remember, a Business Analyst needs to work with MANY stakeholders. Many of these stakeholders could be from different countries and cultures.
Knowing current affairs ensures that you, as a BA, can handle conversations and importantly BUILD relationships with your stakeholders.
Remember, in the corporate world, a LOT of things get done through relationships – not through contracts or commercial arrangements.
So I’d suggest you catch you on reading good publications that give you current affairs analysis.
Some good ones which I read are:
- The New York Times
- The Wall Street Journal
- Bloomberg Business Week
- The Economist
- The Financial Times
- Fast Company
50. What books do you like to read?
Another tricky question that Business Analyst interviewers like to ask is the types of books you like to read.
Some good responses include:
- Good publications like The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, The Financial Times
- Non-Fiction books – but don’t quote the bestseller lists – go slightly more eclectic, e.g. Capital by Thomas Piketty, Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker. I like to read the books Bill Gates reads – check out his blog here.
- Fiction books – you can quote these, but again, go eclectic, e.g. the fiction bestsellers listed on The New York Times are a good bet.
Mention something like Fifty Shades of Grey or Shopaholic and Sister and you can bet your interview will end abruptly 😛
Business Analyst Case Interviews
51. A case interview. Card Co is facing declining profits for the past three quarters. What would you do to help analyze the problem for the CEO?
This is a typical consulting case interview question which many management consulting firms like the MBB (McKinsey & Company, Bain & Company and The Boston Consulting Group) will ask their candidates.
The interviewer wants to know if you understand the thought process behind analyzing a business problem.
There’s no one “correct” answer.
What you need to do think along these lines:
You try to solve the problem by looking at what “drives” profit – revenue and cost.
- So list out the revenue drivers, i.e.
- No. of customers
- Annual fee charged to customer
- Find the cost drivers, i.e.
- Fixed costs (e.g. salaries, insurance, interest expense, utility expenses)
- Variable costs (direct materials for credit card business, time-based staff wages, commissions, shipping costs)
From there, I’d ask which of these have been increasing or declining over the last three quarters.
Based on the answers given by the interviewer, one can make a “hypothesis” the profit decline it is due to which specific driver.
This is an example of a very simple case interview. You may wish to check out CaseInterview.com for more details on how to tackle case interviews.
52. How many meals does an airline serve each day?
Again, this is an interesting question which many management consulting firms will ask.
Again, there’s definitely no “correct” answer.
What you need to do is to show the interviewer your thought process, step by step:
First, I’d assume we’re looking at an international airline that flies through a particular long-haul route, say Singapore to London.
Now, say there is one daily flight on this airline from Singapore to London departing every day, plus one daily flight from London arriving into Singapore.
Each flight is 8 hours so we can assume they serve two meals (e.g. breakfast and lunch) on-board to each passenger.
Assume each plane has a capacity of 500 passengers.
So the number of meals served by this airline each day on the this flight route
= No. of passengers x No. of meals x 2 flights (departure and arrival)
= 500 x 2 x 2
= 2,000 meals
Now, assuming there is a business and first class suites on this airline, I’d also assume those classes of passengers get one more meal each.
Say there are 10% of passengers who are business or first class, so
10% of 500 passengers = 50 passengers would get another meal.
So the total number of meals served by this airline on this flight route is actually:
2,000 + 50 = 2,050 meals
Not the perfect answer, but it shows your thought process and how you logically structure your answers with reasonable assumptions.
53. How many widgets do you think Company X sells in this Market Y every month?
This is another favorite management consulting case interview question.
It checks if you understand how to estimate market demand for a product.
Now, there’s no “correct” answer, as always. Just put logical assumptions and compute the answer.
Here is the thought process I’d go through to answer this question:
- Assume we Market Y is e.g. the USA.
- Assume the population of the USA is about 300 million.
- Assume Widget X is popular among the 30 to 45 age group, which say forms a third of the population.
- Further assume that of the 30 to 45 age group, only the high-earning segment would tend to buy Widget X. This could be about the top 10% of income earners in that age group.
- Out of this segment of buyers, 5% buy Widget X every month.
- Also assume that for each person who buys Widget X, they may buy an additional Widget for one of their family members. Let’s say 25% of buyers may buy an extra unit for this purpose each month.
- Finally, based on the above assumptions, we can calculate the final number of widgets Company X sells in Market Y every month.
Number of widgets Company X sells in Market Y every month
= Population of USA x (% who buy Widget X every month) + (% who buy an extra widget for a family member each month)
= Population of USA x (% of population between 30 to 45) x (% top income earners) x (% who buy Widget X every month) + (% who buy an extra widget for a family member each month)
= 300m x 33% x 10% x 5% + (25% of buyers of Widget X each month)
= 500,000 + (25% of 500,000)
We can make the case more complicated by saying, e.g. every two months the company runs a marketing promotion and that increases sales by 5% for that month.
We can also consider declining demand for the product because we have assumed a flat, constant demand above.
But we won’t need to go to that level of detail – you get the idea how the question may be answered.
Again, CaseInterview.com is great for accessing more questions like these.