Tips for Mastering the Business Analyst Interview
So you want to become a Business Analyst but aren’t quite sure what it entails or what the procedures are in becoming one? If you have a solid financial understanding and want to work in a corporate environment Business Analyst jobs might be for you.
Business Analyst jobs in South Africa are very specialised jobs and you really do need to be a special kind of person to excel in this career. Let us enlighten you on what this career choice involves before you make a decision. If you are still interested, then we will provide you with some tips on mastering your next interview.
What is a Business Analyst?
The difference between a normal company and one that performs well lies in its ability to analyse and assess the environment the business is operating in. This is the job of a Business Analyst. They are tasked with assessing and improving a company’s competitiveness and performance in a given business environment. Basically Business Analyst jobs involve keeping a company afloat and working out ways to make it rise above the rest of the competition.
As you can see, answering the question, ‘’ what is a Business Analyst?’’, becomes difficult as the definition is very broad. This is because this career involves multitasking and juggling a few different responsibilities. You need to have knowledge of the facts and figures of the company you work for as you will have to make financial predictions and oversee financial shortfalls of the company. You need to be a good listener and empathic as you are have to balance the needs of the company with the needs of the shareholders and financers. You have to be a good leader and motivational speaker because you will be defining business practices and might have to change company procedures. Lastly you need to be a great negotiator due to the fact that you will always have to look for the better deal to enhance the company’s financial position.
Business Analysts will normally specialize in a certain industry, such as data reporting or project management. They might also work in a specific department, like human resources or marketing. You can also be a multi-tasker and perform many different functions. No matter what you do, your job is to define a problem, compile reports on data and analyse it so that you can evaluate and recommend solutions.
How to become a Business Analyst and what does it pay?
Due to the many different responsibilities involved in Business Analyst jobs, there are many ways of becoming eligible for Business Analyst jobs in South Africa. Your eligibility basically comes down to how much training and experience you have. You need to have more credentials than the next guy to secure that top position.
Some people start off their careers by completing a Bachelors of Science degree in Information Technology (IT). This can be done at most universities across South Africa which involves a three year, full time programme.
You can also do this via a part time diploma which ranges from a one year to four year course, depending on the level of training you want and the learning institute you apply to.
A Business Analyst salary is just as broad and changing as the tasks a Business Analysts might have to perform. It also depends on your training and experience. According to Payscale, you will earn anything from R150 000 a year for entry level jobs, all the way up to R800 000 a year for your top senior positions. On top of this you will receive bonuses for performance. It’s a very lucrative career path because you are in control of the company’s most important asset… its financial stability.
Now that you have a better understanding on what is a Business Analyst, we will now prepare you for the interview.
As we have explained, this position is very broad so it’s difficult to say exactly what you should do to prepare, one thing you can always do is research the company and prepare your CV accordingly.
Checking out the employer’s website is a great start. You will be able to see what kind of company they are and possibly see what areas you can improve on just from looking at their structure and how they operate. You can also customize your CV to highlight your logical thinking and analysis skills. You will need to make sure it’s very formal and full of business jargon to show that you are right for the job.
What to expect during the interview
Interviews are very nerve wracking so the best way to keep calm is to prepare beforehand. The best way to do this is to come up with the possible question that will be asked and have great answers to them before you even get into the interview.
Here are five of the most common questions you might encounter in a Business Analyst interview:
Tell me a little about yourself?
This question is probably the first thing you will get asked in any job interview. It’s intentionally vague so that you have to think off the top of your head.
Instead of giving a long winded explanation, rather give a short and to the point list of who you are. An even better strategy is to say things that will help you in the Business Analyst jobs sector. Promote your qualities that will align with business analysis. Don’t lie, but if you are logically minded or pay attention to detail, for example, then mention those things.
What will you miss most about your current job?
Your prospective employers are trying to find out what you perceive as most important in your previous job. This will help them understand where your priorities lie. Do not answer this with something like, ‘’I really liked the canteen food’’, make sure you tailor something that will highlight how you will be a good fit for the environment. Rather say something like, ‘’ I will really miss the people at work’’. That shows you interacted with people and it’s never a bad thing to regret leaving friends.
How do you deal with difficult stakeholders?
This question is bound to come up as it allows your employer to see how you will handle one of the hardest things about being a Business Analyst. It also allows you to see what kind of challenges you will be facing before you accept the job.
Answer this as directly as possible. Even if you have never done this before, try to come up with something in your life that resembles this. If you can show your employer that you have thought about the situation logically, then it will hold you in good stead.
Tell me about your typical approach to a project.
Your employer is asking this to find out how flexible you are or if you are willing to juggle tasks. They are also trying to find out if you have managed projects before and if you know what Business Analyst jobs entail.
Instead of giving them a boring rundown of a step-by-step project completion process, rather generalize on how you will complete different phases of the project. This shows them that you are thinking in terms of customizing the process to the project. After you have done this, ask them what their processes are and how they like to handle things. This shows that you are ready to change if you need to.
What questions do you have for me?
As a Business Analyst, it’s your job to investigate. You won’t come off as a very good investigator if you don’t have any questions to ask the employer. This is where you will show them how inquiring you really are.
Structure the questions in a structured and intelligent way. Try and get a dialogue started and offer them more personal experiences and how you might help the company if they reveal any shortfalls in their organization.
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