Apr 27, 2011

How to interview a Business Analyst?

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I had a chance to  be on both the sides of the interview table on quite a few occasions. From what I have experienced, there aren't many companies which are good at interviewing  business analyst.  Often the interviewer is confused on whether to  ask technology  questions or the business questions? No one can be  blamed for such confusion as often the job description itself is very confusing, for example "looking for a Sharepoint Business  Analyst". Here the interviewer and interviewee they  are confused on whether to  focus on Sharepoint knowledge or the business  analysis skills.. to  be honest I often think if the BA has to  be an expert in Sharepoint than what the other member on the project are suppose to  do?

I would like to share my  learning  with the broader community  having interest in this topic:

1. As Project manager or the HR manager make sure that the designated interviewer(s) understands clearly the role of the  Business Analyst...in general and in the project. Ideally  the interviewer should have the direct stake in the project or in the organization for which the BA  is being hired.

2. Let the interview be case study  oriented. I think it works better than asking  standard  questions which are published all over the web, case studies are unique and a very  good way to  evaluate analysis and problem skills. Take scenarios from your previous projects and ask how the candidate would have  handled the situation. A case study can be a business problem which a company  is trying to  solve, a difficult requirement change situation in the middle of the  project, a tough client handling  situation, a unique business requirement etc.

3. It is important to ensure that the candidate has the right communication skills, whether he/she asks good follow  up question to understand the scenario given in the cases study? Whether the responses are detailed enough and yet short? Whether the candidate answered the question you  asked? Does the candidate take too much time to  understand and answer the question? Or in general as interviewer are you  able to enjoy the conversation?

4. Ask open ended questions, this is a good tool for a business analysis as well  for interviewing  a business analyst. Such questions open a  platform for discussion, gives an  opportunity  to  gauge domain knowledge and are foundation to  get into  specifics. For examples: Tell me about agile software development? What are the benefits of prototyping? How do you gather implicit requirements?

5. If the interview is face to  face, give the candidate a situation where he/she can white board. It could be drawing a work flow through many decision points or mocking of a screen as per the given requirement. This will  is a good way to evaluate diagramming  and creative skills.

6. Schedule a round of interview with  a team of  professionals representing various skills in a typical project.  For example let a team consisting of Tester, Developer, BA and PM interview the candidate, this is a good way to evaluate the candidates ability to  communicate with  different members of the team.

Here are some good links I found on the same topic, would love to  hear back via comments on this post:
Follow the discussion on LinkedIn: How to interview a Business Analyst?





4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hello Ranjan,

I read some of your recent posts and really liked them. This one about interviews was good too.
I am also trying to be a BA but am new to the scene and extremely low on confidence. I was wondering if you would be willing to help me with the process. I have tried to look in the web and could not find a way to find a mentor. Please let me know if that is possible.

You can email me at: sajals2000@yahoo.com

Thanks.
Hope to hear from you soon.

Sajal

kshitish said...

HELLO FRIEND,
I READ YOUR POST IT SOUND QUIT GOOD AND INTERESTING. ITS REALLY HELP THOSE WHO MIGHT HAVE READ IT.
I AM ALSO IN SEARCH OF JOB IN BUSINESS ANALYST POST. BASICALLY I AM MBA(IT)FRESHERS. SO IT VERY DIFFICULTY FOR ME TO FIND SUCH JOB POST FOR ME. I WISH YOU TO HELP ME FOR MY CAREER INTERESTED JOB PROFILE. THANKING YOU,
KSHITISH BHATTJI

Ranjan said...

@Sajal: I will delighted to provide any kind of help.

@Kshitish:I will surely let you know if I come across any.

Lisa said...

Very useful ones! thanks and have printed! Sample Job Descriptions