Here, we’re going to focus on a very important part of the analytics interview process: what the hiring manager is looking for in an analytics candidate. We know how stressful the interview process can be so we hope that, by knowing a little more about the hiring process itself, you can adjust your approach to the interview to get the best chance of success.
First, we are going to explain the general types of questions you can expect in an analytics job interview. Then, we’ll take a look at five crucial factors that a good candidate should have.
What Can I Expect From an Analytics Job Interview?
In an analytics job interview, they expect you to be able to code well, obviously. By this point, you should have experience with the type of coding language they are evaluating and have the data analysis skills to handle whatever they throw at you.
You will likely encounter a use case during the interview, which is basically a scenario that can sometimes be complex, requiring multiple steps and solutions for you to solve. Often, this is based on a problem the company has experienced or is currently experiencing.
Obviously, they expect you to attempt to solve this problem but it’s equally important for you to explain how you got your solution. They are evaluating your process and approach. How you arrive at your solution is just as important as the solution itself.
5 Factors that Analytics Interviewers Look For In Candidates
We mentioned that the main thing to expect during an analytics job interview is that it is about the process. There are so many ways to solve a problem in analytics that keeping open communication with the interviewer and explaining how you reached each decision and how you are going to handle each use case and edge case is crucial.
Keeping an open mind is a key factor in this interview process. You must evaluate each question with the willingness to consider each available option. This is crucial to even identify the problem you are trying to solve.
Your goal is to have a healthy conversation with questions and answers that demonstrates to the interviewer that you have considered all the options. By doing this, you also have a better chance of putting yourself in the position to choose the best option.
2. Structured Thinking
As explained above, analytics interviewers are looking for someone open-minded and willing to consider all available alternatives before choosing the best one. This shows an understanding of the math and the theory behind what you are trying to do. Communicating your process and explaining how you approach the data are important for the interviewer to understand your analytical skills.
In order to effectively communicate, you must develop a pragmatic and structured line of thinking in approaching the problem. This way, no matter what problem you face, you have a structured method to show the interviewer exactly how you approached the solution.
Questions can often involve analyzing lines of codes. Be careful to look at the syntax and explain what each block of code is achieving. From there, identify a “big picture” for what the code is achieving and identify what could be added to or removed from this code to reach a solution. By following this reliable process, you ensure that the interviewer can easily follow your thought process. And you ensure that nothing is missed on your end.
3. Closing the Edge Cases
Edge cases are one of the most important parts of understanding an analytical problems. With any problem you encounter in an interview, try to think of any edge cases where the code could break and communicate that to the interviewer. In addition, identify edge cases where certain situations in the business problem might not be captured in your solution. Then build a solution to capture those edge cases. Suggest ways that they could be accounted for so that a given situation will not break the code. This is much easier to do because you identified the potential problem areas first.
4. Understand Trade-Offs
In technical interviews, there is almost always more than one way to analyze the data and solve a problem which raises the inevitability of trade-offs. You might have to forgo one method to pursue a different one. In your interview, the most important thing to do in this situation is to identify these trade-offs then explain each option and why you may or may not chose one over the other. This should be a conversation with the interviewer so that your solution is optimized for the business goal.
Your solution is probably not going to be 100% perfect but if you communicate why you chose one option over the other and why you think your solution is ideal, the interviewer will be satisfied with your problem-solving skills and analytical abilities. These are the things that interviewers are often most interested in evaluating.
5. Explain What the Solution Will Give You In A Way That Is Easy For Anyone To Understand
Once you are satisfied with your thought process and your solution to the problem, it is important to wrap it all up. A great way to do this is by providing a summary of your solution to the interviewer. Remember, the most important thing to get across is that you understand the problem, what you’re trying to achieve, and are willing to evaluate all the options to reach a solution.
So, wrap up each answer with a summary. Quickly explain your solution, the options you considered, the trade-offs, the edge cases, and why you believe your solution is the best. This ensures that the interviewer comes away with an understanding of your thought process.
You have probably noticed a common theme throughout these points. In these technical interviews it’s about about showing your understanding of the concepts and the ability to think critically and pragmatically rather than reaching the correct solution to a question. The right answer is really only a piece of the puzzle. Analytic interviewers approach the interview process with the intention of hiring someone who approaches each problem with an open mind and a willingness to consider every alternative.
These qualities represent a candidate who will not only think strategically but is also not afraid to work with others or ask for help. After all, companies want to hire someone they can work with and you need to prove that you have the communication skills and insight necessary to do just that.
If you want some practice with technical problems and want to see how others have approached the same problems, try some of the technical questions in Strata Scratch and review the approach and solutions from their users.