Top 35 Data Analyst Interview Questions (Example Answers Included)

By Mike Simpson

Today, there are approximately 2.7 million data-oriented jobs. Holy cow, right? And more are showing up every day. Companies are scrambling to find the data analysts they need to handle, well, all of the data they’ve collected.

Data analysts are investigators, digging through unprecedented amounts of information to find meaning and patterns. They need a specific set of skills and a ton of drive. Otherwise, it’s easy to become overwhelmed.

But even with demand being ridiculously high, that doesn’t mean you can treat a data analyst job interview like it’s nothing. Companies won’t hire a candidate that doesn’t shine, even if they are having trouble finding someone for the role. After all, would you pay a person $76,000 a year if they weren’t going to excel in the job? Of course not.

Luckily, you can nail your data analyst interview questions, increasing the odds you’ll land a lucrative position. Let’s take a look at how you can do just that.

How to Answer Data Analyst Interview Questions

Alright, we know you’re here for the data analyst interview question examples, and we promise those are coming. The trick is, if you want to land a data analyst job, it’s helpful to have something more: an outstanding interview strategy.

You can practice questions until the end of time and not anticipate everything a hiring manager might ask. They could catch you off-guard; that’s a real possibility.

Now, most hiring managers aren’t trying to trick you. They simply have different priorities, causing them to focus on different questions. However, some may actively try to trick you up, just to see how you react to a question you didn’t see coming.

With a solid strategy, you can be ready for the unexpected. Couple that with some practice data analyst interview questions, and you’ll be able to take that meeting with the hiring manager by storm.

So, how do you pull that off?

Well, first, it’s research time. Take a deep dive into that data analyst job description. Get to know the ins and outs of it, because it’s probably going to tell you a lot about what the hiring manager wants to know. After that, you can make sure your practice interview questions discuss all of the must-haves, making you better equipped to talk about things that matter to the hiring manager.

Next, it’s secret sauce time. Take a trip to the company’s website and social media pages. Check out any mission and values statements to discover more about the organization’s priorities, as speaking about those is beneficial, and may be a straight-up necessity if the hiring manager asks about them. You can also find out about the company’s culture this way, giving you a leg up if those topics come up.

After that, take a look at a vast array of job interview questions, and get comfortable working the details you’ve found into different kinds of responses. This increases your agility, making sure you can adapt your answer to fit different types of questions.

Alright, but what those darn behavioral interview questions? What do you do for these tricky beasts?

Here, having a strategy is also important. It’ll help you craft a captivating and relevant answer, ensuring you make a great impression. If you’re looking for an outstanding approach, take the STAR Method and the Tailoring Method and mesh them together. It’s a stellar formula for interview success that’ll make tacking behavioral interview questions a breeze.

Top 3 Data Analyst Interview Questions

Now that you have a strategy, it’s example time. Now, it’s important to remember that every data analyst job is a bit different. As a result, hiring managers at different companies might ask other questions, even though the roles are similar.

However, some questions come up an awful lot. Or, at least, some version of them does.

Plus, by reviewing these top three data analyst interview questions and answers, you can see how you can put your interview strategy to work, even if you aren’t asked these questions specifically. With that in mind, let’s get started.

1. In your own words, can you describe what a data analyst does?

While this question might seem silly, it’s a popular one, particularly when the hiring manager is filling an entry-level position. It lets them weed out candidates that don’t actually get it, making it pretty important.

Luckily, getting this one right is pretty easy. You need to give a solid overview while tapping on critical skills that let a person shine in the role. If you can add a bit about how a data analyst helps a company excel, you’re in even better shape.

EXAMPLE ANSWER:

“In a basic sense, data analysts use a range of skills to collect and examine large quantities of information to identify patterns, trends, and anomalies. The goal is to derive meaningful insights that can assist a company with its decision-making or guide it in a direction, increasing the odds that a particular goal can be reached.”

2. What is the difference between a clustered and non-clustered index?

This question is specific to data-oriented jobs, particularly those dealing with SQL databases. It’s essentially a knowledge test, ensuring you understand what sets these two indexes apart.

EXAMPLE ANSWER:

“With a clustered index, table records are reordered to align with the index according to the key values. In can be sorted just one way, usually based on a chosen column. Additionally, every table can have only one clustered index.

With a non-clustered index, that isn’t the case. The data is stored in one location while indices are located in another. Each index has pointers to the data location. This approach allows a table to have essentially an infinite number of non-clustered indices.”

3. Do you have experience with data analyst software and tools? If so, which kind?

There is a slew of data analyst software around, and not all companies rely on the same tools. With this question, the hiring manager can find out if you’ve worked with the software their company uses or at least had experience with something similar.

EXAMPLE ANSWER:

“Yes, I have previous experience in a variety of applications that relate to the data analyst role. First, I have substantial experience using Microsoft Excel and SQL databases. Additionally, I’m familiar with Tableau for data visualization, as well as a range of business intelligence, data modeling, and statistical analysis tools. Finally, I have experience with big data-oriented solutions, including Apache Spark and Hadoop.”

MIKE'S TIP: With this question, you can talk about related accomplishments that highlight your skills with certain kinds of data analyst applications and tools. If you do, keep the reference brief. You want to make sure you can mention a wide range of solutions that you’ve used in the past, so don’t dig too deep into these achievements. For example, you can use an “I used [software and tools] while [brief overview of project or duty] at [past employer]” formula to tap on your experience without taking up too much time.

32 More Data Analyst Interview Questions

Here are 32 more data analyst interview questions you might encounter while meeting with the hiring manager.

    1. Why did you choose a career in data analytics?
    2. Discuss a time when you were going to miss a deadline. What did you do to recover?
    3. Describe your most challenging past data analyst project. What difficulties did you have to overcome, and how did you do it?
    4. Do you prefer a particular niche, such as marketing analytics or financial analytics? If so, why?
    5. Which of your traits do you believe increase your odds of succeeding in a data analyst job?
    6. Do you work well under pressure?
    7. If you were asked to return the row count of a table, how many different ways could you do it?
    8. Can you describe your experience using Microsoft Excel?
    9. Tell me about a time when you made an unpopular decision. What happened?
    10. What does EBITDA stand for?
    11. Are you experienced with Hadoop?
    12. Tell me in what situation would you use a linear regression over a logistic regression.
    13. How would you describe a database to someone who is completely unfamiliar with the concept?
    14. How does a SQL query work?
    15. Why do you want to work for this company?
    16. What is interchange?
    17. Describe your data migration experience.
    18. Tell me about a time where you had to persuade someone to see a situation your way.
    19. How familiar are you with SAP?
    20. Tell me about a time where you had to ask for help on the job.
    21. Given a random sequence of A’s and Z’s, what is the probability that AAZ shows up before AZZ as a subsequence?
    22. Describe your SQL experience.
    23. How do you hide data in an Excel spreadsheet?
    24. Tell me about a project you were on that involved large data sets.
    25. How strong are your Python and R skills?
    26. What steps do you take to keep your skills current?
    27. Do you have data modeling experience?
    28. How familiar are you with data visualization?
    29. Tell me about a time where you had to design a new process.
    30. How much experience do you have with unstructured data?
    31. Define multilinear regression.
    32. What does the truncate command do? How does this differ from delete?

5 Good Questions to Ask at the End of a Data Analyst Interview

When the sun begins to set on your data analyst job interview, you’ll usually get an opportunity to ask the hiring manager some questions. You want to make the most of this time, so having a few questions ready and raring to go is a smart move.

With the right questions, you can come off as enthusiastic and engaged. That’s good stuff. Plus, you can find out details about the role you haven’t had a chance to learn yet, making it easier to determine if this job is actually right for you.

If you aren’t sure what you should ask, don’t worry. We have your back. Here are five great options that can help you close out your interview with a bang.

    1. Can you tell me a bit more about the day-to-day responsibilities associated with this role? What does a typical day look like?
    2. Could you describe the most challenging day a professional in this job is likely to face?
    3. If you could give one piece of advice to a new hire in this data analyst position, what would it be, and why?
    4. What challenges will this job help the company overcome?
    5. Which traits do your most successful data analysts have in common? What about the least successful?

Putting It All Together

Ultimately, by reviewing the data analyst interview questions above, and the various other tips, you can make sure you’re as prepared as possible for your data analyst job interview. While it may not calm all of your nerves, a bit of due diligence now increases your odds of being able to handle the expected and unexpected. You’ll navigate the interview with greater ease, making it more likely you’ll leave a positive impression.

Remember, you’re an outstanding candidate; you just have to show that to the hiring manager. Take advantage of all of the information above, ensuring you can be at your best when your interview arrives.

Good luck!

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About The Author

Mike Simpson

Co-Founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at TheInterviewGuys.com. His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan, Penn State, Northeastern and others. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page.