Interviewing Business Analysts

Someone recently asked the following questions on the IIBA discussion forum on LinkedIn:

What recruitment procedure is to be followed to identify real BA competencies? Are 15 minutes presentation and 15 minutes group interview enough? Is there any best practice BA selection procedure?

For your consideration, here is the answer I posted:

I would say the first step is to have a job advertisement written by somebody who actually knows what the competencies are. I rarely see a job advert that lists hardcore BA skills and never see one that asks for certifications.

Secondly, I would put in place an interviewer who is an experienced senior BA – i.e., someone who knows which questions to ask and whether the candidate is giving a reasonable answer. Such a person would go prepared with a set of case studies and examples, as Kupe says [that’s Kupe Kupersmith – @Kupe on Twitter], and would know how to tailor the questions and tasks to the candidate’s stated experience.

I would start off with a simple question which (in my experience as an interviewer of analysts) eliminates 80% of the candidates immediately:
“In no more than 12 words, can you explain the difference between analysis and design?”
I can do this in six words, by the way.

Why does this question eliminate the vast majority of candidates? Because most people have no clue as to what analysis involves. Most candidates, hiring managers and recruitment agents think it means you can use Word and maybe Visio, you are experienced in attending meetings and you are not Hannibal Lecter.

I would then ask questions such as:

  • What is a requirement?
  • What is a business rule?
  • What would you include in a requirements management plan?
  • What would you include in a business case?
  • Give me an example of a project you were on which failed due to analysis issues. Explain the issues and what steps you took to avoid them in subsequent projects.
  • How would you go about performing a stakeholder analysis?
  • At what point in a change initiative should data analysis begin?

If the candidate can answer such questions to my satisfaction, I will proceed with a case study which will require the candidate to use the white board. The case study would test, for example, the following (depending on the candidate’s stated experience):

  • business process modelling
  • logical data modelling
  • candidate use case/user story identification
  • activity diagram modelling

What are your thoughts?

Kind regards,

Declan Chellar

2 comments to Interviewing Business Analysts

  • First thanks for the mention! A case study is a must! Too many people can talk the talk. Putting them in a situation where they have to perform will separate the good from the bad. In my case studies I give the candidate the opportunity to elicit requirements. This helps understand their analytical thinking and how they approach elicitation.

    Thanks for sharing Declan!

  • Business analyst post is a serious position in any organization. These persons are responsible for the course of action and are the major tools in deciding the future strategies. So recruiters should handle such hiring with much care as it may affect the relationship with their potential clients.

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