If you’re applying for a new job that requires you to take an analytics interview, you know that getting ready can be scary. It often feels like there’s a lot on the line — plus, there’s very little information available about what to expect.
But don’t worry! In reality, analytics interviews aren’t that bad. And, with proper preparation, you can walk into your interview prepared and confident — and walk out with a new job offer.
To get you started and eliminate some of the confusion surrounding analytics interviews, here’s a list of the top 5 things to do to prepare:
1. Research the company
Before walking into your interview, it helps to have a solid understanding of the company to which you’re applying. Analytics interview questions often center around real problems that the company is trying to solve, so doing thorough research in advance can give you a huge advantage on interview day. For example, most operational roles at Uber require applicants to take an Uber-specific analytics test, which emulates real challenges that Uber analytics face on the job.
As you’re preparing, ask yourself the following questions about your prospective employer’s business:
- What is the business model (in other words, how do they make money)? If there are many different product lines, which are the most profitable?
- What are the drivers of this business model? In other words, what can they do to make more money? This could be anything from driving more users to a website; to increasing the percentage of website visitors who buy a product; to reducing product manufacturing costs.
- Who are the company’s customers? What do these customers want that it is not currently providing today?
- What other businesses or industries are the biggest competitive threats?
- How has the company’s industry changed over the course of the last 5 years? How would you expect it to change in the next 5 years?
- What are likely to be the company’s biggest challenges in terms of growth?
- Are there any clear adjacencies into which the company could expand (in other words, what products or services could the company easily sell that it doesn’t sell today)?
If you want even more things to research, this great guide will give you some tips.
2. Test your mental math skills
An analytical interview focuses on just that — analytics. Oftentimes, this means using quick, back-of-the-envelope calculations to solve hypothetical business problems faced by the company to which you’re applying. For example, your interviewer might ask you to estimate the total market size for products the company sells. Or, she might give you some high-level numbers on revenue and costs per product sold, and ask you to estimate the company’s yearly profits.
To answer these questions, it can help to practice your mental math skills in advance of the interview. Make sure that you’re comfortable performing basic multiplication, addition, subtraction, and division in your head, as this will help you think on the fly as you answer these sorts of estimation problems. And be sure to bring a notebook and pen or pencil with you to your interview so that you can jot down notes to make your calculations easier, if necessary.
3. Practice hard skills
Of course, analytical interviews aren’t just about mental math. You may be asked to show off your mastery of hard skills — either during your interview, or in a take-home screening test that you’re asked to complete on your own time.
To get started, be sure to ask your recruiter in advance whether any hard skills will be tested during your interview. It helps to have complete clarity on what you’ll be tested on during the interview, so don’t be afraid to ask up front!
If your recruiter indicates that you’ll be tested on Excel skills, be sure to brush up on all the most common Excel interview questions that might come your way. This means practicing the basics of using Excel, including sorting and filtering; common formulas and functions like VLOOKUP and INDEX MATCH; and using Charts and PivotTables. You may also want to think of some examples of ways in which you’ve used Excel in the past to deliver actionable business insights.
If your recruiter indicates that you’ll be tested on SQL, make sure that you’re familiar with basic query construction using SELECT statements, WHERE and ORDER BY clauses, and JOINs. You may also want to read up on a list of common SQL interview questions to prep for what might come your way.
4. Prepare questions for your interviewer
Analytics interviews aren’t just a one-way street. Your interviewer will almost undoubtedly ask if you have any questions for her at the end of the interview — and you should have a solid number prepared just in case. Having several questions ready that you’re genuinely curious about will help demonstrate to your interviewer that you’re prepared, engaged, and sincerely interested in the company.
Here are a couple of suggestions to get you started:
- What are the company’s biggest challenges, and how can I help solve them?
- What is the most important thing I could accomplish in my first 30 days on the job?
- How would you describe your company’s culture?
- What are your biggest concerns about extending me an offer for this role?
And here’s a great list of additional interview questions to get you thinking even more.
5. Take a practice interview
Practice makes perfect: the age-old mantra is true. If you’re nervous about your analytics interview, there’s no better solution than to practice, practice, and practice some more.
To get started, have a friend give you a mock interview with sample analytical questions that he or she has made up in advance. This will help you get a sense for what your interview will be like — in a realistic setting.
And, check to see whether there are resources available online for the specific company to which you’re applying. For example, if you happen to be applying to Uber, there are a ton of resources available to help you prepare for the analytics exam.
Otherwise, be sure to practice those analytical skills — and don’t worry! With sufficient preparation, you’ll be able to walk into your interview confidently and blow your recruiter away.