Market research analyst, financial analyst, SEO analyst–we can find dozens of job titles that directly refer to analytical skills. But even for positions which name does not directly indicate the importance of certain skills, ability to analyze information, to problem solve, and to make decisions matters.
Surely, when you try to hire a new cashier or assembly line worker or perhaps a butcher, the level of analytical skills of job candidates won’t play a major role in your decision making process. But for any role in management, financial and business analysis, and IT, great analytical skills may find their place on your ideal candidate profile’s checklist.
In this article I will look at some questions that allow you to test these skills in an interview. I will also give you some hints how to assess these skills without even asking any questions. Whether you are going to lead the interviews, or are just trying to overcome your nerves and prepare for your meeting with a prospective employer (you are in the shoes of job seeker this time), it should help you to succeed in your efforts. Enjoy!
Examples of analytical skills interview questions
Why you should test candidates’ analytical skills
Analytical skills refer to the ability to gather data, break down a problem, weigh pros and cons and reach logical decisions. Employees who have these skills help companies overcome challenges, or spot issues before they become problems.
Every position requires analytical skills. For some roles (e.g. Investment Banker), methodical thinking is key, while for others (e.g. Marketing Strategist) brainstorming abilities are more relevant. Regardless of how they approach problems, employees with sharp analytical skills are able to confidently connect the dots and come up with solutions.
The following analytical interview questions will help you assess how candidates:
Combine these questions with problem-solving and competency-based interview questions to gauge how candidates address complex situations that are likely to occur on the job.
How do you weigh the pros and cons before making a decision?
When answering the question, explain how you make decisions, what systems you use, and why you use them. There’s no right or wrong system.
Sample answer: “When I make decisions, I use logic and reasoning and ensure I have gathered all the information I need. I then use the facts to weigh the different options and evaluate the likelihood of each outcome. I make the best decision for my company based on the ideal scenario.”
What goes into your decision-making process at work?
To answer this question, be specific and walk through your decision-making skills. For example, what’s your first step when you’re required to take action? What information do you gather, or who do you consult? How do you devise a plan of action, and how do you decide to execute it?
“Employers will expect students to use critical thinking to solve problems,” Mark Anthony Dyson, founder of The Voice of Job Seekers, says. “They may not expect the exact answer, but the thought process will matter more. The interviewer wants to hear you ‘think aloud’ on how to solve it.”
This is where the data comes in. Don’t be afraid to name specific metrics you’re familiar with and have used to measure progress on your work.
“Your data must be contextually relevant to the company if you want to stand out,” Dyson says. “It helps to know how you can solve their problem. Knowing what they need now will make them envision you as a coworker.”
For example, if you know the company is hiring you to help increase their website traffic, focus on numbers like website sessions, clicks, or conversion rate. On the other hand, if you’re interviewing for a sales position, focus on quotas, meetings held, and win rate.