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.
Describe a situation where you needed to solve a problem but did not have all the information you needed to do so. What did you do then?
This question requires you to demonstrate your research skills and problem-solving abilities. Use this opportunity to show what makes you unique and how analytical, organized, and detail-oriented you are by supporting your interview answer with real work experience.
Sample answer: “Sales were down, and I needed to find a solution. I sent out surveys to team members to determine the cause of the problem. It turned out that sales were down because employees were not following up on leads. After I implemented a new project management system, sales increased by 10%.”
Interview Questions for Analytical Skills (and Answers)
To understand your analytical skills, interviewers will often ask questions about potential work scenarios, your past experience, and behavioral questions. These questions are designed to understand your thought process and how you solve problems.
Your manager wants to buy new software or hardware to increase team productivity and asks you for a recommendation. How would you respond?
Your interviewer has asked you to imagine a job-related scenario. It’s hypothetical, but it will test your ability to think through all the relevant factors.
Sample answer: “First, I would research which functions are most important to my supervisor and what the budget constraints are. Then I would search for productivity software that would meet current and future needs. Once I compiled a list of 5-10 options, I would narrow it down to three with a top recommendation.”
Explain step-by-step how you troubleshoot [X] problem
You are not expected to solve the problem but rather explain how you approach it.
Sample answer: “I first try to understand the situation. Then I take a step-by-step approach to figure out what caused the problem. If I can’t do it myself, I ask for help. At that point, we should have found something that works. If not, I’ll review to see if there’s another step I have overlooked or contact my managers.”
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.