If you’re going for a job interview for a role as a business analyst, you’ll probably get asked some of the standard IT job interview questions, such as “Tell me about your biggest weakness”.
However, there are some questions that are specific to business analyst roles that we can often get asked.
Learn what they are and how to answer them to give yourself a better chance of succeeding during your business analyst interview.
The questions we’re looking at in this article are:
- What diagrams and other methods do you use to capture business requirements?
- What experience do you have with agile methodologies?
- How many business cases have you worked on? How were you involved?
- Tell me about a time you have had trouble working with a stakeholder
- Tell me about a time you had conflicting requirements from different stakeholders
- What is the most important skill of a business analyst, in your opinion?
- Can you briefly explain what a use case diagram is?
- Can you explain what alternative and exception flows are in a use case description?
- What is the difference between a use case and a test case?
1. What diagrams and other methods do you use to capture business requirements?
Business analysts use different methods of gathering requirements and information from people they deal with. This question is designed to make you think about the tools that you use, and how you can adapt to the different needs of documenting requirements.
You should have a couple of answers here, and mention how flexibility is important. Flow charts are often helpful to determine processes. You can also specify any UML diagrams that you use in your process, such as activity or sequence diagrams.
As far as methods go, briefly describe how you get requirements from people. This can be in small workshops, or sitting one on one with someone. It can also help to let a user show you a problem or a process themselves, with you observing. The idea here, once again, is to show that you’re flexible with the tools and methods you use.
2. What experience do you have with agile methodologies?
This question is just a question on experience. Agile methodologies are gaining popularity in software projects for many reasons, and employers are constantly looking for IT professionals that have those skills. It’s important not to lie on this question, but also to show your enthusiasm.
If you have experience, that’s great. Mention what roles you’ve been involved in, what work was performed, and how the team worked together. Mention time periods that you have worked with Agile, such as “I spent six months on a software project that was running Agile development”. Remain positive about the Agile methodology and experience.
If you don’t have experience, which many of you won’t, then it’s still OK. Don’t lie and say that you have experience, because you’ll get caught out eventually and it won’t be good.
The employer is asking because they are probably looking for people with an interest in Agile. You can mention an interest you have, or that you’d like to learn more.
If you have no experience, you can answer with something like “Well, I don’t have any commercial experience in a project, but I have been at organisations that have implemented Agile, and I am quite interested in learning more about it and how it can help improve the way teams deliver projects”. This shows both enthusiasm and positivity.
3. How many business cases have you worked on? How were you involved?
A task that business analysts work on occasionally is the preparation of business cases. A business case is a proposal to an area of the company (usually senior management) about an idea for a project. It explains what the problem is, what you’d like to do, and what the benefits are.
A lot of information needs to be gathered to prepare a business case, and often it’s a business analyst who is brought in to do this work. Sometimes, employers hire business analysts to prepare business cases for the projects they work on, so they would be asking about your experience and how many you’ve done. They would also like to know what your roles were, such as leading the work for a business case, or performing some of the minor tasks.
4. Tell me about a time you have had trouble working with a stakeholder.
This is another common business analyst interview question for those roles that require speaking to others to get work done. A business analyst must deal with stakeholders on a daily basis, and not all of them will be easy to work with.
Stakeholders are those people in the company that are impacted by the project you’re working on. Many of them are needed for providing input, such as what is needed and how things should be done. Others just need to find out what’s being done, and others need to be able to approve what is being done.
From time to time, you’ll come across a stakeholder that may be difficult to work with. They may be opposed to your project, or they are not being responsive to your calls and emails, or are unhelpful, or many other reasons. If an employer asks this question, then you should be ready to provide an answer.
The key to providing an answer to these kinds of questions (those about conflict and problems) is to choose a small issue and focus on how it was resolved. Don’t use the opportunity to badmouth previous colleagues. Try to stay positive. Mention a small issue you had, such as being unable to get in touch with them, or them being unaware of the project. Mention how you resolved the problem, such as speaking to other people or asking for decisions to be made, and mention what the outcome was.
5. Tell me about a time you had conflicting requirements from different stakeholders.
This is a common situation in software projects. Some people on the project want certain functionality, and others don’t want the functionality. Sometimes, a requirement is often contradicting. For example, one group says the system must do a task this way, and another group says it needs to do it another way, which conflicts with the first group. It can be hard to find out the right way or the best way of getting past this.
The employer, similar to the previous question, is trying to find out how you’re able to handle conflict in your work. Once again, you should mention the problem that you had, and focus on the positives and how it was resolved.
A common way to get this resolved is to speak to your manager or the project manager. Get a decision made from higher up in the organisation on how this should be done. Explain to the interviewer any instances of this happening to you, and remember to focus on the outcome and how it was resolved.
6. What is the most important skill of a business analyst, in your opinion?
This question is asked to see what an interviewee values most about the role. A business analyst needs to have many skills, and they are asking you what the most important one is.
With this question, I don’t think there’s a wrong answer. As long as you’re able to mention a skill that business analysts use, it should be OK. What will really help, though, is that you mention why you think it’s the most important. If you say communication is the most important skill, explain why this is the case. The same goes if you mention looking for gaps in requirements, prioritising work, negotiating with stakeholders, keeping people informed, writing, or any other skill that is used.
Explaining why you think it is the most important will highlight that you’ve given it some thought, both for the interview and in your own career.
7. Can you briefly explain what a use case diagram is?
A use case diagram is part of the Unified Modelling Language (UML) and is a popular tool for business analysts to determine software requirements. The employer is checking both your knowledge and your ability to explain a concept briefly.
When explaining a use case diagram, you should mention that it is used to show what a proposed system is supposed to do. Mention that it has actors that represent the people that interact with it, and use cases which are associated with these users. Mention that it also accompanies documentation to further explain the use cases.
Remember to keep the explanation brief. It shouldn’t go into detail about extend relationships and the wording that is used. The employer would like to hear you explain something briefly so it should be quite short, but enough to get the point across.
8. Can you explain what alternative and exception flows are in a use case description?
This is another business analyst interview question that is designed to test your explanation skills and knowledge of use case modelling. The two concepts they are asking about are exception flows and alternative flows.
Alternative flows are different paths that can be taken during a user interaction that is described in a use case. An example of an alternate flow would be for a use case called “Register New User”, where a user needs to create a registration for the tool. The normal flow may be to enter details and click Register. An alternative flow would be a valid path taken in the system that is different to this. Perhaps they click on the Clear Details button. Perhaps they select “I Already Have an Account”. These would be examples of alternative flows – they allow a user to take a different path, but they are not errors.
Exception flows are similar to alternative flows, but they are where there is an error or exception in the process. For example, the required steps need to be detailed when a user enters invalid data, or if the username is already taken. This is where the exception flow is discussed.
You should explain what the two concepts are, as well as the difference between the two. Including some examples would be useful as well.
9. What is the difference between a use case and a test case?
Another question you might get is about the difference between a use case and a test case. This one should be easy to understand, but it can be hard to explain.
A use case represents an activity or process that a user can perform on a system. A test case indicates how a particular use case is tested to ensure that it operates correctly. Explain this as best you can to the interviewer. It can be good to include some examples as well. A use case example could be “Register New User”, as mentioned above. An example of a test case could be “Enter all numeric values for a new user” or “Enter details for a user that already exists”. These are designed to test the “Register New User” process.
If you can explain this concept to an interviewer then it should be enough to demonstrate your knowledge of these terms.
Well, there are some of the most common business analyst interview questions. What other questions have you heard before? Share them in the comments section below.