My answer on Quora for: As a prospective Data Analyst intern, how do I answer the most challenging data analysis I have done so far?
When I hire for Data Analyst (Jr. or Intern) positions, I look for three things:
1) Analytical mindset:
I would do this by sharing a hypothetical case study and seeing how you go about solving this. I would look for things like: a) Approach: How do you break down the problem? b) Effectiveness: How effectively can go about solving the case. I am NOT looking for the “Right” answer but just want to see how you go about solving the case.
(Search for “Management consulting case studies” — I usually pick a simple case)
2) Communication skills:
This is pretty standard across many roles but it’s important for data analysts to be able to communicate their recommendations/findings to stakeholders.
3) Basic hard/tech skills + Willingness to learn new tech skills:
I would ask you basic tech questions around SQL, Excel OR other “tech skills” that you might have mentioned in your resume. I am not looking for expert-level knowledge but just want to make sure you know things that you have listed on your resume or things that you studied. Also, I would ask you questions that would help me figure out whether you are open to learning new tech skills.
So now that I have shared the framework with you, let me try and answer your question: How do I answer the most challenging data analysis project that I have done?
a. If you had a good approach for your project then It would mean that you know how to break down data analysis problems and solve them. So solving a basic case study shouldn’t be difficult for you and I could check box #1!
b. If you can communicate the “complexity” of the project effectively then I think I would check the box #2: communication skills!
c. Since you solved a challenging project, I assume that you picked up some tech skills (Bonus points if you picked up new tech skills while solving this problem). Just let me know what tech you used to solve the problem so that I can ask questions around that — if you are able to answer them then I would check box #3!
It’s NOT about the challenging project but your learning/takeaways from that project that will be help you the most!
Now, assuming that the interview team think you are a good “culture fit” plus you came out on top compared to other candidates then you will get an offer to join the team as a Data Analyst!
Hope that helps and may the force be with you!