In this article, we’ll try to understand the role and responsibilities of a business analyst and how one should prepare for the interview process. Every organization’s business problems are unique, but there are problems every analyst should be able to solve. I’ll try to list down questions, answers, and tips covering those topics along with a couple of behavioural aptitudes.
Who is a business analyst?
A business analyst is responsible for the functional design of system or application. S/he is the one who interacts with both stakeholders and subject matter experts and defines the system elements which further translate into software requirement specifications. Today’s analysts are the innovators who take the product to the next level.
Responsibilities of business analyst
Requirement gathering, the terminology may sound clichéd, but requirements are the essence of a business analyst role. During the inception of a project, BAs are the only allocated resource from the engineering team. They are the one responsible for SWOT analysis, business requirement documentation, problem statement analysis, scope modelling, and feasibility study. BAs need to work in parallel with the management team, stakeholders, and subject matter experts to define the product roadmap. This process is also called requirement elicitation.
Presentation and documentation, it is not enough to just gather requirements. BAs need to document the requirements in a presentable and understandable format.
Translate the requirements this is the most critical responsibility of a business analyst. BAs need to work closely with business stakeholders and translate the requirements to the engineering team in a technical language.
Represent as the stakeholder to the engineering team, and act as the engineering team presenter to the stakeholders.
Administrative mentor, BAs are expected to resolve the conflicts between business stakeholders and engineering teams.
Verify and validate, before the project/product goes for user acceptance test BAs must first test the product sanity.
Customer support, after the product is live, BAs must closely monitor the product as well as communicate regularly with the stakeholders to make sure it is functioning as expected.
Interview questions and answers
1. What is a flowchart and why it is necessary?
The flowchart depicts a complete view of a system with the help of symbols and diagrams. It is necessary because it helps the development team understand the functional as well as data flow of the system at an overview level.
2. What is your understanding of UML and activity?
UML is Unified Modelling Language. As per Wikipedia, “the Unified Modelling Language (UML) is a general-purpose, developmental, modelling language in the field of software engineering, that is intended to provide a standard way to visualize the design of a system”.
“An activity in Unified Modelling Language (UML) is a major task that must take place in order to fulfil an operation contract. Activities can be represented in activity diagrams. An activity can represent: The invocation of an operation. A step in a business process.” … Says Wikipedia.
3. Who is a business analyst and what is Business analysis?
While business analysis is a process, the business analyst is the role who executes it.
4. Can you name some tools used for business analysis?
While working on Windows platform, I prefer MS Visio, Microsoft Projects, MS Word, MS Excel, MS PowerPoint. In Mac OSX I prefer OmniGraffle along with Microsoft Office tools. While collaborating online, I use tools like Google Docs, Draw.io, Lucidchart, SmartDraw.
5. Can you define INVEST?
INVEST stands for Independent, Negotiable, Valuable, Estimable, Sized Appropriately, Testable.
6. Define at least three of the different types of diagrams/visual models that business analysts use regularly.
Process Flow Diagram, Data Flow Diagram, User Interface Wireframes
To understand visual models better, please read the following links:
7. What do you understand by benchmarking?
Benchmarking is the process of finding out areas of improvement and competitive analysis.
8. How do measure the merit of a requirement?
A requirement has to be SMART. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely.
9. What is the difference between FRS, PRD, TRD, SRS, MRD, BRD?
Documents are differentiated depending on the target audience. Here is an excellent Medium article which explains each of these documents with examples.
10. According to you what are the most desired qualities of a business analyst?
Leadership, documentation, excellent communication skills, both written and verbal, understanding of system engineering and modelling concepts.
11. What is Pareto Analysis and Kano Model?
Pareto Analysis is a statistical technique in decision-making. Click here for Wikipedia definition.
The Kano model is a theory of product development and customer satisfaction. Here is the Wikipedia definition.
12. What is FMEA analysis?
FMEA is Failure Mode and Effects Analysis. It is the detailed process to identify failure possibilities of a system. It is also called Potential failure modes and effects analysis; failure modes, effects and criticality analysis (FMECA).
13. What is a 100-point method and 8-omega?
The 100-point method is a prioritization methodology that can be used to prioritize items in a group. It is often used by BAs for requirement prioritization.
8 Omega is a business framework adapted by organizations in the transformation and improvement of their business processes. Its key factors are Strategy, People, Process, Technology.
14. What is a use case and mis-use case?
As Wikipedia says… “In software and systems engineering, a use case is a list of actions or event steps typically defining the interactions between a role (known in the Unified Modelling Language as an actor) and a system to achieve a goal.”
Misuse or mis-use is the inverse of use case which defines all possible negative activities that can be performed by the actor.
15. What is SQUARE?
SQUARE means Security Quality Requirements Engineering.
16. Can you define PEST?
It stands for Political, Economic, Social, and Technological. It is used to analyse the business environment.
If you have worked in Agile, then the interviewer may ask you questions relating to the Agile manifesto. Below are some Agile questions:
17. Can you define Agile and Scrum?
18. Who is a Product Owner?
19. Differentiate between Scrum and Kanban.
20. What is Product Backlog & Sprint Backlog?
21. What is Velocity in Agile?
22. What is re-factoring?
There will be some open-ended questions like:
23. What is your requirement elicitation strategy?
24. Where do you see the role of a business analyst fitting into an organization?
25. How do you manage the difficult stakeholders?
You have to develop your own strategy to answer open-ended questions, these answers are going to be a differentiator between an ordinary professional and someone above the fold.
Business Analyst Interview Tips
Stay positive and calm. Your body language is important.
Choose your attire carefully.
Emphasize on behavioural characteristics like ethics, trustworthiness and personal organization.
Make sure you know your current organization’s business well.
Be a good listener but be interactive at the same time.
Depict your analytical and problem-solving side of the persona.
Some more helpful resources to prepare for BA interview.
I hope this article helps to prepare for your next Business Analyst interview. Feel free to share your views in the comments section.