Interview Questions for Business Analysts and Systems Analysts

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What are a few characteristics of a top business analyst?

Posted by Chris Adams

Article Rating // 31743 Views // 7 Additional Answers & Comments

Categories: Business Analysis, Systems Analysis, Roles and Responsibilities, General


1) They deeply understand the business problem being solved. 
Most business analysts end up solving the wrong problem. Well, maybe not the wrong problem but not quite the right problem.  Often analyst might be solving a related problem but haven’t really identified the root problem.  Top business analyst have the ability to properly frame and structure complex business problems such that they are more readily understood by the entire team and the root problem is the one being solved. They also repeatedly question who, what, when, where, why and how to ensure that they right problem is fully revealed.

2) They are excellent translators and negotiators.
Business analysts are constantly interacting with different types of team members from business people with almost no detailed knowledge of technology to the most skilled developers.  One group speaks the language of business and the other speaks the language of IT.  Rarely the two groups are able to smoothly communicate with one another.  The business analyst is the translator between the two.  Top business analysts understand both languages and are excellent at translating between these two groups.

Business analysts must also be adept negotiators.  Different business stakeholders will often have competing needs.  Similarly, those things that are important to the IT group might not be what is important to the business stakeholders, and vice versa.  Business analysts must be able to explain the positions of each group and negotiate a common plan and direction to move forward.

3) They must be able to view the project from the highest to the lowest levels.
As the project carries on, the business analyst will get involved at an increasingly detailed level.  The team will be making hundreds, if not thousands, of decisions about the features and behavior of the application.  This is the critical point when the business analyst must be able to view the project from a high-level as well.  The best business analysts have the ability to keep all involved parties focused on the big picture and longer term benefits of the software even when in the midst of detail and fast approaching deadlines. 

4) They understand technology and its limits.
Business stakeholders rarely have enough technical knowledge to know what capabilities exist that will best solve their problem.  Similarly, they often don’t realize that technology decisions impact each other.  Once one specific architectural decision is made, other technical capabilities may no longer be supported.  Top business analysts will have enough technical understanding to be able to advise the business stakeholders of what can and can’t be done when it comes to software solutions.

In addition, some technical solutions while possible are just too costly to make sense.  The business analyst should be able to communicate software decisions in terms of TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) and ROI (Return on Investment) and direct the business stakeholders to make the most cost effective decision.

5) They have credibility with the business.
While business analysts can come from either a business background or an IT background they must have credibility with the business stakeholders.  Usually, this means that strong business analysts first start out on the business side and slowly develop an interest in the technical side over time.  Since they already have a detailed understanding of the business processes and business problems that are being automated and solved the have almost immediate credibility with the business stakeholders.

It’s not impossible for an IT person to become a business analyst, but convincing people on the business side of the organization that an IT person has a strong understanding of what they do is a difficult feat.  Additionally, many IT workers have difficulties translating the IT speak into something that the business stakeholders can comprehend.

6) They enjoy interacting with people and are excellent communicators.
Communication and collaboration are vital skills for any business analyst.  The best business analyst are adept communicators and prefer interacting with team members rather than keeping to themselves in their cubicles or office.  Being an active communicator minimizes the chance that information doesn’t get fully disseminated across the team and it increases team cohesion. Additionally, the superb communication skills of a strong business analyst ensures that the true requirements of the software are understood and conveyed to the development team accordingly.



Brian Almonte posted on Thursday, November 28, 2013 2:10 AM
Modern business relies heavily on information technology as part of its operations. This makes business systems analysts an integral part of the modern corporation. Systems analysts design and develop new information technology systems and develop ways to use existing systems to accomplish a company's goals. In addition, systems analysts help company leaders assess the financial feasibility of investing in new technologies.

Thanks for sharing kind information with us!
Brian Almonte
hemal posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 10:22 PM
Regarding # 3, every project goes through a phase where the volume of change coming into a project becomes simply overwhelming and as a business analyst, your key role then is to critically evaluate every piece of change and verify whether it meets the objectives of the project (as outlined in the charter or BRD). By doing so, a business analyst is effectively ensuring that the sponsor money is well spent and aligns with the overall direction of the project!
SarahM posted on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 10:00 AM
I have been a contractor for many years, and more and more I see technical abilities like SQL, webservices, mobile system knowledge being requested. BA jobs are morphing into BSA jobs.
Additionally the Agile model has self managed team composed of cross functional individuals, so many more abilities including planning testing, etc are needed beyond the traditional BA skill set.
SS posted on Sunday, August 16, 2015 9:51 AM
A Person with IT knowledge can in fact become a better BA because he can understand both business and IT, because not everybody can understand technical and if a BA comes from a IT background its a win win situation.
christopherjames posted on Wednesday, August 21, 2019 11:06 PM
@SS, I don't necessarily agree with that. Coming from a technical background does have its advantages, yes when it comes to working with the development team and quality analysts. However the ability to effectively communicate with your non-technical stakeholders in non-technical jargon is imperative and from experience, I have found that BA's that come from a tech background are unable to switch that side of them off.
Stewart F posted on Thursday, August 29, 2019 2:31 AM
@SS, Like ChristopherJames, I'm not sure I would agree with that either. The reverse is also true that an IT background BA may not understand how a non-IT project (i.e. a Process re-engineering project) may work.

Whichever background a BA comes from, they will need to learn the other and as CJ says, its the core skills of listening, gathering requirements and understanding what the 'ask' is that is key.

I would also query Brian's comment about there being a difference between BSA and BA's. I think these days they are one and the same. Certainly over here in the UK, it s very unusual to see an advert for a BSA role. 95% of the time it is for a BA who also has technical capabilities. Interesting discussion to have there though. Certainly when I am looking to expand my team I am looking for a BA, not a BSA and I work for a New Age Tech company.
Stewart F
Sumit 01 posted on Monday, September 16, 2019 3:49 PM
Role of a BA (BABOOK)
1. Understanding enterprise problems and goals
2. Analyzing needs and solutions,
3. devising strategies,
4. Driving change, and
5. facilitating stakeholder collaboration.
Sumit 01
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Do your homework prior to the business analysis interview!

Having an idea of the type of questions you might be asked during a business analyst interview will not only give you confidence but it will also help you to formulate your thoughts and to be better prepared to answer the interview questions you might get during the interview for a business analyst position.  Of course, just memorizing a list of business analyst interview questions will not make you a great business analyst but it might just help you get that next job.



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