Interview Questions for Business Analysts and Systems Analysts

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How do you salvage a meeting when it gets derailed by a difficult stakeholder?

Posted by Chris Adams

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


As a Business Analyst, you work with all types of people in different positions throughout the company and beyond. No two people are the same on any given day.  You are bound to come across a difficult stakeholder.  How do you salvage a meeting when it takes a turn due to a difficult stakeholder?

This kind of question can pop-up in any type of interview - not just for BAs, yet it still feels like an intimidating question to answer no matter how commonplace it is.  As with any interview question, you must remain calm.  Take a moment if you need it.  Gather your thoughts.  

Scan your memory for past employment situations.  If you don’t have one, think about times when you were at school.  Possibly working on a project where you were paired with people you didn’t know or got along with.

When questions like this are posed, the interviewer is looking to see how you handle yourself, especially when it comes on so quickly, you didn’t plan for it.  What are your problem-solving skills and your ability to think quickly on the spot? The interviewer is also looking to see how you communicate and more importantly how you would diffuse the situation to the point that in the end, everyone has left in a better state than at the rise of the situation.  

It is also worth noting that many interviewers are looking to see the answers presented in the STAR method.  So preparing this ahead of an interview will greatly help.  

You want to start with the situation.  This is where you describe the scenario, however, try to be as concise as possible.  There’s no need to provide every single detail.  Keep it brief:

“During my last project, the team, including the client who was conferenced in, discussed a feature.  The client seemingly asked to have the software perform something unethical.  A development manager immediately got upset and notified the client they couldn't have it.”

Next is the task of the situation.  This is where you explain your involvement.  “As the lead BA representing the team, I chaired the meeting and opened the conference line.  I also took notes, posting them to the team site. 

Next, in the Action part, you describe what you did and how you helped.  “Recognizing the shock, surprise, and anger, I asked the client to go on hold.  From there, the whole group discussed, quickly, what happened and how to proceed. The team agreed the manager had to leave the room and that we should evaluate the requirements, stating nothing was final.”

Lastly, the results, where you share your shining moment.  And if the end result was negative, you should explain the lessons you learned.  No one wants to hear “And because of it, I got fired.  The end!”

Instead, “The room, full of my teammates, had calmed down and became orderly.  As the room quieted, I took the client off hold.  I apologized for the outburst and most importantly, explained that wasn’t necessarily the feeling of the whole team.  We needed additional time to go over your request before we provide the course of action.”

You need to leave the interviewer feeling like what you did was important and saved the situation.  In fact, you could bring it home if you mentioned how much the company saved (specific figures when possible) or that the client didn’t suggest they’ll take their business elsewhere.    

Angela Spring
Business Systems Analyst
LinkedIn Profile



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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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