Top 5 Business Intelligence Interview Tips

Did you know that the BI industry is set to grow 10% more over the next 5 years? What this means for you is simple: now is the perfect time to land a job in the BI industry! With a very positive outlook and jobs seemingly sprouting from nowhere, the BI industry is in fact continuing its growth spurt.

This also means that it’s time to dust off that interview outfit you have hanging in your closet and get ready to sit down with some hiring managers. You might be thinking to yourself: “I haven’t been to an interview in a while, what do I do?” or “This is going to be my first business intelligence interview. Ever. I’m genuinely scared.” To that we say: don’t worry. We have you covered.

Since it’s easier than ever to land a job in the BI industry, we want you to arrive at that BI interview with all the bases covered and ready to hit a home run. Rest assured that once you finish reading this, you’ll be the best candidate those hiring managers will have ever interviewed. 

And to make it even easier for you, we’ll break everything down in this very handy top 5 tips to help you shine in your BI interview.

Insider tip 1: Know the company that’s interviewing you

It’s a rookie mistake, but it’s a mistake nonetheless. Before the business intelligence interview, make sure to conduct some research about the company that’s considering hiring you. You see, when interviewing for a position,  hiring managers not only look for someone who has the technical know-how that the BI position requires, but they’re also seeing if the candidate is a good fit in the company. 

Therefore, if you’re a self-professed PowerBI wiz, and you make the mistake of bashing other BI software in the interview (in a company that does all of its data visualization in Tableau), you’re going to be in a little trouble.

How do you get around this? Simple. If you have a preference for one software over another, or one programming language over another, do let the interviewer know. But also make sure to point out that you’re just as eager to be proficient in any other software, and that knowing one just makes learning the other all the more easier.

Insider tip 2: Brush up on your technical skills

Interviews have come a long way over the past 20 years. Long gone are the days where all it took was having an accreditation from a fancy educational institution to land you the job. Now, more and more hiring managers are conducting on-site technical skills tests to see if you really know what you’re talking about. Sometimes they’re short, like Facebook’s 45 minute screening interview, or exhaustingly long, like Amazon’s 5 hour on-site interview.

The point is, these hiring managers will put you on the spot to see just how well you know your stuff.

How do you tackle this? Simple. Before a BI interview, boot up your computer and tackle a few Kaggle challenges. Join the Tableau community in a #MakeoverMonday session. Take a random data set and work on it from beginning to end. Bring all the knowledge you have archived in your brain up to the forefront and have it available at the tip of your fingers by the time the interview rolls around.

BI interview

Insider tip 3: Get to know the most common questions asked in BI interview (and how to answer them)

There are many companies out there looking to hire new people to fill their BI positions. But that doesn’t mean each company is going to have a unique set of questions meant to surprise you. Getting caught in the headlights in an interview is one of the worst things that can happen, but you can minimize that risk to almost 0 by prepping a handful of common BI interview questions. 

Defining BI, explaining what you consider to be the most impactful visualizations, SQL statements. They’re all so common across the board, you’re bound to bump into them often in interviews.

How do you handle the heat? Simple. Brush up on the basics of BI and its theory. By reading up on the building blocks of business intelligence, its definitions and its building blocks, you can rest assured that none of those common questions are going to blind-side you. Remember though, don’t try to memorize any answers. Answer them the way you’d naturally do it.

Insider tip 4: Be prepared to answer strange questions

What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow? No, not that type of strange question. Hiring managers might prep an interview question in which they ask you something that might seem out of the blue or not related to the topic at hand. 

“How would you describe the color red to a blind person?” “How much does the Chrysler building weigh?” “If you woke up and had 2,000 unread emails and could only answer 300 of them, how would you choose which ones to answer?”. Those are all valid interview questions, albeit not ones to judge your technical skills.

How do you face this challenge? Simple. These out-of-the-blue questions don’t usually measure your technical capacities, but are more aimed to see how you react on the spot and what kind of answer you give. These questions aren’t so much about the answer as they are about the process. In other words, if one of these questions comes up, don’t worry. Breathe, and answer what comes to mind. It’s hard to prep for these, but try to answer those three to get your brain juices flowing.

BI Interview tips
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Insider tip 5: You’re there for a reason

If you’ve been called to the interview, it’s because the HR personnel or the hiring manager sees some potential in you. They saw your information on a pile of possible a hundred others, and decided to call you. Therefore, you have what it takes to get your foot in the door. Now it’s up to you to prove you have what it takes.

Interviews are a place where hiring managers get to know the candidates and their skills, so you want to walk in there and shine. No one knows you better than you do, and the interview is about you.

How do you do this? Simple. In an interview, you’re not going to be asked a question you’re not expected to know. You’re applying for a BI position, and you’re not going to be asked a medical question. Find comfort in the fact that you’re there because the managers want you there, and that in and of itself should make you feel comfortable about your skills.

Bonus insider tip: Stretch before the interview

Interviews are stressful situations. If you’ve been to more than you can count or if it’s your first one, the stress is always present. Stress has a way of getting the body, and the mind, tense, and therefore not adequate to being correctly evaluated.

In a business intelligence interview, you want to be as relaxed as possible. That way, you can take the command of the situation and really shine in the interview room.

How is this possible? Simple. Stretch. Nothing else needed. Say you have an interview at 11:00AM in corporate HQ. You arrive 15 minutes early and you excuse yourself to the bathroom. In the privacy of the bathroom, stretch. Feel the tension disappearing by stretching your back, arms, shoulders, legs, whatever calls out to you at the moment. Odds are, once you’re done stretching and walking into that interview room, you’re ready to knock it out of the park.


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