If I was asked to give someone only one piece of advice about job interviews, it would be this.
You should expect the unexpected, so just relax and be your best self.
However, if I were allowed more than one tip, I would recommend preparing for several typical interview questions.
Just consider this: people that will be interviewing you may also be searching for questions to ask in an interview, just like you are seeking advice on how to answer the same questions.
So, both sides can play the game – and this is where this series of articles comes in.
While I will customize the advice to the business analysis job family, most of the tips are transferable to other jobs.
In this first article, let’s talk about one of the most important questions. This is especially hard for those that want to switch careers:
Why do you want to be a <insert job category>?
Why do you want to be a business analyst?
Of course, in an interview, this question can take a variety of forms, for example:
What makes you think you will make a good business analyst?
What attracts you to business analysis roles?
Why do you want to change the direction of your career?
Regardless of the wording, your interviewer wants to know how serious you are about this career, or even better, to see your passion for a particular career path. And let’s be frank here.
You don’t just need to prepare an answer for the interview itself. You need to know the answer for your own sake.
So, if you’re thinking of switching careers to business analysis, do the following exercise.
Take a piece of paper, divide it into two columns and think about your reasons for changing careers.
In one column write down why do you want to leave your current job or current career.
It may be a lack of perspective, poor pay, or the job is simply boring and uninteresting.
Those are your negative reasons – the reasons why you don’t like where you are anymore and why you are seeking a change.
By itself, this is not sufficient for you to make a career move.
You also need positive reasons that will help you answer these questions:
Why do you want to be a business analyst, out of all the jobs in the world?
What’s in it for you?
Why do you think you will be happier or more satisfied?
What makes you believe you will be good at it?
Why would you want to risk a career change – are you sure it is worth it?
And this is where on the other side of the paper you can list what attracts you to this job.
Is this the communication aspect?
Do you like modelling and analyzing processes?
Are you good at digging into data and noticing patterns?
Are you interested in solving business problems and finding innovative solutions?
Do you want to stay close to information technology but at the same time be part of a business group?
Are you looking for new learning opportunities and growth?
When you consider these questions, you have to think objectively – as objectively as you can when it comes to your abilities and interests.
Your answer should become your positive reasons – motivations.
Now consider what motivates you, what encourages you to take a potentially risky step of changing careers?
This is exactly what you need to articulate when you answer this interview question.
Prepare your answer
So how can you prepare? How do you know whether you really want to be a business analyst and why?
You must research and understand the essential components of the business analysis job family.
You need to know what this job is about.
What would you be doing every day?
What are the typical business analysis activities?
What will you need to produce?
As part of the exercise, consider what competencies are required, and then match it up with your competencies, abilities and skills.
Compare these with what you like to do, what gives you satisfaction, and what tickles your brain enough so that you would want to go to work every day.
Ask for advice from a recruiter, a career councilor, or an experienced business analyst.
Doing this exercise will help you understand whether this career is for you.
Once you are confident in the answer, you will be able to answer the same question in an interview. Then you can sound persuasive, like a person that knows what they are talking about.
And this is exactly what your interviewers will be looking for.
Best of success!
To practice and prepare for interviews, enroll in my video course Job Interview Clinic (with BA Extras).