A video on the same topic is linked at the bottom of this article. Skip reading and watch the video.
When you prepare for a job interview, one of your priorities is to get ready for the most frequently asked questions. Here is the question from the top of the list – how will you answer it?
The essence of the question is, why should we choose you over other candidates?
It may also sound like:
What is special about you?
Why should we hire you?
What makes you different from other candidates?
What are your strengths?
Regardless of how this question is posed to you, you need to know the answer, and you need to know it for yourself.
You must know your strengths and how you can stand out because that is what you need to convey to your interviewers.
To have a good answer prepared, you must do some analysis on yourself.
What are your strengths? What about weaknesses?
Start this analysis with the information you can get from trusted sources: your job performance reviews, feedback from your professors or your managers, and advice from your mentors or colleagues.
Your friends and family can tell you honestly what you are good at and what are your weak sides.
Now, add your self-analysis – what comes naturally to you? What activities make you feel good about your abilities? When do you feel most confident?
How many strengths do you have on your list now? Probably more than three. Now choose those most relevant to business analysis – this is what your interviewers want to hear.
To do that, compare them to a list of business analysis competencies:
- Communication skills
- Analytical and problem-solving skills
- Conflict resolution
- Understanding technology
- Business acumen
- Articulate and clear writing
- Creating visuals and diagrams
- Ability to explain and teach complex concepts simply
These skills and competencies are important to your success as a business analyst.
Now compare it to the list of your strengths and find common themes. Highlight those and move on to the next step.
One fine point
One issue with considering business analysis competencies and soft skills is that many people will say the same things about themselves:
I have very good communication skills.
I am very analytical.
I am organized and detail oriented.
These statements are too simplistic and generic.
By limiting your answers to one of these statements, you will blend with many others into one stereotypical and forgettable candidate.
You have to be more specific, and think about how your strengths combine to make you unique.
Perhaps, you are really good at data analysis and know how to apply analytics tools for market research and customer segmentation.
Or, you have a strong technology background (insert specifics here) that helps you discuss the solution design with the development team.
You could mention your process reengineering experience and how you were always complimented on the clarity of your written process documentation.
You may be very good at diagramming, or have web design experience which makes you really good at creating wireframes or mocking up user interfaces.
If you’ve worked as a help desk analyst, talk about what you’ve learned about problem solving and how to apply it in various business situations.
And if you’ve had a customer-facing job, think about the strengths you’ve built up related to working with people, listening, empathy or persuasive skills.
You should be able to come up with something even if you’ve never held the title “business analyst” because a lot of experiences we have in other jobs are relevant to business analysis.
So, think about making yourself harder to forget. Offer something you can bring to the table from the first day on the job.
Remember: you have a unique combination of strengths and skills that you can make relevant to the job – just figure out what it is.
Then, convey this during your interview, do it confidently, and it will greatly increase your chances for success.
Best of success!
To practice and prepare for interviews, enroll in my video course Job Interview Clinic (with BA Extras).