A video on the same topic is linked at the bottom of this article. Skip reading and watch the video.
For a change, let’s tackle an easy interview question in this post:
What is your favourite diagram?
You should enjoy answering this question. Use it to relax and take a breath between more gruelling and demanding parts of the interview.
That is if you have a favourite diagram. If this question does not stump you.
Otherwise, you have some work to do. A business analyst must have at least a few models and diagrams in their tool belt. You should be able to understand what each diagram is used for, how to create it and recognize it when you see one.
If you need help here, check out a set of videos on my Why Change YouTube channel and a section on business modelling in the video course Business Analysis for Professionals Changing Careers.
If you have a few diagrams in mind that you use regularly in your business analysis activities, how would you answer this question?
Talk about why you like modelling, and why this particular diagram.
When would you create it?
How it can be used?
Do you have a professional portfolio, in a binder or a digital format, with some examples?
This is a perfect moment to show one – and it will make you more memorable.
Of course, make sure that your examples are high-quality. Remember the three C’s of modelling – Clarity, Consistency and Conciseness.
These examples should not contain anything confidential. If you have created diagrams at your previous workplace, either modify them significantly to remove any confidential or identifying information, making them more generic and hypothetical, or better yet, create similar diagrams for a fictional project.
Be prepared to explain each diagram: the goal is to demonstrate your ability to create quality diagrams and use them appropriately.
Perhaps, you can also think of a little story to go with each diagram? For example, have you used it to resolve a requirements conflict or to discover a gap?
This could lead the interview in a direction beneficial for you and allow you to show off your competencies. Using business analysis tools and techniques to handle difficult situations and resolve conflicting opinions shows your BA mindset and experience.
Now, what diagrams you might talk about? Here is a list to start with:
- context model
- process flow
- conceptual data model
- use case diagram
- decision tree
- state transition diagram
- data flow diagram
For a senior position, you may want to go beyond this list. How about a user story map, fishbone diagram or business architecture models?
If any of these are unfamiliar to you, you know what to do next:
- research each diagram
- learn the notation and study examples
- practice creating the diagram
Tools like LucidChart offer many free templates even with a limited account.
There are only two ways to fail this question (and potentially the interview).
- You don’t know any diagrams.
- You start talking about a diagram and reveal that you misunderstand it.
So, if you want to land a business analyst job, you have to invest time and effort into learning about business modelling.
To practice, you can create a sample diagram about anything.
For example, whatever you do for a living, you must follow a process in your job – you should be able to come up with a simple process flow for that.
If you work for a company – what are the interactions of this company with partners and customers? You can create a context model about it.
What are the main business data entities in your line of work? Use your knowledge to design a conceptual data model.
Learn, and again, practice. Proficiency in business modelling will make you a better business analyst.
Business Analysis Techniques – Process Analysis
Expanding the Use of a Use Case Diagram
How To Create a Conceptual Data Model
How to Create Decision Trees for Business Rules Analysis
Context Model Example: Daycare
To learn more about business analysis process and techniques, check out my book Business Analyst: A Profession and a Mindset and learning videos on the Why Change channel.
To practice and prepare for interviews, enroll in my video course Job Interview Clinic (with BA Extras).