Increasingly, businesses base their decisions on big data.
Maybe that's why according to IBM, the number of jobs for US data professionals will increase by 364,000 job openings to 2,720,000 by the year 2020.
Currently, business data analyst roles are some of the most challenging to fill because data analysts are in short supply and high demand.
We understand that hiring the perfect data analyst can be challenging, but we've got you covered with this comprehensive guide. Take a look at our best tips on hiring a top data analyst here and check out our main site for more information.
Read on to check them out!
What is a data analyst?
We know it's a role in high demand but what exactly is a data analyst and what do they do?
A data analyst reviews data to identify trends and insights into a business. They evaluate massive data sets to ways the data can be used to inform decisions, solve problems, and improve business practices. In other words, a data analyst acquires information about specific topics and then interprets, analyzes, and presents findings in comprehensive reports in order to tackle specific business tasks using existing tools, systems, and data sets.
Many different types of businesses use data analysts to solve issues that cost the company money and to help make decisions for expanding the business.
So, what makes a good data analyst? If you're wondering about the skills and competencies data analyst candidates should possess, you're in luck because we have an entire guide dedicated to how to become an analyst that will give you some background.
The short version is that you're looking for a candidate that:
- Has moderate math and statistical skills
- Has a strong business acumen
- Has moderate computer science/coding skills
- Can develop key performance indicators
- Can create visualizations of your data
- Knows how to use business intelligence and analytics tools.
According to Payscale.com data, the average salary for data analysts is $57,261 a year. Of course, factors like degree level, years of experience, industry certifications, and involvement in professional organizations can affect the actual salary paid.
For detailed salary and compensation information refer to our 2020 IT & Engineering Salary Guide.
What are some common data analyst interview questions and answers?
If you're looking to hire a data analyst, one of the most important parts of the hiring process is the technical screening. How else will you separate the unqualified applicants from the high quality candidates?
Here are some SQL interview questions for data analysts you can use during the interview -- plus, the answers you should look for in a candidate's answer -- to help you in your search for the right analyst.
- Q: What is the difference between Data Mining and Data Analysis? A: Data mining is performed when seeking to identify patterns present in a particular data set. In many cases, machine learning is involved allowing analysts to simply recognize patterns with the help of algorithms. On the other hand, data analysis involves gathering insights from raw data. In some instances the analyst will have to clean and organize the data before analyzing it.
- Q: What is the process of Data Analysis? A: In a nutshell, data analysis is the process by which data is collected, cleaned, inspected, transformed, and modeled in order to extract valuable business insights. Your candidate's answer should show they understand what happens in each state of the process.
- Q: Can you mention a few problems that data analyst usually encounter while performing the analysis? A: Some common problems an analysts would encounter are duplicate entries, spelling mistakes, and other errors that reduce data quality as well as incomplete data.
- Q: What is SQL? A: SQL is an acronym for structured query language, a language used to communicate with the database and perform tasks like retrieval, updating, insertion, and deletion of data.
- Q: What do data analysts do? A: This may seem like a basic question but you want to make sure the candidate has a solid understanding of data analysis. You will also get to observe how they communicate.
- Q: Which data analysis software are you well-versed in? A: Some common tools used in data analysis are Microsoft Access, Microsoft Excel, SQL, SAS software, Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Python, Tableau, and Google AdWords. If you discover that a candidate is unfamiliar with your software stack, you may want to offer them additional training or go with a more experienced candidate.
- Q: Can you tell me about a project you worked on? A: This open-ended question will give you insights into how the candidate collaborates with others, solves problems with data, spots patterns, communicates their results, and their critical thinking and creativity levels.
Where to Hire Data Analysts
Because the role is relatively new, you may be asking yourself, “Where can I find data analysts to hire?" To help you choose wisely, here are some tips on how (and where) employers can select and on-board the right data analyst.
- Start Your Search Online -- Because data professionals are constantly networking, sharing information on their projects, and participating in their various communities you should begin looking for your candidate in those same places. Forums like KDNuggets, Kaggle, and Data Science Central, and the Cross Validated community on Stack Overflow are some of the most well-known communities for data analysts. You should also check out platforms like LinkedIn and Quora where you can find data professionals asking questions and sharing industry insights.
- Don't Overlook Offline Methods -- Consider attending in-person events like data science meetups, career fairs, and local industry events where you are very likely to meet your next business data analyst.
- Focus On Project-Specific Experience -- The successful candidate will have a strong understanding of analysis methods, statistics, basic programming, as well as a working knowledge of different data types. The best way to narrow your search is to ask candidates about specific data projects they've worked on so you can hear about their experience and how they solve data problems.
- Look for Someone Who Can Help Your Company -- Because so many different kinds of companies employ data analysts in so many different capacities, you want to make sure your potential hire can work effectively with your particular product or data stack. For example, if you work in the retail industry, does the candidate have experience in retail?
- Other places you can find a reputable data analyst to hire -- For project-based roles you can check freelancing websites like Upwork or work with a trusted recruiter that has engineering talent available, For example, if you're looking for diverse team cultures and projects, you can always ask us about our staffing solutions for both large and small projects. You can write a job description for the role and post it on sites like Monster, Glassdoor, or Ziprecruiter.
If you're looking for a top data analyst to join your team and you'd like to learn more about how we can help, we'd be happy to talk.