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What Essential Skills Should You Look For When Hiring an Analyst? Brooks Bell Experts Share Their Insight

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The importance of a good analyst can’t be overstated. If your organization is data-driven (and it should be), an analyst provides unparalleled guidance and insight: He or she identifies where to allocate resources, influences company strategy, guides growth, and helps you measure performance.

So how do you know if your candidate has what it takes to be a standout employee? At Brooks Bell, we know the qualities of a solid data scientist. Our experts explain what to look for when hiring one:

Jeremy Andrews headshot“A lot of people think that an analyst’s main job is to examine things in hindsight. But there’s actually a lot foresight involved.”
-Jeremy Andrews, Senior Optimization Engineer at Brooks Bell

A good analyst does more than make sense of numbers, says our senior optimization engineer. He or she must:

  • Identify elements that aren’t currently tracked and need to be
  • Recognize potential test collisions (live or future)
  • Consider how events like marketing releases and upcoming promos may affect the data

Communication is also very important, he says, as analysts are the ones who have to make the data tell the story.

“They have to take a lot of technical concepts around the data and make them easily digestible to people who don’t work with numbers,” he says.

Dave Rose“Analysts need to be able to communicate the meaning of numbers in more than one way all the time.”
-Dave Rose, Director, Optimization Consulting – Analytics at Brooks Bell

The importance of communication is echoed by Dave Rose. Good analysts love data and are excited about problem solving. Beyond that, they need to able to speak to their audience, he says.

It’s a lesson he learned from his past career in teaching.

“If your audience says, ‘I’m not quite sure what you mean,’ you can’t say the same thing over and over again and expect them to get it,” he says. “They didn’t say they can’t hear you; they said they couldn’t understand you.”

Suzi Tripp headshot“It’s crucial to find someone who is not only good at analyzing the data but can tell a story with it.”
-Suzi Tripp, Senior Director, Experimentation Strategy at Brooks Bell

 

Storytelling was a frequent theme among our experts. According to our senior director of experimentation strategy, the value of data isn’t in the columns and rows of numbers—it’s in the ability to clearly articulate what that data means to non-analytics people.

To that end, your analyst should be able to share the story of what is happening and not just state the final results.

Technical skills are also important, she says. “Being familiar with the functionality of the site and the test cells allows analysts to better understand what users are doing along the path and explain the behavior behind the data.”

Reid Bryant“If you post an analyst position, you’ll probably get a lot of people with IT or information system backgrounds. They want to be left alone in a room. Those people are largely unsuited for an analyst role.”
-Reid Bryant, VP, Data Science and Analytics at Brooks Bell

So how do you know if someone is a tech-savvy, storytelling numbers nerd? During the interview, ask open-ended questions that don’t have a definitive yes or no answer, says our VP of data science and analytics.

Try to determine if your interviewee is thinking through the questions, trying to weigh the pros and cons. A promising answer is one that provides supporting information.

Questions to ask yourself during the interview include:

  • Are they persuasive?
  • Do they speak well?
  • Could they hold people’s attention?

If someone seems engaging and well spoken, you’ll need to see if they can do the job through an Excel test.

“When you see how their mind works from a technical perspective, you’ll know right away,” Reid says.

What skills do you look for when hiring an analyst? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.