Tips for Business/Data Analyst Take Home Assessments
I've had four take-home assessments while searching for a business/data analyst role. These evaluate a candidate's skills and abilities in a real world scenario. Take home assessments are projects companies give. Companies ask you to analyze a data set and (sometimes) create a data visualization based on your findings. They may ask you to write a short report instead of a visualization or you may have to do both. As a note these can vary between companies. This is based on my own personal experience and what I've heard from others in my network.
Below is a general outline of the interview process when I've been given a take home assessment.
Initial interview. This is an introductory call to tell me more about the role and company. And for the company to learn more about my background, experience and skills.
Assigned a take-home assessment. Then if the company moves me forward in the interview process they give me a take-home assessment. These test my ability in specific skills like SQL, Tableau, or Excel. Along with assessing my problem solving abilities, communication skills, and how well I would do with the companies data. The company also gives a specific time frame to complete it (3-5 hours is typical). Along with a due date.
Feedback. After I submit my assessment the company gives me feedback. This has either been through email or they jump on a call and we discuss my findings and thought process.
Take home assessments are often used instead of technical interviews. Which are interviews designed to test a candidate's technical skills. The interviewer gives the candidate a coding or problem solving exercise/s. It is rare but some companies may require both a take home assessment and a technical interview. But usually it's either one or the other. But this article is focusing on take home assessments not
Below are the tips for the actual take home assessment:
Ask questions. If you don't understand what the assessment is asking contact whoever send you the assessment and get clarification
Stick to the given time frame. The company will give you a rough estimate of how long they expect the assessment to take. Most of mine have been 3-5 hours. If they don't, ask the person who gave you the assessment. While It's important to do the task as well as you can don't spend all your time on this project.
Focus on what the answer. Specifically on next steps with the data and business recommendations. Be sure you're answering the question they're asking and not making things look pretty.
Double check your work. Make sure your analysis is accurate and the results are consistent with the questions you need to answer.
Understand the data. Spend time understanding the data. The key metrics, data types, and what the columns mean. Then you can look for outliers, and identify patterns and trends.
The company may want you to write a report or present the assessment on a call/in-person. Here are extra suggestions for that:
Show your thought process. Explain your thought process, the assumptions you made, and the methods you used to analyze or visualize your data. This will give the interviewer insight on how you approach and solve problems.
Be clear and concise. The analysis should be concise and clear. Don't use technical terms, make it so anyone can understand your report/visualization.
Remember to be creative and stand out but also practical. The most important part is answer the question they asked and provide clear and actionable insights. Lastly, turn in the assessment on time. Double and even triple check when you need to submit the assessment. Nothing worse than doing all this work and realizing you missed the deadline.
Good luck on your next take home assessment!