How to hire a Data Analyst – top 5 skills and how to identify them

Thinking about building a data function in your scale-up? To become a data-driven business you need data focussed individuals. You don’t necessarily need a data team at the outset and you’re unlikely to have the resources to be able to do so. But as you grow, developing a team focussed on data will fast track your growth, providing the rest of the business with actionable insight. Before starting the hiring process you need to understand the difference between data professionals, to identify which position would be the best fit for your scale-up. Do you want to hire a Data Analyst, Engineer or Scientist? Do you need all three, or just one? What does the hiring process look like?

kleene was built for Analysts, by Analysts, so we think they’re pretty important in a business. To discover what they can do for you, check out our blog What is a Data Analyst & what can they do for your business?

Once you know what they do and if you need one, you need to know how to hire a Data Analyst.

When hiring, you need to know which skills you’re looking for and how to recognise them in your candidates. A Data Analyst should be able to apply a scientific methodology to business questions. The role combines mathematical, analytical and problem solving skills, with interpersonal and teamwork skills.

Top 5 skills of a Data Analyst

  1. Technical capabilities – All Data Analysts need to be able to process, analyse and interact with data, in order to uncover the answers the business needs. Synthesising data and being able to present it clearly through dashboards and visualisation tools are key Analyst skills. Most importantly, the ability to read and write SQL is essential.
  2. Commercial awareness – To do the job well, an Analyst has to have a thorough understanding of the commercial focus of the business so that they can also understand the business problems. 
  3. Communication skills – A Data Analyst must have strong communication skills (written and verbal) in order to converse and collaborate with colleagues and clients. Good listening skills and knowing how to ask the right questions are key. 
  4. Stakeholder interaction and management – To understand the business issue that needs analysing and to extract the wants and needs of clients, a Data Analyst must be able to interact with senior stakeholders. Asking the right questions to uncover the ‘why’ is key. Strong stakeholder interaction and management skills will enable the Analyst to provide the insight that will help answer critical business questions.
  5. Inquisitive nature –  An Analyst needs to be able to get to the root cause of the issue, in order to have a thorough understanding of the business question; they have curiously dig below surface pain.

How to hire a Data Analyst

A Data Analyst will typically come from a STEM or Economics background, be highly numerate, with a strong understanding of maths and statistics.

  1. Technical tasks – Excel and SQL skills should always be tested in the hiring process. Provide candidates with data that you would like them to visualise and examine the metadata around it. That is to say, assess how the applicant arrived at their answer. This will allow you to see their thinking process and how long they take to analyse.
  2. Look for soft skills – Technical capabilities are important, but an Analyst needs to interact with colleagues and stakeholders effectively. During the interview process, ask experience based behavioural and situational questions to uncover soft skills. You’re looking for confidence, the ability to interact, articulate and signs of teamwork. 
  3. Test business knowledge – Turn a commercial question into an analytical process. The candidate needs to deliver results in an actionable way and highlight what the client should do differently as a result of the analysis. A strong candidate will take a commercial view on the problem presented and ensure that the result is related to the business goals.

Not ready to take the next step? Don’t worry if you’re not able to hire a Data Analyst right now. Here at kleene, we offer Analytics as a Service. With kleene software and a dedicated Analyst, you’ll be able to uncover critical insight and power growth.

Book a demo today to find out what kleene can do for your scale-up.