Interview Question: Describe a Task that Tested Your Analytical Skills

Nilda Melissa Diaz, CPRW
By Nilda Melissa Diaz, CPRW, Career Advice Expert Last Updated: August 30, 2022

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Your job interview is an important part of the job application process, and you should know that there are different styles of questions that you could be asked. While traditional questions are almost always found, another common type of question is a behavioral question like ‘Describe a project or situation that best demonstrates your analytical ability.’

In a traditional question, you will be asked about a particular skill, or maybe something like ‘Why do you want this job?’ or ‘What was your GPA in college?’ However, with behavioral interview questions, you are asked not just to talk about the past in general, but to think back to a particular situation that exemplifies what it is you have to offer regarding what was asked about.

The above question is meant to reveal your prowess in an important trait in candidates. Interviewers don’t just want you to explain what experience you have that led to a strong analytical ability; they want you to actually refer to a time when that ability was successfully applied. Another way the interviewer could state this question is, ‘When have your skills in analysis led to a successful outcome in a project or situation?’ If you want to be best prepared for this question, read this advice and the example answer, and think about how to apply the STAR method to your own experience.

How to Answer the ‘Describe a Project or Situation that Best Demonstrates Your Analytical Ability’ Behavioral Interview Question

1. Come Prepared With Concrete Examples

While this question sounds quite similar to one that asks for you to describe a skill or ability, it still fits into the behavioral question format. The trick to this question is to not just talk about your overall experience and training that led to your having strong analytical abilities, but to give an example of a specific situation where your analytical abilities came into application. The strongest examples are those that describe a situation related to the work done in the company you have applied to.

2. Describe an Accomplishment, If Possible

Behavioral interview questions of this format are open-ended because they ask you to decide which situation provides a good demonstration of your analytical ability. Anybody can come up with an example of a time when they used basic analytical thinking to handle a situation or solve a problem. If you are getting asked this question, it is because analytical ability is valued highly in the company you are applying to. Therefore you should think of a time that shows excellence in this skill, rather than just any anecdote. A good example might be a time when you were able to discern something through analysis that other employees or classmates missed.

3. Use the STAR Method

With a question like this, it can be easy to focus on the skill you are describing and accidentally gloss over a full explanation of the specifics of the scenario. The STAR method is meant to keep you on track when answering questions of a behavioral format. STAR stands for these steps:

  • Situation or Task
  • Action
  • Result

Once you have decided which situation to answer with, don’t just state it. Give an idea of the significance of the situation and don’t miss important details. When the situation has been fully described, whatever you did will have a full context. After explaining the actions you took, then you can move on to the consequences, and why you think you got the result you did.

4. Know the Goals of the Company

You can go above and beyond with behavioral interview questions like this by directly relating the analytical abilities you describe to the goals of the company. After finishing your story, conclude by saying that the specific abilities you have would be an asset for a certain aspect of the company’s operations. To prepare yourself to give this kind of answer, make sure to properly research the company before going in for an interview.

Sample ‘Describe a Project or Situation that Best Demonstrates Your Analytical Ability’ STAR Interview Answer

In my ethics seminar, a requirement of completing my philosophy degree, each student was asked to give a presentation on any chapter in a book. For my presentation I focused on a philosopher’s argument for an inherent moral sense. As I re-read the chapter, I noticed that one of the writer’s premises was assumed without any evidence. I was able to deduce that the entire system the writer proposed was based on a flawed premise. This allowed me to plan my presentation in a way that started with a preamble and eventually led up to this debunking. My professor was impressed that I was the first student to ever notice this problem with the argument. These skills in close reading were further developed through the philosophy program. I look forward to applying them to the revisions your company would have me doing.

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