5 Interview Questions for Interviewing a Data Scientist

Data scientist is one of the hottest job titles of 2018. Here are five interview questions to help you find the right talent for your team.

Your company’s data strategy is essential to remaining competitive. Today’s businesses collect more information than ever before. It’s possible to know detailed audience profile information, behavioral details, buying data, and much more. How do you know a prospective candidate knows not only what these data are, but how to use them effectively? Ask the following questions.

Explain Amazon’s data strategy to me. Amazon is one of the earliest pioneers and best understood cases of using data to create new products and novel customer experiences. It’s leading the way in developing recommendation engine technology, which is shaping how other companies do business. Any candidate who’s studied data science will be able to explore this case study, and their answer will help you see what they think is important and how they communicate storylines.

How would you use data to help solve this recent company challenge? Think about a challenge your company recently faced or is currently facing. Perhaps you’re struggling with customer acquisition or seeking to grow innovation. Present the issue to your prospective candidate and ask how he or she would use data to solve it. This provides useful insight into how challenges would be tackled and how he or she could add value to your organization.

How would you explain the difference between a data strategy and regular reporting to an executive? Many data strategists and scientists play an important role in helping senior executives understand the role of data in their organization. As a result, during your interview, it’s vital to test a candidate’s communication skills. Exploring these skills through asking similar questions—and evaluating his or her responses—provides worthwhile context for the candidate’s communication abilities.

Solve this case study. It’s a smart idea to test the mathematical and statistical aptitude of every candidate you’re considering. Choose a case study that digs into the fundamentals of data science. Provide an opportunity for all candidates to share not only their responses but also their approach and thinking on how to tackle the issue as well.

Can you speak to some of the more nuanced challenges of data science? From selection bias to issues with data sources, the data science world is fraught with issues that must be navigated to lead to a successful result. In this question, explore some of these issues in depth. Primarily, what you’re looking for is an awareness of these challenges and the ability to comfortably navigate them.

Hiring the right data scientist for your team can be transformative in terms of your data strategy. However, it requires finding a strong candidate with the right mix of technical, communication, and business skills. Focusing on the right questions can ensure that you’re well on your way to making your next brilliant hire.