Tips and advice when interviewing for data & analytics jobs
I started my career in recruiting 14 years ago. Over the years I’ve supported many different industries–finance/banking, technology, pharmaceutical, business services, food and beverage, healthcare–but none as challenging and unique as data & analytics.
When I first started recruiting for data science roles, it was for the pharmaceutical and tech industries. This experience opened my eyes to all the different divisions that the data & analytics job functions fall into; they span across many different parts of the business and have numerous job profiles. With so many different types of analytical profiles, I had to live and breathe analytics recruiting to effectively recruit the right people into the right roles.
I joined Vanguard in January 2016 as a senior recruiter, where I’m responsible for delivering top talent for Vanguard’s analytic and data science needs. But no matter where or for whom I recruit in this space, I’ve learned that some things are universal.
How to prepare for an interview
This is not your typical interview. In most cases, data scientists and analytical interviews will have some sort of technical testing, as well as a presentation. With many of the candidates we interview, but especially with data scientists, I like to spend some time discussing the interview preparation piece. These candidates are coming in and presenting to a team for a portion of their interview, and I find this to be the most critical part of the process. Letting candidates know that they should feel comfortable working with the recruiter on interview preparation is one of the most important aspects of my job.
One thing I like to do after we decide to bring someone in for an on-site interview is to congratulate them on making it to the next round. Making it past the phone screen is a big accomplishment and I like to build the candidate’s confidence, be a resource for questions, and share what they can expect. I take it as a personal responsibility to increase their chances by successfully communicating with and preparing them for the on-site interview. We as recruiters should know firsthand what the candidate will encounter at the interview by speaking to the hiring manager beforehand about what they want to discuss and understand. Let’s be honest, we want the candidate to land the job just as much as the candidate wants to land the job.
“I’m looking for highly motivated individuals that can solve business problems, using machine learning, and are passionate about learning new ways of delivering value to support Vanguard’s goals.”
-Eduardo F., hiring manager
Advice for recent data & analytics graduates
The easiest way to get introduced to potential employers after graduating, or preferably before graduating, is to have your professor write you a letter of recommendation for a desired employer. In a lot of cases, schools are well connected to employers in their local areas and even nationally. In addition to typical data knowledge, you may also want to learn code, and be able to clearly communicate technical concepts. What they don’t teach in school, though, is that you need to be a generalist as well. I find that some students are boxed into using one set of tools that they’ve learned in college. I’d recommend looking into methods outside your comfort zone to add to your problem-solving tool box. Learning and practicing work from different vantage points will give you a diverse way of seeing and approaching problems. But the best advice I’d have for any data scientist would be to stay current. Employers love when they know a candidate is continuously honing their skills. There are many sites and nano degrees out there to practice and uncover knowledge gaps.
Sharing the data analytics story
So how does Vanguard reach candidates in such a competitive market? One of the most effective ways we start conversations with candidates is by sharing content that has meaning for them. For example, we’ve recently launched a data analytics page on our career site. This page showcases why our data scientists are an elite group with deep experience in diagnostic, predictive, and prescriptive analytics. It shows that they solve Vanguard’s hardest, messiest questions with creative approaches and techniques. We’ve also created several videos so our crew can talk about their work, impact, and career journeys. Most importantly, they give our data scientists, engineers, analysts, a way to share a day in their lives here at Vanguard. I think they’ve got a great story to tell.
Brian Uff, data & analytics recruiter
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