How to find and hire a great Data Analyst

Data Analyst laptop screen with charts

If you’re not familiar with data, finding and hiring the perfect Data Analyst can be tricky

Your business is growing fast and you need to find and hire the perfect Data Analyst. But knowing what to look for and where to look can be tricky when you’re not all that technical.

Data Analysts are an integral part of any company. They transform raw and practically unusable data into insightful statistics that can drive business decisions and bring your company success.

But beyond some knowledge of mathematics and maybe a degree in the area, what should you look for when trying to hire a Data Analyst? What skills do Data Analysts need to succeed?

Data Analyst job description


  • Format, organise and clean data from the database
  • Ensure data quality
  • Analyse and interpret data trends to draw conclusions
  • Work closely with management teams to suggest strategy and give insights on campaign performance


  • Strong SQL and Microsoft Excel experience
  • The ability to work with data to tell stories
  • A proactive approach to data mining and analysis
  • Fantastic attention to detail
  • A love of learning


  • A relevant degree in Mathematics, Economics or Computer Science
  • Programming experience
  • SPSS and SAS experience
Data Analyst using her phone and laptop to read charts

How to find a Data Analyst

Are you struggling to source candidates?

If you’re getting no decent applications to your vacancy, there are some things you can do.

1 – Outsource to a tech recruitment specialist

Platforms like DigitalGrads specialise in sourcing talent for these kinds of roles. Sometimes it’s best to leave the hard work to the experts with a network already in place!

2 – Advertise properly

Sometimes posting your job on any old site isn’t enough.

Experienced tech recruiters will all use proactive methods to find the best talent. So see if you can find any Data Analyst groups and training organisations in your area.

You could even attend a university careers fair!

3 – Check your salary

Data Analysis roles don’t come cheap.

One of the reasons why you’re struggling to find candidates could be because you’re paying way below the market rate.

We recommend advertising your entry-level salaries with a decent range, for example £19,000 – £25,000 to draw in varied talent.

For more senior roles, salaries can be very generous. Anything from £30,000 to £60,000 depending on experience is expected.

4 – Test your applicants

Data analysis is one of those skills that can be learnt in your spare time. This means that your most skilled candidates might not be the ones with degrees and experience in the area!

That’s why we recommend testing as many of your applicants as you can. This way you can find the true talent and make the best hire.

Technology share chart data analysis

Skills to look out for

It’s easy to see if someone’s comfortable using Microsoft Excel. It’s much harder to assess whether they’ve got the soft skills needed to be a great Data Analyst.

Here are the top five soft skills to look out for in interviews.

1 – Storytelling and interpretation

Surprisingly, the ability to tell a great story is incredibly useful for Data Analysts.

Your hire will have to transform complex data into simple sentences that anyone can understand. They will need to tell a story with the data they interpret, creating a roadmap for the future.

To assess your candidate’s ability to interpret data and tell a story, ask them a behavioural interview question.

Sample question

Tell me about a time that you used data to influence a decision.

2 – Attention to detail

When working with data, a macro-level view is incredibly useful but we can’t forget about the micro-level attention to detail that’s needed.

Your Data Analyst will need to find and fix tiny problems in their data to ensure that it’s accurate. They will need to identify anomalies and discover trends that can only been seen through magnifying glass-level focus.

To assess attention for detail, ask questions about how they clean data and their data sense (how they know something is wrong with data).

Sample questions

What methods do you like best for cleaning data?

Tell me about a time that you used your data sense to identify a problem.

3 – Love of learning

The tools used in programming and data analysis are always changing. So your new hire needs to be able to keep up with the latest tech to bring you the highest quality data.

To find the candidates that truly love discovering new skills, ask questions about extra-curricular learning and industry awareness.

Sample questions

Have you ever taught yourself a new skill?

How do you keep up with tech industry news?

4 – Proactive problem-solving ability

Working with data isn’t easy. No matter whether your hire will be joining a team of analysts or working solo, they need to be able to tackle any problems they face in a proactive way to hit deadlines.

It can be hard to see whether fresh juniors are great problem-solvers, so ask questions about their experience with data so far.

Sample question

Tell me about the biggest challenge you faced in your latest data project?

5 – Communication skills

A big part of a Data Analyst’s job is talking to people. Your hire will need to be able to explain complex data sets to non-technical people and still get their point across. So communication skills are a must-have.

Your hire needs to be confident and clear when talking to all kinds of people, from management to external stakeholders.

Sample question

How would you describe this data to someone completely non-technical?

I hope that you have more luck finding and hiring a great Data Analyst for your organisation.

If you ever want to pass the responsibilities of sourcing, screening and testing applicants, try out DigitalGrads.

About post author

Hi, I'm Daisy. I'm using my passion for writing to work with DigitalGrads on their content and social media campaigns.
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