Business Analytics Leader Series: Data Science Interview Tips from an Analytics Manager and Author

Be The Outlier Book

Shrilata Murthy is a data scientist currently working as a Manager in Strategy and Analytics. Previously, Murthy received her Master of Science in Analytics from Northwestern University. Upon graduating she realized how quickly things were changing in the data industry, especially for those in the job market. Inquisitive about these changes, Murthy conducted numerous interviews and did extensive research which culminated in her book- Be the Outlier: How to Ace Data Science Interviews.

In a recent MSBA Leader Series class session, Murthy took the time to share her top tips for acing data science interviews with the current MSBA cohort

1. Take-Home Programming

A growing trend in the industry, as noted by Murthy is the use of take-home exams to test the programming abilities of prospective candidates. The most tested programming languages are Python, SQL, and R. Often these take-homes exams serve as a precursor step to formal interviews. For this step, Murthy recommends solving the problem first in the allotted time and then making the code more efficient and cleaner with any leftover time. In order to better your programming skills, Murthy recommends doing case problems through online simulations, as well as through whiteboard sessions with your classmates.

Furthermore, these are also skills you will hone through the Foster MSBA curriculum, namely in classes such as Programming Essentials (BUS AN 511), Data Management & SQL (BUS AN 512), and Machine Learning Methods & AI (BUS AN 517).

2. It’s All About Fundamentals

“You may get away with not knowing an advanced concept in an interview, but you will never get away with not knowing a fundamental.”- Shrilata Murthy

Murthy notes that apart from machine learning and programming questions, data analytics job candidates should also expect to be tested on probability and statistics concepts from any realm of data topics. The type of questions one may encounter include: what is a p-value and how would you explain p-value to someone who does not have a technical background? These are fundamental topics, that anyone interested in a data analytics role should be able to adequately answer. According to Murthy, “you may get away with not knowing an advanced concept in an interview, but you will never get away with not knowing a fundamental.”

3. Your Recruiter is your Best Friend

“Why I say the recruiter is your best friend is because they are essentially incentivized to help you,” Murthy explains. “Their success depends on your success.” Murthy recommends making the most out of your conversations with your recruiter by asking questions not only about the role but also about company culture. Recall, culture fit is a two-way street. As much as you may want to work for a given company, to an extent the company must also fit your career trajectory and lifestyle. 

Beyond making use of your recruiter, also consider the resources available to you through Foster Career Services. As an MSBA student, you have access to career resources designed specifically for specialized master’s students which include: career workshops, one-on-one career coaching, mock interview events, portfolio and resume review, and networking events.

To get more of these top tips remember to check out, Be the Outlier: How to Ace Data Science Interviewsby Shrilata Murthy. 


Written by Maryam Noor
MSBA Writer and Content Strategist
[email protected]

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