Statistician Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 5 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Statisticians use mathematical concepts and applied statistics to collect, analyse and interpret data. Since a statistician's role is critical to a company for accurate analysis and prediction, companies use a detailed interview process to identify the right candidate. If you're preparing for an interview for the role of a statistician, knowing about potential interview questions can be beneficial. In this article, we examine some frequently asked statistician interview questions and provide sample answers for a few questions.

General statistician interview questions

Hiring managers begin by asking a few general statistician interview questions to evaluate your background. They might ask about your experiences, motivations and interests to gauge how you may perform as an employee. Some commonly asked interview questions include:

  • What was the reason for applying for this role in our company?

  • What are your long-term career goals as a statistician?

  • What motivates you to excel in your work?

  • What is your communication style?

  • What do you think are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?

  • Are you able to receive criticism well?

  • Do you consider yourself an effective team member?

  • How would you describe the role of a statistician?

  • What career accomplishments are you most proud of?

  • How do you handle the stress that sometimes comes with work?

Related: 16 High-Paying Math Major Careers (With Job Duties)

Interview questions about experience and background

Questions about your experience and background can help hiring managers understand if it's relevant to their company. They may also ask about your education, previous work experience or specific achievements. Here are some common questions about experience and background:

  • Have you received a bachelor's degree in statistics, economics, mathematics or a related field?

  • Have you completed a master's degree in a field related to statistics?

  • Where did you receive your education?

  • How long have you worked in statistics?

  • What companies have you worked for previously?

  • What were your primary duties in your previous roles?

  • What data analysis software are you familiar with?

  • Do you have experience in designing polls and analysing their results?

  • Do you have experience leading a team of statisticians and related professionals?

  • Is your experience primarily corporate, or have you worked with government bodies?

Related: Sharing Your Educational Background on Your Resume and in Interviews

In-depth interview questions

Statistics is a field that often requires extensive knowledge of data collection and analysis. Interviewers may want to explore the extent of your knowledge of the more technical aspects of being a statistician. Here are some examples of in-depth questions:

  • Can you explain the difference between experimental and observational data in statistics?

  • When faced with a problem, how would you determine what data you require to solve it?

  • How would you handle missing data?

  • How would you address outliers in a dataset?

  • What are the different biases that statisticians encounter and how have you dealt with them in your work?

  • What are the meanings of ‘median' and ‘mean' in statistics?

  • What is the Pareto principle?

  • Can you define ‘standard variation'?

  • What are the types of sampling used in statistics?

  • How do statisticians use quartiles to analyse data?

  • What is a margin of error?

  • Are there any statistical methods you would like to see implemented at our company?

  • Could you describe a data collection strategy you have implemented in the past? How could you improve it?

  • What was your most successful project as a statistician?

7 interview questions with sample answers

Here are a few interview questions with sample answers:

1. What made you choose a career as a statistician?

This question can help interviewers discover what your job means to you and whether you have a genuine passion for statistics. You can share information regarding your personal and professional background in your answer. Dscribe your interest in statistics and how your achievements helped you become a professional statistician.

Example: "My interest in statistics started in college after I understood that statistical methods are the basis of the information we use in our daily life. I switched my major from political science to statistics and I got my first internship the summer after graduation. I went ahead and completed my master's programme in the same field. My favourite thing about being a statistician is that it's not boring, contrary to what people may assume. My work directly impacts businesses and this adds value to my professional goals."

2. When would you use median instead of mean in statistics?

This question can help interviewers assess your knowledge of statistical concepts and methods further. Be specific to show your deep and practical understanding of the use of statistics in the real world. Explain the significance of both in one or two sentences.

Example: "There are cases in statistical analysis in which the median may provide a better understanding of the data than the mean. I have used median instead of mean when dealing with datasets that have many outliers. In these cases, the median can provide a better idea of a data trend without the distortion that outliers might cause in the average."

3. How would you define "selection bias"?

This is another in-depth and technical question. Employers may want to explore your understanding of statistical concepts and your ability to handle bias in your work. Give a detailed answer to show your grasp of the subject and how you approach bias in data analysis.

Example: "Selection bias refers to instances where statisticians choose to analyse non-randomised data. Many kinds of selection bias, pertaining to sampling and susceptibility impede the proper interpretation of data. I conduct studies in a randomised and unbiased way to provide clients with the best information possible."

4. How would you handle missing data?

Missing data is a common problem for statisticians, leading to wrong or misleading conclusions. Statisticians use certain methods to replace missing data. An interviewer may want to know how you can work in situations that call for innovative thinking using acceptable statistical methods and principles.

Example: "If there is one or a range of missing values, there are multiple ways to continue data analysis and yet give accurate conclusions. I usually assign unique values, predict the missing values, delete rows without complete data or use random substitutions to support missing values."

5. What are some statistical tools that you are familiar with?

Most organisations digitise their data for faster and more accurate analysis. Statisticians use advanced software tools to analyse data and create reports that management can use. If you're familiar with any tools from the job description, highlight them in your response.

Example: "My work experience in statistical analysis lies in the fields of human behaviour, healthcare, engineering and business. Over the years, I have developed extensive working knowledge of multiple statistical tools, including Statistical Analysis Software (SAS), SPSS from IBM, R from the R Foundation for Statistical Computing and Matlab from MathWorks. In some instances, I have also used tools like Excel for visual representation."

Related: Excel Skills: Definition and Examples

6. What are the different types of sampling methods and what would you choose?

The right sampling method helps lower costs, hastens data collection and enables easy identification of respondents. Hiring managers may try to evaluate a candidate's experience in data identification and collection. Give a list of sampling methods and explain which is the best method according to you.

Example: "We can choose from simple, systematic, stratified and cluster sampling. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages. The simple sampling method is ideal for small or experimental trials and gives out generalised results. Systematic sampling picks every nth member and is ideal for projects with a low risk of manipulation. We use stratified sampling if we have a large target population with predetermined characteristics. Cluster sampling is ideal for market research with smaller budgets. I choose a sampling method based on the objectives, sampling frame availability and the study design."

7. How do you keep yourself updated with the latest trends in statistics?

An interviewer may assess your interest in continuous learning, as businesses use new and innovative tools for data analysis, reporting and decision making. Companies also encourage employees to undergo training or join certification courses to learn about the latest technologies and tools. In your response, list the steps you have taken to stay updated.

Example: "After completing a post-graduate degree programme in statistics from an accredited university, I pursued a one-year post-graduate diploma in statistical methods and analysis. I personally hold four specialised certifications in advanced statistical concepts and membership with a global community of statisticians. Seminars and workshops keep me informed of the latest technologies in statistical computing."

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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