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Best questions to ask in a data science interview – 2021 update

Hi, I’m Olga, a former lead data scientist at eBay and now advisor at Pathrise. I work with candidates who are looking to land great jobs in data science. Check out my article with the best questions to ask in a data science interview.

Updated in 2021

After putting in the time to practice responses to the technical interview and behavioral interview questions that will come up in your data science job interviews, you might think you have done all of the prep that you can.

But, what happens when you get towards the end of the interview and they say, “Ok, now do you have any questions for me?” A lot of people freeze here and then they just wing it. But, you know they are going to leave time for you, so why not plan for it? This is a great opportunity to show the research you did. In addition, asking good questions can affect the decision to move forward and/or extend an offer.

As a data scientist and now mentor, I have been part of many interviews in my career. When we hear good questions from the candidate, we mark them down in our notes and then we take these questions into account when determining the likelihood that they would accept the offer and remain interested in the role in the long term.

So, we’ve come up with the best questions for data scientists to ask in their interviews to ensure they show interest.
  1. Is the data science team collaborative or autonomous? How do we interact with the rest of the teams? What about with one another?
  2. How do the current challenges the team is working on affect the business goals for the company?
  3. In the role that I’m interviewing for, how can I best contribute to these challenges?
  4. What does the typical career path of a data scientist on your team look like? How did you get to this point in your career? Can you describe the review and promotion cycle for the team and the company?
  5. What tools do you use currently and would you consider changing/adding tools to your tool set?
  6. How can you see this role or team changing in the short term and long term?
  7. What are your favorite aspects of working at [company]?
  8. What is the most difficult part of your day at [company]?
  9. How will my work, and the work of the data science team, directly affect the company’s mission of [company mission]?
  10. I read that [recent update about company]. How does that affect [the mission, the work of the data science team, etc]? Were you directly involved in this change/update?
  11. If I were to start on the data science team tomorrow, what would my first task be?

Coming in with prepared questions that show your willingness to learn, drive to work hard, and excitement about the company and mission are all really helpful for the interviewers to gauge your fit as part of the culture.

Pathrise is a career accelerator that works with students and professionals 1-on-1 so they can land their dream job in tech. With these tips and guidance, we’ve seen interview scores double for fellows in the program.

If you want to work with any of our mentors 1-on-1 to get help with your data science interviews or with any other aspect of the job search, become a Pathrise fellow. 

Apply today.

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