What is the Analytical Mindsest?

In today’s fast-paced, data-driven world, high-performing organizations seek individuals with an analytical mindset. Individuals with an analytical mindset are able to analyze information, identify problems and trends, and solve complex problems. They are also curious. They ask “why” and they want to learn how to do things better, which improves the whole organization.

How to Hire for an Analytical Mindset

Many of our association clients ask us, “How do I hire someone with an analytical mindset?”  Here are five tips your association can follow during the interview process to make sure your next hire has an analytical mindset.


Ask what they have learned recently.

To test for intellectual curiosity, ask candidates to tell you about something they learned in the last few months. Why did you choose that topic to learn about? What was their approach to learning about the topic? How did they use what they learned?

Remember, a truly curious person often learns things outside of their core area of expertise because they value learning for its own sake.

Give them a short assignment.

Look for individuals who can not only identify problems, but quickly develop quality solutions. Before your second interview (after your initial screening), assign a short project and see how they respond. They should be eager to do it and you can tell by the quality of the result whether they were curious or just did surface treatment.

For example at Association Analytics®, we ask applicants to create a dashboard with Tableau. They can use any data set and create any type of visualization. Then, they walk us through their work and explain their findings. We listen carefully to understand their thought process – “I noticed x and wanted to find out why so I then created z”. We also look for self-awareness and critical thinking. Can they look at their work and identify ways it could be improved?

Listen for quality questions during the interview. 

Curious candidates will have lots of quality questions and they shouldn’t just be about the company benefits. We listen for questions about training and learning opportunities, questions about other team member’s skills, and questions about the nature of the analytical problems we solve for our clients.

Look for the intersection of business and technology.

Many people think that analytics is a purely technical field. But it’s not. A data analyst must understand the context – the business environment and its culture, processes, strategies and tactics – in order to truly succeed. The analyst must understand why the findings matter in order to clearly communicate the meaning of the data to the business staff who make decisions. They have to be curious about cause and effect. Probe carefully for this understanding by asking questions about the meaning.

Conversely, look for the capacity for data analysis in non-technical staff. They don’t need a background in statistics, but they should be able to review and understand data and be able to ask questions to learn more.

Validate your findings.

To find individuals with an analytical mindset and intellectual curiosity, employers must also be curious. Strive to learn as much as you can about a candidate. Validate your findings with outside assessments.

We ask candidates to complete the StrengthFinders Survey. According to Gallop, people who use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged on the job. What we found with StrengthFinders is that people with the strengths of “Learner”, “Achiever”, “Analytical” or “Input” are all innately curious so we look for and select for those strengths.