Interview questions for Data Science

We analyzed 757 interview reviews for Data Science from various job sites, social network groups and forums.

Here are the most frequent job interview questions asked by HR managers during initial phone or onsite interviews. This list does not include technical or factual questions.

10 frequent non-technical questions for Data Science:

Tell me about yourself
Describe the most exciting project or team you ever worked on
Tell me about a successful project you were involved in. What was your role? What was the result?
What is your greatest weakness?
Tell me about your greatest professional accomplishment
Have you ever had a problem with another team member that you were working with? If so, how did you handle it?
Why did you leave your last job?
Why did you choose your major?
What do you do if you disagree with someone at work?
Walk me through your resume

According to our research, hiring managers looking to fill Data Science role ask soft skills interview questions 53% less frequently than for other roles:

Data Science interview question statistics

1. Tell me about yourselftop question

How to answer

This question may sound vague, but it actually requires a matter of fact, concise and relevant answer. Here’s how you can approach it.

  1. About Yourself

    What is your current occupation? Define yourself professionally in one statement.

    Pick 3 key skills that make you great at your work (your Key Selling Points). How have you applied these skills?

    Try to give some numbers to support your statement.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company.

    Based on what you know about the company and the job description, why are you interested in the position you are applying for?

  3. About The Fit

    • Based on your Key Selling Points and your knowledge about the company, why do you think you are a good fit for this position?
    • Can you support your statement with relevant examples from your past experiences?

    Try to be concise and stay within 1-2 minutes.

Pro Tip

You can also end with a question like:

Do you know what the current needs in the company/department are, where my skills and experience can help?"

That can help you learn more about the company and the job, turn the "interrogation" into a conversation and will allow you to relax some tension.

Read our blog post to learn more about how to answer this question.

Take a quiz

Take a quick quiz and check if you’re ready to answer this question at your next job interview:

Pick the best answer:

My name is Andrew Franklin, I am 28 years old, and I am looking for a job that pays well.

Hello, my name is Natalie Price. I have two children and I love playing billiards and travelling. I am 33 years old.

Hi Mr. Simon, my name is Stanley Clark and I am a certified Project Management professional known for completing projects on time and on budget. I am passionate about building agile work culture and delivering results.

Hi Mr. Simon, my name is Dorothy Hanson. I have previously worked as an accountant in retail, but currently I am trying to transition into the field of healthcare.

1 / 5

2. Describe the most exciting project or team you ever worked on

How to answer

When hiring managers ask you about your past projects that you were excited about, or about the most exciting team you ever worked with, they want to know specifics about your personality, interests, dedication to work and approaches to reaching goals.

With this question, the interviewer gauges what you value at work and whether you have the right mindset for a project-oriented work style and, in the case of teamwork, how you work with others, so they can envision how you’ll work within their team.

Pay particular attention that THIS question is not about how important it was for the company, it is about how interesting and exciting it was for YOU!

  1. About Yourself

    Think of a time when you worked with special pleasure as a team player and helped to achieve a team goal.

    • What did you do? What made it interesting for you?
    • What emotions did you have working on it?
    • How did it help you on a personal level?
    • Who did you participate with? Were you satisfied with your team?
    • What did you learn from the experience?

  2. About The Company

    Based on your research of the company, what kinds of projects can you expect here?

    • What do you know about the goals they are trying to achieve?
    • What do you know about their current challenges?
    • What do they value in their employees?

    Review the job description as it may give you clues to whether the job focuses on teams, independence or both.

  3. About The Fit

    If possible, choose a project that will be relevant to the job you are applying for.

    Show your Key Selling Points to the interviewer – the best qualities which help you to stay positive and passionate about what you like doing, prove that the process of thinking, researching, communication and creativity at work satisfies you.

    Here is an example of an answer to the question from an Indian engineer, which combines both an exciting team and an exciting project:

    It was a research project which involved people from different backgrounds. The long-term aim of it was to evaluate and then test some completely new types of aircraft structures and concepts. I think it helped me develop on a professional level more than on a personal level, although I did get a lot of opportunities to interact with people from other countries and practice my English a lot. The team was great! It was particularly challenging and remarkably interesting for me. It is the first international research project I have been involved in, so it was quite exciting as well. Overall, I think I learned a lot more about collaboration, as well as gaining some useful experience in negotiating and discussing in English.”

Pro Tip

Be specific and enthusiastic telling your story.

It is your own positive experience that encouraged you to become what you are. Use it for your advantage to gain the interviewer’s interest in you.

3. Tell me about a successful project you were involved in. What was your role? What was the result?

How to answer

In the modern business environment, work is often organized in the form of projects. This allows companies to plan objectives and milestones in order to reach their goals, to monitor progress and performance, to clearly define deliverables and success.

With this question, the interviewer gauges whether you have the right mindset for a project-oriented work style.

  1. About Yourself

    Remember a few projects you have been involved in. Depending on your work experience and career level, these may range from small projects like organizing a party to large-scale multinational projects with participants and teams across the globe, million-dollar budgets and high risk and reward stakes.

    For each project you participated in, write down the following:

    1. project name
    2. its reason and goal
    3. your role in it
    4. the duration of the project or its phases (in case only some phases were successful)
    5. the approximate number of people or stakeholders involved in it.

    • What were the top 3 challenges?
    • What was the end result?
    • How did the company (or other stakeholders) benefit from the results?
    • How can you define your contribution in 3-5 key phrases? If you received any praise for your efforts from your boss, peers or clients, what did they say exactly?
  2. About The Company

    Based on the research you did on the company, what kinds of projects can you expect here?

    • What do you know about the goals they are trying to achieve?
    • What do you know about their current challenges?
    • Can you imagine what success will look like for the projects in this company?
  3. About The Fit

    Which of your examples fits best with the projects you may expect at this company?

    Practice telling your story, use the STAR method.

Pro Tip

End your answer by asking the interviewer how they define success for the role you are applying for.

This will provide you with an insight into the company environment and expectations for this role, as well as will help transform the “interrogation” into a conversation, which will give you a break to pull your wits together for further interview.

4. What is your greatest weakness?

How to answer

This question ranks as the most challenging for many people. Fortunately, Mr. Simon is here to help!

Interviewers ask this question to gauge your level of self-awareness, your honesty and openness, and your capability for self-improvement.

  1. About Yourself

    No one is perfect and your interviewer doesn't expect you to be perfect either.

    While it is good to be honest and open, it will not help you to put yourself down.

    What's important is to find a weakness that you have overcome or something that is not related to the position for which you are applying.

    For example, one of our clients admitted that he is not very good at public speaking and that he has recently become a member of Toastmasters International to improve. What a respectful answer and approach, in my view!

  2. About The Company

    Research the company (website, social media, etc) to learn about the company culture.

    What personal and professional qualities do they value?

  3. About The Fit

    It is important that the weakness you decide to talk about is not one that will prevent you from performing the job for which you're applying.

    For example, if you're applying for a front-end developer position, do not talk about how you are struggling to understand HTML code.

Pro Tip

Use this question to sell yourself!

It's important to show how well you've overcome a weakness by motivating yourself and learning a new skill to grow professionally.

5. Tell me about your greatest professional accomplishment

How to answer

Of all your accomplishments (and I am sure you’ve had a great many of them!), you should choose the one most relevant to this job position.

  1. About Yourself

    Write down your Key Selling Points - your top 3-5 skills that make you a strong professional.

    Write down a list of your top 3-5 professional accomplishments that you are most proud of. No need for lengthy descriptions, just 1-2 words for each one to help you recall each situation.

    Make sure you have developed the story behind each accomplishment and have a strong command of the details of what happened so that you can tell the story clearly and distinctly.

    Along with each accomplishment, mark which of your Key Selling Points they showcase. How exactly?

  2. About The Company

    Based on your research of the company, what are their current needs?

    • What are the major projects going on?
    • What are the expectations for the position you are applying for?
  3. About The Fit

    Try to imagine yourself being an employee of the company you are applying to, say, at your 6th month into the job.

    • Which of your Key Selling Points and accomplishments would be most relevant to the company?
    • What “have you accomplished at your new job?”

    Choose the most relevant accomplishment from your list and then practice telling your story.

Pro Tip

Most enterprises are now going through major transformations, often called Digital Transformation.

Do your research on what it means and what is often involved, to get a better idea of the current goals and environments in companies. But one thing that definitely characterizes this transformation is striving for agility.

In particular, for startups (if you are applying to a startup or a small business), agility is their middle name, in order for them to survive among bigger sharks in the market.

So, demonstrating qualities like agility and adaptability should generally be helpful and quite a safe choice in most circumstances today.

6. Have you ever had a problem with another team member that you were working with? If so, how did you handle it?

How to answer

If you are asked this question, the interviewers really want to know not about your superiors or colleagues, they are asking about you.

This question helps them to get a sense of whether or not you like working on a team, how well you work in groups, and what role you tend to take on a team project: leader, mediator or follower.

It will also show whether you are easy to get along with, which is important in almost any work environment. So, you should answer this question by talking about yourself, not complaining about a former boss or employees.

  1. About Yourself

    • Have you ever had problems working with someone?
    • How did you deal with unexpected obstacles?
    • Were you able to find solutions by yourself?
    • Did you take the initiative?
    • Can you look at problems at different angles?
    • Can you find a common language with people?
    • What were the key lessons you learned from the situation?
  2. About The Company

    Do your research about the company and its culture.

    • How do the employees value each other?
    • How do they deal with conflict situations?
    • Do they have any specific standards and policies?

    Carefully review the job description so you understand what "teamwork" means for the position and the company.

  3. About The Fit

    It’s important to show your people-skills, communication and problem-solving skills.

    If you can, give an example of a time you had a problem with another team member at a previous job. Remember that everything in this story should be told in a positive way.

    For example: "I had disagreements with my coworker at my first job, but I took advantage of the good advice given to me by my manager and talked to him. It turned out that we simply misunderstood each other. This case made me realize that communication is the basis of any relationship and that it is possible to reach an agreement with almost anyone."

    In this example, you did not say anything bad about your coworker or about yourself. On the contrary, you have shown that you can find solutions to any problem.

Pro Tip

The main thing is to answer in a positive way, and not badmouth your former team members.

Show your abilities to stay calm and collected. Reaching compromises and actively listening can be your additional advantage.

Ensure that your answer highlights the manner in which you made good use of your conflict management skills. Use the STAR method to make your story logical.

7. Why did you leave your last job?

How to answer

This question may be a little touchy for some people, but it's a question asked by interviewers, to find out why you left, in order to better understand how you may or may not make a good fit with their company.

Remember, never speak ill of your old company (this will not go over well).

  1. About Yourself

    Most likely, there are three possible reasons you left or are leaving your last job:

    • You are looking for a career change
    • You are unhappy with your current employment
    • You were let go.

    Whatever the reason, it's best to always speak in a positive light.

  2. About The Company

    Based on your research about the company and the position, what do you like most about the company?

  3. About The Fit

    If you are looking for career advancement or a career change, you can be very upfront and honest. Be as enthusiastic as you can about the position.

    If you were unhappy with your previous job, focus on the positives. Talk about the ways that you will best fit in with the company, in the role for which you're applying.

    If you were let go, focus on the positive. Share your accomplishments at your previous employment.

Pro Tip

Whatever the reason you are looking for a new opportunity, always turn things around to show how you are the perfect fit for the job for which you are interviewing!

8. Why did you choose your major?

How to answer

Everyone has his/her reasons to pick a major.

There are hundreds and hundreds of careers to choose from and most people pick a major that will give them a background in the career they want to pursue.

When you come to a job interview you will be definitely asked this question.

The interviewers are seeking to understand your underlying motivations for selecting this career.

It is also a good question for them to learn how much planning and thought actually went into your career selection. It is a window into your personality and interests.

  1. About Yourself

    This is your chance to highlight your strengths and how your major prepared you for your future plans.

    Your answer to this question should reflect your passion and interest in the field you chose. Be genuine.

    There’s every reason to display your passions and interest in your major. They will give interviewers a sense of who you really are.

    Think about who or what influenced your career choice and include the positive influences, not the negative ones.

    • How does this tie into your major?
    • How will you bring your passion and unique knowledge to the new company?

    Emphasize your strong people skills and excellent communication skills, allowing you to connect with others.

    Think of the skills and experiences you gained through your major, think back to assignments and projects from your studies, internships and previous jobs. Consider the skills you developed working on those projects.

  2. About The Company

    Write down a list of skills and experiences you gained through your major studies.

    Then, look at the job listing itself.

    Match up any of your skills and experiences that relate to the requirements of the job. How can you apply them to your new position, as well as the future?

  3. About The Fit

    Use this question as an opportunity to mention a few skills related to your chosen major that would also be relevant in the workplace.

    Point to a good culture fit.

    Be positive, showing your enthusiasm. Let them know you're excited to be where you are.

    Discuss what you enjoy about the industry you’re considering and why you could see yourself working in it. Even if your major is not directly related to the job, you can likely find connections between the two.

    This is also a chance to explain other ways you have developed skills that will fulfill the role you're applying for.

    For example, perhaps you were a biology major who is applying for a job in computer programming. You might explain that you took a number of online and extracurricular classes on programming to develop the skills needed for the job.

Pro Tip

Let your past decisions and accomplishments shine through. Once you nail your interview, you'll be on your way to a successful career path.

9. What do you do if you disagree with someone at work?

How to answer

In the workplace, it is not always possible to agree with everyone since we are all human beings and have our own unique thought processes.

This question helps to find out how you handle situations of conflict and disagreement with other people at work and whether the disagreement is controlled or acrimonious. The interviewers will also note whether your response shows that you will fight, give in, or seek proactive resolution.

  1. About Yourself

    Think of the times you had to deal with disagreement with your co-workers.

    • What were the different ways you were able to address the situation?
    • Did you try to look at the matter at hand from the other person's perspective or did you always stick with your own viewpoint?
    • What were the key lessons you learned through your experience?
  2. About The Company

    Research the company and its culture.

    • What do they value?
    • How do they deal with conflict resolution?
    • How do the employees value each other?
    • Do they have any specific standards and policies?
  3. About The Fit

    Your response should show that you are reasonable and thoughtful, always trying to keep the situation under control, avoid disputes if you feel that dialogue may become aggressive.

    Tell the interviewer that if you disagree with someone, you

    • always focus on facts
    • listen to the points they are presenting
    • never attack his or her ideas and beliefs, because that's not at all helpful or productive
    • recognize the good.

    These statements will help you to highlight your skills like listening, communication and emotional intelligence.

    Give examples from your own experiences of how you used politeness and adaptability.

    Phrases such as “What you are saying may be correct, but I do not think it is applicable in this situation,” “I think ABC is a better solution. What do you think?” Or “Can we try out this option instead?” show how you master potential conflict situations.

Pro Tip

Emphasize that you look at professional differences of opinion as a positive thing.

Remember that even though it is important to put your views forward, it is also important to understand what the other person’s views are.

Explain that your goal is not to win but to clear the air in any disagreement at work for the benefit of the company.

10. Walk me through your resume

How to answer

This question is often asked at the beginning of the interview.

The interviewer wants to hear a brief overview, a summary of your professional experience, in order to have a starting point from which they can dig deeper.

Structuring your answer wisely gives you a good chance to emphasize your Key Selling Points and to channel the conversation in the direction you want.

  1. About Yourself

    Print out your resume. For each of your recent job experiences (at this point do not go back more than 5 years), write down 3-5 key points at which you feel you are strong.

    For example, for your current (or previous) job, you may want to list skills like “Excellent presentation skills,” “Employee Engagement guru,” “Analytical skills,” “Attention to detail” (they don’t have to be all soft skills, but being aware of at least a few of your strong soft skills is important). Make sure you have examples for each of your statements.

    If you have difficulties to think of these points, search online for job descriptions for similar job roles, and figure out which of those keywords appeal to you. Look for people on LinkedIn that have jobs similar to the one you are applying for. Their profiles often contain many keywords that you can use in response to this question.

    Now that you’ve gone through all your recent experiences, are there any points that repeat more often than others, or are especially important to you? These are candidates to be your Key Selling Points -highlight 3-5 of them.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company and the role for which you're being interviewed. When researching the company, find out what skills and qualities they value the most. Carefully consider the job requirements. What is it that you will be responsible for?

    Now, write down 3-5 keywords from the job description that you find of utmost importance for this job role.

  3. About The Fit

    Try to establish the match between your own highlighted keywords, and those of the job description. These are your Key Selling Points! You should normally limit yourself by 3-5 such keywords or phrases.

    Now, craft a story based on your career history. You don’t have to go in chronological order - you can start with your current or last job experience, and then go back to your previous ones, or focus on just the experiences that are relevant to your story, and only briefly mention the less relevant ones and only if needed.

    Select one point to highlight for each phase of your career. Make sure you ingrain your Key Selling Points in the interviewer’s memory - after the interview is over, you want them to remember you as someone who is strong at XYZ, or experienced in A, B and C.

    It's okay to focus more on stellar achievements and brag a little bit about them.

Pro Tip

Don't bore the interviewer by going through your resume line-by-line.

Instead, WOW them by succinctly (keep it within 2 minutes) telling a story of how your career path has brought you to this point and how you are the best candidate for this role.

Super tip: The more you practice with Mr. Simon, the better you'll be at telling WOW-worthy succinct stories!


This page has been updated on September 26, 2020.

You can practice answering this question, as well as over 160 other common job interview questions for Data Science by engaging in a mock interview with Mr. Simon. As an artificial being, his undeniable benefits include:

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