Interview Questions for Business Analysts and Systems Analysts

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Give an example of how you would use the problem restatement technique of ‘Repeatedly Ask Why’.

Posted by Chris Adams

Article Rating // 31898 Views // 6 Additional Answers & Comments

Categories: Business Analysis, Requirements Analysis (BABOK KA), Analytical and Problem Solving Skills, Elicitation (BABOK KA)


The Repeatedly Ask Why technique starts with the original problem statement and asks ‘Why’ to identify a new problem statement.  The Business Analyst continues to ask why to each new problem statement until he or she arrives at what is clearly the principle problem.

This technique is so natural that all of us have used it as toddlers.  Using the ‘Repeatedly Ask Why’ technique allows the Business Analyst to overcome any assumptions that may have been made when developing the original problem statement.  So revert back to that 2 year old kid and ask ‘Why’.


  • We need a new cafeteria vendor at our company campus.  – Why?
  • Because the quality of the food continues to get worse.  – Why?
  • Because they keep reusing leftovers and using lower quality products.  – Why?
  • Because they are trying to make enough money to be profitable.  – Why?
  • Because over the last few months fewer people have been going to the cafeteria.  – Why?
  • Because we had layoffs and there are less people on our company campus.

At this point we can identify that the principle problem is the layoffs resulting in fewer people using the cafeteria.  No matter what vendor you hire, they will have troubles being profitable under these conditions.  So the original problem statement stating that a new vendor is needed is incorrect.



Penguin19 posted on Thursday, July 30, 2009 2:45 PM
While I agree with the technique and recognize its strength, can a BA really ask so many whys to a user? Wouldn't it drive a user nuts? What is a subtle way of doing this?
Hemant Chandurkar posted on Tuesday, September 15, 2009 1:33 AM
This is RRCA technique. There are 5 why's which identify root cause of problem.
Hemant Chandurkar
Gopal posted on Monday, March 3, 2014 8:28 PM
Agree with Penguin19.

If I ask further why questions here, can I not go off track? For e.g.

Because we had layoffs and there are less people on our company campus. - WHY
Because the company lost big projects in recent time - WHY
Because there was heavy competition from our vendors who could give competitive rates - WHY

so on and so forth.. Can we be sure that after 5 whys's we have successfully reached the problem statement?
Chris Adams posted on Tuesday, March 4, 2014 12:38 AM

What's important here is the basic concept. It probably isn't wise to ask a single one-worded question "why" over and over again without further elaboration. You will drive the person you are interviewing crazy as pointed out. As an analyst the question in your head should be "why" but you can ask a much more specific or detailed question to arrive at that answer. You can also guide the conversation a bit. There's no set number of times that you should ask "why". The point is to continue to dig until you have uncovered the root cause of the problem.
Chris Adams
bbobj82 posted on Friday, July 3, 2015 4:44 AM
@gopal.soni very well articulated.
lljba posted on Tuesday, May 3, 2016 4:37 PM
Although you uncover the root cause, you may not be in the position to address the root cause. In this case, should you target addressing one or more of the other problems that can be resolved by, let's say, IT dept?
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Do your homework prior to the business analysis interview!

Having an idea of the type of questions you might be asked during a business analyst interview will not only give you confidence but it will also help you to formulate your thoughts and to be better prepared to answer the interview questions you might get during the interview for a business analyst position.  Of course, just memorizing a list of business analyst interview questions will not make you a great business analyst but it might just help you get that next job.



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