Data governance interview questions answers

Do you need to prepare for a data governance interview? Here are the most 5 asked data governance interview questions that you can expect to be asked. And not only that, but I'll also tell you how you could answer these questions.

How did I come up with these questions?

First and foremost I've compiled this list of data governance questions from my own experience. And even though I've been through a few successful interviews, I've also made sure to check in with other data governance professionals and draw from their experience. Lastly, I was also able to draw from the community of:

Both on the hiring side and the interviewee side. Now let's go dive into these 5 most asked data governance interview questions.

Q1. What is data governance?

You might think this is a weird question. Being asked about what this field is. It's not really common to interview for a data analyst role and be asked: so what is data analytics? Or interview for HR, IT, Finance, Marketing, and so on and be asked: so what is human resources? What is IT? What is Finance? So why would you then be asked "what is data governance"?

There are two reasons why you are asked this.

  1. There are a lot of misconceptions out there on what data governance is so they want to make sure they are talking to someone that understands what data governance is and not what a vendor might use as a fancy word because that's what's a hot topic.
  2. They want to test your communication skills and how well you can explain a topic to someone else, because in a data governance position, you will need to explain quite a few things.

So how do you answer: "What is data governance?"?

You can always go with the textbook definition and there are a few. You usually get bonus points if you also mention the source, such as the DAMA DMBOK.

The exercise of authority, control and shared decision making (planning, monitoring and enforcement) over the management of data assets

from DAMA Dictionary of Data Management

Or explain it in your own terms. In case you need some help with this or would like some other options for its definition you can refer to the "what is data governance" article.

I recommend to keep it high level and explain it to the interviewer as if they never heard of it before. In fact, the interviewer will often specify "Explain it to me as if I had never heard of it before." 

I also recommend providing an analogy to accompany your definition. I actually lead with that. I tend to use HR and Finance to explain data governance as those areas are understood across the business. Check out this article and video that covers that.

Q2. Who or what group in an organization should be responsible for data governance?

You can start with a more vague answer and say "it depends". But I would mention that based on best industry practices, data governance should be the responsibility of the business side of the organization, and not IT.

Depending on the size of the organization and what level on the maturity model the organization is, they might already have a Chief Data Officer (CDO) office and so data governance usually falls under there. Or maybe it's just a one person team for the time being and they could be reporting to VP of Finance, or Marketing, or Sales as an example.

The conclusion here is that data governance is the responsibility of the business, and yes, they will be in close partnership with IT for the technical deliverables and responsibilities. 

Q3. What do you expect the biggest challenge to be in data governance?

This is where researching the organization really pays off. Because understanding their products, services, their customer base and the business landscape can give you an indication into what challenging they might be facing. And this can differ depending on the industry, organization size, if they are government or not and so on.

As one LinkedIn member mentioned, try not to make assumptions and flip this question around and ask your interviewer "what challenges is the company currently facing?", while adding your own thoughts to it. Yes, sometimes the interviewer will play hardball and won't give you much for the answer to see how you would go about answering the question with the little information that you have. 

Something helpful to note is that in general if they don't have a data governance program in place, you can expect:

  • A lack of ownership and accountability when it comes to data management
  • A very silo approach when it comes to dealing with data quality issues
  • Redundant systems and processes
  • And so much more...

You can then extrapolate what the biggest challenges would be. It's a safe bet to mention that the whole change management aspect of data governance won't be easy. So basically getting people on board to embrace this data ownership and responsibility, come to the table to reach a common understanding, and ultimately change the way they work.

Q4. Provide a quick assessment on a 30/60/90 day plan for this role

This is an article on its own which I will happily write if there's interest, but you can split the 30/ 60/ 90 days into 3 phases:

  1. Understand & assess
  2. Establish, and 
  3. Improve 

All within the first 3 months. No, you won't be able to get a data governance program to a high maturity level in 3 months, but you can definitely lay part of that foundation for it. I'm mentioning this as the names of these 3 phases might be misleading.

Q5. Can you give me a sample data governance road map? 

Ok, we're in the weeds now. You can spend a lot of time answering this question. If you want some ideas you can check out my articles on data governance maturity models or check out my online course on the same topic. 

data governance maturity model course

But let's try and answer this question by providing them with 6 main steps of this roadmap:

  1. Construct the data governance strategy and making sure that it addresses the business needs. Remember to tie it back to the driver of why data governance is needed.
  2. Define and roll out the roles and responsibilities for data governance and the data governance operating model
  3. Define the metrics and how success will be measured and progress tracked
  4. Outline policies and processes for data acquisition and creation, data maintenance, data dissemination and usage, and data destruction
  5. Select the right tools and resources
  6. Continue to improve it and mature the program

Again, this is high level and sometimes you might be asked to prepare a presentation that covers this question. If that’s the case you would have a bit more time to describe this in further detail. I recommend looking at a data governance maturity model or even refer to the 30/60/90 day plan to create a more comprehensive answer.

Conclusion

These are usually the most 5 asked questions in a data governance interview. But please tune in for "Data Governance Interview Questions and Answers - Part 2" as it will go over the kinds of questions you will be asked so that the interviewer can better understand your previous data governance experience.

Until then please let me know if you've often encountered any other questions or if you have any questions that you would like them to have answered.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

About the author 

George Firican

George Firican is the Director of Data Governance and Business Intelligence at the University of British Columbia, which is ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world. His passion for data led him towards award-winning program implementations in the data governance, data quality, and business intelligence fields. Due to his desire for continuous improvement and knowledge sharing, he founded LightsOnData, a website which offers free templates, definitions, best practices, articles and other useful resources to help with data governance and data management questions and challenges. He also has over twelve years of project management and business/technical analysis experience in the higher education, fundraising, software and web development, and e-commerce industries.

You may also like:

What is the difference between business dictionary and business glossary?
What is the difference between data management and data governance?
>