Microsoft Excel Proficiency

Hi, Just seeking a bit of advice on something - I’m afraid I can’t be too specific because I myself don’t have much information on the matter. So basically here it is; I have a final round interview lined up tomorrow for a graduate research role. The job specified that “Strong Excel Skills” are required (& that initially I would help build a ‘commercial database’). At the previous interview it was hinted at that I would be tested on what I knew about Excel if I were to be invited back for final round (which I have been). I would like to hear your opinions on what the likely expecations on my Excel skills are. Since many of you are in the research field, I can only assume that Excel requirements are fairly similar across the board, and so your opinions would be useful to me. I have become familiar with how to formally and efficiently construct an excel table, reference cells from other worksheets/workbooks. I have tried out various functions, from the most basic (SUM etc) to database functions (DSUM - with which you can specify criteria). I understand how to use LOOKUP, IF, AND etc. Understand the power of pivot tables and their customizability. And I guess that about sums it up. Sorry if this query is a bit too ‘open-ended’, but your thoughts would be much appreciated. I’m just very anxious that I will be tested on some aspects of Excel I was never even aware of, and the job that was so nearly mine will blow up in my face! Thanks!

Hi! I would maybe look at how macros and VBA work, if you are absolutely not familiar with this. If you are able to say at the interview that you can write a simple macro, it will definitely be an advantage for you, even though the job might not require writing macros. But do not get too stressed if you have no experience with VBA. The worst way you could use your time by tomorrow would be trying to learn VBA in one afternoon.

thanks for suggestion, keep them coming!

forget the macros…it most likely won’t be on the exam. Not sure what you mean by a graduate research role, but if you are referring to a research associate, you should really brush up on different ability to make charts (believe me before I worked in the industry I never realized how much a pain in the ass excel charts can be). Naming sections, auto filters, array formulas, maybe learn to use a solver or the regression function.

Excel gets abused in more ways you can imagine. Building a commercial database in excel? I’d fire the entire IT department at that company since you shouldn’t use excel as a database… On-topic: Learn VBA. When they expect you to abuse excel you should be able to do it with VBA.

That’s sadly true. Does anyone have any good links to share? Also on Linux and how to install it onto a laptop.

what bb are you guys working out where someone in ER needs to know crap on linux?

I’ve become more and more amazed at how complex you can make array formulas. For example, you can include if statements in them. Name ranges is something that is quite useful. I’d say arrays, naming ranges, and lookup functions are the most important beyond the simple stuff. Later, you should learn VBA (and for real database work, SQL), but you could at least try the macro recorder to get an idea.