One of the most important skills in any career, especially in the consulting field, is interviewing skills. We cannot over-emphasize the importance of good interviewing techniques; in fact, CORADIX always helps our consultants prepare for an interview.
Some basic facts to think about include:
- You may be the best person for the job – but that will not mean anything unless you win during the interview process.
- Dress for success – you only get one chance to make a first impression.
- The interviewer has already read your resume; now they are looking for additional information about you. They probably want to assess your soft skills – attitude, work ethic, and inter-personal skills – so be prepared to impress them.
- When you are being interviewed for a consulting assignment, the client wants to feel a strong sense of confidence in your ability to solve their problem(s) – it’s up to you to convey that confidence.
- Not knowing the answer to a technical question is not always a negative factor, and trying to bluff your way through is almost certain to work against you. Instead, impress the interviewer with a positive, professional answer.
- Not all interviewers are well trained for the task – sometimes you need to help them with a good interview, so that they get a good impression of you and your skills.
The interviewer may open the meeting with small talk about some unrelated topic, as an ice breaker. We recommend that you use this opportunity to develop some rapport, but be careful not to abuse it. Keep it short so you have time for the interview – you don’t want the interviewer to think you are a chatterbox.
The interviewer wants information that is not in your profile. There is not much value in re-iterating information that they have already. The idea is to enhance areas in which they express interest. If you are unsure how much detail to give, speak for about a minute, then ask if they want you to provide more detail.
Be ready for some open ended questions like, “tell me about yourself”, or “tell me about your career”. The best way is to prepare some short scenarios that cover the salient points about the experience and success that you have achieved in your career.
Be prepared to talk about your best qualities – and provide information about your soft skills. It is important that you to describe these skills with credibility and supporting information.
For example, if the question was, “please describe your most valuable qualities”, you might answer this question in one of two ways.
Interviewee #1. (Shallow and unsupported)
“I’m honest, hard working, and a fast learner, with good communication skills.”
Interviewee #2. (Informative and convincing)
“I’m very straight forward. I will always tell you what I think – even if it’s not what you want to hear. I think that will serve us better in the long run.”
“I’m not afraid of hard work. I’ve worked on a few projects (like the …give an example) where there were tight deadlines, and I made significant contributions to ensure the project was delivered within the time constraints (be prepared to give examples of what you did). “
“I like to be challenged. If I have to learn a new technology, I will do what it takes to get up to speed very quickly. In my last project, I had to learn a new report writer tool…so I installed it on my home computer and did some self-training so I would not fall behind on the project timelines.”
“I am an excellent listener. I think that listening is one of the most important skills in this field. I carefully listen to what the client needs, and confirm that I have understood them by re-phrasing it back to them in their own language, be it business or technical. I communicate very well with my clients.”
If they don’t ask to describe your best qualities, you need to help them with the interview — find a way to volunteer the information. Perhaps when they ask if you have any more questions, you could respond by saying that you would like to tell them a few additional things about yourself. You should always be prepared to ask some insightful questions, to demonstrate that you care enough about the opportunity to do some research and invest some thought. You should also be prepared for the “what is your weakness?” question – respond with the honest, but not unduly damaging, answer.
When closing the interview, if you think the job sounds really interesting, make sure you tell them. If you feel that you are a good candidate for the job, tell them that you are very confident that you would be successful in the work that they have described.