30 Questions and Answers Written by Kelly Burlison
Written on February 6th, 2019 | Kelly Burlison, MPH, is an experienced professional with over ten years of experience interviewing in the health care field.
Question 1 of 30
What strategies do you use in preparing for and mitigating risk in the project management process?
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In project management, it is important to monitor risk and develop risk mitigation strategies throughout the project lifecycle. Preparation for risk begins in the project development phase and continues as the project is executed. There are many ways to mitigate risk throughout the lifecycle of a project, including but not limited to: clarifying project scope, assembling the appropriate project team, assessing project feasibility, maintaining open lines of communication, ensuring the project plan is followed, and developing contingency plans. The interviewer is asking this question to determine how well the candidate can articulate their ability to prepare for and mitigate risk in a project, which will effectively determine how well their assets will be protected through the project management process at Avanade. To successfully answer this question, the candidate should provide a specific method that they use to prepare for and mitigate risk and integrating a specific example from their professional experience can strengthen their response.
"Identifying potential risk and developing mitigation strategies is something I am always sure to do when first assigned a project, and I continuously analyze risk during the project lifecycle to ensure that no additional mitigation strategies need to be developed or executed. While I have used various risk mitigation strategies over the years, the strategies I find myself using the most, and what I find most successful in mitigating risk, is assessing project feasibility and developing contingency plans. I feel that the feasibility study is an extremely important risk mitigation strategy, as it allows me to identify issues in the project scope early in the process, before too many resources have been invested; and contingency plans are extremely helpful because when something starts to go wrong in the project, I usually already have the risk and solution identified, so not much additional time is lost. Since I have been so successful using these risk mitigation strategies in my career, I will be able to continue to use them to successfully manage projects at Avanade."
Second Answer Example
"I just worked on an IT informatics project where I had to use multiple risk mitigation strategies, in order to keep the timeline, budget, and deliverables on track. When I first received the project from my PMO, the requirements of the project were not particularly clear, so instead of proceeding with defining the scope on the ambiguous direction I received, I scheduled a meeting with project leadership to clarify project requirements so I could adequately define the scope of the project. However, once the scope was defined based on clarified project requirements, I realized the project team I was initially assigned by the PMO did not include individuals with the correct skill sets. Instead of proceeding with the team I was initially assigned, and completing project tasks using best efforts, I outlined the skill sets needed and approached the PMO with the rationale for why I needed different individuals on the project team, and the team was reassigned based on the rationale I provided. Because I used these risk mitigation approaches, the project is now running smoothly, and we are meeting our weekly tasks deliverables on schedule."
How do you assess a clients' current technology systems and solutions?
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Walk the interviewer through your process when it comes to discovering, and correctly assessing, the tech systems in place, when you take on a new client. Show that you have a process in place, are methodical, and use logic when making assessments.
"The first step that I take when assessing a clients' current technology is to poll the existing employees, asking them to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their existing hardware and software. I ask them if the technology currently affects their workflow, and which issues they identify on a regular basis. Next, if the conclusion shows that a new system is needed, I put into consideration the financial resources of the client, as well as the available timeframe. Then, I consider the tech options, weighing the pros and cons of each. Is this similar to the processes in place at Avanade?"
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"Step one is always to assess what is existing, and what is working just fine. This information usually comes from polling the current employees and spending a few days in their offices to try the tech in person. Then, I tap into the support services offered by the current tech providers. If a solution is not workable from there, I will create a list of the items we need to change and start researching the best viable options."
Every employer should know how each staff member is best motivated. Talk to the interviewer about the variety of ways in which you find motivation on the job.
"I am best motivated through words of praise and recognition for a job well done. I do like to know that my efforts are noticed. In my current position, we have a leaderboard and I do like that concept because it creates a healthy bit of personal competition for me as well."
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"I am very much self-driven and self-motivated. As long as I am being treated with respect and feel appreciated, you will get the best work from me."
Have you ever created a user manual or book of operational procedures?
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Creating a user manual, or operational book takes a high level of industry knowledge, technical writing skills, and a great deal of vision and organization. If you have created documents of this sort, it's a great idea to bring them with you to your interview, to show the hiring authority your work first hand. If you do not have experience, perhaps you have contributed to a similar project. Or, maybe you have taken a technical writing course, helping you to feel confident that you can take on a task such as this.
"I have created three manuals in the past. One was for my internal team, as a reference guide related to processes and operational procedures. The second, was a troubleshooting shortcut document for my client, after a major tech implementation. The third was related to resources and tools for my clients and their employees to utilize at their discretion. I enjoy technical writing and found these projects to be very satisfying."
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"I have not directly created any user manuals or operational procedure books; however, I have contributed to a couple of client manuals that my supervisor created. I helped to research the data that she included, and I also performed some proofreading tasks."
The way we approach clients in our business is we identify client needs and recommend solutions to their needs. Tell me about a time when your knowledge and expertise allowed you to make a recommendation to resolve a problem or address a pain point?
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The is a classic example of the hiring manager asking you to role play your response. The way it works is the hiring manager asks you to role play as the consultant, and he/she is the client who asks you to give them a pitch about why your company is a firm that they need to work with. There are a few ways to make this role play work in your favor. Here are a few examples you can use in a response. 1. Act as a problem solving adviser that can find and recommend solutions quickly, 2. Tell the client they have accessibility to you and other team members as needed, 3. Point out the benefits that they will get when they hire your company, 4. Share some examples of successes from companies of a similar industry, size or market.
"I've been a firm believer that the customer is always our highest priority and that I need to be the eyes and ears of the customer. With that said, there some examples I can share that will hopefully resonate with you. I typically ask what solutions have been proposed in the past, and how they have worked. Are there metrics to track the success or failure of past efforts? Having data to review helps me understand the process and approach previously used. Knowing the team makeup, and what methodology they used will also give me a deeper insight into what they were thinking. I like to conduct a voice of the customer survey, which I believe adds tremendous value to this campaign. Lastly, it's important for me to analyze the cause & effect relationships from the customer surveys, because It reveals a lot of underlying issues like task failures, root cause problems, and how good or bad the data is."
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"My recommendations would be based on what the customer wants and how well they articulated the deliverable. If, for example, the client wanted something that resembles a ketchup bottle, but the team delivered a salt shaker, that would indicate a miscommunication of what the client requested. My approach would be to closely dissect the customer requirements, then build a mock-up of what they requested, and have them review for approval before going to the next phase of development. After this phase is approved, I would do testing and debugging before presenting it to the customer. Mapping the customer journey is a visualization process a customer goes through and tracks each step along the way with the vendor, so everyone is on the same page."
6. There have been several virus attacks recently, what have you done to protect your organization from these cyber attacks? This a great question from a manager and there are some very useful responses to this question. The very first thing is having an in-depth knowledge of how cyber security attacks occur. There are several situational examples that a hiring manager might ask you to walk through to see what you did to thwart those attacks. Some of the core questions will relate to what you did to identify those threats, what authentication you used to combat the threats, and how frequently you do risk assessments. A couple of other questions that may come up will cover how often you communicated your security and sign-off policy to employees if there was compliance corporate-wide, and what you did to maintain that compliance. Here is an answer example: "I realize that attacks can happen at any time, and we need to be ready. One of the most important tasks that I'm involved in when I come into work every day is to look at our security dashboard which shows a real-time report of events, threats, intrusions, and possible breaches. This tells us what actions we need to take, or improvements that need to be addressed to strengthen our network further. The real-time report gives me a view of events that have occurred and are occurring in real-time. As a directive by our CIO, we are required to do research on public and private corporations that were hacked so we could analyze how those organizations handled data loss and what they did to remedy those issues." Here is an answer example: "There are several steps that I take to safeguard our environment. Let me outline those steps and tasks to get you familiar with our process, planning and execution:
1.) The first step is to identify the threats - this involves the unauthorized access of our company networks. Since our company has sensitive information, we go to great lengths to protect it.
2.) I keep employees honest - Employees have access to a lot of valuable company information, and if leaked to the wrong people, could be disastrous for the company. It's part of my responsibility to have employees reset passwords, and have them use two-factor authentication for additional security.
3.) I keep up to date on Cybercrimes that have happened in the past - I always look at what types of data hackers are attracted to so I know what kind of strategy to put in place for those types of potential attacks.
4.) I carry out risk assessments and audits on a regular basis - This is done to mitigate risk, and data loss. I work closely with external Cyber Security consultants to implement a security that is successfully executed."7. A client of ours wants to discuss a possible divestiture of some of their company locations. What are some key points during a consulting discovery that you want to understand to determine if our firm can potentially assist them? This particular hiring manager is asking you to give a scenario where their client has approached them about a divestiture of some of their locations, and they want to make sure they make a sound business decision for this client without having negative consequences on their business. As a consultant to this client, they would be looking to you as a trusted advisor and consulting firm that can help them through this process. It's important to note that the interviewer wants to know what key points you plan to discuss to determine if they could be a client or not. Your answer should drill down into how you conduct a discovery call and how it relates to the impact it will have on their business after a possible divestiture. I advise highlighting your analytical skills and how you were able to come up with a few options for them to choose from will greatly improve your response. Here is an answer example: "When a client puts their full faith and trust in me, I feel honored. Performing a divestiture is a time-consuming task, and it takes a team of people to make this transaction happen. It starts with monitoring the portfolio to see which locations or business units are profitable, and which ones are ripe for a divestiture. As an IT consultant, I always look at the technology implications first, then the business drivers for perspective. Performing a divestiture comes with legal obligations and corporate valuations that need to be addressed as well." Here is an answer example: "A divestiture is not easy, especially if it means a location is closing and people might lose their jobs. Several considerations need to be accounted for including severance, identifying who the new buyer of that location will be, and the possible benefits of divesting. Managing the transition does present a challenge, but I have extensive hands-on experience managing this process through its entirety. I've seen companies divest for many reasons, but it always comes back to the strategic focus of the company, and where they can be most profitable."8. Describe a time you helped implement a new technology for your client. Did you encounter any challenges, and how did you address them? Anytime you are introducing new technology to a client, you'll have your fair share of people who agree with you, and an equal amount of naysayers in that group too. This is an opportunity to talk about how you were involved in the process from start to finish, and where you encountered challenges, either with the software or personnel and what you did in a problem solver role to resolve those problems. If you look at it, the real purpose of introducing software to an organization is to improve the performance of a business. Give a couple examples of how you were able to get a consensus from department managers and their subordinates to move forward with the implementation. As you're going through these examples, be sure to mention how exactly they will be able to achieve their goals using the new software, and that you'll be able to bring value to the project immediately. Here is an answer example: "I find that ultimately it's up to the client to make a final decision on whether or not they choose new software. It's up to me to provide all the necessary information needed for them to make an informed decision. There are many factors involved when evaluating new software. I'd like to provide some details about what goes into an evaluation and deployment of new software, and how challenges might be overcome.
1. Strategy and Technology Alignment - what are the goals of the organization, and how is the new software able to meet their business needs?
2. Is there Buy-in from senior leadership or stakeholders - Did management request to look at new software technology, or did it come from an external source?
3. Possible challenges that might come up - Is there anyone in the company that is against implementing new software, and why?
4. Will the new software integrate with existing technology infrastructure - Perform a system analysis to see if additional hardware is needed to support the new software?
5. Team training - How many people within all the departments will need training. My recommendation would be the train-the-trainer method.
6. Who will be maintaining the system once it goes live - Is there internal resources within the company with the proper expertise to maintain the system?" Here is an answer example: "It is my belief that when a company is exploring the possibility of implementing new software, there needs to be alignment from executive leadership and everyone else that could be impacted by new implementation. This includes the strategic, operational, and tactical perspective of the company. Let me give you an example of how I was able to propose a new software and the approach that I took to address challenges.
1. I showed examples of what the Risk vs Reward would look like after the software was implemented.
2. I inventoried all existing software to see if there were any other software packages that could address current issues without having to buy new software.
3. I gave management a timeline of how long it would take to implement, and how much it would cost.
4. I provided a post-implementation plan that included support and maintenance so that they knew what to expect going forward, and that there weren't going to be any surprises."9. Every employee with Avanade is expected to be sales-minded and target driven. Walk me through your experience in sales based roles. Briefly take the interviewer through your sales based work history. Be sure to highlight your best results. This is where it is very important to know your sales numbers before walking into your interview. Here is an answer example: "I have been in a sales based role for the past 10 years. With Company A, my best year I finished 125% to quota. With Company B, I began from the ground up and left with a portfolio of business worth $$$. In my last position, with Company C, I was the top grossing financial services employee in our branch at 167% to target." Here is an answer example: "At this point in my career I do not have a lot of financial sales related experience; however, I am well versed in a variety of business development and cold calling techniques. I fully understand how to build a sales pipeline and see the importance of building a referrals based business."10. The fashion industry is fast paced and unpredictable. Your work schedule may reflect that unpredictability. Are you flexible in your schedule? Assure the interviewer that you are capable of working an unpredictable schedule. If you have any restrictions in your schedule, this is a good time to talk to the interviewer about it. Here is an answer example: "I am happy to make myself available for work most times, including evenings, weekends, and holidays. I do have an evening course for the next 8 weeks on Thursdays; however, that is the only restriction currently on my schedule." Here is an answer example: "I have a few restrictions in my schedule; however, I am happy to accommodate most days. I am unavailable to work on weekends but from my research I believe you are closed on weekends anyways. Could you share with me the hours expectations for this position?"11. A client wants to implement a new software system that was recommended by a different division of the same company. How do you evaluate it to ensure it's the right choice? It's not uncommon for many corporations with multiple locations or divisions to have different computer systems and networks that don't necessarily talk to each other. They may share a few common systems that allow them to communicate with other locations or business units to conduct business as usual. Since companies that are decentralized have systems, networks, and/or software that could differ from other locations, hiring managers will ask how you will gather information, who you will talk to, the method you will use to evaluate the new software, and how you will arrive at a decision to recommend or not recommend the software. Giving an example or short checklist of what you will cover in the evaluation process will be important. Here is an answer example: "I've been in similar situations like this before, and have consulted clients on what needs to be considered before a new software implementation can take place. In a consulting engagement, a proper discovery and background must be conducted on the business. This step is absolutely critical. If you don't understand why the customer is asking you to evaluate new software for their business, you'll miss the most important part of why you are evaluating the software. My experience has shown that if you find the compelling event or pain point that's prompting them to look at a new system, you'll know if it's the right choice for them." Here is an answer example: "There's a step-by-step process that I follow that yields great results when it comes to evaluating new software for a corporation or division. As mentioned earlier, a proper discovery of the business operations is critical. Let me walk you through the process I use as part of the discovery:
1. Have the client explain the need for the software and the problems they expect it to solve for them.
2. Ask if they have the technical expertise internally to maintain the software, or do they plan to outsource the maintenance for the software to an IT Consultant or firm.
3. Do an assessment of their current technology infrastructure to see if they can support this new software and if they need to purchase additional hardware to run the system.
4. Find out how many people would potentially need to be trained on the new software, starting with key personnel (Administrators/Power Users) managing the system.
5. Provide a comparison of similar software with similar features, benefits, along with a breakdown of pricing for each software solution, and what it will cost in the long run.
6. Ask when they want you to submit a report on your evaluation."12. How do you manage and coordinate the many tasks and deliverables associated with a project? The interviewer is asking this question to determine how the candidate approaches the delegation and assigning of project tasks and deliverables associated with a project. With any project, there is typically a significant number of tasks to be completed, many of which are dependent on one another. Since the project manager does not have the expertise or knowledge to complete these tasks, it is not their responsibility to do so, but rather it is their responsibility to analyze the skill sets, experience, and strengths of the individuals on the project team and assign tasks accordingly. If the project manager is not familiar with an individual on the project team, they can gather this information by either reviewing the team member's resume or CV or having a short conversation with the individual. The candidate can successfully answer this question by providing specific information on how they delegate tasks for a project, and a strong response would include an example of a candidate's professional experience of successfully managing project tasks. Here is an answer example: "I learned very quickly in my project management career how important it is to properly manage and delegate project tasks. If project tasks are not assigned to the appropriate team members, it can cause complete chaos in the project lifecycle, as most tasks are dependent upon the completion of previous project tasks and assignments. With this being said, after I receive a project and have worked with stakeholders to identify the tasks and timelines that will allow us to meet our deliverables, I carefully analyze the skill sets of each individual on the project team. However, before I blindly assign a task to an individual, I reach out to them individually to ensure they are comfortable with and have the skill set to complete the task. I find this the best approach for managing tasks, especially when it comes to assigning and delegating them because it allows me to assign team members tasks that fit their skill sets and workloads." Here is an answer example: "I have a great example of how I manage tasks associated with projects. I was recently assigned a large application development project from my PMO, and the project has multiple deliverables and the largest team I have ever worked with. Normally it is easy for me to assign tasks to project team members because I know a lot of the team members from working with them in the past; but since this team is so large and includes many vendors, I was not familiar with many of their skill sets, strengths, and experiences. Rather than just assigning tasks based on assumptions, I had each team member send me their CV so I could review it and learn more about their experience, and if I still had questions, I scheduled quick ten-minute meetings with them to understand where they fit on the project team. Because I took time to learn about each team member, I was able to use this information to assign project tasks to the person most qualified to work on them, and in return, the project has been progressing very smoothly."13. Your client is considering entering a new market. They have a choice of buying an existing company, or developing the technology in-house. What approach would you take about advising them on making the best business decision? In this case, Avanade wants to assess your business consulting knowledge of mergers and acquisitions, and if you're qualified to advise them on entering into a new market which they may not be familiar with. It's best to start with your knowledge of Mergers and Acquisitions, and how you advised companies in a similar situation. Highlight the risks and rewards involved in such an endeavor, and use a case study to prove your point. They may also want to pick your brains and get your opinion on whether it makes more business sense to acquire a company with a complementary product or develop a new product. Here is an answer example: "Mergers and Acquisitions were big in the late 1990s, and that's the first time I was part of a merger/acquisition deal. It taught me a lot and made me the consulting professional I am today. The consulting approach I took was to look at the business drivers, and what the company wanted to achieve financially. It was important for me to understand what their plans were to scale that particular product line, and what the branding campaign was going be. I conducted research for both scenarios, and presented my findings in the form of a report with my recommendations, and how I arrived at my recommendations." Here is an answer example: "When I'm consulting a client about entering a new market or acquiring an existing company, I look at a number of different things to determine whether developing a new product internally, or acquiring a company that compliments their existing product line up is the right decision. I typically go through a series of questions to better understand their business motives. Here's a list of questions that I would ask:
1. Current state of manufacturing capabilities - are they able to produce a similar or better product at quantities that will be competitive?
2. Is there a market for this new product?
3. Research the competition - who owns the majority of the market share
4. Is this product seasonal or sold year-round?
5. Do they have internal expertise to develop a new product?
6. Are there any laws or legislation that would restrict or prevent the manufacture of that new product outside the US?
7. What the market plan to scale this product?"14. How does data drive a business' success? Data-driven decision making is becoming a more significant topic every year. Companies can leverage data analytics to determine:
- Competitive analysis
- How, when, and where products are used
- Customer demographics
- Pattern analysis
- Business growth
Talk to the interviewer about the ways that you feel companies can best use data to drive the success of their business. Here is an answer example: "When I take a hard look at the many uses of data, I see that data can be collected in a plethora of ways to determine the success of a new product launch, competitive analysis, or patterns that occur, which may not be seen by the human eye. In my career, I have the most experience using data to help drive employee productivity and onboarding solutions which can save a company thousands of dollars." Here is an answer example: "Data can drive every aspect of a business' success if approached and utilized correctly. In my experience, I have seen that companies underutilize what a full data analysis approach can do for them. Analytics programs should be set up for marketing, sales, employee productivity, product efficiency, competitive analysis and more."15. At Avanade we take privacy and confidentiality very seriously. Are you willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement, if hired? Signing a non-disclosure agreement is quite common in the software and technology industry. If hired, you will likely become privy to trade secrets, pending patents, and other innovative projects that must remain confidential. Talk to the interviewer about your willingness to sign an agreement. If you are currently under non-disclosure or non-compete agreement with your present employer, now is the time to discuss that. Here is an answer example: "I have signed non-disclosure agreements in the past; although I am not currently under one. I see the importance of agreements such as this and am most willing to comply." Here is an answer example: "I am happy to review any privacy and confidentiality agreements that you have."16. What actions do you take when you recognize project deadlines will not be met? Sometimes, due to confounding factors that are not in control of the project manager or the project team, deadlines for project deliverables are missed. This is not uncommon in project management, but it is important for the project manager to inform project leadership and stakeholders of potential delays as soon as possible, along with information on the cause of the delay, and what the project team is doing to mitigate the situation. Through regular communication, project leadership and stakeholders should already be aware of many of the details of the project, but it is still important for the project manager to provide a thorough explanation of the cause of the delay. The interviewer is asking this question to assess the candidate's ability to articulate how they would respond and react in a situation where they may have to deliver difficult news concerning what may be viewed as a failure in their performance. To appropriately answer this question, the candidate must confidently answer and provide details about how they would immediately respond to a situation where there is a project delay. Here is an answer example: "Unfortunately in project management, delays in project deliverables sometimes happen. I find the best approach to a project delay is immediately notifying project leadership and stakeholders of a potential delay, even if there is a possibility that the team may catch up as the final deadline approaches. I would rather project leadership be aware of a delay than being surprised by one in the end. When communicating a potential delay, which I know can be extremely frustrating for project leaders and stakeholders, I try to provide as much information as I can, so they can understand what is happening, and so they will know that as a project manager, I am doing everything I can to prevent further delays in the project. As project manager at Avanade, I will do everything I can to prevent project delays, but if and when they happen, I will be sure to keep project leaders and stakeholders fully informed of what is going on, so they are aware of the status of their project." Here is an answer example: "One of the projects I am managing recently got off schedule, and I had to deliver the frustrating news that the delivery of the final software application will be delayed. While this was not easy news to communicate, it was necessary for me to inform project leadership and stakeholders of the delay, and I did so immediately after we discovered the programming bug that sent the application back to development. In my communication with project leaders and stakeholders, I was sure to provide them as much information as possible, rather than just telling them there was a delay. While project leaders and stakeholders were not happy with the news, they appreciated that I notified them immediately, and that provided such a detailed account of what took place. This is the type of open communication I use in project management, even when I have to deliver what is considered bad news, and I will maintain this type of communication style when managing projects at Avanade."17. What is the highest ROI percentage you have delivered to a client? An excellent consultant will know exactly what they have delivered to clients in the past, and why they were able to achieve such exceptional results. Talk to the interviewer about the greatest ROI you have been able to help a client achieve. Include your thoughts on what made the project a success and assure the interviewer that you will be able to repeat that success. Here is an answer example: "The highest ROI I was able to deliver to a client was a whopping 62%. Our company's standard at that time was 26% so you can see my excitement when our team was able to generate such a great result. The client did not expect such a significant return, and I attribute the success to our highly collaborative approach, excellent communication, and an exceptionally talented team. I look forward to delivering similar results to Avanade." Here is an answer example: "Last year, my average ROI was 17%, with an industry average of 9%. I believe my success is directly related to the fact that I perform regular progress reports, ensuring my clients are fully aware of where the project is headed. Clear communication means a smoother project and top-notch results. I am excited to bring these same results to Avanade and your clients."18. Tell me about a time where you made a great recommendation that you think would have greatly benefited your client, but they just didn't like it. What approach did you take to convince them? It's a challenge when you have to deal with a company that has different opinions and management styles. Depending on whom you are working with, and their role and responsibility, you will likely have to craft a compelling value proposition to clearly show that your recommendations will yield a return on their investment in a relatively short time. Consultants know this all too well. Push back from the client comes from managers who either don't understand the idea, concept or solution, and how it will help the organization. This type of interview question is asked to see how you handle rejection from the client, and if you recommend another solution that might work better. In addition to a compelling value proposition, provide a similar example that you recommended to a client that worked very well and had a good return on their investment. Here is an answer example: "When someone doesn't like my ideas or recommendations, I don't take it personal. I show empathy towards people who may disagree with my ideas or recommended solutions. I understand that some people may not be clear about how the technology or solution works, and how it may benefit them. When it comes to change, it is sometimes difficult to implement change since people like the way they work, and get used to a certain routine at work. One of the approaches that I used to convince them that my recommended solution would benefit the company was to highlight the areas that directly benefited them, and how it would make their daily tasks easier to manage." Here is an answer example: "Another way I was able to convince this client that they need my recommended solution was that I gave them ownership and involvement in the project very early on so they could see first-hand where they would be able to realize the benefits that directly apply to their department. I made them feel they were an important part of the process. As an outsider (consultant) telling them how I could improve their operations, I know I had to be respectful to their concerns. I avoided confrontation, and took a non-intrusive approach to learn how they worked so I could document and show them exactly where they benefited from my recommendations."19. There are times when you need to consider a broad range of options before recommending a solution. What was the situation, and did the solution help the client? When you're in a position of trust with a client, they lean heavily on you for advice, guidance, and direction. This is a great opportunity for you to explore multiple options that will yield a desirable result for the client. The client will expect you to present options that not only fit within their budget, but meet their business requirements. Some examples might be one or more of the following; Sales Pipeline Development, Product Order Status, Invoicing, Production, Accounts Payables/ Receivables, Project Management, etc. The solution could be a software or hardware solution. Thinking outside the box will give you an advantage. Start with a high level business requirements approach from a strategic level, and drill down to operational and tactical levels if you really want to understand where the customer is coming from, and where they want to be in the future. Here is an answer example: "As an IT Consultant, I regularly keep up to date on new technologies in software, hardware, networking, security, and programming. It goes without saying that any consultant would have to fully understand a client's business needs before making any recommendations. In one particular case, i had a meeting with the COO to learn what the business drivers were, and why he thought they needed a new software solution. I learned that their sales organization didn't have a CRM to track and manage customer and sales data. I researched three Customer Resource Manager (CRM's) that met the client's qualification, and after a 30 day trial period, I suggested one that met their needs. After implementation, the client was able to view a pipeline of sales activities, customer order data, closed sales, sales reps activities, which is exactly what they wanted." Here is an answer example: "When I build relationships with clients, the first thing I think of is to help my client improve their performance and growth which can result in increased sales and increased value for the business and stakeholders. I start by conducting onsite research, monitoring day to day operations, and analyzing data to learn their business. I take it a step further to learn where manual intervention is needed, and whether a solution will be technology-based, personnel/resource based, or process based. I found that the requirement was personnel/resource-based and that they needed a team of programming experts, along with business analysts and project managers. I suggested bringing in a team that I knew would be able to handle the task of building an application to support their warehousing distribution business."20. Great communication skills are critical when working as an IT Consultant. Walk me through a time when you were successful in communicating with a person that was difficult to work with, and under difficult circumstances? Throughout corporate America, you'll find your garden variety of different personalities from strategic thinkers, passive aggressive profiles, and of course your ego maniacs. Dealing with difficult people is an art. There's a few ways you can learn to adapt to an environment, culture and difficult circumstances without compromising the success of the project. First, start with the common issues that a difficult person will present to you. He/she will likely try to take credit for the work you completed, or blame you for missing their deadlines. An easy way to handle this is to explain that even though they blamed you, you have no ill will towards them, and actually offered to help with their project so they could get caught up. Another approach is to summarize the issue, then explain that you communicated with the other person and spent time with them to solve the problem. Here is an answer example: "I've worked with all types of personalities, and have found that a diplomatic approach has worked best for me. The first thing I address with the other person is the blame game. Learning why you are blamed gets you once step closer to resolving the problem. In this case the client was having issues meeting deadlines which caused other departments to also miss their deadlines. I immediately focused on a problem, how to solve it, and started by showing my willingness to get along and help get the project back on track." Here is an answer example: "It's extremely important to me to avoid getting upset or venting about the person who was difficult to work with. I had an instance where a client was rude, and verbally abusive, and didn't give me access to servers, and software that I needed to complete my work. I kept my cool and was polite the whole time. I demonstrated how they would see immediate results and a turn-around of their project if we could all work together and I could have access to certain files and folder to get my work done, and they agreed."21. Are you LEAN Six Sigma certified? Lean Six Sigma is a methodology that teaches how to eliminate waste of all kinds, within an organization. The education certifies you as an expert on efficiencies in the workplace. When it comes to Six Sigma certifications, there are a variety of levels which you can obtain. You begin with white, and work your way up to yellow, green, and black, with the highest option being MBB (Masters' Black Belt). Share with the interviewer if you are Six Sigma certified. If you are, discuss how far you have taken your certification. If you do not have your certification, show enthusiasm for the idea and express that you are open to expanding your professional knowledge and training. Here is an answer example: "I have looked into LEAN Six Sigma training and would be very interested in expanding my education to include this esteemed certification. There is a course beginning next month, and I am happy to register if you feel it would be the value added that Avanade is looking for." Here is an answer example: "I am currently earning my green belt in Six Sigma. My goal is to earn my MBB level certification within the next five years. I have learned a great deal about business process and streamlining. I fully believe that every person in the management consulting and implementations sector should become white belt certified, at the very least."22. How do you prevent and manage scope creep when managing a project? The candidate's ability to clearly articulate how they prevent and manage scope creep in a project is extremely important. In project management, a common issue is the project's scope changing or continuously growing after the project is initiated, and it can cause a project to miss deadlines or fail to meet key deliverables. Ways to prevent or mitigate scope creep may include: fully educating oneself on a project's goals and objectives, maintaining proper and regular communication with the project team, understanding project requirements, using formal project tracking mechanisms, developing a formal system for changing project scope, and being attentive when managing the project team. The candidate can successfully answer this question by providing details on how they use a specific strategy to manage or prevent scope creep, with a strong answer including a specific example from a project they are currently managing or have managed in the past. Here is an answer example: "Early in my project management career, I often dealt with scope creep in my projects, which caused the projects to lose focus and sometimes resulted in missed deadlines and deliverables that did not align with the goals and objectives of the project. After this happened a couple of times, I learned that it was important to put controls in place to prevent and manage scope creep, so now, as soon as I am assigned a project from my PMO, I review the goals and objectives to ensure I am very clear on how the scope should be defined. Then, during the project, I am diligent in managing the project and team by using formal tracking mechanisms, maintaining ongoing communication, and using a formal change management process if a member of the project team wants to change the scope of the project. Since using these techniques, I have found it much easier to prevent scope creep, and if scope creep starts to happen, I am able to manage it before it gets out of control and starts affecting the timeline and deliverables of the project." Here is an answer example: "As a project manager, I have often dealt with scope creep. For example, I was recently assigned a project form my PMO to create a digital scorecard that includes performance and sales metrics for each department at my company. However, approximately a month into the project, I noticed scope creep starting to occur in our weekly project planning meetings and in project communications, as the developers assigned to the project were interested in using their skills to build a full dashboard that exceeded the scope and objectives of the project. When I recognized that scope creep was taking place, I began managing the project more vigilantly and reminding the project team of the scope, their actual assigned tasks, and their timeline of deliverables on the work plan. Since my company's Chief Information Officer was on the project team, and she was insistent on expanding the scope of the project, I instituted a formal change management process, where requests for scope changes could be proposed to project leadership. Using this formal process, the CIO was able to get her changes approved and formally built into the project scope. This change management process was much more efficient, as the actual scope and deliverables of the project have now changed, rather than the scope creeping from the original objectives."23. Describe a situation where a project you were managing failed. What did you learn about this failure, and were you able to salvage or turn it around? As much as we don't like to think about it, sometimes projects fail, and in some cases for reasons beyond our control. Hiring managers realize things do go wrong and projects have to get back on track and show a successful outcome quickly. The more complex the project, the higher the chances are that the project might fail. This question focuses on your ability to bounce back from failure, and what you did to turn it around. Give some thought as to how you might explain why the project failed, and outline the steps you took to turn it around. It is important to list what exactly happened, what lessons were learned, and what you do now to safeguard future projects from failure. Here is an answer example: "I was a consultant managing a project with five other team members, and our goal was to develop a loan application app to qualify a buyer for a mortgage. I noticed that we were not able to meet deadlines or present mock designs of the app when the client requested it. I later found several flaws in our methodology and approach which led to delays and cost over-runs. I had to take a step back a re-evaluate exactly what went wrong, and quickly make corrections. Here's what I did to turn it around, and the educational journey it took me through.
1.) Take a step back and evaluate how you arrived at this point
2.) Temporarily stop the project
3.) Figure out why the project is failing
4.) Set up a turn-around (war) room
5.) Draft an agenda to go over findings, from quantitative reports to team member interviews
6.) Re-assignment of team member tasks and roles
7.) Gather all notes and project collateral
8.) Set clear objectives, and ask each team member to provide you a work list with specific tasks they are responsible for on the project, and their understanding of the team goals" Here is an answer example: "A failed project can be humbling, and eye-opening at the same time. If not managed and executed properly, it can go horribly wrong. That's why when I put together a team for a project; I religiously follow a methodology that works flawlessly. I've learned to become good at this methodology after a failed project a few years ago. It also made me good at spotting where projects go wrong, and where I needed to make immediate changes. Let me break down what I learned about the failed project, and what I did to turn it around:
1.) What did I learn from the process
2.) How did it affect me and the team
3.) What were the key issues that caused the failure
Writers for Avanade, Inc. Answers and Questions
Kelly Burlison, MPH, is an experienced professional with over ten years of experience interviewing in the health care field, half of which are focused on an IT subindustry of health care. As an administrator in a managed care organization, Kelly has successfully interviewed and hired many clinical and support staff positions. Through her IT experience in the health care field, which includes roles in telemedicine, registry operations, quality measurement, and business process management, Kelly has been involved in the interview process for many different positions, from entry-level to executive.
Rachelle Enns is a job search expert, executive headhunter, career catalyst, and interview coach. Utilized by top talent from Fortune companies like Microsoft, General Electric, and Nestle, she helps professionals position themselves in today's competitive digital marketplace.
Rachelle founded Renovate My Resume and Executive Resume Solutions, two companies focused on helping job seekers get their edge back. She helps everyone from new graduates looking for their first placement, to CEO's who want more out of their career.
Rachelle coaches students to executives on how to master the toughest interview questions and how to handle the most bizarre interview situations; all with confidence and poise.
Rachelle trains other career coaches, recruiters, and resume writers, globally. A big part of her job is also spent coaching HR professionals on how to bring the human touch back into their interview and hiring process.
Tom Dushaj is a business and technology executive and an accomplished author of the book "Resumes That Work". Tom has vast experience providing solutions to Fortune 500 companies in the areas of Information Technology Consulting, ERP Software, Personnel Management and International Business Operations. His work experience includes Personnel Administration, Recruiting, Interviewing, Project Management, Career Counseling, as well as Manufacturing and Quality Assurance Consulting. You can find Mr. Dushaj's full profile at https://www.resumebaron.com
Helen Lee is a freelance data analyst and writer with over 15 years of experience in the Marketing field working for companies and clients in a variety of industries including financial services, quick service restaurant (QSR), consumer packaged goods (CPG) and education technology. She has experience managing marketing research projects, conducting strategic analyses and writing and editing a variety of pieces including marketing material, blog entries and user guides.
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