27 Questions and Answers Written by Kelly Burlison
Written on February 7th, 2019 | Kelly Burlison, MPH, is an experienced professional with over ten years of experience interviewing in the health care field.
Question 1 of 27
Gartner Consulting seeks to hire those with strong problem solving skills. When were you able to successfully resolve a problem in the workplace?
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Problem-solving and dispute resolution are critical skills to possess. Display to the interviewer that you are capable of problem-solving within the workplace. Talk about a time when you were creative, proactive, and displayed the leadership qualities required to resolve a workplace issue.
"In my most recent position we had a consistent problem with employees showing up late for their shifts or calling in sick at the very last moment. Rather than the typical documenting and reprimanding style that management usually takes, I decided to track the results of an accountability reward system. For 180 days, my employees were rewarded for coming to work 10 minutes early. Also, for every month with zero sick days, a bonus was added. In the end, we awarded those with perfect attendance a $600 bonus. The bonus' cost us less money, in the end than the cost of lowered productivity due to absent employees. The program was a success, and upper management chose to keep it implemented for another six months. We will re-assess in December, but it seems to be working very well."
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"I was working in a clinic where the primary population was low income. We had a lot of concerns with patients not showing up for appointments when expected. The staff wanted to start double-booking patient time slots. Instead, I got permission to spend a day in a highly-rated clinic serving the same population. Instead of scheduling, they had these 'drop-in mornings' with a common waiting room. I took these methods and incorporated them into our setting. We did that twice a week, and it completely solved our scheduling problem."
How do you approach your role in business processes and operations when your department or the Project Management Office (PMO) is operating smoothly or there are no pending improvement projects in the queue?
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This question is very important to the interviewer, as it is important for them to know that the candidate understands that someone in the role of business processes and operations should be constantly looking for opportunities to improve their department and the PMO. Anticipating improvements and changes that can be made when operations are not in a state of flux will allow staff responsible for business processes and operations to work more effectively work project teams to make improvements to processes in order to eliminate waste and reduce variation. The candidate can successfully answer this question by providing examples of how they took initiative to make changes in their department or PMO when they were not specifically assigned a task or faced with a problem that needed an immediate solution.
"If there are no immediate needs for improvement in my department or in the PMO that needs my attention, I look at the 'parking lot' of improvements that I maintain and determine what I have the capacity to take on at the time. Throughout the year, when requests or improvement projects that are not immediately needed are received, I put them on a parking lot to be addressed later. So, when there is additional time, I am able to prioritize the parking lot and choose an improvement project based on needs, capacity within my team, and the capacity each department has to take on an improvement project. I find this method very effective for continuously improving the department and PMO, and I can use the same or similar method at Gartner Consulting."
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"In times where there are no improvement tasks or projects, I do not rest on my laurels. Instead, I take the opportunity to assess the various areas within the IT department, the PMO, and the company, by speaking with leadership to determine what improvement projects we can start during these down times. I find that these down times are much easier to implement new processes or streamline existing processes, because staff members are not already overburdened with a project, and they are more willing to take on change. In order for me to be a successful Business Process and Operations Manager, I feel that I must always be finding ways to help my colleagues improve, and I will always take the initiative to get a project started when my workload is less in order ensure I am contributing in my position as much as I can."
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?
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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.
"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."
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"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."
We're a company of innovative thinkers; we rely upon our innovative thinking to solve client problems. Tell me about a time when you came up with a breakthrough idea that was not obvious to others. Describe your idea and how you developed it?
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Innovation is the cornerstone of any successful company. If you show me a highly successful company, I will show you people within that company that were innovative thinkers. Great examples are Steve Jobs from Apple, Bill gates from Microsoft, and Jeff Bezos of Amazon just to name a few. The hiring manager is posing this as a two-part question to see if your response is clear, concise, and related to the question. Stay on point with your response, because that's what they're looking for. Think about this question for a minute to dissect what they are asking. They are a company of innovators.....which means, will you fit into their culture and be able to come up with ideas that will be innovative. They will be listening attentively to how you articulate your message about your breakthrough idea. Walk them through how you came up with the idea, what your thought process was, how you got approval to move forward, and how you executed on the idea.
"I've always considered myself an Outside the Box thinker. Settling for the norm has never been my working style. I always work with the expectation that my idea will serve many purposes, and bring value to our customers. One example is when I came up with an idea to train the trainer at multiple locations via remote video conferencing. This idea was well received, and was implemented at over 50 locations worldwide. I came up with the idea because I was responsible for training multiple divisions and didn't have the budget to fly everyone in from multiple locations for the training sessions."
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"I was working on implementing a friendlier looking graphical user interface solution for a financial services client. The inspiration came from the feedback I received from people at the client site complaining about processing transactions on a mainframe computer that wasn't much fun to work with or look at. They were used to the dreaded Green Screen on a mainframe, but my solution had a Windows look and feel which they liked quite a lot."
Help me understand your standards for success in your last job. Please describe what you did to attain those standards, and if you fell short of expectations, what did you do to remedy the problem?
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If you look at companies of all sizes, you'll find different types of standards for each one of them. A smaller company's standards might differ from a larger one, and this could be based on processes, management and overall operations. They hiring manager in this case would like to hear if you value standards, and if you are involved in setting standards or following them. Ideally you want to explain that you have involvement with both. Start with some basic facts about the standards you have set, and how you have garnered support from leadership and have successfully maintained those standards over a long period of time. It's also important to talk about times you had challenges maintaining standards, and how you were able to remedy issues that came up, and regain the support of your teams. This shows the interviewer your human side, because everyone falls short of expectations at some point, but what you did to remedy the problem will be something they will pay close attention to.
"There are standards that I follow which have made me successful. I start by putting together a winning team. The way that I select a team is I look for winning attitudes, and quality attributes that fit within our team dynamics. Each team member must possess a willingness to learn from failures, and the eagerness to practice and improve even under challenging deadlines. Each person on my team has to accept ownership of their role, and be accountable for their work. Lastly, each and every person on my team has to be respectful to each other."
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"When it comes to standards, there are many ways to measure success. For me, customer satisfaction is a very important measurable metric. It's my job to figure out what the client is looking for in order to ensure complete satisfaction. I admit, client satisfaction isn't always easy to measure, but once you develop a system that allows them to measure success, you will have a better idea of how to meet their needs. This is a common practice that I developed and use with all my customers. In rare cases where I fell short of my client's expectations, I always examine where things went wrong, and implement a change to immediately right the ship. It could be a number of things like budget, bureaucracy, unrealistic timelines, etc. I document all project cases so I prevent failures in the future."
6. Who are our clients at Gartner Consulting? Before your interview, it's vital that you have a full understanding of the industries and clients that Gartner Consulting serves. You will find this information on their website, press releases, social media, or even a Google search. If you have worked with similar clients in the past, you can mention this, to show the interviewer that you are already familiar with the type of accounts you may be handling, should you be the successful candidate. Here is an answer example: "I understand that Gartner Consulting works primarily with Fortune 500 companies in the medical, technology, and SaaS industries. I have a similar client portfolio, with smaller companies who have between 500-1000 employees." Here is an answer example: "Through my research, I saw that Gartner Consulting serves over 76% of Fortune 100 companies and more than 92% of Fortune 500 companies. I also understand that your clients span industries such as energy, financial services, Public services, and media/communications. The bulk of my experience is in the energy sector, and I look forward to making an impact in that area while learning more about your client scope."7. As a business process and operations expert, how do you approach a situation when a project is failing to progress and is not meeting its deliverables? The interviewer is asking this question to determine how the candidate would approach a situation when a project is failing to progress, which often happens in IT and other professional environments. When a project is not meeting its goals or benchmarks, business process staff can assist project staff by analyzing the project plan and developing interventions to get the project back on track. There are a number of strategies the business process and operations staff member can use to ensure a project begins meeting its benchmarks, including but not limited to: redesigning the project plan or timeline, dedicating more resources to the project, introducing more efficient production strategies, such as LEAN methodologies, or reassigning project teams. The candidate can successfully answer this question by providing a specific example of how they have successfully turned a failing project around in the past. Here is an answer example: "As a business process and operations manager, I have often had to intervene on projects that were not meeting their benchmarks or goals for completion. In most of these cases, I have found that the failure to progress is not due to the lack of efforts of the project team, but because of misallocated or misused resources. For example, I recently had to assist a project manager on a project that was significantly behind on creating mapping logic for a data interface that we were preparing for. When the project manager came to me with her concerns, I took a look at the project plan and was able to find some essential steps in the project plan that were missing. After I identified these steps, I worked with the project manager to redesign her project plan and develop more detailed process flows, which helped the project get back on track." Here is an answer example: "I was just dealing type of situation last month. There was a software development project in my department's Project Management Office (PMO) that was supposed to have been closed out three months ago, and when the PMO Director came to me for help, he said the program was being sent back to development, because a significant bug was found in the beta-testing phase. The PMO Director was extremely frustrated, as this bug should have been identified in the alpha-testing phase, and this error caused an even more significant setback. Because this software program is a significant deliverable for our department and overall organization, the additional delay affected more than just the PMO itself. As the PMO Director and I looked through the project plan and resources, I decided it would be best to allocate additional testing resources to the project by hiring a technical vendor to assist. This way, it could relieve the burden from our internal team, and provide the expertise needed to conduct the software testing. Once the vendor took over the testing of the software, the project was successfully tested and was able to be rolled out without further delay."8. In your opinion, why do companies need consultants? There are many reasons why a company would hire a management consultancy:
- Identifying the misuse of resources
- Find workable solutions to situations they are too close to
- A convincing way to turn the tide, when opinionated boards or c-suites are stuck in their ways
- To uncover a fresh perspective to an antiquated system
This list highlights just a few reasons why a management consulting firm may be engaged. Think of your best guess why a company would want to bring an outside group in, and discuss your reasoning with the interviewer. Here is an answer example: "I believe every company needs a consultant group, at any stage in their business. Only the most invested will take that step and hire one. Some of the reasons may be pain points they remain stuck on, due to differing opinions in the c-suite. Others may be that their processes are antiquated, but no internal employee is knowledgeable enough to change that. Whatever the reason, I am prepared to show my new clients how wise it was to bring on Gartner Consulting to assist." Here is an answer example: "I previously worked for a company that hired a management consulting firm. Their reason was that they needed an outside perspective when it came to processes and spending. They wanted to scale but did not understand how to do so. It was a fascinating process, which sparked my interest in joining this industry."9. Our clients have high expectations of our work, tell me about a time you worked with challenging time constraints, but were still able to exceed client expectations. If I only had more time. I hear this all the time. It's a fact of life in the business world. Being prepared for situational questions that ask about project planning, resource planning, expectations, delivery, and how you anticipate distractions will show the hiring manager that you have meticulously planned and know each step in the process. Your answer should reflect the steps you take to resolve a problem, or minimize risk so problems don't occur. Walk the interviewer through one of the steps in the process, and detail how you address time constraints specifically, and how you are able to still meet client expectations. Detail this response with how you set up a project plan, the step-by-step approach, and why everyone needs to follow the process in order to avoid delays, and to deliver on time. Here is an answer example: "Almost every project will have time sensitivity challenges and deadlines that need to be met. I am very mindful of these things, and take the appropriate steps to ensure projects are planned properly with the appropriate amount of resources, technology, and approvals throughout the process. The way that I start and execute on a project is always with a project plan that serves as a roadmap for success. If I am to avoid time constraints and other challenges, I clearly identify the deliverables, and follow through on the most efficient way to produce them. In order to avoid distractions, I take a close look at design and test times, project risk, team focus, and management involvement so that we minimize delays from the executive level." Here is an answer example: "When I start a project, there are a number of tasks and milestones that I consider very carefully. The most important one is identifying risks up front to avoid surprises. I take a systematic approach to each step and phase of the project. It has been my experience that setting quality expectations in advance sets the tone for a much more favorable outcome for the project. Keeping a focus and not deviating from the original plan is important for meeting milestones and expectations. I understand that changes happen, and change management needs to be addressed if this happens. If or when change happens, we refocus the project using rapid application development RAD to stay on schedule so the delivery date of the project doesn't change."10. 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, Gartner Consulting 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?"11. In consulting, much of your growth will come from feedback on client projects. How do you accept and implement feedback? Being able to accept feedback graciously is a highly valued skill, especially in the consulting space, where you are continually putting yourself in vulnerable situations, where your recommendations and findings may not always be welcomed or understood. The interviewer wants to know that you accept feedback well, but they also want to see that you see the value of implementing immediate change. Show the interviewer that you:
- Ask for feedback often
- Listen to the input openly
- Take what you know to be important, and leave the rest
- Do not take the feedback personally
- Can take corrective action to implement change Here is an answer example: "I ask for feedback on a monthly basis from one of my toughest-to-please managers. Her feedback is accurate, and I trust it. Once she tells me what I could try doing differently, I will take the time to research and plan how I can implement the change. This practice has helped me grow in my career significantly." Here is an answer example: "At the end of every project I will give my clients, and their entire team, a survey focused specifically on my service, knowledge base, and if they felt they received the value from me that they expected. The feedback is blind, but I take every bit of it as though it came from the CEO of the company. I analyze the comments for common denominators as well. If the feedback is consistent, I will create a learning plan based around that common piece of feedback."12. How do you approach vendor and purchasing management in your role in business processes and operations? Staff in business and operations roles within IT departments are often responsible for vendor and purchasing management, as a part of their operations responsibilities. The interviewer is asking this question to determine how much knowledge the candidate has in vendor and purchasing management. A sufficient answer to this question could include many different scenarios that involve working with vendors, negotiating pricing contracts, developing purchasing strategies, and/or managing budgets. A high-level answer to this question would include an example of how the candidate developed a best-practice strategy or procedure for purchasing that was standardized within their department or company. In any answer to this question, the candidate should not generalize information but should provide specific examples from their professional experience. Here is an answer example: "In my current position, I am responsible for managing vendor relationships and developing purchasing strategies, so I have a lot of experience in this area. My approach to vendor management and purchasing is very simple, try to get the right product for the lowest price. Although this sounds a bit ambitious, with the right negotiating techniques, it is possible to get custom pricing, especially when you are ordering for your entire company. For example, I recently started a new relationship with a software vendor, as I needed to purchase licenses for a number of staff members. When the vendor and I first started working together, she was unwilling to offer discounts on the licenses, but after working with her a bit more and building a relationship with her, I was finally able to work out a volume discount, which saved quite a bit of money per license. I feel that building and maintaining relationships with vendors is extremely important, in order to get the best prices, and I will be able to use these same strategies while working for Gartner Consulting." Here is an answer example: "I have a great example for this question. When I first started my current role in business processes and operations, I conducted an analysis of the purchasing practices of the IT department and found that everyone was ordering independently. Because of this, the company was spending significantly more money than they should have been because we were not taking advantage of bulk or volume discounts offered by certain vendors. After I discovered this, I developed a group ordering strategy and best practice guidance for ordering and distributed it to the leadership in the various areas in the IT department, which resulted in significant cost-savings in my company. This is only one example of how I can analyze purchasing practices and streamline them to save resources, and I will be able to use similar strategies if given the opportunity to work for Gartner Consulting."13. 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 Gartner Consulting 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."14. What do you believe is the most important service we offer at Gartner Consulting? Before your interview, take the time to comb through the Gartner Consulting website. From a clients' point of view, which service seems to offer the most value? Is there a particular service that is mentioned more than others, when you go through the materials and marketing by Gartner Consulting? Discuss what you believe to be the most essential service, and express why it is so significant. Here is an answer example: "What stands out the most to me is your teams' expertise in strategic workforce planning. When you can optimize a clients' workforce, and introduce them to cutting-edge tech in their industry, you can change their profitability exponentially. I agree with the statement on your website that agile organizations use strategic workforce planning to stand out from the competition." Here is an answer example: "From my research, I believe that a lot of your business comes from clients seeking cultural transformation and organizational development. The two go hand in hand, and it appears that Gartner Consulting believes you cannot have one without the other. I appreciate that you stand firm on your ability to help your clients define the culture that will deliver their best organizational strategy."15. Our best consultants continually grow and learn. What have you done to expand your knowledge in the past three months? Professional growth is vital and directly associated with the success you will see in your career. The interviewer would like to know that you understand the importance of expanding your knowledge and taking the lead in your own professional development. Perhaps you have taken coursework, attended a workshop, read books, or listen to podcasts. Share with the interviewer the ways that you invest in your career knowledge. Here is an answer example: "To expand my professional knowledge, I have started an online course through NYU on microeconomics. It was important to me that I take the initiative to learn more on this topic and keep my knowledge current. To grow personally, I have read a couple of books on leadership. I love to read and learn from other professionals and behavioral experts." Here is an answer example: "I appreciate that you have asked about professional development. It's a topic that is important to me. I have committed to reading one new book per month on a topic related to organizational development, leadership, and strategy. I listed to The Growth podcast every day, on my commute, to hear business turnaround stories. I find them inspiring."16. How do you assess a clients' current technology systems and solutions? 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. Here is an answer example: "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 Gartner Consulting?" Here is an answer example: "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."17. 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? 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. Here is an answer example: "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." Here is an answer example: "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."18. Have you ever supervised or trained junior consultants? The interviewer would like to know more about the level of leadership responsibility you bring. Discuss if you have formally, or informally trained any other consultants throughout your career. If you have supervised or trained junior consultants, discuss how many, what your process was, and the tools and resources you used. If you have not managed or trained other consultants, that is okay too! Discuss the ways that you encourage and help your fellow employees, even if you do not have a formal leadership role. Here is an answer example: "I have not been asked to train any other consultants in my career formally; however, I do make it a habit of taking our firms' newer consultants under my wing to ensure they are off to a successful start. I will share with them some tools and resources that I find helpful, and remind them that my door is open whenever they have a question. I am very open to formal leadership opportunities should those arise with Gartner Consulting." Here is an answer example: "Throughout my career, I have trained over 25 new consultants. And, in my current role, I oversee the activities of 5 junior consultants. Strategic leadership and effective management are strengths of mine that I look forward to bringing to Gartner Consulting."19. 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."20. 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 Gartner Consulting." 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 Gartner Consulting and your clients."21. As part of the IT team, how do you approach your role in the implementation and roll out of new software and technical programs? The interviewer is asking this question to determine if the candidate is ready and willing to provide training and operational support to employees and users of new software and technical programs when they are being rolled out by the IT department. While it is the role of other individuals within the IT department to lead the development and/or selection of these programs, when it is time to roll them out to end users, these users will rely on the business process and operations staff for training, technical assistance, and best-practice information. The candidate can successfully answer this question by providing details on how they would develop and execute a training plan, and a stronger answer would include an example of how they have approached a similar situation in the past in one of their professional positions.
For example, "As a business process and operations professional, I understand it is my responsibility to assist with the training of staff and end users when a new software program or application is being rolled out. When faced with this type of situation at Gartner Consulting, I will do everything I can to ensure the software implementation goes smoothly, and that includes learning all the ins-and-outs of the software application, developing user manuals and process flows, hosting user training, and ensuring help desk staff has in-depth training so they can offer adequate support to users. I understand that effective training on new software applications is key to getting staff and users to adopt the new systems, and in my business process and operations role, I will do everything I can to ensure employees at Gartner Consulting feel supported." Here is an answer example: "As a business process and operations professional, I understand it is my responsibility to assist with the training of staff and end users when a new software program or application is being rolled out. When faced with this type of situation at Gartner Consulting, I will do everything I can to ensure the software implementation goes smoothly, and that includes learning all the ins-and-outs of the software application, developing user manuals and process flows, hosting user training, and ensuring help desk staff has in-depth training so they can offer adequate support to users. I understand that effective training on new software applications is key to getting staff and users to adopt the new systems, and in my business process and operations role, I will do everything I can to ensure employees at Gartner Consulting feel supported." Here is an answer example: "My current company recently went through a software upgrade that made a significant impact on daily staff operations, and because of the significant impact the upgrade had, I stepped in and supported the upgrade by hosting training sessions, developing user manuals, process flows, and best practice guides help sheets. By preparing these documents and offering the training sessions, I was able to help staff adjust to the upgraded software much more quickly, which prevented our overall operations from suffering. Helpdesk staff was prepared to receive a massive influx of calls once the upgrade went live, they found that their call volumes were light, compared to what they were anticipating. The ease of transition to the upgraded software has been attributed to the thorough training I provided to staff. This is only an example of when I supported a software rollout, as I have supported many in the past, and with my experience, I know I will be able to successfully support such rollouts at Gartner Consulting."22. Do you consider yourself a persuasive person? Part of being an excellent consultant is also harnessing the power of persuasion when necessary. There is a difference between persuasion and debating - or even convincing. Persuasion is used when you want to influence someone rather than tell them that they are wrong, and you are right.
The power of persuasion is essential if you are selling or pitching anything. It is also a helpful skill when you want to gain momentum with your coworkers or have your boss better understand your approach on a project. It is not a negative thing to be persuasive. Talk to the interviewer about whether or not you consider yourself to be a persuasive individual. Here is an answer example: "I can be persuasive when it comes to helping my clients to understand the logic, or reason, behind recommendations that our group is making. It's important to lay out the intentions of any change and then express the importance of those changes." Here is an answer example: "Persuasion and management consulting methods go hand in hand so, yes, I believe that I am a persuasive person. My approach is not sly or combative in any way, however. I go about persuading others by displaying how my approach, or belief, could benefit their business and bottom-line."23. What have you done in the last few months to strengthen your professional network? Management Consultants know very well that a strong professional network can mean all the difference in their business. The interviewer would like to see how you go about networking, and how active you are in your industry. Maybe you attend your local Chamber of Commerce events, or you belong to a local organization where you meet potential clients and business comrades. Here is an answer example: "I am very focused on building my professional network. For the past six months, I have enjoyed membership at the local Chamber of Commerce. I have also joined a consultants mastermind, where we meet once every quarter to share tools and resources, and also client success stories." Here is an answer example: "I am active in my local and online consultants community. I recently started a LinkedIn group for Management Consultants in my city, and we will have our first meetup next month. Networking is a huge component of gaining business, and I plan to keep focused on those activities for years to come."24. What steps do you take when researching a new market or industry? A successful management consultant will have excellent research skills. When laying down the groundwork for a successful project, this is where the work should always begin. As you likely know, cutting corners will result in a sub-par result. Take the interviewer through your process when researching a market or industry with which you may not be overly familiar. Here is an answer example: "When I take on a project within a new market or industry, I will find someone in my network that I know, trust, and admire, and ask for 30 minutes of their time. Essentially, I want to interview a subject matter expert. I will uncover their best resources, and research thoroughly from there." Here is an answer example: "I have strong research skills and a three-step process when it comes to learning about a new market or industry. First, I find what I can from reputable online resources. Next, I create a list of questions that need answering. Third, I source and subject matter expert from my network whom I can ask these questions. It's important to use a wide variety of reputable sources when conducting research, and collecting findings."25. Gartner Consulting works with clients across many industries. Which of our clients' industries interests you the most? Before your interview you should have a thorough idea of the clients that Gartner Consulting takes on. Be prepared also to list the client industries in which you have worked. Show the interviewer that you have experience in the same sectors, as this will build their confidence in your abilities to jump in with their clients right away. Here is an answer example: "When researching Gartner Consulting, I saw that the bulk of your clients are in the energy, finance, and education sectors. Your experience in these areas is part of what prompted me to apply since the bulk of my experience is there. I have a special interest in finance clients, particularly. I majored in finance while attending university, so it's a solid area for me." Here is an answer example: "My industry expertise is in healthcare. When I saw that you were hiring, particularly for your clients in the healthcare sector, I knew I had to apply. I am highly confident working in this sector, and look forward to learning about the other clients you take on at Gartner Consulting, particularly those in e-commerce."26. 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."27. Listening to our clients is absolutely essential to understanding their business and technology needs. Tell me about a time when you're listening skills helped exceed their expectations in the delivery of the project? It's easy for a client to overlook small details, that's why they hire IT Consultants so they can stay in the know. IT Consultants typically take a deeper dive into a clients operation from a technology and business perspective. One of the biggest reasons that clients look to IT consultants is to look at their organization from an outsider's point of view. Having a vantage point into client operations, and how they do things tells the client that another pair of eyes sees things they might have missed. It's important to recognize that a client is relying on your expertise to give them a perspective that an internal employee would normally not see. Some of the areas you might want to address with the client is how they run their operations, and even have them rate their current level of expertise with all their technologies. This will reveal a few things. One of the most important is where you need to navigate and lead the interview discussion. Asking questions like what do you like and dislike about your current operations. Offer up that you like the challenge of solving problems, and working in different types of environments, and perfecting your craft. Here is an answer example: "I've worked with many clients at different levels of an organization, including executive level management personnel. Being a good listener is an absolute requirement, and getting the opportunity to collaborate with clients and help solve their problems is very rewarding for me. It's important for me to show clients that they are getting the highest value possible for their money. When I have conversations with clients, I sometimes find that they don't know what they don't know, and I find that this is a good base level start because you're starting from scratch and identifying problems as you walk through their environment from top to bottom. My basic qualifiers start with technology, and how they use it. Here's a basic outline of questions I posed.
1. What platform do you run your ERP or enterprise software? Windows, UNIX, Linux, etc.? The reason I ask this questions is after I find out what they are using, it's easier for me to suggest a software solution. After explaining the pros and cons of their current set up, I recommend a solution that will help solve their problem.
2. What database are you using to store your data? SQL Server, Oracle, Sybase, BD2, etc. The reason I ask this question is to see if they are up to date with current versions, and the capacity of data and where it resides. I also ask whether their data is On-Premise or in the Cloud. Depending on the responses, I would be able to make suggestions on efficient ways to work with that data." Here is an answer example: "My prior work has taught me that asking the right questions at the right time is very important. When I do discovery with a client, there are a number of questions that I ask to arrive at a few core problems they are facing. Let me give you an example of what I ask, and why.
1. Walk me through your current process, and highlight an area where you are experiencing pains and challenges? The reason I ask this is to build trust with the client, and get them to talk extensively about their problems, and how you can propose a solution.
2. Is it your belief that a software application will be able to solve these problems for you? I ask this question to see if they think they need a software solution, or is it just a process fix that can be achieved by process and productivity improvements, along with process re-engineering."
Writers for Gartner Consulting, 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.
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
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.
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