31 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 31
As part of the IT team, how do you approach your role in the implementation and roll out of new software and technical programs?
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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 Perficient, 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 Perficient feel supported."
"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 Perficient, 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 Perficient feel supported."
Second 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 Perficient."
Your client is Apple. The year is 1984. They just released the Macintosh computer. They want you to estimate the demand for this product over the next 20 years. What do you tell them about market demand and whether there's a market for this invention?
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This question is typically asked by hiring managers that work complex projects, or do thorough interviews to select the right person for their environment. Given this is a multi-part question that requires an element of strong Technology and Business Knowledge. This mix required a well thought out response that addresses every part of this question. Let's examine some scenarios of how this could be answered, and how you can prepare for a similar answer. IT Consultants and Management Consultants might come across this question since it addresses the approach you would take, where you might be able to find this information, and some market analysis to determine product demand in the market. An example response might be that you used market intelligence data to research demand, consumer spending, demographics, and other related factors. Since this a hypothetical question by the interviewer, they will be looking for what you would do to obtain this information, and how you present it for review.
"Given the date is 1984, the data would have to come from a number of different sources to present findings that would be able to tell you whether or not your product would be in demand or would have a market for it. I would start by obtaining data from consumers currently using computers, and what their experiences has been. My subjects would be a test panel with participants ranging from entry level users to experienced users. I would present the new Macintosh model to the panel to get a holistic perspective from all the users on the MAC's different layout, graphics, size, pricing, operating system, and software. This would give me an idea of their openness to a new type of computer, and if they were willing to try one out."
Second Answer Example
"Early in my career, I've had to do a similar product demand assessment. In this particular case, our leadership asked my team and me to test market a new product to estimate demand for the product. When I look at such an initiative, I offered my objective advice and expertise in line with corporate strategy, and how the product will play a role in their current product mix and expected presence and market share. Estimating market demand is a skill I possess, and I know what approach and market research are needed to execute a new product introduction. Here are some questions and considerations that will need to be part of the planning process in order to be able to understand projected sales volume, demand, and consumer interest.
1) How big is your market - 10, 000, 100,000, 1,000,000+ consumers?
2) What geography will you be selling your product in - Local, regional, national or International?
3) What technology will be used to produce this product?
4) How will you arrive at a price point that consumers will pay?
5) How will you estimate sales for year 2, 3, 5 and beyond - This will depend on projections, and whether or not pricing and costs stay the same, go up or down.
6) Who will your customers be by demographic - Age, income, profession, marriage status, spending habits, etc.
7) What will the product availability look like in the short and long term?
8) Brand Awareness - Do you plan on executing Marketing, PR, and Branding for the product?
9) How many of the new products will be used for test purposes?
10) Monitor what your market share is versus your competition in order to see if it's worth staying with that product.
11) How will the product be sold - Direct to Consumer, Retail, Wholesale, Dealers, etc.
12) What will production time and product availability look like?"
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?
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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.
"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"
Second 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
4.) I found that the key issues were.....Complexity, External Influence, Financial, Organizational, Technology, and Scheduling"
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?
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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.
"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."
Second 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."
Getting team members on the same page and committed to common goals has its challenges when you encounter differing opinions. Tell me about a time when you were able to influence team members to be more committed to a project?
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Team participation can be cause a rift between team members when the team does not see the same goals and expectations that everyone else sees. There are also personalities you have to contend with, along with miscommunication and different work styles. In order to get everyone to communicate and work together, there needs to be a common goal everyone if working together to achieve. The interviewer wants to see how you handle pressure managing different personalities, and how you get everyone to work together despite everyone having their own agenda and working style. It helps if you mention to the interviewer that you communicate to each member the importance of their job role, and that you make each team member feel important, and that their contribution is valuable.
"I've found that tapping into an employee's commitment and resonating with them at many levels builds trust and shows that I am genuinely interested in their success. This approach has helped me garner support for my teams, and it has allowed me to paint a picture that they are part of something bigger than themselves. Presenting the challenge to the team, and having them step up shows accountability and the impact they can make on the team. Recognition for work performed is a big part of everyone participating and knowing they will get recognized not only by their manager, but by senior leaders as well."
Second Answer Example
"Participation of any sort takes commitment and dedication. My consulting style has always been to make a connection with the team so they can see the importance of their contribution. Convincing the team to believe in the company mission, vision, and goals is important. The tact I take is highlighting the credit they will receive and attracting attention for their quality work. I pay close attention to these areas as they are important to foster team building."
6. 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."7. How would you convince your client to migrate over to true/public cloud from on-premise? Many clients across verticals still have reservations about moving to the cloud. At Perficient, our clients' concerns are related to data security risks, so the interviewer would like to see your understanding of the risks and mitigations steps as well as how good you'd be at easing our clients' concerns.
1) Start by outlining the strongest advantages cloud platform offers over on-prem.
2) If you know the industries of our clients, highlight one or two of them as examples and describe what their concerns would be (healthcare would be a great example as data security compliance, HIPPA, is critical in the industry). Show off your knowledge about what the clients of certain industries might say to Perficient.
3) Then mention different capabilities of the cloud platforms and (if possible) services Perficient offers that could help minimize those risks.
4) For bonus points, you could bring up how you'd convince someone who wants to do 'hosted cloud' into migrating over to 'true' cloud. Research a case study about a company that benefited significantly by switching to multi-cloud. Here is an answer example: "First of all, migration to cloud guarantees IT cost savings as you don't need to manage all the hardware and also wouldn't need the resources dedicated to hardware management. Data backup and storage will be more real-time and reliable which directly improve user access and system performance. If you have offices located in disaster-prone areas, you don't have to worry about losing data and connectivity when your basement data centers get flooded. Collaboration is made easier since documents can be shared and accessed by multiple parties from multiple locations at the same time. It'll be much easier to collect and evaluate operational and financial metrics using cloud analytics. I know you may be concerned about data security but at this stage, it is safer to store data on the cloud with dedicated resources from the cloud platform and your IT service provider, rather than trying to build and maintain security walls on your own."8. We just installed a new ERP system, with your expertise how would you help us improve our ERP system? Here's where you can shine. When Perficient recently installs a new ERP system, they will be going through some growing pains, and one of them is making sure they have the right resources in place that knows all the modules of the new ERP system, and how to set them up for success. Hiring managers will want to hear how you customized specific modules to improve various aspects of the business, so it runs more efficiently. Using examples of software tools and methodologies used will show that you follow a defined process and that you are a disciplined expert. There should also be a mention of your role in the success of the project, what the goal was, and how you were able to achieve a successful outcome. Here is an answer example: "As part of any new implementation, understanding a few basic principles and the tasks involved in successfully implementing and maintaining an ERP system is key. My approach would be to assess current problems, and determine why the company is entertaining a new ERP system in the first place. Getting employees from every department involved throughout the process is very important. Their knowledge and expertise in selecting the correct modules for each department will prove to be invaluable." Here is an answer example: "It is my experience that with any implementation of a new ERP system if you don't have the sponsorship of executive leadership from each department in agreement on specific modules, goals, and objectives, things can unravel pretty quickly. That's why the first step I take is to secure executive sponsorship from every department. You must have a clear understanding about their objectives and goals they want to achieve. Since I'm in a role that requires drafting a detailed specification document, I do provide one that outlines the following tasks:
1.) A detailed list of business analytics, functions, and processes from each department.
2.) A projected scalability forecast.
3.) I make sure all data is cleansed before migrating to new system.
4.) I set up a hands-on training program on the new ERP system for all employees who will be using it.
5.) I emphasize testing, testing, and more testing to make sure all the bugs are out before a Go-Live happens."9. Talk about some real life examples of your experience with the Business Intelligence module? Business Intelligence for many companies is fast becoming one of the essential business reporting tools available. Many executives rely on a Business Intelligence reporting dashboard to give them a real-time view of data they want to see and when they want to see it. It allows managers to make intelligent business decisions on profits, losses, manufacturing production numbers, performance of team members, and so much more. This is where you can highlight your expertise to Perficient by showcasing your knowledge of data reporting, and how you used it in the past. For example, a plant manager in a manufacturing environment might want to know what the scrap rate is on the production floor, or the cost of raw materials used over a period of time on different shifts. There's also another component to BI that's worth mentioning, and that is the technology behind how it is developed. BI software uses something called cubes to make ad hoc reports. Cubes store raw data that allows users to access that data to slice and dice it as they wish. Mentioning the technical side gives the hiring manager an additional level of confidence in your expertise and ability too. Here is an answer example: "Having analyzed and worked with over 30 modules over the years, I found that the Business Intelligence module has had the most growth and popularity for companies with an ERP system. It has become popular for several reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is the ability to generate reports in a dashboard format that shows a number of different performance and business metrics. These so-called dashboards reveal a real-time view of data that executives want to see about the business." Here is an answer example: "My approach is to present qualitative data that has been (scrubbed), so there's an accurate picture of quantitative data to work from. This data is derived from various business sources like sales revenue, manufacturing production numbers, employee performance, profit and loss over a specific period, and other metrics that are important to a business. Having worked in organizations with robust BI capabilities, I have found that each company customizes their own BI module to fit their specific needs. I'm directly responsible for managing the design, development, and testing of the BI module for our organization as well."10. 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? 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. Here is an answer example: "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." Here is an answer example: "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."11. Companies partner with Perficient because of their arsenal of up-to-date marketing technologies and knowledge. What marketing tools do you work with regularly and how do you stay current on development updates and new product releases? Your interviewer wants to know how familiar you are with the industry's applications. They also want to know if you intentionally stay up-to-date on new programs, tools, and product developments.
You can list the most popular tools you currently work with or have worked with in the past, and mention whether you have worked on proprietary systems. Mention any skills with less common programs that are in demand.
Avoid mentioning programs that you haven't worked with for 3-5+ years, or any system you aren't comfortable enough to have a user-level technical discussion about. Also, don't mention proprietary systems by name unless they were built on a well-known framework where your knowledge could transfer. Here is an answer example: "I've worked on CRMs like Salesforce and SAP, and other proprietary programs. I'm also very familiar with Wordpress, and content automation services like Buffer and Social Pilot. I take time out to review product release emails I receive to stay aware of new features in the programs I use regularly. I read new tool reviews on blog posts that I come across while researching new solutions for my clients. I also watch at least one video per week on my free time about marketing strategy; this is another way to hear about new tools and tricks this." Here is an answer example: "Currently, I'm working in a number of customer relationship databases, design tools for content creation, content management system, marketing automation and analytics tools. I follow industry leader newsletters, listen to podcasts, and occasionally visit tradeshows to stay on top of upcoming technologies in my field."12. 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."13. What are the platforms used for cloud computing? How do they compare? The interviewer would like to test your basic knowledge around top cloud platforms and their capabilities. Many employees of Perficient would likely hold certification from at least one of the platforms. First start with a quick overview of the top platforms and focus a little more on the advantage of a platform you believe clients of Perficient might prefer.
It might help set you apart if you research some latest trends in the industry and see if there are any up-and-comers that may be of interest to Perficient. Depending on the role, you may also want to be more specific about the development models/environment each platform supports. Here is an answer example: "The biggest market share goes to AWS (Amazon Web Services), which is the most powerful and flexible solution since it first introduced the concept of Infrastructure As A Service (IaaS) in 2004. It offers two main categories of service umbrellas - EC2, the virtual machine service, and S3, the storage system. EC2 comes with most of the attributes of an actual computer including hardware such as CPUs & GPUs, hard-disk/SSD for storage & memory RAM with many pre-loaded apps like web-servers. Then there are Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft's Azure and IBM's Bluemix. With AWS and Google Cloud Platform (GCP), you also can do cloud computing for certain mobile and web apps. Azure enables deployment of Windows apps with remote app service which is a fairly unique advantage. I believe that Google has been winning at the analytics with services like MapReduce and Genomics but AWS is catching up with QuickInsight that's very good at synthesizing big data and articulating the meanings in simple terms to businesses. IBM Bluemix supports a wider range of the languages preferred by the developers." Here is an answer example: "There's Rackspace which partners up with some of these main players but offers a more personalized customer service to clients. They provide hands-on, long-term guidance for firms who want to implement a long-term migration strategy from on-prem to cloud. Similar to IBM, Rackspace also offers more customized 'hosted' or 'on-prem cloud' solutions for customers who are concerned about data security risks associated with virtual, public cloud environment."14. Perficient believes that results should be measured to determine the success of marketing efforts. What are some key performance metrics you look at to decide whether marketing efforts have fallen short of, met, or exceeded expectations? The interviewer wants to know about your knowledge of common key performance indicators across the marketing industry and how they should be understood regarding a successful or unsuccessful marketing campaign.
You should answer by listing the key performance metrics that are usually tracked during marketing campaigns.
Do not provide specific metric numbers from your current or last position. Be general by naming the metric rather than providing numbers which may be confidential, or more information than what the interviewer needs. Here is an answer example: "Typical KPIs that should be measured to show whether a campaign has been successful or not are the value of spend, lead counts and source quality, the value of sales before, after and during the campaign, profit, and return on investment." Here is an answer example: "KPIs can vary based on campaigns. If your main focus is to grow an audience, for example, it's important to look at growth in numbers of followers, engagements on social media and blog posts, referrals, and new email list subscribers."15. 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."16. 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? 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. Here is an answer example: "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." Here is an answer example: "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."17. Volvo claims it's one of the safest cars in the world because fewer people die in a Volvo than in any other car manufacturer. As a consultant, how would you answer this question not knowing the accuracy of this information? A hiring manager will pose a question like this to gauge how you will respond to facts and data that you are not able to provide at that moment in the interview. This is mostly used to see if you answer incorrectly by guessing, or taking a more prudent approach and answering more analytically which should be the correct approach. This approach will tell the interviewer that you are honest, and think through all your responses in a logical manner, and base your response on data driven facts that can be proven or verified. In order to show respect to the interviewer, I would compliment them on asking this question to you, and follow that up with how the interviewer wants you to answer that question. They might want you to explain a process you use to validate the information or ask additional questions to learn more before responding. Here is an answer example: "When someone presents a claim about their company, the first thing I look at is how have the presented facts been acquired, by whom, is the source credible and reliable, and how were the facts validated to confirm that what is presented is accurate. I've found that data that is derived by a third party research firm typically has accurate and reliable data. If I'm asked a question like this, I am a bit suspicious and also ask if the statement is self serving, and if this claim has a social, cultural or political slant to it to sell more Volvo cars." Here is an answer example: "Anytime I am asked to answer a question about a claim that I'm not familiar with, I always ask additional questions to validate that the claim is in fact correct and that the sources that are presenting the claim are reliable. I'll give you an example of some qualifying questions that I ask to learn more about a claim before I answer a question.
1. How credible and reliable is the data, who gathered it, and over what period of time was this recorded?
2. How was it verified - Internallly within the company or through a third-party research company?
3. What sources provided this data - Accident survivors or others?
4. What extent has Volvo gone to in order to make this claim and what were survivors asked about the vehicles to determine their safety, reliability, and features that saved their lives?"18. 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."19. Your client is a Tier 1 Automotive supplier interested in entering into a non-automotive market through organic or inorganic expansion. How would you advise them to proceed? The automotive industry has had its ups and downs over the past 30 years, and by necessity has had to reinvent themselves to be competitive and to survive. It would be understandable, if not expected that an automotive supplier might want to diversify their portfolio of businesses if or when another economic downturn happens. Given how this question is asked, an interviewer would like to hear you talk about four things: your knowledge of the automotive industry, your hands-on experience of product development, your involvement with mergers and acquisitions, and your expertise with marketing and branding. Your focus should be on assessing the current situation, and looking at whether the supplier might have products or materials that may be redeveloped for non-automotive applications. Doing some research on cross-over products from different industries might help move the conversation in the right direction. Here is an answer example: "Every industry changes, evolves, and matures so that your business gains market share over time. It's my job as an IT consultant to keep up with technology changes that affect how a company runs their business and where they plan to be in the future. My primary role involved the examination of the technology environment of an organization, and what was needed to expand into other markets with new product introductions and if existing technology could support such an ambitious endeavor. Another consideration that I advise on is whether the new market will support organic and inorganic growth and the strategy that needs to be implemented to execute successfully." Here is an answer example: "There are a number of identifiable characteristics that need to be discussed so that I have a clear understanding of how your company wants to expand through organic and inorganic penetration in a non-automotive market. I take a systematic approach to obtaining this information so that It can be used to advise my clients on how to proceed, or not to continue. Here's a high-level breakdown of the market research data that I capture, and present to the client.
1. Cross-over technology compatibilities - Can the current infrastructure handle the new data transactions
2. Create a plan to enter a market - Define new market strategy
3. What are the demographics - a profile of the customer.....gender, age, income, profession, buying habits, etc.?
4. Market Analysis - How do you uniquely position in the new market
5. Is the new market expanding, declining, or flat over the last 10 years.
6. Who are your competitors - How do you rank against them, and how much market share do they possess?
7. Can you compete in the new market - How do you compare with pricing versus the competitors, and can I be profitable?
8. What are the expected quarterly and annual sales projections?"20. Reporting and analytics are crucial for Perficient to monitor and gauge results, and demonstrate ROI to clients. What is an example of a report you've created for a client and how the data from it helped you to plan the next steps of their campaign? Here, the interviewer wants to make sure that you understand the importance of measuring and delivering results to clients who need a return on their investment, and that at some point, you've been responsible for monitoring and reporting on activities and outcomes. They also want to see if you are an analytical thinker, how you react to data, and what kind of data you're most familiar with.
You can answer by providing an example of a report you've created to track and show marketing activities, and key results. You may choose to tell them about reporting on a campaign that was successful or not and explain adjustments you made for increased success.
Do not talk about reports that you've administered without having responsibility for at least two out of the three following elements: gathering, reacting to or putting the data into presentation form. Here is an answer example: "One of my client's goals was to increase the number of purchases completed through their website. They had no clear direction on how to do it. I added a sophisticated analytics tool to the back end of their website to see where traffic on their website was originating from, and to analyze the behavior of customers from the different sources. After compiling the data for a set time, I put it into a simple format to allow my client to see two metrics: Traffic Sources and Completed Sales. This report helped us to realize that most visitors that actually made purchases came from one social media site, so we decided to increase the budget for paid advertising there in order to reach more potential customers." Here is an answer example: "I'm usually working with a number of clients who are on similar programs at the same time. The repetition in these programs allows me to suggest the most useful KPIs that they'll want to see on a weekly basis. For these clients, I find it efficient to pull high-level reports from our system that include website and blog traffic, click-thru rates, and other data to compare week-over-week results. We have quick calls with them to review every Friday and dig further into the data, what's caused fluctuations of any activity and if needed, adjust our course of action."21. 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."22. 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."23. IT projects rely on teams and each other to succeed. Describe a scenario were you lead your team to a successful outcome? Here's a great opportunity to show the value and worth that you can bring to the organization. While you were managing a team, you can describe how you motivated and empowered your team so they could have ownership and accountability on the project. Your goals should be to illustrate how you recognized the team's achievements, and inspired them to work towards a successful outcome. Don't forget to provide examples of when you were able to meet deadlines, and overcome obstacles that might have delayed your project. Lastly, provide a purpose for the project, and how important their involvement is, and why it's important to have a successful outcome for the project. Here is an answer example: "Teams respond in different ways based on how their manager leads. I found this to be true in many cases when I manage teams. I feel that effective collaboration and leveraging the appropriate resources is important to reach a goal or target. I strongly believe that building strong relationships with my team and stakeholders separates me from mediocre managers. Igniting a passion in my team has helped me show them that anything is possible when you work together as a team to achieve a successful outcome. It's not difficult to envision a goal if you nurture a belief in your team, and trust their capabilities. Case in point, I was tasked with creating and documenting a sequence of events for our IT Project Management team so that projects could be assigned more efficiently, and everyone from the project management team would get task notifications to complete before the next phase of a project could be assigned to another project manager. This resulted in projects starting and completing 40% faster, and with an established sequence in place, this was easy to follow and maintain for the department manager." Here is an answer example: "There was a particular instance where my team and I were assigned a project to re-write the functionality of a module from our enterprise software. Our goal was to develop new features in the manufacturing module so it could perform real-time data analytics and the plant manager could track inventory levels, and error rates in the production environment. I made sure that my team was well prepared and understood what needed to be done for this to be a success. This initiative resulted in timely reorders when stock was low, and it also reduced error rates by 70% which also resulted in cost savings to our bottom line."24. The customer avatar is key to building the right audiences for Perficient's clients. How do you collect data needed in order to create an ideal customer profile, then determine the strategy for targeting prospective customers that are a match? The interviewer would like to uncover your experience with identifying, advertising to, and creating a following of potential customers.
You need to explain how you determine what kind of people would be interested in your clients' product or services, and why. Your answer should explain how you research information including demographics, location, educational or professional backgrounds, their challenges, and their goals. When it comes to targeting, you'll need to explain how you know where your customer avatar shops, the platforms they use most frequently, and how they make purchases.
Do not refer to customer profiles or targeting strategies you've implemented using data that came from third-party research. The interviewer wants to know how you conduct research and planning on your own. Here is an answer example: "When creating an ideal customer profile, I review analytics from my client's website, app, and CRM to see what kinds of people have purchased or shown interest in purchasing from them. I hone in on customers that have the best buying habits or potential, finding out more about where they're live and work, income range, and other demographics. I take note of any trends or similarities among this group of customers. I may conduct surveys or interviews within my targeted demographic to further understand their motivations. This all helps me to craft a customer avatar, which becomes my center of a strategy for deciding on platforms, messaging, and promotions." Here is an answer example: "In the past, I've had to create a customer avatar for a client that had no previous sales but was competing against existing businesses. To do this, I purchased market data to find out who my client's competitors and their customers where. I found out what those customers' challenges and goals were. I looked into data on spending habits, and conducted polls, often incentivizing participants so I could discover shortcomings in competitors' offerings. Using this information, seasonal, and demographic data, I came up with a target customer profile and put together a timely campaign to reach them with language that would appeal to their desire for a solution that would ultimately fulfill their needs."25. 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, Perficient 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?
To answer this question, you should first confirm that you have experienced working with a client that required a custom solution in the past. In summarized detail, you should explain what your role in the client's project was, their technology need, and how you determined that it would require a custom solution. You should concisely explain who else was involved to build the solution - analysts, developers, or 3 party vendors, e.g.
Finally, explain how you were able to test the solution and successfully roll it out for use with the client.
Do not talk about projects where you had minimal involvement or focus on team efforts saying 'we' when referring to action taken. Say 'I' and talk about your direct involvement in a project. The interviewer wants to hear about your contribution and expertise. Here is an answer example: "Yes, I was an Account Manager to a client that wanted to measure and compare key metrics from different sources. We reviewed the features on all of the tools we had at the time, but none allowed us to see all the data in one place. I explained the problem to our analysts on staff who found a way to pull raw files that contained the data from our system. They automated a process where it would regularly transfer and sort into Excel. They also created an easy interface where I, or any basic Excel user could access and manipulate the data.
After they created the tool, I tested it with them for two weeks to make sure it was working correctly. I then shared it with our client and we were able to use it throughout their campaign." Here is an answer example: "Yes, my current employer has clients that need to track audience engagement on their website and social pages. As a Marketing Coordinator, I am tasked with admin duties like maintaining the systems they've selected to track results. When clients want to add or subtract features to suit their needs, I read through program FAQs or contact the software program helpdesks to walk me through the configuration of the features. I'm continually responsible for reporting and ensuring the reports allow us to see results in the way the clients prefer based on their feedback."31. Tell me about the deployment/business models we could offer to our clients. There are business/deployment layers that are offered by most cloud service providers and/or IT vendors - Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and SaaS (Software as a Service).
There are less common ones such as Communication as a Service (CaaS), Database as a Service (DaaS), etc. that may be relevant to Perficient or its clients. Based on the role/group, do your research into more niche models which could or should be considered. Here is an answer example: "The clients can obviously decide on using the private, public or hybrid cloud as a basis. We can offer IaaS, Infrastructure as a Service, which only manages the foundational infrastructure functionalities such as computing, networking and storage. PaaS, Platform as a Service, offers additional application-building layer on top of IaaS. Software as a Service offers off-the-shelf systems/solutions/software running on the cloud with the vendor being responsible for all aspects of deployment and implementation (and often even training). There are secondary services such as Database as a Service (DBaaS) where the vendor helps manage the types, quality and usage of data feeding into the clients' applications & distributed to users."
Writers for Perficient 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
Jen Hong is currently a freelance writer and consultant while she is getting her Executive MBA and taking courses in innovation, data analytics and blockchain. She has worked as a strategist in financial services, fintech and health tech. She has interviewed with over 45 tech companies in the last 2 years (across various industries) and also has 2-3 years of experience interviewing interns, analysts, managers, and some senior executives as the operations lead.
Rachel Marcelle is a Full Desk Recruiter and Career Blogger whose passion is helping others to reach their goals. She helps HR Teams and Hiring Managers set realistic and appropriate staffing expectations in order to build the best possible teams, cultivate healthy cultures, and attain set business plans. She spends much of her time screening and coaching candidates. She works with them and hiring teams bilaterally, preparing them for all phases of the interview process, and continually networks to nurture opportunities for both companies and individuals.
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