What is your approach to strategic business planning and design, and what tools do you use to manage the planning and design process for a client?
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Leaders from companies make many decision every day, business and strategic planning decisions focus on where to improve people, processes, and products to achieve the most optimal outcome for the organization.
As a business consultant for Sirius Computer Solutions, you want to be able to show value for your service to the client. This can be done in a number of ways. There are two separate parts; the service, and the tools and technologies that you might use. The service is the consulting piece that you will be providing to the end client (your employers client). This includes advising, recommending changes, implementation of new technologies, execution, and maintenance of the new solution. The tools part is a little tricky because it could be a combination of software, and processes. If its software, you need to consider a few things. What is the make-up of their technology environment? Are they a Microsoft shop, an Oracle shop, or maybe a mainframe shop? Before you can recommend or implement anything from the tools and technologies side, these are things you definitely need to know. If it's a Microsoft environment for example, you'll have a plethora of software tools you can use to manage the project. A common toolset from Microsoft's ecosystem includes tools like Microsoft Project, Power BI, SharePoint, Dynamics ERP, and CRM, etc. All of which can manage an entire project.
"When I'm working with a client, I have to remember that instead of acting as an external expert preaching to the management team about how to improve their business, I foster a collaborative approach in which the team works together across multiple business lines and management levels of the organization to achieve a common goal. I've learned that having an empathetic understanding of all the players involved eases any tension that the client team members might have. It's important for me to explore and understand the problem before I decide what tools have to be used to solve a customer problem. As far as experience with tools, I have strong expertise with technologies from Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, and others as well."
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"Anytime you have a customer that requires KPI's for the work being performed; there needs to be a conversation with key stakeholders to understand what their definition of KPI is. What I have found is each company has their own definition of KPI's, and how they think the consultant should interpret them. As part of the discovery process, I assess their technology environment to determine whether the technology tools I intend to use on this project will be compliant with their software/hardware. One of my goals is to build bridges among diverse groups within the company to get buy-ins from all levels so that there is support for whatever tools and methods I use to achieve customer goals. The way that I envision a successful project kicking off and completing is to embrace best practices, and involve client's management in every phase of the project."
What is your background in Information Technology, and your ability to perform technology architecture, business strategy design and modeling for our clients?
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Whenever you have an interviewer asking to qualify your credentials, experience, background and skill set, you'll need to take a step back and listen carefully to what specifically they are asking you so that you can answer their question to their satisfaction.
Since companies already struggle with IT infrastructure and architecture issues as it is, it makes it harder if they bring in a candidate that isn't qualified to do the work. It's no surprise that IT companies go through a detailed qualification process to make sure they have the right person or the right team onsite that will deliver as promised. Even if a candidate comes from a large consulting firm, it doesn't guarantee that they will be the best fit for the project. That's why there needs to be a skills assessment of team members that are proposed for that client before they kick-off a meeting.
"One way to combat the issue of one's ability to do the work, and do it well is to demonstrate first-hand knowledge of your expertise in the area that your employer's customer is questioning. This has happened to me at my last employer. There were two key executives from the client company, and they said we're going to do a role play with me to see how I respond to questions about technologies that we use that will apply to the work. I was able to walk through an example based on a past project when I designed an application development architecture that was used for business intelligence models for an executive dashboard. I gave details of how I implemented the business strategy using IT as the technology component, and this explanation satisfied the client's request."
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"As a consultant, you have to strike a balance to resolve differences between technical staff and non-technical management. When I explain my background to an interviewer, I provide an integrated view of my experience and a sampling of projects I have worked on that relate to the project that the customer is looking to complete. In order to give the customer relevant examples of your experience, it's important to highlight the approach you use to manage a project. A case in point might be an outline of what a strategic alignment might look like, conducting leadership and staff development, KPI, and performance measurements, as well as organizational structure and formal process. This not only gives the interviewer and client a high confidence level about your expertise, but it also builds trust too."
There are times when you need to consider a broad range of options before recommending a solution. What was the situation, and did the solution help the client?
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When you're in a position of trust with a client, they lean heavily on you for advice, guidance, and direction. This is a great opportunity for you to explore multiple options that will yield a desirable result for the client. The client will expect you to present options that not only fit within their budget, but meet their business requirements. Some examples might be one or more of the following; Sales Pipeline Development, Product Order Status, Invoicing, Production, Accounts Payables/ Receivables, Project Management, etc. The solution could be a software or hardware solution. Thinking outside the box will give you an advantage. Start with a high level business requirements approach from a strategic level, and drill down to operational and tactical levels if you really want to understand where the customer is coming from, and where they want to be in the future.
"As an IT Consultant, I regularly keep up to date on new technologies in software, hardware, networking, security, and programming. It goes without saying that any consultant would have to fully understand a client's business needs before making any recommendations. In one particular case, i had a meeting with the COO to learn what the business drivers were, and why he thought they needed a new software solution. I learned that their sales organization didn't have a CRM to track and manage customer and sales data. I researched three Customer Resource Manager (CRM's) that met the client's qualification, and after a 30 day trial period, I suggested one that met their needs. After implementation, the client was able to view a pipeline of sales activities, customer order data, closed sales, sales reps activities, which is exactly what they wanted."
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"When I build relationships with clients, the first thing I think of is to help my client improve their performance and growth which can result in increased sales and increased value for the business and stakeholders. I start by conducting onsite research, monitoring day to day operations, and analyzing data to learn their business. I take it a step further to learn where manual intervention is needed, and whether a solution will be technology-based, personnel/resource based, or process based. I found that the requirement was personnel/resource-based and that they needed a team of programming experts, along with business analysts and project managers. I suggested bringing in a team that I knew would be able to handle the task of building an application to support their warehousing distribution business."
Great communication skills are critical when working as an IT Consultant. Walk me through a time when you were successful in communicating with a person that was difficult to work with, and under difficult circumstances?
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Throughout corporate America, you'll find your garden variety of different personalities from strategic thinkers, passive aggressive profiles, and of course your ego maniacs. Dealing with difficult people is an art. There's a few ways you can learn to adapt to an environment, culture and difficult circumstances without compromising the success of the project. First, start with the common issues that a difficult person will present to you. He/she will likely try to take credit for the work you completed, or blame you for missing their deadlines. An easy way to handle this is to explain that even though they blamed you, you have no ill will towards them, and actually offered to help with their project so they could get caught up. Another approach is to summarize the issue, then explain that you communicated with the other person and spent time with them to solve the problem.
"I've worked with all types of personalities, and have found that a diplomatic approach has worked best for me. The first thing I address with the other person is the blame game. Learning why you are blamed gets you once step closer to resolving the problem. In this case the client was having issues meeting deadlines which caused other departments to also miss their deadlines. I immediately focused on a problem, how to solve it, and started by showing my willingness to get along and help get the project back on track."
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"It's extremely important to me to avoid getting upset or venting about the person who was difficult to work with. I had an instance where a client was rude, and verbally abusive, and didn't give me access to servers, and software that I needed to complete my work. I kept my cool and was polite the whole time. I demonstrated how they would see immediate results and a turn-around of their project if we could all work together and I could have access to certain files and folder to get my work done, and they agreed."
What do you think is the most important information security concern with most organizations right now?
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One of the biggest concerns a company might have is securing their networks and systems to prevent a cyber attack. Given the increased level of security threats over the past five years, companies have made the protection of their data a very high priority. As this continues to become an area of importance for most companies, hiring managers will spend more time qualifying and interviewing candidates that share the same common goals and responsibility of protecting their IT security organization.
This question helps the hiring manager identify the level of importance this question has to you, and if you share the same values and sentiment that the company possesses. More than likely the hiring manger will want to know what you think those concerns are, and where you place them on a list of priorities. You may want to start with some of the most important concerns that matter to you, then talk about what IT security concerns they may have, or their clients, and what's important in their eyes. Once you have an idea of where their thinking is, you can discuss the areas that you are responsible for overseeing in your current role.
"My role with past companies has been two-fold. One is to be an effective leader, to lead by example, to conduct myself in a professional manner, and to be an innovative technologist that solves problems. Being in an IT security environment, you learn two things very quickly, technology changes and evolves in a very short time, and threats are always on the rise. In my past role, I had the opportunity to try new methods and technologies to see which worked best. I found that not every technology works for every company. While assessing a number of technologies, I was able to select a few that fit our business model. This was based on a consensus from my team and management approval. As a result, this has decreased the number of attacks on our network over the past 2 years."
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"I can say for certain that there are a number of concerns that most companies have when it comes to their IT security organization. As I led a team of IT security professionals, it became apparent to me that as a leader, I needed to show that I was able to take on difficult challenges, make difficult choices, and most importantly to implement a fail-safe IT security strategy that everyone could easily follow in order to secure all aspects of our IT security systems. A valuable lesson that I learned was to be prepared for surprises before they came up. As part of my fail-safe strategy, I put together a checklist of items that is followed in case of a power failure or cyber attack. I also built a backup system to combat the following occurrences:
1. Power outage from weather
2. Utility interruption from gas or electrical outage
3. System crashes from network, systems or telecom provider
4. Data breach or cyber attack, and how to apply contingency plan
5. Unplanned disruptions."
6. 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 Sirius Computer Solutions?" 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."7. What is your opinion on why Blockchain has become so popular, and where do you see it in five years? Admittedly, Blockchain has many benefits. There's been a lot of chatter about start-ups using Blockchain because it allows them to reach a global audience without geographic restrictions. It's at a stage in its life where a lot of people see technology innovations with Blockchain in just about every industry out there. Researchers are also seeing benefits from a public Blockchain because they can access large amounts of public data.
I recommend describing a situation where you were involved in introducing Blockchain to your company or advocating Blockchain as a networking solution to perhaps gain market share. Explain the tasks that were part of your responsibility like presenting a future-state schematic of what the Blockchain environment would look like, with benefits and outcomes that the company would see as a result of implementing this type of network. Here is an answer example: "I believe Blockchain will revolutionize our daily lives. In the next five years, I see it changing how we spend and transact. I see it in my workplace, and it's already making an impact on business, education, transportation, and healthcare. One example of its uses and presence that I've seen first-hand is in Healthcare. It provides a safe place to store information accessible by hospital administrators and patients, plus they don't have to store or carry physical paper documents since it' stored digitally on a Blockchain and accessible 24/7. My last company was a healthcare start-up and used a Blockchain app to let patients store their information on the Blockchain. My role with this company was to develop the app, while I created the infrastructure to provide a secure transaction environment. I was also responsible for mapping out a five-year growth plan to target other industries or markets we could expand into for continued growth." Here is an answer example: "I believe Blockchain is here to stay. I think it provides a lot of value for both individuals and investors who conduct electronic financial transactions. Not only is it secure, but it has a centralized ledger system that provides transparency and verifiability which can give you piece of mind. In my experience working with Blockchain technologies, I've found that it improves security so that a business doesn't have to invest large amounts of money for additional hardware and software to keep their systems safe. It also comes with lots of benefits, like reliable security, cost savings, ability to do real-time transactions, immutability, and the option for user pseudonymity."8. What are the various ways to inform employees about information security policies and procedures? Anyone in IT leadership that is responsible for establishing and maintaining company policy and procedures for security needs to ensure that there's a system in place for monitoring corporate computers and mobile devices to protect against email viruses, malware, and data breaches. You'll find that hiring managers tend to spend a bit more time on this question because they want to gauge your level of confidence on how you implement these practices across the company and the way you communicate the procedures to all employees. The experience you share with the manager will be a reflection of your capabilities and will show that you can think outside the box. It's not uncommon for a manager to ask you to talk at length about communicating effective ways to identify phishing emails, transferring confidential files securely, password management tips, and applying privacy and security updates for all employees. This helps the manager see the level of detail that you go through to protect your company's employees. Here is an answer example: "If you look at statistics on how attacks were established. You will find that over 50% of attacks came from employees within a company that inadvertently allowed access to a hacker, or simply disregarded company security policy. At my last company, I was directly involved in writing the security policies and procedures, as well as setting guidelines and conducting training sessions with employees to teach them to detect phishing emails and similar scams. I demonstrated in detail what a phishing email looks like, and what to look for when they receive one, and the procedure to follow once this type of scam is identified. I created an email account so that anyone who received these phishing emails,l could send them straight to that account." Here is an answer example: "During my security training sessions with employees, I explained the importance of cyber security, and pointed out the risks of an attack and the negative impact it could have on our organization if personal employee or company information is compromised. As part of the training sessions, I discussed in detail the use of and management of strong passwords, and how to use unique characters when selecting new passwords. As a way of making sure all employees were adhering to our security policies, I set quarterly reminders for everyone to change their passwords. I also had everyone apply updates to their systems and privacy settings."9. As I understand it, the network is the most vulnerable part of a company's IT infrastructure. What is your opinion of this and how would you define the threat and risk to a company in terms of network security? This is a 'set the table' question which provides the interviewer with an overview of your knowledge of and perspective on network security. Here is an answer example: "The network infrastructure is the most vulnerable part of the IT system because it is the easiest part to access. Since all the company's data is transmitted via the network, hackers focus on this to get the data for malevolent uses. This is the threat to the system. The risk is the company's responsibility to secure their users' and customers' information or be subject to fines, injunctions or even shut down. Measures need to be taken to minimize both the threats and the risks related to network security. I am well versed in these and can expound on them if you would like me to." Here is an answer example: "I agree with you that the greatest threat to a company's IT infrastructure is the network. Hackers target the network because it is the easiest part of the system to access and because all the data is transmitted over the network. It's the data that hackers want and can cause the most disruption with. The risk to the company if the data is compromised is the loss of business, fines and injunctions and the possibility of being shut down. While the threat associated with network security will always remain, the risk can be minimized through prudent network security practices and procedures."10. There have been several virus attacks recently, what have you done to protect your organization from these cyber attacks? This a great question from a manager and there are some very useful responses to this question. The very first thing is having an in-depth knowledge of how cyber security attacks occur. There are several situational examples that a hiring manager might ask you to walk through to see what you did to thwart those attacks. Some of the core questions will relate to what you did to identify those threats, what authentication you used to combat the threats, and how frequently you do risk assessments. A couple of other questions that may come up will cover how often you communicated your security and sign-off policy to employees if there was compliance corporate-wide, and what you did to maintain that compliance. Here is an answer example: "I realize that attacks can happen at any time, and we need to be ready. One of the most important tasks that I'm involved in when I come into work every day is to look at our security dashboard which shows a real-time report of events, threats, intrusions, and possible breaches. This tells us what actions we need to take, or improvements that need to be addressed to strengthen our network further. The real-time report gives me a view of events that have occurred and are occurring in real-time. As a directive by our CIO, we are required to do research on public and private corporations that were hacked so we could analyze how those organizations handled data loss and what they did to remedy those issues." Here is an answer example: "There are several steps that I take to safeguard our environment. Let me outline those steps and tasks to get you familiar with our process, planning and execution:
1.) The first step is to identify the threats - this involves the unauthorized access of our company networks. Since our company has sensitive information, we go to great lengths to protect it.
2.) I keep employees honest - Employees have access to a lot of valuable company information, and if leaked to the wrong people, could be disastrous for the company. It's part of my responsibility to have employees reset passwords, and have them use two-factor authentication for additional security.
3.) I keep up to date on Cybercrimes that have happened in the past - I always look at what types of data hackers are attracted to so I know what kind of strategy to put in place for those types of potential attacks.
4.) I carry out risk assessments and audits on a regular basis - This is done to mitigate risk, and data loss. I work closely with external Cyber Security consultants to implement a security that is successfully executed."11. 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."12. Give me your opinion on Blockchain technology, and how do you think it will revolutionize cyber security? Ever since Blockchain was introduced to the market, security technologists have been busy trying to keep Blockchain transactions secure through distributed networks so people can use bitcoin or crypto-currency as a payment gateway. Hiring managers, especially in the finance/banking industries, are well aware of this technology, so when they ask this question, they are looking for your opinion on how it applies to cyber security. If you have experience working in an environment that uses Blockchain, showcase that experience in a way that makes you stand out from the crowd. For example, use a scenario (without giving away sensitive company information) where you used it, and how you were able to protect web servers and ID systems so the transactions were safe and secure. If you have limited knowledge in Blockchain, show your eagerness to learn the technology, and how your skills would apply in those situations. Here is an answer example: "Anytime I see the introduction of a new technology or payment gateway, I take it upon myself to research that technology to see where it is relevant in the world of Cyber Security. When Blockchain came out, I did extensive research on where it might have vulnerabilities, and susceptible to attacks. According to my research, Blockchain has around for about a decade and was initially introduced to store and/or send crypto-currency like Bitcoin. Blockchains are distributed networks with millions of users all over the world. Since Blockchain uses cryptology, it's easier for businesses to authenticate devices and users without the need for a password. This definitely eliminates manual intervention in the process of authentication, thereby avoiding potential attacks." Here is an answer example: "The way I view Blockchain revolutionizing Cyber Security is through decentralized storage, record keeping, and peer-to-peer sharing. Furthermore, Blockchain users will be able to store all their data on their network or computer if they choose to do so. Basically, a blockchain is a decentralized, digitized, public ledger of all cryptocurrency transactions known as Distributed Ledger Technology. One of the big reasons why I think blockchain is going to be an integral part of Cyber Security is (Distributed Denial of Service. In a nutshell, Blockchain transactions can be denied easily if the send-receive participants are impeded from sending transactions. Blockchains provide a non 'hackable' entrance point, thereby, provide more security when compared with database-driven transactional structures."13. 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."14. There are many different definitions of a 'Cloud' in the IT industry. In order to make sure we are on the same page can you provide your definition of a cloud hosting environment and describe its components? The purpose of this question is to make sure you define a cloud hosting environment in the same way the employer does and that you have familiarity with what elements constitute an IT cloud. Here is an answer example: "A cloud is an amalgamation of computer hardware, software, network, storage, and services. It can be managed by the organization or by a third-party service provider, such as Amazon or Microsoft. It is also known as 'computing as a service'. End users are unaware of where the components are located and where their applications and data reside. They access the cloud via an interface. This creates an environment in which they do their work." Here is an answer example: "A cloud environment is a collection of IT assets and services that are accessed by the users through a portal or dedicated interface. The cloud can reside or be hosted on the same physical premise as the users, offsite or by a third-party service provider. The components of the cloud are the same as a standard data center. They include hardware, software, storage, network, applications, and services. Many cloud environments are designed for specific businesses, including customer service, financial services, application development, and healthcare, to name just a few. These are typically hosted by third party service providers who specialize in the individual market segments."15. Can you explain to me the basic characteristics of a hosted cloud? Sirius Computer Solutions offers cloud hosting and wants candidates who understand the essential characteristics of a hosted cloud. It's key in your answer to point out the advantages of cloud hosting and how it is superior to standard server hosting.
If you are interviewing for a sales position at Sirius Computer Solutions. Knowledge of the cloud vs on-premise hosting will come with training, but it is important to have a basic understanding of the differences before your interview. Here is an answer example: "The basic characteristics of a hosted cloud are Provisioning, Scalability, Billing, and Interfaces. Provisioning refers to the ability to add additional services including computer and storage when necessary to support the company's business activity, and then remove them when they are not needed. Scalability is growing the hosted services as the business grows, without any interruptions or downtime. Billing is important because it needs to be flexible and adjust according to what services are provisioned during the billing period and what volume discounts are applied as the environment scales. Finally, the interface is how the users access computing services and resources. It needs to be both user-friendly and compatible with a variety of devices, including computers with different operating systems and mobile devices, from anywhere across the globe." Here is an answer example: "There are four basic characteristics of a hosted cloud. The first is Provisioning, which refers to adding or removing computing resources based on the needs of the organization. This eliminates the need to provision for peak operational periods which results in the resources being underutilized during off-peak periods. This is one of the key advantages of cloud computing. Another characteristic, Scalability is similar to provisioning but refers to the ability to permanently grow the environment without business interruption. Billing is the third characteristic and relates to both of the previous ones. The organization should only pay for the computing assets and services it is using and should receive a volume-based discount when they add additional resources. Finally, and most importantly is the User Interface. This is how the business accesses its applications and data, and manages the resources. Ideally, the interface is transparent to the users and they are unable to determine that the applications and data are being managed in a cloud hosted environment."16. 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? 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. Here is an answer example: "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." Here is an 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."17. 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."18. What is the differences between 'scalability' and 'elasticity' when speaking in terms of cloud hosting? If you are asked this type of question, the interviewer is attempting to confirm that you really understand the concepts of cloud hosting. They may also be genuinely trying to clarify this information for their own benefit. You should answer the question as clearly and succinctly as possible. Here is an answer example: "Scalability is a characteristic of cloud computing which is used to handle the escalating workload by escalating in proportion amount of resource capacity. Using scalability, the service provider can easily and quickly add resources when the requirements are being raised by the client. On the other hand, Elasticity is a characteristic that provides for the concept of provisioning and de-provisioning a large amount of resource capacity dynamically. It is usually measured by the speed by which the resources are coming on demand and the usage of those resources. Scalability often refers to a permanent increase in resources whereas Elasticity is temporary, based on fluctuating demands or business activity." Here is an answer example: "That's a great question. People often confuse the concepts of scalability and elasticity. Scalability refers to the ability to easily increase the IT resources used by the organization. This is accomplished by using technology that can be increased quickly and with no disruption in service or downtime. Another characteristic of scalability is that it is typically permanent, and based on the growth of the organizations business. On the other hand, elasticity refers to the ability to dynamically add (provision) or remove (de-provision) IT resources based on fluctuations in business cycles or customer activity. Service providers in hosted clouds accomplish this by having "standby" resources on hand which can be turned on or off as needed. These resources are typically shared by multiple clients, who are only billed when they actually use them."19. How would you convince a company that is still undecided about whether or not they should continue managing their own data center or move to a hosted cloud? Being able to convince potential clients to join Sirius Computer Solutions's cloud services is a key skill that hiring managers are looking for. By asking this question, the interviewer is attempting to determine your knowledge of a hosted cloud and your opinion of the benefits. Here is an answer example: "There are several benefits to moving to a hosted cloud. The key benefit is cost, based on the ability to only providing the resources you need. You can scale up the resources during peak business periods and then de-provision them when they are no longer needed. This is difficult in a self-managed data center environment. Other advantages include more secure data and backup, built-in disaster recovery, more flexible software licensing by using Software as a Service (SaaS) and it is platform and OS agnostic. These features provide the organization with greater flexibility. The final benefit is increased productivity. The company can focus on its business rather than running an IT department." Here is an answer example: "Hosted Cloud service providers provide an organization like yours several benefits. The key benefit is cost savings. Moving to a hosted environment allows you to 'rent' your computer resources and only use what you need. This includes compute, storage and even software, using the SaaS model. You pay for what you need when you need it, then put it back on the shelf and don't pay when you're not using it. Other advantages include focusing on your core business vs. running an IT department, being platform and OS agnostic, and being able to use the most productive or popular technologies. Finally, you will be operating in a secure computing environment with SLAs, backups and disaster recovery included with the services."20. 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."21. How would you define efficient integration, and what are your best practices for working towards improving efficiency of people and processes? This is a task related question that an interviewer wants you to answer so they can determine how well you know efficient integration best practices. The two areas that you need to focus on are what you do in your current role to improve the efficiencies of people and processes in your company. This is important because they will see you incorporate these two elements into your project integration strategy as part of your best practices.
Let's examine some sample process-based approaches that one might talk about in an interview. This will cover a few best practice steps that are typically used in the efficient integration and improvement of people and processes:
1. Scope definition and specification development - (Define challenges and measure the success after the project is completed. Assess what is needed for integration and software requirements).
2. Implementation - (Define strategic business goals and measure the performance of success).
3. Future-State planning - (Develop specification standards that can seamlessly be integrated into future projects and initiatives with existing technology architecture).
4. Ease of Compliance and visibility - (Design compliance into business practices for application and integration).
5. Business process agility - (Use business process management tools that are easy to design, change and deploy corporate-wide).
6. Staff efficiency - (Team collaboration with full visibility and workflow structure for better performance). Here is an answer example: "The way I define efficient integration is by incorporating the two elements of any successful integration, and that is people and processes. I take a holistic view of the role that people play in the process and apply best practices to all initiatives. The way I start an integration project is to define a scope of work that addresses any number of challenges that an internal or external customer might have. This might include a problem that requires stakeholders to facilitate discovery to develop a business case before finalizing a business or systems implementation. My approach after discovery would be to draft a development specification which outlines the scope of work. I then write an implementation plan that will set the stage for a future state of the project." Here is an answer example: "There are a lot of different approaches and best practices that you can use to improve the efficiency of people and processes. I'm a strong believer in planning for the future. If you're a forward thinking visionary and develop a future state road map, you can plan successful integrations with minimum risk and maximum output for your projects. There are a few key components to consider when planning for future integrations. The first and most important is going to be cost. In my current role, I am responsible for budgeting short and long-term expenditures for resources (people), software, hardware, and time to implement. I also have to consider compliance concerns, system and network scalability, and whether or not this aligns with the business and technology goals of the organization."22. What actions do you take when you recognize project deadlines will not be met? Sometimes, due to confounding factors that are not in control of the project manager or the project team, deadlines for project deliverables are missed. This is not uncommon in project management, but it is important for the project manager to inform project leadership and stakeholders of potential delays as soon as possible, along with information on the cause of the delay, and what the project team is doing to mitigate the situation. Through regular communication, project leadership and stakeholders should already be aware of many of the details of the project, but it is still important for the project manager to provide a thorough explanation of the cause of the delay. The interviewer is asking this question to assess the candidate's ability to articulate how they would respond and react in a situation where they may have to deliver difficult news concerning what may be viewed as a failure in their performance. To appropriately answer this question, the candidate must confidently answer and provide details about how they would immediately respond to a situation where there is a project delay. Here is an answer example: "Unfortunately in project management, delays in project deliverables sometimes happen. I find the best approach to a project delay is immediately notifying project leadership and stakeholders of a potential delay, even if there is a possibility that the team may catch up as the final deadline approaches. I would rather project leadership be aware of a delay than being surprised by one in the end. When communicating a potential delay, which I know can be extremely frustrating for project leaders and stakeholders, I try to provide as much information as I can, so they can understand what is happening, and so they will know that as a project manager, I am doing everything I can to prevent further delays in the project. As project manager at Sirius Computer Solutions, I will do everything I can to prevent project delays, but if and when they happen, I will be sure to keep project leaders and stakeholders fully informed of what is going on, so they are aware of the status of their project." Here is an answer example: "One of the projects I am managing recently got off schedule, and I had to deliver the frustrating news that the delivery of the final software application will be delayed. While this was not easy news to communicate, it was necessary for me to inform project leadership and stakeholders of the delay, and I did so immediately after we discovered the programming bug that sent the application back to development. In my communication with project leaders and stakeholders, I was sure to provide them as much information as possible, rather than just telling them there was a delay. While project leaders and stakeholders were not happy with the news, they appreciated that I notified them immediately, and that provided such a detailed account of what took place. This is the type of open communication I use in project management, even when I have to deliver what is considered bad news, and I will maintain this type of communication style when managing projects at Sirius Computer Solutions."23. Talk about how you get your team on-board with your business strategy in order to have a successful client implementation? Getting an entire team on board can be a challenge, especially if you get push-back from anyone at a client site. This makes it difficult to set priorities, measure goals or realize any benefits of a successful implementation when you get someone that doesn't see your strategy and vision.
There are two reasons why a hiring manager at Sirius Computer Solutions may ask this question. The first one is that the manager wants to hear about how you handle conflict resolution at a client site. More specifically the method or approach to team bonding or team buy-in from your own team as well as the client's team. There are always one or two people in a group from the client side who are not completely sold on your solution, and probably want to see if they can do it with resources internally. The other reason is to see how you handle these situations under pressure, and how you present yourself in stressful conditions while you are trying to get both teams on-board and headed in the same direction to work together.
This is a great time to mention to the hiring manager that you have been in situations like this before and that it is not uncommon to come across some push back from a client. Provide a scenario where you were in this situation, and recommended a win-win for both teams showing what a successful outcome might look like if everyone is onboard. Here is an answer example: "Working with clients has its challenges and rewards. My approach to getting both teams onboard is I give examples of successful business strategy implementations that I managed in the past. I like to highlight the results of those implementations with examples of visualizations of what could be had when both teams work together. Creating and designing strategies is my strong suit, so this part of the implementation required doing a cost/benefit analysis to determine the best opportunity for growth and success. I feel that as part of my duties, I need to set strategic priorities and measurable goals so that I can show the client what success looks like for their team and organization." Here is an answer example: "When I work with clients, I have to be mindful that they have a certain method of operation that they have gotten accustomed to. I see this quite a bit, and it?EUR(TM)s like being in a rut that you can?EUR(TM)t get out of. The role I play as a consultant is that of a problem solver. As a business strategy consultant, I work with clients to understand their process so that I can determine who they are, where they want to go, how they want me to get them there, and how I measure their success along the way. This is especially true when you need to get both teams on-board and to work together to design, develop and implement a strategy that coincides with the client?EUR(TM)s leadership goals. One of the methods I use is to understand the specific benefit that each client team member wants to get out of the implementation, and I work to incorporate those individual goals to the satisfaction of each team member."24. 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 Sirius Computer Solutions 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."25. What is your opinion about point-to-point integration between applications and services as the architecture becomes complex and expensive to maintain? There has been much discussion about how effective point-to-point integration between applications is, and whether it's still relevant in the application development world. The sequence in simple terms for Point-to-point integration is used when a sender has to send a message to a specific receiver; then an integration broker forwards that message to the appropriate receiver, then the receiver receives the message and processes it as appropriate.
The interviewer wants to hear what you think about P2P integration, and if you think it's still relevant in the development world. This question can get tricky because Point to Point (P2P) is considered by many as an older integration method that's harder to maintain, and can cause headaches in an IT infrastructure and become cost prohibitive.
A good way to answer this question is to explain that you understand how P2P works, and have integrated it into your current architecture, but have set it up in such a way as to limit its use and save costs to operate it. It's important to point out that you know what's involved in maintaining a P2P environment like limited capabilities, hidden costs involved, security and scalability, etc. Here is an answer example: "Working in complex environments, I have found that taking older technologies and modernizing them has benefited the companies that I worked for in the past. This is what I have done with point-to-point integration architecture at my last company. I was able to reduce our dependence and budget allocation on P2P integration as a whole. My opinion is that I can use P2P, but modernizing it would make it more manageable without compromising the integrity of the entire technology infrastructure. When you work in an environment that has to share applications with P2P, you need to be mindful of the hidden costs that it requires, as well as the connections needed to integrate it with other systems that are added to the technology environment." Here is an answer example: "Point-to-point integration between applications can be problematic because it is considered fragile, unmanageable and costly. I have found that if it is modernized with newer applications and technologies, it can perform as needed, even in complex technology architectures. Let me address some of the issues that P2P presents, and where it's at in the life-cycle of things.
1. COST - (The connection cost of Point-to-point to other applications is high).
2. SECURITY CONCERNS - (P2P is difficult to trace security breaches or audit who has access to sensitive company data).
3. LIMITED CAPABILITIES - (No visibility into the business rules that reside within an application).
4. SCALABILITY - (Not supportable and scalable for medium to large corporations)."
Writers for Sirius Computer Solutions, Inc. Answers and Questions
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.
William Swansen is an Author, Job Search Strategist and Career Advisor who assists individuals from all over the world and in a variety of professions in finding their ideal career position.
His Services include:
• Resume Writing
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• Updating your LinkedIn profile and teaching you how to make it work for you
• Identifying Employers, including Hiring Managers and their Contact Information
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You can learn more about William by visiting www.sellingyourselfintoajob.com or on Linkedin: billswansen
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.
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