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Vistara Consulting Interview
Questions

27 Questions and Answers by Ryan Brunner

Published August 28th, 2019 | Ryan has over 10 years of experience interviewing
candidates in the healthcare, public service, and private manufacturing/distribution industries.
Question 1 of 27
For our clients here at Vistara Consulting, how would you sell them on implementing a succession planning program for high level leaders in their organization?
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How to Answer
On top of the cost of conducting an external search for the next leaders of an organization, home growing talent to get the right people with the right talent in the right positions can begin earlier than most leaders think. In your answer for this question, talk about the importance of an organization always keeping an eye towards the future, cost savings and the ability to train people in the way the organization wants them to be trained and prepared for a high level role.
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Top 25 Vistara Consulting Interview Questions
1.
For our clients here at Vistara Consulting, how would you sell them on implementing a succession planning program for high level leaders in their organization?
On top of the cost of conducting an external search for the next leaders of an organization, home growing talent to get the right people with the right talent in the right positions can begin earlier than most leaders think. In your answer for this question, talk about the importance of an organization always keeping an eye towards the future, cost savings and the ability to train people in the way the organization wants them to be trained and prepared for a high level role.

Ryan's Answer #1
"To me, succession planning has so many positives with so little drawbacks that it makes total sense for an organization to implement succession planning. But high level leaders often do need some coaxing to buy into the philosophy. My selling point with an organization would be to use statistical data to point out that projected retirements over the next 10-15 are astronomical compared to the number looking to enter the workforce. Because of this face, it is more important than ever to begin planning and growing the next CEO, COO and CAO of organizations as early as possible. Shadowing opportunities and training opportunities that can take place over a time period of years versus months is very important in the business world today."
Ryan's Answer #2
"In today's modern world, every business and industry is unique and carving out their own niche markets and ways of doing business. Because of this, succession planning and the need to grow leaders from within is extremely important. I would use this as a selling point to high level leaders like CEO's and point out the fact that they could begin training their potential replacements years ahead of time with the help of HR staff and Organizational Learning staff."
2.
In your own point of view, what is the most important factor in influencing change for an organization?
As a professional in change management processes, your interviewer is looking to get some personal insight into how you will work closely with the clients of Vistara Consulting in this question. However you answer this question, be sure to speak with conviction as to why you feel your answer is the most important aspect to the change management process. However you answer, make sure not to discount other factors that influence change.

Ryan's Answer #1
"In my experience, the biggest thing that I've seen derail change management for large organizations is a lack of support. When I say support, it is really buy-in and true belief from senior level leadership. Because of this, my initial steps in meeting with any client would be to meet 1:1 with all key stakeholders to gather their ideas and to ensure that they are buying into the change process. Only when that is achieved will I feel comfortable in moving forward with work with that client."
Ryan's Answer #2
"While certainly a high level answer here, people are definitely the most important factor in the change management process for an organization. Change starts with people leading the charge and finishes with every person on board with new processes and ways of life. Because of this, my focus during a change management process is the people that will be designing the change and implementing the change in the end."
3.
What project management software are you familiar working with?
Effective project managers are able to readily utilize tools available to help in the planning, implementing and monitoring of a project and for this question, your interviewer is looking to gauge your ability to handle the available software that is out there and use it to your advantage. Project management software has improved vastly over time and now enables project managers and their teams to focus more effort on important aspects of a project. Talk about which programs you have work with and make sure your interviewer understands that you have the ability to pick up and use new systems with ease.

Ryan's Answer #1
"Prior to last year, I had been working on the online software system called Wrike. I really loved the ability to utilize the collaboration function within the system to involve members of the team in the editing of documents, review of materials and even the ability to start discussion threads within the system. Last year, we implemented a new system called Clarity PPM when my organization implemented this organization wide. At first upon the announcement, I was a little saddened to hear we'd be losing a great resource but I kept an open mind to the new system and its features and benefits. I've really mastered and come to love the reporting functions in this system that are saving me hours of work that I can spend on other areas of a project."
Ryan's Answer #2
"After attending a few conferences and talking to colleagues in the project management field, we are really blessed with the great technology that we have to keep us on task and on track to hit deadlines with our big projects. Being very adept with computer skills and open to learning new things, my experience while in the corporate world and then moving into my own personal consulting business has been using Trello. While a great system altogether, I love its ability to connect teams that work together from across the country and its organization of a tasks board that all team members have access to."
4.
What knowledge do you have of differing leadership styles and how would you work effectively with each in this role?
People that work their way through the ranks of the business world and find themselves in high level positions can lead with many different styles. For this question, be sure to do your research on the differing leadership styles and be able to speak about specific times you have worked with leaders with that style or how you would effectively work with each style. Make sure to speak to the importance of differing leadership styles equating to the need for an individualized approach to training leaders.

Ryan's Answer #1
"I have received training on working with the most common leadership styles in the sales industry: transformational leadership, transactional leadership, autocratic leadership, bureaucratic leadership and democratic leadership. I also fully understand the important characteristics and personality traits that leaders in each style display. I have some personal experience training an autocratic leader very closely on promoting teamwork within his department due to low morale. For this leader, it was important for me to personalize my approach by teaching him about his leadership style and what the pro's and con's both were. From there, my focus remained outward towards his team and their performance and how his approach could help impact that positively. Moving forward from our training, his team definitely felt a positive uptick in their morale and production."
Ryan's Answer #2
"Having worked with leaders all across my current organization, I quickly came to realize that every leader works in and is motivated by their own unique set of circumstances. And because of those facts, it is important for me to take a personalized approach to training. I've worked with leaders that had a hard time delegating work and ruled with more of an iron fist than most others. For these leaders, a direct approach from myself as the trainer was required and a focus on the importance of teamwork and recognition were important. I've also worked with leaders on the opposite end of that spectrum that approached leadership from a very hands off perspective and were successful more on the administrative side of their roles. With these leaders, I had success in approaching training with an emphasis on establishing standards and procedures for their department and promoting their involvement with their team. I think my versatility in working with every leadership style would be an advantage here at Vistara Consulting."
5.
Talk about a time that you successfully educated another individual or group in your area of expertise. What made your educational experience effective?
The role that you are interviewing for with Vistara Consulting will likely involve providing education to clients in your area of expertise. For this question, your interviewer will be looking to hear that you are comfortable and effective in providing education by having you talk about a time that you have done so. In the example that you provide, try to point out some key items to making business education successful like developing a plan/goals, respecting differing viewpoints/opinions, making it hands on and making it fun.

Ryan's Answer #1
"Probably the aspect that I love the most about my current job is being the lead for training new hires into our department. Because of my years of experience and my innate ability to effectively orientate new employees, my director asked me to take this duty about four years ago. My approach with any new hire is to customize their training based on their knowledge and experience so the training is effective for them. What works for one person may not work for another and I always need to be fluid with this. I also prioritize the need to make orientation and training a hands on experience for the new hire because classroom learning can only take a person so far in the learning process."
Ryan's Answer #2
"As you can see from my resume, I've spent the last seven years working in the corporate tax field. While in this job, I worked very independently for a private organization, so I've been out of the training and education side for a while now. During my first job out of college as a CPA though, I was very adept at providing education to the clients that I worked with on a daily basis. What I learned in that experience was the importance of putting material out there in a manner that the person being trained understood. As well, talking to clients and understanding my client's wants and needs were very important for me to be able to best educate them. I really believe that these skills would enable me to hit the ground running with Vistara Consulting and your clients would benefit greatly."
6.
What would you say is the key factor for an organization to consider when building an action plan for growth?
Creating an action plan for growth can entail many steps and processes. As the clients at Vistara Consulting will look to you to be an expert on the entire process, your interviewer is simply looking to take a dive into your mind to hear what you feel is the most important factor. No matter how you answer this question, be sure to speak passionately about why this factor is important and how you will help their clients understand this and put it to use.

Ryan's Answer #1
"In my experience in going back and measuring the successes of past organizations that I have been a part of a growth plan for, the top determining factor in success was having and following a five year plan for growth. The development of a solid five year plan entails setting goals, establishing the resources needed to meet the goals and pinpoints any potential hurdles on the way to the goals. An integral part of the plan also includes timelines for adding resources along the way to ensure that milestones are met on time."
Ryan's Answer #2
"To me, companies that seize opportunities in their market are best suited for growth into the future. For a lot of companies, seeing opportunity is a huge area for improvement and its a passionate area of mine where I could bring expertise the clients of Vistara Consulting. As a consultant, the process of seeking out opportunity would involve detailed SWOT analyses, market research and surveying of staff. These processes will help clients see their best opportunities for growth, then further plans can be made to turn plans into reality."
7.
Talk about a success story that you have in implementing an organization design change with an organization. How will your skills used here benefit the clients of Vistara Consulting?
Organizational design is a very broad field that looks at workflow, procedures, systems and structures that impact the overall business goals of an organization. Over time, changes in products and ways of doing business should require changes in the overall design of the organization, but companies are often slow to react to needed changes. Talk about an organization design project that you were a part of and describe the details of the project that you handled. Then, talk about your organizational design skills that you would bring to the table at Vistara Consulting.

Ryan's Answer #1
"With a background in HR, my org design work has most often centered around labor efficiencies with organizations. I have a lot of experience in evaluating work processes and gauging the appropriate labor needs that are necessary. Last year, I worked with a small plastics manufacturer that wasn't using their automation capabilities to their highest level. They were essentially paying many people to do what some of their machinery could actually do. While it did involve some difficult conversations and some difficult employment decisions, the organization was able to save a lot of labor costs on simple modifications to their processes."
Ryan's Answer #2
"As you can see from my resume, I have a vast amount of experience in the transportation and warehousing industries. In my work here, org redesign has always been a focus to increase efficiencies and profitability. Last year, I helped a large trucking firm implement the UPS logistics philosophy in their routing that saved a lot money on fuel, maintenance costs and labor. If hired here, I think my corporate design experience in these areas would translate well to industries like manufacturing and healthcare."
8.
In the change management process, talk about the importance of providing a clear vision to staff of an organization. How do you think this is best done?
The change management process is often most difficult for front-line staff at an organization. A big reason for resistance to change is that people aren't seeing the big picture, or reasons, for the change and what positive outcomes will happen with the change. Explain to your interviewer why you feel that providing a vision is important and talk about the need for it to come from leadership within the organization. Then, give any examples of providing a vision that you've been a part of during your career.

Ryan's Answer #1
"As I've worked with organizations on their change management processes, I've always felt it was important that communications were clear from the start of a change process. When people are left in the dark, they naturally can't understand why changes are being implemented and they become defensive and resistant to change. Last year, I worked with a manufacturing company that was implementing new equipment that would reduce their staffing needs and change the jobs of many individuals. To roll this out to employees, I helped the leadership team prepare a detailed video and presentation that outlined the entire vision of the project. What really hit home with the staff was the dire need to take this direction based on competitors cost of goods and the fear of being driven out of the market."
Ryan's Answer #2
"Humans are curious and change is only accepted when people understand why change is happening and what the end result will be with the change. For one particular employer that I spent time with, a good portion of five years was spent acquiring smaller businesses and expansion in both product line and region size was happening rapidly. Upon working with our senior leadership, I helped develop a vision document and accompanying slide show to show the future state of the organization ten years down the road. When staff saw the aggressive growth plans of the organization and the potential great things we all could accomplish, buy-in became much more clear from everyone."
9.
Do you have any experience handling a budget as part of a project?
As a consultant for Vistara Consulting working as a project manager with clients, you will likely be relied upon to work around a budgeting process. Talk to your interviewer about your experience in working with budgets on large projects and give them some idea of your ability to plan for, monitor and stay within a budget for a project. If possible, give any details on your experience that you can and talk about how you would bring this experience to working with clients.

Ryan's Answer #1
"During my ten years of working as a project manager with a large manufacturer, I've definitely had to manage a budget for every project that I've led. The scope of my experience really spans the budgeting process from the research necessary to create a budget plan, tracking and updating through the process and meeting the requirements of the budget. At times when I realized that we may have under-budgeted a project, I approach whoever is necessary to ensure that proper funding is available, and if not, I take necessary measures to stay within budget."
Ryan's Answer #2
"As we've discussed already, a bulk of my experience as a project manager comes in the construction field where budgeting and meeting a budget are the key to success. I'd consider my expertise, and the biggest factor for budget success, to be my ability to plan for and create a budget during the planning phase of a project. With industry experience and research, a properly planned budget sets the tone for the project and what resources can be used up front. I think my ability in this area would be extremely beneficial to my potential clients here at Vistara Consulting."
10.
We value accountability at Vistara Consulting. If a customer sent a formal complaint about an interaction with you, how would you handle it?
Assure the interviewer that you are a person of integrity who will take responsibility for any shortcomings in the workplace. Briefly explain to the interviewer that you will handle Vistara Consulting customers with great care.

Ryan's Answer #1
"I understand that Vistara Consulting has put a lot of work into building these long-term client relationships. If one of your clients complained about my communication with them, I would take full responsibility for my actions and issue an apology. I would also be open to feedback to avoid future incidences. Rest assured, in my 15 years of employment, I have not had any clients complain to my employer about my work ethic or delivery of service."
Ryan's Answer #2
"Constructive feedback is difficult to swallow at times, but it's helpful for me to remember that everyone receives constructive feedback from time to time. I will always do what is required of me to renew a client relationship."
11.
What do you think is the key quality for a great business leader and how would you promote and educate this quality with our clients here at Vistara Consulting?
Business research and leadership development research has shown that there are many qualities that great leaders possess. Rather than having you rattle off all of the great qualities, your interviewer is looking to hear you speak passionately about what you feel is an important quality of a great leaders. Prior to your interview, put some thought to this question to be able to speak about why you feel this quality is important in leadership and how you would promote this quality with your clients if hired for the position.

Ryan's Answer #1
"Through my years of working with high level executives and CEO's and through all of the great publications I have read, I truly believe that vision is one of the key components of any great leader. Where many great managers know what it takes to get the job done and do a excellent job of conveying that message, a true leader has a vision for the future to drive business to new levels while also having the foresight to put that vision into action. While being a believer that having true business vision comes naturally to the right people, I have worked with leaders on reflecting on their visions and giving them the tools to help project their vision into words with their staff. I'd love to bring these ideas to the leadership development programs here at Vistara Consulting."
Ryan's Answer #2
"In my experience working closely with high level leaders at the organization I've worked with during my career, I'm a believer that the promotion of teamwork and cohesiveness is one of the key qualities of successful leaders. I've witnessed to many teams and businesses fail because a leader was too stubborn to delegate work and trust others around them to help get a job done. For me, I've always stressed the importance of teamwork by promoting a trusting environment for my leaders and showing them the importance of not being the watch over your shoulder types of leaders. I have many great examples of great leaders who delegated work and entrusted their staff around them to work cohesively as a team."
12.
What do you feel is the key to developing and/or operating a great succession planning program?
The total succession planning process encompasses many different steps from planning to final implementation. Even then, once implemented, there are many keys to ensuring the program is successful into the future. However you answer this question, be sure to speak passionately and knowledgeably as to why you feel your key is one essential key to the process. Discuss how this will be an advantage for the clients that you would work with and how you would help implement the step for them.

Ryan's Answer #1
"While I consider myself an expert on the planning stages and identifying the positions that should have succession plans, I think the toughest and most crucial step for an organization in a succession planning process is identifying top talent to groom into new roles along their career journey. Understanding that my role as the consultant for your clients would be over, it would be my job to educated the clients on how to identify, train and measure successes down the road to make the program a true success."
Ryan's Answer #2
"Every good project needs a solid plan to be successful and this is no different for implementing a succession planning process. A good succession plan starts with involving leadership to identify the future needs of the business and key positions that succession planning should occur for. Another key insight towards building a great succession planning program is taking into account future growth and development of the business. With these things in mind, I can help the clients here at Vistara Consulting build solid succession planning programs."
13.
For our clients here at Vistara Consulting that are working through a change management project, accountability is of utmost importance for the entire organization. How would you help ensure accountability from the leadership team?
As a consultant to organizations in the midst of a change management process, accountability should be a priority for the leadership team and one of your tasks as the consultant is to help foster this with the entire staff. With accountability comes transparency, so be sure to focus on this aspect in your answer. Talk about why you feel that accountability and transparency are important and how you would make sure that the leaders you work with keep these things at the top of mind during their process.

Ryan's Answer #1
"Having walked many organizations through some major change processes, one of my top priorities is always communication and transparency to staff. And you really hit the nail on the head with this question that both of these things lead to accountability for the organization. To help facilitate this process, my conversations with leadership would entail details on how to effectively communicate with staff and I'm a firm believer that this should happen from both the highest levels of leadership as well as from direct supervisors and managers of employees. I have experience developing communication strategies and actual presentations for leadership in this realm."
Ryan's Answer #2
"In my experience, accountability for an organization during a change process is a tricky line to walk. First, employees want to know what is happening and the reasoning behind it. Second, customers, stakeholder and the general public may desire information as well. Then, you have to factor in what information can be shared for legal and/or competitive reasons and walk the organization through best communicating the changes to everybody. I have a great deal of experience in walking through this process of holding an organization accountable and would love to help the clients of Vistara Consulting do just this."
14.
At Vistara Consulting, our clients are looking for us to come in and provide sound leadership in their strategic planning and growth planning processes. What leadership style would you bring to our clients?
As a consultant at Vistara Consulting, an expectation from clients is for you to bring a sound leadership style to their team and a working knowledge of effective growth and strategic planning processes. While trying to avoid formal labels, talk about your leadership style as a consultant and explain why your style would most benefit clients. Try to focus on keywords that your leadership style brings, like collaboration and support.

Ryan's Answer #1
"Having worked with and led large teams in the development of formal growth plans for organization, I see my role as a consultant and my leadership with clients as being team-based and collaborative. My job is to lead transformational change within the organization because we will ultimately be trying something new with them and implementing change into the future. From my style of leadership comes improvement through a team based effort and I really think the clients here at Vistara Consulting would benefit greatly from my style."
Ryan's Answer #2
"As a consultant, I'd definitely employ a very democratic approach with your clients. They will be looking for me to provide the blueprint and the road map for success for them and then I would look to delegate and leave responsibility for implementing on them. My approach would be educational, resourceful and would preach teamwork among the entire project team. When I've utilized this approach in the past, it was very well received and helped lead to the success of several large projects."
15.
For our clients here at Vistara Consulting, we are brought in as consultant project managers that are working with unfamiliar teams of people. What leadership style would you bring to our clients that would be effective and efficient with our clients?
Successful project managers are able to bring a leadership style to their teams that both inspires and motivates them to work cohesively and efficiently. In a consultant role with Vistara Consulting, the need to have an effective leadership style is compounded by the fact that you will be working with clients across many different businesses and industries. This elevates the need to have an effective leadership style. No matter how you answer this question, try to highlight your ability to inspire teams to work in a cohesive and efficient manner.

Ryan's Answer #1
"My leadership style in a team setting is a good mix between a democratic and a coaching style. I'm a believer that gaining consensus on team decisions helps boost morale and vision within a team and I love facilitating team meetings in that style. I want to make sure that all have their voices heard and have a chance to weigh in on important decisions. Then, when necessary, I use my experience and knowledge to help develop and coach members of the team."
Ryan's Answer #2
"As you can see from my resume, I've had extensive leadership training. Through my years of experience as a project manager, I have developed the ability to cater my leadership style to the individuals and teams that I work with. I can be the pacesetter on a team that needs motivation and I can easily switch to the harmonizing leader when needed to build a team based atmosphere. My ability to be flexible with those that I work with has certainly contributed to my successes as a project manager and I'd love to bring this ability to the clients of Vistara Consulting"
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