An interview guide for independent consultants

October 28, 2016 Charlotte Bohlman

Getting interviewed is both an art and a science. You’ve got the profile, you’ve written the proposal and you’ve been shortlisted for the assignment. At this stage the stakes are higher for both you and the interviewer. You need to get the points that make you unique across and do everything you can to be preferred over the competition.

There are differences in interviewing for an assignment as an independent consultant to interviewing for a permanent role. You will need to convey your appropriateness for this specific project. Your general competencies will be important but should be communicated in a concise way. 

This 3 stage plan will help you make the most of interviews: 

Pre-interview prep

  • Do your prep: on the company, competitors, and wider industry landscape.
  • Think through your approach: the client will likely want to hear your first views on the project description, how you would approach the project deliverables, and your anticipated timelines for delivery.
  • Research the person you’re meeting – what’s their background? Any similarities, conversation starter topics, or interesting pieces to consider? Remember that your Talmix Delivery Specialist can often help with this part.
  • Compile a list of questions you want to ask them. If you need more detail on the project scope for example, or more guidance on who the internal stakeholders are, now is the time to ask. What wider business questions this project is answering for them could also be a good place to start.

 

During the interview

  • My main tip would be to remember that this is a two way selling process – they are here to sell the project to you as much as you are there to sell your services to them, so don’t feel pressured to give them an easy ride.
  • First impressions count, so focus on open body language and a confident voice – remember what you say only counts for 7% of the impression you’re giving away. The rest is purely how you’re saying it.
  • The impact of eye contact can be a game breaker – connecting with someone whilst you’re talking to them will go a long way. Glancing around the room, or looking at your notes will make you seem unsure.
  • Remember that these interviews will differ to those for permanent positions: they will want to know how you would deliver on a project, not your career history. What’s key is that you get across your suggested approach to a project and what you can offer them, not what you’re hoping to do in 5 years’ time.

 

Here are some examples of the types of questions you could expect. This is not an exhaustive list, but if you’ve prepared for questions along similar lines to these then you’ll have given yourself a head start. 

-    What are your initial impressions of our project?
-    What would be your suggested first three actions?
-    How would you manage internal stakeholder expectations and communication?
-    What tools would you need to be able to get this project delivered?
-    Could you suggest any specific methodologies for the project?
-    How would you rate the expected deliverables?
-    How long do you think you would need to have the project completed?
-    Is your day rate negotiable at all?
-    When could you start? 

Remember: Don’t feel you can’t say “I don’t know yet” to a question, particularly if you don’t have enough information on the project. It’s better to ask, than to guess and get it wrong.

Last tip for during the interview? Always finish the conversation with an actionable follow up – are they going to call you, do they want any further information from you, is there a next stage interview? Understanding this in the interview can help ease any frustration following the interview when waiting to hear back. It could be likely that for longer term projects, you may be expected to draft a more in depth proposal deck, so be prepared to invest some time in that. 

Post interview

  • Always say thank you: no matter what the next step is in the process, a simple thank you note to your interviewer will help keep your name fresh in their mind and will confirm professionalism. It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how many people forget this part in their relief that the interview is over.
  • Don’t chase too hard: It’s important that they come back to you with feedback, but if they let you know it may not be for two weeks then chasing after one week has the potential to reflect negatively. Appreciate their timelines, and only chase once you feel it’s appropriate.
  • Keep in contact: even if it doesn’t go your way after the interview, make sure you connect with your interviewer on your social or other networks. You never know when that connection will come in useful!
  • Lastly, if you’re dealing with one of our Talmix delivery specialists on the project, give them a call straight after the interview and let them know how you got on. They can help follow up on your behalf and pass any feedback to you as soon as they have it.

 

Do you have any tips to share? Success or horror stories to tell of past interviews? Get in touch and tell us!

About the Author

Charlotte Bohlman

Charlotte is a leader in talent acquisition, managing client and consultant engagement and project delivery process and teams with a focus on customer delight.

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