Author: David Joyce
What Makes a Good Consultant?
So, from time to time you need the services of a consultant. Generally, you know what you want the consultant to do for you so you already know the types of skills and experience you are looking for but often there are other personal attributes that will make the difference between a good practitioner and a good consultant.
My editor has asked me to cover off “what makes a good consultant in 400 words”. Well here we are 79 words in, so I better get started.
No matter what your industry, good consultants have similar personal attributes besides their skills and expert knowledge.
Good consultants always display professionalism towards you, the client, they are flexible and accommodating to your schedule and can adjust their working style to meet the culture of your organisation. They are confident, persistent, collaborative and are natural leaders, but leave their egos at the door.
Good consultants have excellent time management skills. It is a necessity, particularly if they are juggling multiple clients. They work hard and most importantly, they work smart.
Good consultants are problem solvers and possess sound judgement and will not jump to conclusions. They study, consider the facts, ask questions, challenge the norm and then make a recommendation or a decision. They use their experience from previous assignments to solve new problems and challenges in your current assignment. Bring them in and they get the work done.
Good consultants possess excellent written and oral communication skills as well as good listening skills. Consultants will meet people through the course of their work with a wide range of unique characteristics, not all of them pleasant or to the consultants liking. Excellent communication skills will generally encourage engaged people to be more open, which in turn leads to a better outcome for the client. They listen first and speak second.
Good consultants have a good reputation and will understand the need to protect that reputation. They recognise that Consulting is not simply contracting by another name and will be selective about the clients they will work for. If they believe the assignment is not the right fit for them, they will decline to accept it but may also recommend a colleague that is better suited.
And finally, a good consultant also leaves something behind on the table for the client other than the invoice and some drinks.
There you go, bang on 400 words.
How to Ace your Client Interview (Part 2)
So you’ve done the preparation you’ve researched your client, practiced your questions and you even jotted down your own list of questions to ask. But before you step into the interview room, keep in mind your non-verbal ques, because actions will speak louder than words. Your mannerism, body language are all part of the entire assessment process. Here are some of the pointers to watch out for.
You are being interviewed because the interviewer wants to hire somebody—not because he/she wants to trip you up, or embarrass you. The interviewer will be evaluating your total performance, not just your answers.
Some factors and mannerisms which will assist in producing a positive reaction
- An interested and balanced approach
- Ability to express thoughts clearly
- Confidence and enthusiasm
- Informative replies
- Tact, maturity and confidence
- Maintenance of eye-contact
- Positive handshake
- Intelligent questions about the job
- Preparation and knowledge of the company and project.
The Dos and Don’ts
- Do completely turn off your phone prior to interview.
- Do arrive a few minutes early. Late arrival is never excusable.
- Do greet the interviewer by their salutation and surname; Make sure you have the right pronunciation.
- Wait until you are offered a chair before sitting.
- Do make sure your good points get across to the interviewer in a factual, sincere manner.
- Keep in mind that you alone can sell yourself to an interviewer. Make him or her realise the need for you in his/her organisation.
- Answer questions truthfully, frankly and as much to the point as possible.
- Don’t look at your watch during the interview.
- Never answer questions with a simple “yes” or “no”. Explain yourself whenever possible. Tell those things about yourself that relate to the position.
- Don’t make derogatory remarks about present or former employers or companies.
- Don’t over answer questions, or take over the interview.
- Don’t enquire about rates of pay, holidays, etc. These topics should be interviewer initiated so save that for the negotiation if not mentioned.
Watch the body language of the interviewer to gauge continued interest in your responses. Typical indications of lack of interest are signs of distraction such as looking at their watch, doodling, staring round the room. Or they could be displaying repeated actions such as drumming fingers and tapping of toes or perhaps show signs of tiredness like yawning or slouching in the chair.
If you get the impression that the interview is not going well, and that you have already been rejected don’t let your discouragement show. The interviewer may be genuinely interested, but discouraging in order to test your reaction.
Closing the Interview
Show your interest in the role and confirm the next steps with the interviewer. Don’t forget to thank the interviewer for his/her time and consideration of you for the role and leave as quickly and courteously as you can. Don’t indulge in small talk at the end of the interview unless invited to do so……and good luck!
What other interview tips you think we should include here? Do you have a successful interview story or disaster to share?
Making your interview successful (part 1)
So you have an interview for what looks like a great assignment! Now what? You have cleared the first hurdle of selection and now you’ll have to make a personal impression on your potential client at the interview. Most of us find the interview environment intimidating, even the most experienced consultant needs to prepare for each interview.
One of the key points a is showing an understanding of the specific requirements and environment of the opportunity. No organisation or assignment will be the same, so the more prepared you are, the better you will perform on the day and the greater the chances of your success.
Preparation for the Interview
The key to success is to prepare well to show the interviewer you
- Understand the job
- Have researched the client organisation
- Can match the characteristics they are looking for
It is at the interview where you must demonstrate and reinforce the messages documented in your resume, LinkedIn profile (yes they will check this) and your cover letter. Make sure you discuss the interview with the company that has put you forward for the assignment. Find out what they know about the role and any background that could be useful, confirm the exact time and place of the interview, along with the names and title of those who will be interviewing you. This is vital, you must respect and know the interviewer’s position and influence.
Make sure you have all the relevant information about the role, the project, the expectations of the interviewer, and the organisation. You may also like to:
- Do some research on the company on the web.
- Review the CV that was provided to the organisation by the company that has referred you.
You will be expected to know a lot about your previous roles and the projects you’ve worked on. Pay particular attention to how you will describe your most important achievements. “Faking it till you make it” will not work, so be armed.
Be prepared to position the company you are representing with the interviewer if asked. They may want to understand the nature of your relationship with the company that has put you forward.
Think about the question you are likely to be asked and be prepared with answers and supporting examples to those questions.
Common questions asked
- How have you managed conflict in the past?
- Describe what you have done in your career that shows initiative?
- What are your weaknesses and strengths?
- What does teamwork mean to you?
- What style of management gets the best from you?
- What have been your major achievements to date?
Prepare the answers to the questions but remember that the interview is a two-way process. The interviewer will try to determine if you have the skills necessary for the role. You will be expected to ask some questions of your own.
Questions you may ask
- What are your expectations of the role and the deliverables?
- What are the characteristics and style of the team I would be working with?
You must determine through questioning if the role is appropriate for your skills and working style. And finally, dress appropriately for the role and pay attention to all facets of your dress and grooming.
What other areas do you think you could prepare and research for, prior to your next client interview?