Consultants are independent, outside workers who come on to the job for a special assignment and then leave. You face significant competition in the workplace for consulting gigs, so you can expect to undergo some rigorous interviewing processes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the management, technical and scientific consulting industry to increase by 83 percent through 2018. The kinds of answers you give prospective employers in the interview can make or break the amount of work you get.
Prepare Articulate Answers
Analysts need to bring strong communication skills to the job to create reports for their clients that are clear and understandable, easy to read and applicable to the project. You need to start the whole job-hunting process with a strong resume and marketing package for your services and then wow the hiring managers with well-prepared articulate answers. Humming and hawing during an interview just won’t do for an analyst who must be a good communicator.
Stress Past Achievements
Prepare a portfolio of your past achievements for the interview. Bring copies of reports, spreadsheets, videos or campaigns that you created or helped with in your previous jobs. Highlight those jobs that were within the same industry as the company where you’re interviewing. For example, if you consulted on a project as a management analyst for a big transportation company, you don’t want to bring those spreadsheets to a restaurant that needs a management consultant to shore up revenues.
Let them See Your Personality
Analyst consultants work closely with the management and staff of a company who will expect to spend considerable time with you as you work through the project. They don’t want to spend hours with a dour, ill-humored analyst or a nervous Nellie. So put on your best personality and show energy and enthusiasm when answering interview questions. Smile at the interviewers and engage them in conversations about their company. Use hand gestures and be animated without going over the top, to illustrate what a nice, friendly gal you are.
Get Ready for the Hard Questions
Expect to get tough questions that require you to talk about conflict resolution, stress and juggling multiple assignments. Employers may expect you to have multiple clients and may ask how you divide your time and attention. Expect to be asked about how you handle conflict within a team or how you handle difficult employees who may even resent your presence. Prepare stories about previous situations where you smoothed over a conflict that resulted in a close working relationship and a positive project ending. Give examples of how you worked on a large project and managed to complete two other projects simultaneously because of the great team you employed, or how you rely on your exceptional organization skills to give all your clients your utmost attention.
Many interviewers like to break the ice with the ubiquitous question to tell them about yourself. Use this opportunity to answer with a little personal information that could be relevant to the positions, such as how long you’ve been a consultant and what you like most about the work. Talk about how you always wanted to help people, or how you enjoy a challenge, whichever is relevant. Practice this answer in front of a mirror or with friends so that it doesn’t sound stiff and rehearsed.
When answering professional questions, make sure you know your own resume intimately. According to Management Consulted, giving interviewers information that contradicts your resume facts can be the kiss of death for a consultant on an interview. Answer professional questions with specific details about previous projects and explain the steps you took to complete the job so interviewers can get a feel for your thinking processes. End answers with specific information about the results of the project and benefits for the client.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."