When you interview for a job, you might dread the infamous "What are your greatest weaknesses?" question, but the "How do you plan to increase company profits?" question can be even more daunting. You'll likely encounter this type of question if the job is a sales or finance position or requires marketing, advertising or customer relations. Rely on successful previous experiences and provide detailed examples that define your goals and strategies for increasing profitability.
Show Me the Money
Expect the interviewer to ask "How do you plan to increase company profitability?" or "How do you plan to keep the company out of the red?" These questions aren't designed to trip you up, but the hiring manager does want assurance that you will be a strong addition to the team. The interviewer might ask profitability questions if the company is struggling financially, but don't assume that's the reason. Some hiring managers just want to know what methods and strategies you have to offer. Answer with examples of how you maintained a strong customer base, trimmed costs, watched spending and improved efficiency, according to Corporate Financial Expert Manny Skevofilax at Portal CFO Consulting in Baltimore, Maryland.
If you are interviewing for a managerial or supervisory position, the hiring manager might ask "How do you motivate and oversee employees to make sure they are efficient and productive?" or "What strategies do you use to ensure your employees are meeting their sales goals or quotas?" Most companies see the greatest return on their products and services when every employee is pulling her share of the weight. Discuss ways you monitored and double checked timesheets, logged and reported damaged or stolen goods and followed up on customer complaints. Profitability is often gained or lost in the little things.
Moxie Meets Vigor
Some employers want to know if you have the grit to meet marketplace competition when it comes knocking at the door. According to the career services department at Baker College, an interviewer might ask "How has competition positively or negatively affected your workplace accomplishments?" or "How has competition with other markets affected your ability to maintain profitability?" Answer with positive, confident answers, such as "I'm not afraid of competition and think it's a great way to prove we have the best products and services available," or "I welcome competition because it motivates employees to meet deadlines, produce quality goods and provide excellent customer care."
A hiring manager might ask specific profitability questions about the company's products or services. She might ask "How would you address the issue that customers aren't buying our newest products?" or "What would you do to encourage customers to enroll in our purchase and rewards program?" This line of questioning is a good signal that the employer wasn't happy with the previous job holder's performance. This could be your chance to shine. Because there's no way to predict detail-specific interview questions, your best bet is to ensure that you're well-versed and knowledgeable of the industry. Research the company website and company publications so you're familiar with its products and services. You might say "I'd do a thorough analysis of the consumer base to determine if the price is right," or "I'd evaluate the program to determine if it truly meets customer needs."
As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.