Here’s the general request from management: “Interview potential consulting partners and then hire the ‘right’ one for the organization.” Hiring the “wrong” consulting partner is costly and avoidable, so before you conduct your first interview, make sure you and your organization are prepared.
- Understand project goals and costs
- Craft well defined requirements or update existing ones
- Ensure accurate descriptions were sent to consulting candidates
- Reach consensus on required values and culture fit
Preparation will provide clarity about organizational goals and context for conducting interviews. When you think you are ready to interview potential consulting partners, refer to these three successful interviewing strategies and develop appropriate probing questions:
- Ask for two or three self-appraisals relating to accomplishments and testimonials, referencing projects most like your own. For example, you might ask, “Why do you think your last project in Boston was successful?” Do their words match their deeds or do you find some inconsistencies? You want answers to questions that provide you with accurate self-appraisals. Do you notice a tendency toward excessive self-regard that won’t mesh with your company’s culture? Look for character, not just talent. Do they express themselves logically and clearly? Candidates should be able to tie self-appraisals to accomplishments, demonstrating logic, clarity and consistency. Descriptions of different projects should be unique and detailed and the consultant should be able to share why their firm is ideally suited to your project. Already, you should start to understand what results you can expect.
- Ask broad-based questions related to topics they should know intimately. For example, “Describe your last consulting experience and how you managed performance expectations while mitigating risks.” Does the candidate grasp the factors at play? Do they show a tendency to put the client’s needs first? Look for a consulting partner that understands topics and themes that feature often in their areas of expertise. Their prior consulting experiences should help them express important nuances that can help you assess them.
- Ask for complex comparisons to learn more about how they think. For example, “Compare how you solved problems for manufacturers with your projects at service companies” Their perceptions will tend to reveal how they think. Do they cling to aphorisms and talk in empty platitudes or do they speak candidly, humbly and from experience?
If you can increase the likelihood of hiring the “right” consulting partner for your organization, you will severely reduce organizational costs and move faster towards the achievement of goals. Read between the lines, watch for behavioral cues and protect against your own biases as interviewer. The interviewing techniques shared are likely to improve interviewing performance by engaging candidates and encouraging them to reveal more about themselves. If you ask the “right” questions when you interview a potential consulting partner, you’ll be more likely to make the “right” hiring decision.