How to handle the consultant-interview
When working as a freelance consultant, a certain code applies when it comes to the process of getting from being the needle in the haystack to landing the perfect job. An important part of this process is the consultant-interview, which is the consultant’s first opportunity to make a good, personal impression. But how do you best prepare, and how do you handle the actual interview? ProData Consult account manager Malene Juuhl Hjorth gives her assessment of some of the elements you should consider when preparing for your interview.
Familiarize with the organization
Before the interview, it is important to acquire an understanding of the type of organization and project you are dealing with. This way, you will also get an indication of how to make yourself relevant in relation to what the client needs. Therefore, it can be an advantage beforehand to look up who will participate in the interview, and how they relate to the project. It is also advantageous if you have knowledge of relevant problems or initiatives that the organization might have. Besides making it easier for you to navigate through the interview, it also makes you appear prepared, and this will give the client an initially positive impression.
It is also important that you, as a consultant, consider how you appear at the interview. Make sure to check if the organization has a dress code that you should follow when going to the interview. Regardless if there is a dress code or not, it is always important to appear well-dressed.
Right to the point
During the consultant-interview, it is alpha and omega for the client to get a clear sense of the competences that you have, and how you will rise to the challenge. As a consultant, you should, therefore, prepare for the pivotal point of the interview to be hard facts rather than soft issues. The approach to the interview is often matter-of-fact and well-structured, and the client wants to get right to the point. Thus, you should not expect the usual small talk but instead be ready to give an expedient presentation of how you can help the client.
Prepare a strong pitch
Seize the opportunity when it is your turn to speak. The best way to do this is to prepare a pitch, which shortly and precisely emphasizes your relevant experience and competences.
Be prepared to elaborately and substantially tell about previous assignments that you have solved. It is a good idea to base this on assignments that are similar to the one you are interviewing for, so the client can draw parallels between the assignments.
In addition, it is natural that you base your pitch on the client’s outlining of the project. Contribute to the facts that the client gives and use them as a stepping stone to make your pitch as relevant as possible. Besides presenting your assignments, you can advantageously emphasize what problems you have previously run into, and how you handled them. It is always about stressing what experiences you bring to the project.
Be honest and humble
At the actual interview, it is essential for you to make it explicate if your competences are not consistent with the client’s expectations. You should also be humble and show interest towards the client. It is all about listening to what the client says, being expectant, and contribute when you are encouraged to. It is also important that you answer relevantly and stick to the given topic. If you have any clarifying questions, you can profitably ask them at the end of the interview. This way you show the client that you have an interest in the project, and it also gives you an opportunity to identify the client’s setup; what code is it, what platform do they use, etc.
In general, it is about showing that you have familiarized with the client’s organization in advance, and that you know how you can help the organization. If the organization has English as its corporate language, you should be prepared to carry out the interview in English, if necessary. Thus, you should be adaptable and transparent throughout the whole process, and give the client definite, relevant examples of what you can do, and why you are suited for the job and the organization.