I read through a couple of blog posts in this forum, and my curiosity was piqued. So I read some more…
All in all, there’s some really nice and insightful remarks here about choosing direction, preparing yourself, etc. etc. There’s a lot of stuff written to help the reader become a good consultant. However, my grouse is that more than 80% of the interviews I’ve taken in the last more than 6 years have turned out to be over-estimations in their own assessment. So, I thought of sharing some pretty fundamental things to take care of while giving an interview. From an interviewer’s perspective, these things matter equally as compared to your technical skills.
- Be punctual – remember I don’t have a way of assessing your eagerness or sincerity, but if you’re late to arrive for your interview, I’ve perhaps already made up my mind.
- Read your resume – I can’t remember the number of times I’ve asked a question to a candidate, on something they’ve mentioned on their CV, only to get the polite reply that they were either only involved but not hands-on with that feature, or some have even gone ahead and outright said they didn’t remember putting it there.
- Sound confident, but don’t bluff – The line between confidence and over-confidence is very thin, and often overlooked by anxious candidates. I can understand the anxiety in today’s uncertain world, but I don’t want to have to work with someone who is so full of themselves that they don’t care about the rest of us. Confidence comes in your responses – be clear, and come to the point at once. Remember – I have only a limited time to test your knowledge and skills, and the more time you take on one thing, the less time we’ll have to talk about other items. It is painfully obvious when the candidate doesn’t have the answer that I’m looking for and is only trying to buy time.
- Be concise & precise – Do not ramble. I’ve had numerous instances where when I ask about, say, feature A, I am given a response that ranges from feature B, to personal experiences with feature C, to some customer interaction on feature D.. in short, anything but feature A. If you know the answer to the question – say it up-front; otherwise, say you are not sure or are unable to recollect at that time. Everyone can forget, and I always give leeway to candidates to forget some things in an interview – as long as it doesn’t become a repetitive rant.
- Get your fundamentals clear – Often, I find candidates lacking in their clarity of concepts like Organizational Units design, concept of Client, what is Partner Function in the real world, what is Controlling Area in the real world, how to conduct a Blueprinting Workshop during a a classic ASAP-driven program, etc. You need to have your basics clear – it is as simple as that. Be a Thinking Consultant, before trying to be a world-class, strategically critical consultant…
Prepare well – many notes in this forum are about how you can prepare yourself as a consultant. I must repeat that same message as my parting shot. You can never prepare enough for an interview as an SAP consultant. There’s a post I read about a JD being only a guideline, and I couldn’t agree more. However, that usually gives the interviewer as much liberty as it does the candidate. The guiding principles can be stretched in any direction. Be prepared to present yourself as a well-rounded and thorough consultant. Remember, the fact that there are interviews being held implies that the company under consideration needs you – you just have to convince them to stop interviewing with you. They too don’t have time to do many interviews, and all interviewers want to be convinced that this candidate is going to be the last.
For now, at least.