The Civil Service has its own distinctive interview style and process (which we have written about previously). What the Civil Service also has is a large bank of repeated questions which they like to use.
If like me you are used to being the interviewer within the Civil Service then this predictable and repeated use of the question bank can get tiresome.
But it is great news for those of you who are applying for roles within the Civil Service.
Because repeated questions mean that you can prepare your answers in advance!
And that’s what we are going to look at today. In this post we are going to share a huge question bank that the Civil Service uses when interviewing candidates.
These questions will be broken down into the 9 behaviour based questions that can be asked and rounded off with a look at the type of strength based questions that they might ask.
Let’s get to it.
- 1 Behaviour Based Interview Questions
- 1.1 Communicating And Influencing Interview Questions
- 1.2 Deliver At Pace Interview Questions
- 1.3 Developing Self And Others Interview Questions
- 1.4 Leadership Interview Questions
- 1.5 Making Effective Decisions Interview Questions
- 1.6 Managing A Quality Service Interview Questions
- 1.7 Seeing The Big Picture Interview Questions
- 1.8 Working Together Interview Questions
- 1.9 Changing And Improving Interview Questions
- 2 Strength Based Interview Questions
Behaviour Based Interview Questions
Behaviours are the actions and activities that people do which result in effective performance in a job. The Civil Service has defined a set of behaviours that, when demonstrated, are associated with job success. Civil Service Behaviours are specific to the grade level of the job role. It is important to remember that recruiting managers will choose a selection of behaviours which are best suited to the specific job role. You will not be asked to demonstrate all Civil Service Behaviours for one role. The examples of the behaviours are designed to give an overview of what is expected of individuals at each level. There is no expectation that all individuals will need to demonstrate every part of each example to be successful.
You will be told prior to your assessment (either in the application, job spec or by the recruitment team) which behaviours are being measured. There are 9 key behaviours that the Civil Service assess against. Let’s take a look at each in turn and see what you might be asked:
Communicating And Influencing Interview Questions
Tell me about a time when you needed to convince a stakeholder that your method was the correct one?
“We had two options for a supplier; supplier A who we had used before and supplier B who we had not used but who were cheaper. As my target was to reduce costs for our department I thought that we should go with supplier B. I approached my other colleagues to understand more about their concerns with supplier B. Learning that the principal worry was that supplier B was an unknown quantity whereas supplier A we knew the quality to expect, I quickly came up with a solution to quell any worries. I approached supplier B and negotiated for them to provide sample products and also to agree to a trial/probationary contract that could be ended fairly easily should the quality not be up to scratch. Once I had this proposal in hand I went back to my colleagues who were now in agreement that supplier B was the correct option for the company.
With all colleagues in agreement we pitched the idea to the director together, ultimately we went with supplier B and enjoyed a high quality product for a lower price”
Tell me about a time when you needed to communicate bad news to a colleague or stakeholder?
“I believe that bad news is best delivered in person and discretely, where it is responsible to do so. I don’t particularly relish giving bad news (I suppose not many do) so I often try to resolve the situation in advance so the bad news never needs to be given.
Obviously though that isn’t possible all of the time. For example in a previous role I managed a team of complaint handlers when word came down from senior management that we were offshoring a large part of our process and this meant layoffs of nearly 40% of the department.
I tried to go to bat for my team and show how our quality and production scores were the highest around and unlikely to be replicated using our offshore colleagues, but the decision had been made and was purely cost driven.
It was my job to determine which members of my team would be let go and which would stay.
We had all joined the department together on the same contract so there was no element of seniority that needed to be accounted for. Instead I devised a balanced scorecard type of approach, ranking each team member against the department’s relevant KPIs (quality, production, skills).
Once I had my list I booked one-on-ones with all of my team members as close together as possible, starting with the colleagues who would be staying. With the colleagues who were being let go I got straight to the point and told them the company would be terminating their contract. I allowed them to ask any questions they wanted and informed them that I would be around for any help they needed in looking for a new role.
During the meetings 2 of the colleagues I wanted to keep informed me that they were planning to leave soon anyway and suggested that they would leave now instead freeing up room for other colleagues to stay.
In the end I had to tell 6 members of my team that they were being let go. They were all understanding of the situation and were grateful that I offered to help them look for new roles.
Going forward if I were to be in the same position I would have gone to the meetings with some open positions that I would recommend the colleagues apply for”
Describe a time when you communicated effectively in a difficult situation?
“I believe that proper planning and training is the most effective way to get out of most difficult situations. Sure you cannot plan for everything but if you prepare as best you can you will be happy to fall back on that preparedness when difficult situations arise.
Recently while working on a major software deployment at my current employer I was tasked with being the ‘Go-live Day Coordinator’. This meant that I had to communicate with the IT team, the business team and senior stakeholders all throughout the deployment. We took the servers down for 4 hours to deploy and 2 hours to test before release.
During these 6 hours it was my job to receive status updates from the IT teams and to facilitate the communication between IT areas. I also needed to communicate with the business team doing the testing so that any issues were raised through the IT team for fixing and then back for retesting. All of this had to be done without delay otherwise we would not meet our 6 hour target. On top of this it was expected I provide hourly updates to senior management.
In order to prepare for this I needed to establish a communication strategy. We use Teams within the organisation so I created a number of new Team groups so that information could flow through. I also established a backup WhatsApp group for the IT team and the Testing team – this came in handy when all of our systems went down partway through the activity!
Even though the whole 6 hours felt like one long continuous hectic process we were never hindered by a lack of communication. All information was provided as and when it was needed thanks to the effective planning that took place earlier. At the end the deployment was completed successfully and on time.
When someone is trying to influence you to make a decision, what do you look for in their communication strategy?
Deliver At Pace Interview Questions
Tell me about a time when you were late delivering a piece of work?
“I was given the task of producing a SEO report for a very important potential client. This was on top of my regular workload but I was happy to pick it up as the client would bring a lot of business to our firm if we were able to secure the contract.
During the week that I had to complete the report a number of unforeseen events happened; my work laptop died, the office I worked in flooded and someone stole my car. It really was one of those weeks!
I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to meet the deadline so I looked at the piece of work that I had been given and the reasons why the firm wanted it. From my conversation with the firm I knew they were more interested in the On-site critiques rather than any Off-site SEO analysis.
So I focused my efforts so that I was working only on the On-site portion of the report. I communicated this with the client and with my colleagues. Everyone seemed largely happy with this and I delivered the report in 2 stages, the first at the agreed upon date and the full report just 2 business days later.
Luckily this delay did not upset the clients and we did bring them onboard. After this fiasco I petitioned the firm to provision VPN access on personal devices (with the relevant security software added) so that if this confluence of events were to repeat I would suffer no downtime…except for the time spent wondering where my car was.”
Tell me about a project that failed to deliver? What lessons did you learn from this?
“Obviously I don’t like to see my projects fail. I always try to plan for enough scenarios and build in enough contingencies to my projects that I am ready for anything. But some times things change and what was going ok yesterday might not be today, so I also believe it’s best not to get too attached to projects and realise when it is the correct move – for the business – to wind the project down.
There was one occasion in early 2020 where a project was facing massive delays. We were attempting to offshore one of our processes and the next step in the project was to send a few trainers overseas to initiate the training sessions. Unfortunately, days before we were due to fly out all flights were cancelled indefinitely (COVID-19)
It was now my job to try to salvage what we could. Our fallback plan was to conduct training sessions via Teams. This was going well until COVID-19 got in our way again. The overseas offices were closed by the government (soon after our own offices would close).
Our team all had the ability to work from home however the offshore colleagues did not.
We started to perform analysis on what it would take our end to get all of the required colleagues trained and working from home. It readily became apparent that the initial costs of deploying such a solution would be higher than the expected benefits over the coming years.
As a result I proposed to senior management that we terminate the project as it no longer made commercial sense. My proposal was accepted and the project was halted and the colleagues were assigned to other projects.
All was not lost however as we were able to repurpose the training materials to be used for our onshore colleagues which saw a reduction in the time spent in attaining competency.“
Have you ever had to work to an extremely tight deadline? How did you navigate that?
“I don’t think anyone likes deadlines, I know I don’t. But I do appreciate their importance in the workplace in how having a deadline provides structure to how we work.
As a Project Manager deadlines are kind of my thing. Deadlines, Cost and Quality are my primary motivators. I like to ensure that all my projects are properly planned so that there is no stress about the deadlines.
However that is obviously not always possible. There was a recent project that I was handed very last minute. The previous project manager had abruptly left the business and had seemingly let the project run without direction for a number of months prior to this.
I was given control of the project and told the deadline was just 2 months from now. I immediately knew this was not possible given the current status. But I persevered.
First thing I did was re-validate all of the assumptions. I found out that the deadline was not a fixed deadline of 2 months but was told under no uncertain terms could it extend past 3 months. That bought us some respite but not enough.
Next steps was to re-examine the requirements. This was a new product launch and the initial project design was to go live with the full product spec on Day 1. I took this back to the project sponsor and drilled down to which requirements were critical for Day 1 launch and which requirements could be delayed to a subsequent ‘Phase 2’ launch.
With all of this done I had a plan that would get us there. I just needed a motivated project team. I again linked in with the project sponsor for his support in both bringing in new team members (who I had a close working relationship with) and to re-affirm to the remaining project members and all stakeholders the importance of this project and it’s deadline
This seemed to be the spur that everyone needed as we were off to the races so to speak. The project was delivered on time and to the required quality with the remaining non-critical features being added to a month after. I also raised with the PMO team that this situation could have been avoided had there been a requirement on the previous project manager to provide status updated into the project sponsor in a more formal setting.“
Developing Self And Others Interview Questions
Tell me about a new skill or qualification you have learned over the last 6 months?
“In my current role I use Microsoft Projects extensively for scheduling tasks when working with certain clients. A few months ago I learned that one of our newer clients used Primavera as their preferred PM tool.
Even though the new firm were content that we continue to use Microsoft Projects I thought it would be best to upskill myself on Primavera so that I at least could understand what the client was used to versus what we would be providing.
I started by following some courses on LinkedIn and eventually I asked my employer if they would support me in attaining the certification – which they did.
I passed the qualification on the first go and was able to successfully amend our MS Project reports so that they more closely resembled what the client was used to”
What new skills do you hope to learn over the next 6 months?
“I am always looking to learn new things. I believe that once we stop learning we stop growing, both as individuals and as a business. Sooner or later someone will come along and overtake us. That’s why I always keep my ear to ground, as it were, and make sure I am always up to date with all the latest advancements in my area.
Within the change and project space I can see the shift to Agile methodologies growing even further and reaching into industries and firms that would previous move at glacial speed using Waterfall projects. My previous role at a Top 4 Bank showed me that even in a traditionally cautious moving firm they were slowly adopting to more agile mindsets, that is where I was working when I studied for, and attained, my PRINCE2 Agile qualification.
For me in the next 6 months I wish to expand my knowledge further from this qualification and undertake learning for the Certified Scrum Product Owner qualification. While I have been a Product Owner in my previous role I believe formal training will allow me to further develop my understanding of the role.
I think by learning more about the Product Owner position I will be able to further enhance this organisation’s release strategy and hopefully open up further progression opportunities for myself within the firm when the time comes (assuming I get the role of course!).
After Product Owner I think I will want to get further acquainted with Programme and Portfolio management skills, but let’s just take it 6 months at a time for now.
Describe a situation when you were responsible for other team members learning a new skill?
“I’m a big believer in learning new things. I’m the person on the team who is always first in line whenever new training sessions are available for the team. I just think that the more you know the better you can produce.
There was one occasion where a training seminar was held for a new software that had been introduced within our department. The core functionality of the software was the same as what we used already so we were told that the seminar was voluntary.
I of course went along. And while a lot of the features were the same – as was expected – there was some new advanced functions that I thought could be great for our team.
I spoke to the training lead after the seminar and he sent me across some documentation and guidance on the new functionality. I studied through all the documents and realised that if our team was trained on this new reporting methodology that we could save quite a bit of time each week.
I positioned this to my manager who was delighted with the idea. And the next week I trained all of my team in this new skill. Some were reluctant at first because there was an element of coding involved – we needed to use SQL queries for the reports, but once they got the hang of it they were amazed at how much could be done.
The results were immediate. Our team was getting work done in twice the time. Time spent manually pulling reports was no longer. Some of the team went even further and started to develop more and more complex reports that would never have been possible without knowing this new skill.“
Leadership Interview Questions
How do you handle disagreements within your team?
“As Product Manager at X company it was my responsibility to prioritise the backlog of tasks. The way things worked in our organisation was that any stakeholder could raise an item to add to the backlog, then as a team we would discuss in which order it would be best that they were worked and deployed.
Ultimately however the final decision on priority lay with myself.
As you can imagine with so many different areas of the business raises items, each with their own agendas and goals the backlog meetings would often end with a lot of disagreement
One such occasion we had two business areas both asking us to deploy a change to our product and both were asking for the change to be deployed in the next sprint. Unfortunately we only had the dev resource to implement the one change in this cycle.
The backlog call became heated between the two representing colleagues and I was forced to cut the meeting short to let cooler heads prevail.
After the meeting I sat with both colleagues to further understand the urgency behind both changes. Asking them to describe the benefits of the change and also the drawbacks of waiting until the next cycle.
Once I had this information in hand it was clear to me which change would be most beneficial to the business. I invited both colleagues into a meeting where I had compiled the information into a presentation deck with a few charts showing the resources available within the product team and the relative benefits of each change.
Explaining it this way allowed both colleagues to fully appreciate the restrictions that were on my team and also the comparative benefits of each change.
Both colleagues left the meeting happy with the outcome and both changes were pushed into production in the next 2 sprints”
Have you ever needed to reprimand a team member for poor performance?
“Yes on a number of occasions. My style of management is such that I believe that if you ensure your employees have all of the required training and all the necessary resources at their disposal that you can take a step back and they will flourish on their own. I do not believe in overly micromanaging my team. I have an open door policy and I have regular catchups with my team members and I trust that they will get the job done.
By and large this works pretty well in my current role. However you do sometimes get the occasional team member who requires more supervision than others.
One such person was new to my team and soon after their training and introductory period finished their productivity dropped week by week. At the start the colleague seemed to be at the same level as some of the more experienced members of the team but over time his output dropped until he was comfortably the worst performer all around.
I spent the next week or so monitoring this colleague more closely to understand where any issues were arising. I noticed that he was spending large amounts of time being unproductive and not completing tasks.
I raised this with him during our weekly one-on-one and he admitted how he didn’t feel much motivation to complete more work and found it difficult stay focused when there seemed to just be more work to come.
I took a few actions on the back of this meeting, all of which I cleared with my management team ahead of time.
I put the colleague on an action plan that monitored his output on a daily and weekly basis. This would be reviewed by myself along with the colleague and with our director. It was stressed to the colleague that if there were no changes after a month that we would be terminating his position with the company.
Also as a show of transparency and in an attempt at motivation by target setting we started releasing productivity reports for the whole team so they know how each team member is performing.
The action plan proved to be the motivator that was required for the ‘difficult employee’ as soon after we started the action plans his output was nearing the top of the team charts. The team productivity reports also became a big success and saw improvements across the whole team. Senior management were pleased and have taken the action to talk about a bonus structure to go along with the performance reports which is still in the pipeline.”
Tell me about a time when you had to convince others to put in ‘the hard work’?
“I always feel that when you have a good team working for you that often you don’t need to convince anyone to get the job done, that’s why I believe in a strong recruitment policy of only employing the best and maintaining high standards within the organisation.
Of course there will always be times when a little more motivation is needed. One such occasion happened recently. One of our most valued customers asked if we could provide delivery on one of our products a month earlier than originally scoped.
The organisation agreed to ‘try our best’ when it came to this request but made the customer aware of the challenges of this new date.
The challenge was given to me and my team to try and achieve this new date. Ensuring open communication with the team is important to me so the first thing I did was meet with my team to ensure that they all knew of the new challenge.
We looked at the obstacles that lay in the team’s way and I removed them where practical.
To show the team that we really appreciated the effort they were putting in we made each Friday pizza day paid for by the organisation and told each team member that they would each receive a paid day off once the product was delivered (regardless of whether the new deadline was met or not).
The team were extremely motivated by this and with nothing stopping them we managed to deliver the customer their product within the new timeframes. The customer was thrilled with the service we provided and actually sent across a week’s supply of office fruit as thanks for helping them turn things around under short notice.”
Making Effective Decisions Interview Questions
Tell me about a time when you have had to make a decision using only limited information?
“When I worked as a store manager for X I was there on Day 1 of a new store opening and it was my job to make the staff schedule.
Now if you’ve ever been responsible for creating the shift rota you know that the number of colleagues you need is based on forecasts. Forecasts that are largely driven from past data.
But this was a new store so I needed to decide how many staff we should have in without knowing how many staff we were going to need!
I had to think about things tactically. While it would not be ideal to have too many staff in it would be worse if we had too few; so any judgements I were to make would have to err on the side of over staffing.
Through my experience I knew how many staff members were needed to manage a store when empty and when at peak. Now I just needed to make an informed estimate of how many customers to expect.
I reached out to similar sized stores in the organisation and started to speak to the store owners within the area to get an idea of what to face.
Eventually using the information I had gathered I completed the schedule. Day of opening rolled around and luckily we had enough staff to motor through, toward the end of the shift we probably had too many colleagues on the shop floor but that just meant we were able to provide even better customer service. Gotta make a great first impression after all!
After things had settled down I reported to my senior management team that in the future it would be wise to provide the store manager with the analysis that was used when deciding to open the store in this location as it would have had a lot of the necessary information for me to make my decision”
Tell Me About A Time Someone Challenged Your Decision
“Whenever I make a decision in work (or anywhere for that matter!) I ensure that I have looked at all the possible options and weighed the pros / cons accordingly to make sure my decision is the most effective one for the organisation as a whole.
That is why I enjoy when others question or challenge my decisions, as it allows me to hear differing opinions and improves my decision making abilities for the next time.
One such occasion occurred recently. I was put in charge of choosing a supplier for a part we needed on a new product range. We had taken proffers from 4 firms and it was my job to decide who to go with.
Using all of the information I could gather I made my choice, but before I rubberstamped my decision I invited some of the key stakeholders to a meeting to talk things over.
It was at this meeting that my preferred choice was challenged. The colleague raised good points in favour of one of the other suppliers, namely that we have used this supplier before so were already familiar with how they operated and would not need to create new relationships.
I agreed with my colleague and politely told them that I had considered that information when making my decision. I explained that the supplier I had chosen was cheaper than the supplier we have a relationship with. I also showed how this new supplier had recently hired a number of key personnel from our usual supplier meaning that we would be liaising with people we already had existing relationships with. Granted we would still need to create new accounts for the new supplier but for the cost savings I believed it was well worth it.
Once I mentioned this the colleague was immediately relieved, her main cause of concern was with dealing with new suppliers as our products were highly specialised and it often took a while for suppliers to get used to our requirements.
After the meeting I signed the contracts for the new supplier and we have received a number of shipments from them without incident.
Tell me about a time when your organisation didn’t go with the decision you made? Did you agree with their ultimate decision and What did you learn from this experience?
“When I make a decision I always make sure that I have evaluated each and every option and take a rational approach to choose the optimal one based on the data available. I would say it is not often that my decisions are questions or overruled but when they are I am always appreciative of the feedback provided and, while I try to advocate my position further, if the decision has been made I accept that and see what lessons I can learn for the future.
On one such occasion I had been asked to produce a list of employees who would be suitable for a new task force the organisation was deploying. This would be a great career move for all of the potential members so there was a lot of interest from within the department.
I set about immediately by collating all of the information about the candidates and matching this against a list of required and desirable qualities for task force members. Any colleague that did not have the required qualities was ruled out and then the rest of the candidates were ranked according to how many desirable qualities they showed.
When I presented this list to my director he overruled a number of the choices I had made. I listened to his reasoning for each of the changes and largely agreed (for example 2 of the candidates had disciplinary actions on their file that I did not have access to see).
There was one change that I did not agree with. The director was requesting that a colleague be brought onto the task force when their position in my ranking meant that he would be jumping ahead of 3 other better qualified candidates. The reasoning behind the decision was clear in that the candidate in question was a relative of a senior director elsewhere in the organisation.
I advocated strongly against this change informing my director that doing so would be a case of nepotism that is highly discouraged in our organisation and would look poorly upon myself, the director and might even tarnish the reputation of the newly formed taskforce. Once it was laid out in front of him like that the director acquiesced and we went ahead with the original list of colleagues with the 2 discipline cases swapped out.
How do you help members of your team make effective decisions by themselves?
Managing A Quality Service Interview Questions
How do you respond to customer feedback, both positive and negative?
“I love receiving feedback from customers. That’s why in all of our after-sale communications there is a big link asking customers for their feedback. I believe that understanding how a customer feels about our business and process is fundamental to our growth.
When I receive feedback the first thing that I do is thank the customer, regardless of whether the feedback is good or bad. If the feedback is negative I quickly look to rectify the issue and fix the underlying problem, if the feedback is positive I share it with my team to provide encouragement to continue the good work
For example, quite recently we were tasked to provide a market research report for a new client. When we issued the report we received both good and bad feedback.
The client was more than pleased with the work and output from our focus groups and stressed how they thought we went above and beyond in this regard. Upon hearing this I sent the feedback to our Senior Management team to highlight how one of my colleagues who led the session could enhance our focus group processes so that the same level of service can be deployed to all of our clients.
On the other hand the client was displeased with how long the report took to produce and be issued. I immediately apologised to the client and assured them that in the future we will ensure they are given a more robust timeline so they know exactly when to expect our reports. I also discussed with our management team how we could potentially deliver our reports in stages as some areas of the report take longer to complete than others. This was discussed and agreed by the execs and is now part of our offerings to each client”
Tell Me About A Time When You Went Above And Beyond For A Customer
“I was always taught, as a child, that if a job is worth doing it is worth doing well, and I fully believe that still today, as an adult. I also believe that if you exceed a customer’s expectations by going above and beyond then that customer is many more times likely to revisit your business again down the line.
This is a philosophy I have taken with me to all my previous roles and will take with me to any future roles.
One time I remember going above and beyond was when I was working the Front Desk at my previous employer. Our hotel had a restaurant attached that was popular with guests and non-guests alike.
We had a customer at the restaurant try to book a same night stay at our hotel. Unfortunately for this customer though this was a busy weekend for the hotel and we were fully booked.
Upon learning that the customer was from way out of town and was quite stuck I took it upon myself to call around the other hotels in the area and find him a last minute room. It took about 20 minutes but I managed to find him a place not too far away and ordered him a taxi.
I have seen this customer numerous times since and he has told me that every time he stays in the city for work he now uses our hotel because of how much I helped him out that night.
Because I went above and beyond our hotel managed to turn someone from a restaurant customer to a frequent stayer.”
Tell me about a time when a customer expressed displeasure in the quality of work they received. How did you handle this and what was the outcome?
“I believe that good customer service is key to the long term success of any business, keep customers happy and they will come back. That is why whenever a customer expresses displeasure in our service I immediately jump at the chance to make things right.
There was one occasion back when I was working at [redacted] flooring company. We had recently taken up a contract with a national chain to re-fit the flooring in all of their stores nationwide – so it was a really big customer for us. During one of the project update calls one of the store managers expressed concern regarding one of the floor fitters we had on site. The number of hours he was supposed to be on site did not tally with actual hours he was on site and the manager had concerns this would impact the quality of the work completed.My primary responsibility for this project was to recruit and direct the sub-contractors in each of the areas that our customer had stores, so the responsibility for sorting this fell directly to me.
I immediately took action and confirmed that the manager was correct that the fitter was in fact shaving hours. I then enlisted the help of one of our most experienced and longest servicing fitters. We both travelled to the store in question to inspect the quality of the floor that was being worked on. While a serviceable job had been made on the floor it was not to the high standard that was expected from our organisation.The floor fitter was let go and we brought in an experienced outfit to re-do the floor to the correct standards. In order to still make our deadlines we paid extra for this new outfit to work evenings and nights – extra costs were taken out of our end not the customers.In the end the customer was extremely pleased with how we handled the issue and how quickly we acted to correct the problem. Once we finished the refitting of all the stores the firm actually picked up a bigger contract from the customer’s parent company.“Check out our full post on how to answer this question
How do you identify customer needs when the customer is unsure on what it is they require?
Have you ever had to motivate a team member or colleague to increase the quality of their work? How did you go about this?
Seeing The Big Picture Interview Questions
How does your current (or previous) role fit into the organisation’s wider goals?
“My company specialises in making bespoke furniture for business and domestic properties.
My primary role is as a domestic designer, meaning that I work with the customer to create their dream home and relay the proposals to the build team.
Even though I am not a sales person, I am the person who maintains contact with the customer the longest. I therefore understand and appreciate how my interactions with the customer leave a lasting impression and directly impacts how likely the customer is to recommend our company to others.
This is extremely important as referrals accounts for over 60% of our domestic clients and while domestic revenue falls behind business I know that it is one of the owner’s goals to increase our domestic market share.
Trying to increase customer satisfaction (and therefore chance of referral) I began looking at the customer journey and trying to improve it.
I realised that customers did not like having to deal with multiple people. In our old workflow the customer would have to deal with the sales person, the designer (me), the build team, the delivery team and the after sales support team.
I proposed – and gained approval – to modify this so that the designer (me) would be the sole contact point from the design phase all the way through to post sales. This meant the customer would only speak to 2 departments which most customers preferred.
There was also a side benefit realised. Because I was interacting with the other teams on the customers behalf errors dropped significantly as I fully understood the customer’s vision and could explain that to the teams.
Overall this initiative was a great success. Our customer satisfaction scores increased across the board, complaints dropped significantly and we saw an increase in referrals. All of these things directly helped the organisation with its sales goals and to get closer to its target market share.”
How do you ensure that you have considered all stakeholder needs when undertaking a new initiative?
“I think getting input from stakeholders is crucial when undertaking any new initiatives. As a project manager I am often asked to lead projects in areas that I have no experience, and even if I am leading a project where I know the subject matter well it is always good to get a diverse range of thoughts on the project and its deliverables. After all ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’.
That’s why whenever I start a new project I complete a full stakeholder analysis. This begins with a deep dive session to identify everyone that will be impacted by the project, both during delivery and with the end result.
The next step is to produce a key stakeholder list. For example in a recent project I managed we had deduced that the finance department would be stakeholders, but it would have been irresponsible to include every member of the department in our communications so we consulted with the Finance Chief and assigned one key stakeholder for the department (and one backup). We did the same or similar for all the stakeholders previously identified. If we came to a stakeholder group that we couldn’t feasibly include then we assigned an advocate. In the same project our PMO analyst would act as a representative for the customer (as she actually was a customer!).
Once I have finalised this list of key stakeholders I formalise everything by creating a RACI matrix and a communication strategy. This way we have all of the stakeholders listed, their responsibilities toward the project and how/when they will be contacted with updates. This is approved by each stakeholder.
Overall when these steps have been followed correctly I have never had a complaint from a stakeholder to say that they felt their needs were not being met.
Tell me about a time when a project you were working on had an impact on the way another area went about their work?
“Before I begin work on any project I always do a full stakeholder analysis to learn who else – both in the organisation and outside – will be impacted by our project. I feel it is best to do this before any work begins so that we can solicit advice and understand the implications of the impacts before we formalize any project plans.
In a recent project our aim was to automate one of the manual processes within the operations team. As this was a team that received work from another team and also provided work to another team I knew going in that I would need to coordinate my project with other departments.
The first step I took was to lay out the end-to-end process both now and in the target model. I then reached out to all the impacted areas to explain to them our project and how it would impact them.
For the team that received work from our process there would be minimal changes, the automated process would produce the exact same output files the team would just be receiving them via a different source going forward.
For the team that provided work to our process we needed to co-ordinate a change to their process so that the automated process received the correct input files. This change was brought in scope of our project and the relevant department head was provided regular project updates as per the communication strategy.
In the end we deployed our automation process successfully with no up or downstream impacts on the date of go-live. The area that was fed output from our process actually used the lessons learned from our project to develop a very similar automation process a few months later, which proves that bringing them ‘in the loop’ was beneficial in more ways than one.“
Working Together Interview Questions
Tell me about a time you worked well as part of a team.
“I love working in a team, I find the collaboration and task specialisation that group working offers allows for higher quality and more efficient outputs – than what would happen working solo.
In a previous role I actually initiated a shared team approach to our process. At the time the department I was working in was responsible for handling customer complaints for a large retail bank.
The process that we followed had 3 main phases; reviewing the complaint, calculating moneys owed in redress and production/mailing of the payment. Each member of the team would be assigned one case and would work the case through each phase to the end. We were expected to work 2 cases a day which meant 50 cases a day for the department.
I had a knack for the calculation aspect of the work and was able to breeze through them quicker than anyone else in the team. I noticed that other colleagues would struggle with the calculations not only with how long it took them but with the overall quality.
I suggested to my manager that we break the process down and allocate people based on their strengths. I took over calculations for the department while other colleagues were put on review and payments.
Using this team approach to the task we quickly started to hit 80 cases a day and even hit 100 cases a few times, a feat that I attribute to the team work we showed”
Tell me about a time when there was a conflict within the team you were working on, how did you handle the conflict in order to get the job done?
“Honestly, I hate conflict. I suppose everyone does really now I think about it. But because I hate conflict I always try to keep one step ahead of it by being aware of those around me and what they are working on and what their targets are, this way I have been able to resolve many issues before they even come up.
Obviously that is not possible all of the time, one such occasion was when our departmental budget was cut at the very last minute causing quite the stir with all of the management.
I was tasked with revising our costs based on the new allocation we would receive. This meant that certain areas would need to reduce (or eliminate) their funding. The conflict started almost immediately as each manager wanted to keep his or her own allocation and were convinced that their area was special and needed the full allocation as previously sought.
The first thing I did was meet with each manager individually to understand exactly what the impacts of cutting their budget would be, and ask them if they knew of any area that could be cut without impacting our operational effectiveness.
Once I collated all of the feedback I found that there were a number of items that could be cut that a majority of the management team were in agreement on.
My final budget proposal was to remove these non-essential items and for each area to absorb the remaining cuts equally according to size.
Obviously no-one was happy with receiving less funding but everyone was content with how the decision process had played out and there was no more inter-departmental squabbling about who should get what, so overall a positive result out of a negative situation.”
Describe a situation when you were responsible for bringing people together to work on a project or piece of work?
“As a project manager I often have to deal with people from various areas of the business. At the start of every project I feel that it is important to have a range of differing expertises within the project team as I believe this produces a better environment for the fostering of ideas and eventually a better run project.There was a project in my organisation recently which was established to deliver a new finance tool that would seek to automate some of the current manual functions being performed by the business.I was asked to be the project manager on this project. In my first meeting with the project sponsor I advised that I would need to establish a cross-functional team to act as the project team.The first step I took was to identify who I needed, I did this by examining the project scope and determining what expertises would be required and matching this to the expertises available within the organisation. I quickly realised that we were missing crucial team members so sought approval to being in vendors to fill the gap.Once I had established all of my key players I produced a roles and responsibilities report so that all team members were aware of what was required by them, when it was required and who they could lean on for support. I held daily stand-up meetings with the whole team so that any issues could be raised quickly and be resolved then and there. These meetings proved very useful in facilitating conversations between the various different business groups.In the end the project was delivered successfully and the new automation tool reduced the process time by around 75% in the 3 months post-launch, a success I attribute in no small part to the smooth working of the team.Check out our full post on how to answer this question
How would you deal with a senior member of staff who wants a junior colleague to shadow you, when you know that doing so will slow down your work?
Changing And Improving Interview Questions
Tell me about a time you improved a process
“I am a big fan of continuous improvement. I am always looking for ways to improve my skills and to make the people and processes around me better and more efficient. I wouldn’t go as far as saying it is my passion but something I very much enjoy doing is automating repetitive functions.
One such occasion was in a previous role where I was working in the accounts department of a flooring company. This firm employed numerous contractors across the country who would be submitting expense reports and invoices regularly.
My job was to receive these emails and transpose the data into our accounting software in order for payment to be made.
As I was interested in automation I knew that a lot of repetitive type data entry tasks could be automated. But I wasn’t sure how. So before I approached my managers with my idea I did some research into various solutions.
Once I found how it could be done I pitched the idea to my managers who were totally on board. We hired an IT contractor who automated the entire process within a week.
The end result was instead of spending 20 hours a week on expense reports and invoices I spent just the 1 hour doing quality checks of the tool, leaving me an additional 19 hours a week to spend on other value adding tasks for the firm”
Tell me about a time when you have challenged the usual way of doing things
“I am always looking for ways to improve, be it my own development or trying to enhance the work in the office I believe that we all need to continually evolve else we will be overtaken by others.
On one such occasion I was assigned to oversee a process that was somewhat new to me. I took a short while to ensure I fully understood the end to end process and when I did I started to identify areas that could be improved.
My first ‘enhancement’ was also the most difficult to push across the line. In this organisation we had a number of subcontractors. These subbies would complete invoices on a word document and then email these across to the office staff who would then manually type the invoices into excel where another user would then combine them into other reports.
Coming from an automation background I knew that this process could be better streamlined so I set about seeing our options. I presented these options to my management team along with the estimated costs and benefits of each.
Management approved of my preferred option and tasked me with overseeing the deployment. Getting the subbies on board was easy as our process was similar to other firms that the subbies worked with so it made their jobs easier. The biggest hurdle to overcome was getting the office staff on board with a new process, but after a few training sessions and once they saw how much time would be saved out of their day they eventually came around. I did have to spend the first few days fighting fires though and handholding some colleagues through the process!
Overall the new process was a success and is still being used today saving a lot of time manually re-typing data.”
Tell me about a time when you have identified an opportunity for improvement within your processes?
“I am always looking for ways to improve my processes both in work and out of it. I feel that if we are not looking to improve, to optimise then we will stall and eventually get surpassed. Better to be ahead of the pack than overtaken by the pack.
Recently in my current role I was tasked with reviewing and documenting the process for one of our business areas. These teams worked in customer complaints and were primarily responsible for gathering information about our customer to input into the complaint file.
This was a purely manual process and involved the team going into various systems and pulling the relevant data to input into a spreadsheet.
In order to perform my task I shadowed a few colleagues over the course of a week to better learn how they perform their function. From here I noticed a number of things that could be improved.
Firstly the team had to manually check a folder to see if any new complaints had arrived. I suggested that an automated solution could ping an email to the Team Leader to advise when a complaint had arrived and could – if it was wanted by the business – automatically allocate to a team member.
Secondly I noticed that the systems the team would gather data from all had various data feeds coming in and out. My suggestions were to interact with this feed for the complaint so that the data required for the complaint files were automatically shared with the team meaning that they did not need to go into each system. I had a further suggestion that would compile the data into the complaint file but after further analysis I deemed this to not be feasible with the current resources available.
Once I was complete I delivered the documented process maps to the business area and filed my suggestions with the relevant programme manager, who took my suggestions and formed a project that delivered on all of my suggestions and took an action to look at further resource to implement my compilation idea. The successful delivery of the project reduced the time it took to complete a complaint file by 50%.
How do you ensure that individuals in your team are inspired to change and improve?
Strength Based Interview Questions
Strengths are the things that we do regularly, do well and that motivate us. There are three elements which determine whether something is a strength for an individual:
• Performance – they can perform an activity to a high capability or proficiency.
• Engagement – they feel motivated, enthused and empowered when doing the activity.
• Use – they do the activity regularly and as often as possible.
Let’s take a look at some the questions you could be asked when assessing your Strengths:
How did you prepare for this interview?https://careerbuildingjobs.com/interview-question-how-did-you-prepare-for-this-interview-answer-tips/
What are your weaknesses?https://careerbuildingjobs.com/interview-question-what-are-your-weaknesses-answer-tips/
What are you good at?https://careerbuildingjobs.com/interview-question-what-are-you-good-at-answer-tips/
What do you like to do in your spare time?https://careerbuildingjobs.com/interview-question-what-do-you-like-to-do-in-your-spare-time-answer-tips/
How do you feel about deadlines?https://careerbuildingjobs.com/interview-question-how-do-you-feel-about-deadlines-answer-tips/
What energises you?https://careerbuildingjobs.com/interview-question-what-energises-you-answer-tips/
How would your close friends describe you?
Do you most like starting tasks or finishing them?
Do you prefer the big picture or the small details?
Describe a successful day. What made it successful?
What did you enjoy studying at school or university?
When did you achieve something you’re really proud of?
What do you enjoy doing the least?
Do you find there are enough hours in the day to complete your to-do list?
What tasks are always left on your to-do list?
How do you stay motivated?
Have you ever done something differently the second time around?
Do you think this role will play to your strengths?
If you were made to choose between double-checking data and giving a presentation, which one would you choose?
How would you persuade a customer who tells you that they’re not happy with the company’s service?
What could you do to help a colleague who is struggling with a lot of complex decisions?
How do you resolve sudden obstacles when they interfere with your plans?
What was your biggest failure in life?
Describe your most successful day and why was it successful.
What do you consider to be your most significant achievement?
What is the thing that you are really good at?
What did you enjoy doing when you were younger?
What tasks come naturally for you?
How can you tell if a project is a success?
What is success to you personally?
How do you describe yourself when you’re already successful in life?
What would your perfect day be like?
What are your three biggest strengths?
What is the thing that you are most proud of?
Are deadlines intimidating or motivating to you?
Do people describe you as an organized person?
What is your least enjoyable activity?
When do you feel that you’re most inspired?
How well do you keep your promises?
Do you feel that you have enough time to complete your to-do list?
Who is the person, and it could be anybody, you admire the most?
If you were given 2 hours off work, how would you spend that time?
Which tasks are usually left undone in your to-do list?
What makes you less likely to succeed?
How do you stay motivated despite challenges and setbacks?
Which tasks do you consider tiresome?
Have you tried to do something different when given another shot at it?
What makes you more likely to succeed compared to the other job applicants?
What do you do when you find a task boring?
How do you handle situations when you work with someone you don’t like?
Do you think this role will be a good fit for your strengths? How?
Do you believe that you need to be an expert at something to become a leader?
Can you say that you are a good listener?
Do you have any questions for us?https://careerbuildingjobs.com/10-questions-to-ask-at-the-end-of-an-interview-and-6-that-you-shouldnt/