Question forms part of
Other interview questions that are similar
What contribution do you make to your company?
How does your role provide value?
Would your company be impacted if your department were to be shuttered? How?
What the interviewer is looking for by asking this question
This question is a “See the big picture” question. The interviewer wants to know whether or not you understand how what you do affects the larger organisation.
If the interviewer is asking this question it generally means the role will have a bit of latitude in how it can be worked. Don’t expect to blindly follow a script or a process, you will need to use your initiative and understanding of wider elements when performing your day to day job.
That is why this is a popular question for the Civil Service interview. The entire point of the Civil Service is for the benefit of the public. When you are answering a question in an interview here the interviewer will be expecting you to know how your function is expected to provide better services to the public.
After you have answered the question you are likely to get a number of follow-up questions about any initiatives you have spearheaded that impacted the wider business.
Essentially the interviewer wants to see that you will care about the organisation as a whole and will be seeking to improve the organisations delivery ability rather than just getting on with your own role and tasks.
The best approach to answering this question
You will want to show the interviewer that you have a brain for business, that you understand the general principles of how your organisation makes money (or fulfills its goals if it is non-profit)
You need to explain to the interviewer what your role is, what your organisations goals are and how your function helps contribute to these goals.
Think about how your role impacts the bottom line.
Do you contribute to revenue?
Do you help to reduce costs?
Do you help the firm with their legal obligations?
Do you help in reducing risk?
Do you increase efficiencies?
Every role in an organisation helps push through its aims (if they didn’t the role wouldn’t last for long), in order to answer this question it is important you understand your role’s impact.
At first glance this question doesn’t lend itself to sharing examples but you still should slide some in if you can. Think of a time were you showed initiative and pushed through a change that helped multiple departments within your organisation and increased your firms operating capabilities.
How NOT to answer this question
“I am a salesman so without me the firm would not have any revenue”
While this answer is perfectly accurate it lacks nuance. Sure a company wants to sell product and therefore need salespeople, that much is obvious. A salesperson is also the company face of the product. The first impression most customers will have of a company is their interaction with the salesperson so they are also brand ambassadors.
The interviewee could have talked about how as a salesperson they are the first line in market research as they speak to customers regularly so they know exactly what customers want and need when it comes to their product.
The interviewee could then talk about how they collaborated with marketing or with the design teams to help boost sales.
“I only work in the accounts department. It is my responsibility to make sure our bills get paid so I don’t really have much of an opportunity to help the firm achieve its goals”
Every role in an organisation provides real value to the business. Sure sometimes it might be hard to see when your role doesn’t directly impact profits but rest assured your role provides value (or should on paper) to the business otherwise it would not exist.
In this example the interviewee works in accounts payable by the look of it. Their responsibility is to pay suppliers to ensure the business can continue to operate. Have you ever forgot to pay your internet bill? Imagine trying to run a business without internet.
Phone, water, electricity, wages, raw materials, contractors. The list goes on.
This person ensures the smooth running of the company without interruption. That is the core value of the role.
Plus also in that type of role I am sure they have managed to save costs for the business by negotiating better payment terms.
How does your current job fit into the overall business? – Example answer
“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.”
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