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Other interview questions that are similar
Do you think about how your work impacts other departments?
How would you determine whether your actions would be met positively or negatively by others in your organisation?
What the interviewer is looking for by asking this question
Some organisations are big huge entities with many many different departments all responsible for their small piece of the action. It can be hard sometimes to appreciate how the actions that you take affect other departments and how they play a role in the larger organisation’s goals.
Seeing the big picture is what the Civil service calls it. It is one of the core behaviours that you could be assessed on during your application.
It is assessing your ability to understand how what you do affects the larger organisation.
- If you were a project manager this would look at how you approach your projects to not only meet your objectives but also to ensure you are not impacting how others complete their own projects / workstreams (testing your stakeholder analysis and management).
- If you were in operations this would examine how well you understand your process; do you know happens after your step in the process, or before? Do you know what would happen if you changed how you performed your specific function?
The interviewer when asking this question is looking to see if you are aware of your wider responsibilities to the organisation and how you approach this when working within a project.
The best approach to answering this question
This is a “Tell me about a time” question so the best way of tackling this question will follow the B-STAR process.
Let’s see how we would use this technique in answering this question:
B – Belief – Talk about your thoughts with regard to how your projects impact others. It is crucial you talk about how stakeholder analysis and management is crucial to the successful delivery of a project and that’s why before any project starts you always seek to understand all areas that can impact. or can be impacted by, your project.
S – Situation – Briefly describe the matter at hand. Try not to spend too much time setting the scene, this is an interview so you will only have a finite amount of time; time that is better spent talking about your reasonings and your actions. A straight forward example is always best… There was a new project that might impact another department.
T – Task – What was your role in the situation. The question is specifically regarding a project you were involved in. Ideally you will be leading this project or at least be a key member of the project team. You want to be able to describe how it was your responsibility to understand what impacts your project had on others, and your responsibility to follow through on your findings.
A – Activity – Talk about the steps that you took. You should list how you went about finding who would be impacted by your project and how you assessed what the impact was and made steps to ensure the impacts were anticipated and the other area was ready for them.
R – Result – How did it all turn out? This is an interview question so in the example that you choose everything should work out perfectly.
How NOT to answer this question
Do not ignore the other area. Make sure that, in your example, once you have identified who is going to be impacted by your project that you bring them into the loop. Talk about how you made sure they were informed of the changes ahead of time and that you assisted them in being ready for them.
Do not reject the premise of the question. Don’t talk about how you have never had to interact with other teams before or that you never had to worry about how other areas did their work. This question is being asked because the interviewer wants to know that you have experience in dealing with other teams in this manner, if you reject the premise of the question you will score poorly on this question.
Do not ‘steamroll’ the other area. In your example make sure that you work with the other area. Do not just tell them about your project and let them sort out how it impacts them.
Tell me about a time when a project you were working on had an impact on the way another area went about their work? – Example answer
“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.“
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