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Simple interview question

#1 Simple interview question
02/04/2007 18:44


Here's a simple interview question that I've had a couple of times:

"Why do people need consultants?"

I'd be very interested to hear peoples answers.

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#2 RE: Simple interview question
02/04/2007 19:44

anon to Simple (#1)

well in a nut shell, they're needed to help companies improve performance through analysis of existing business problems and development of future plans

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#3 RE: Simple interview question
02/04/2007 19:54

detere to Simple (#1)

Some, or all of the following reasons:

* Because executives can't see the wood for the trees

* Because executives don't know who they have in the organisation who could do the job, can't find them, or don't trust them, whereas consultants proactively promote their capabilities to clients with websites, glossy brochures, and produce detailed proposals and flashy resumes each time they pitch for work

* Because consultants are always available, work to unrealistic deadlines, accomodate changes of scope without complaining (not to the client's face at least) and are more flexible than the resources executives have in-house

* Because having consultants around makes executives feel more important and clever

* Because executives don't like to make unpopular decisions without external support, or want visible validation that their decisions have been "independently" verified

* Because consultancies contain talents that are difficult for clients to aggregate in one place themselves and which they could not economically justify employing as they do not generate the critical mass of work to keep those staff fully deployed (and interested)

* Because using consultants keeps headcount off the books, they can be hired and fired at will with few legal challenges, they can be used for short-term projects but unlike most temps they're motivated and prepared to work hard, and come back for more no matter how badly you treat them

* Because consultants sometimes work out cheaper on an hourly or piecework basis than permanent staff

* Because executives want to cultivate networks with those consultancies they intend to join themselves in a few years time

I have used the term "executives" to refer to consulting buyers, but you can also read it as "senior civil servants".

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#4 RE: Simple interview question
02/04/2007 20:01

anon to Simple (#1)

Analysis and planning are true at the junior end of the spectrum in terms of what consultants themselves do.

In terms of why consultants do this, from a customer perspective, clients want consultants for their opinions and ability to back those opinions up with knowledge and insight (which is where the research, analysis and planning comes in). Half the consultant's skill is in working out what opinion to have.

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#5 RE: Simple interview question
04/04/2007 09:58

Tony Restell to Simple (#1)

"Why do people need consultants?"

100% agree with detere's reasons, all very valid. Ultimately these reasons can all be summed up by saying that "organisations use consultants to solve a business or managerial problem that can be better solved by bringing in external experts than turning to existing in-house resources".

The flip side of this, for interview purposes, is that to be a good consultant you therefore have to bring to the client some expertise or capacity to get things done that is not already available within the client's business.

Good luck with those interviews

Rgds, Tony Restell

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