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35 Must-Ask Interview Questions for Experienced Consultants

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Making the right experienced hire is one of the hardest things about growing a successful recruitment team.   

It is no secret that securing top talent can be a considerable investment of your time and budget as a hiring manager within a recruitment company.   

While there is no magic wand, the questions you ask during an interview can dramatically impact your perception of a consultant’s ability to succeed in selling to clients.   

Below are 35 key interview questions that will extract the Consultant’s ability to sell for their current business strategically, and if you decide to hire them for your business too.  

These interview questions will draw out six unique attributes of top billing recruitment consultants that are proven to lead to sales success:  

• Offer clients unique perspectives on their business 

• Driving two-way communication 

• Knowing client value-drivers  

• Identifying Economic Drivers of the client 

• Comfortable discussing money 

• Able to put pressure on the client  

Let’s take a closer look below.   

Offer client’s unique perspectives on their business 

To offer unique perspectives, a consultant needs to re-frame the way clients think about their business. They need to draw on insights to align key client priorities and tie them back to their organization’s USPs.  
Interview questions:  

1. How do you open a business development call with a potential client?  

2. Tell me about a time you got a client to think about their problem differently.  

3. How do you decide what to put in your pitch? 

4. How do you know that a customer agrees with you on an insight? 

5. Tell me about a time when a business development pitch did not work, how did you react? 

6. How do you adjust your pitch depending on the person you are speaking to? 

What makes a good answer?  

• The Consultant speaks about the benefits to the client before the strengths of the supplier 

• They provide insight to the client that is relevant to their business and ties it back to your capabilities 

• They adapt their pitch based on the reactions of the client 

Red Flags

• Their pitch is too focussed on features and benefits 

• The insights are not relevant to the customer  

• They are unable to speak about their differentiating factors 

• They have failed to make mid-pitch adjustments 

Driving two-way communication 

Two-way communication is about clearly articulating the business’s USPs and engaging the client to address their business priorities mutually. It requires reading nonverbal cues and anticipating the clients’ needs. With strong two-way communication skills, a consultant can secure and coordinate buy-in from different stakeholders.  

Interview Questions: 

7. Describe your typical relationship with a client. 

8. How do you get your clients to talk about their business priorities?  

9. During a sales interaction, what nonverbal cues do you look for? 

10. Tell me about a time you proactively addressed an unspoken client need. 

11. How do you approach gatekeepers to gain access to your target contact in an organization? 

12. Tell me about a time when you overcame a struggle in coordinating across functions?  

What makes a good answer? 

• They adjust behavior and pitch based on nonverbal cues from the client 

• The client/ consultant relationship is based on the Consultant’s ability to teach to the client’s pain points 

• They can coordinate across organizational silos in response to complicated client needs 

Red Flags: 

• The Consultant does not seem approachable or open  

• They are unable to assess a client’s body language  

• They find it difficult to handle multiple relationships  

• They like to have the final word in a conversation and come across as inflexible   

Knowing clients value drivers 

To know a client’s value driver, the Consultant must have a comprehensive understanding of their client’s organization and discuss issues that arise from different angles. This requires being comfortable speaking with a range of decision-makers and influencers. To overcome barriers to purchase, a consultant must associate their USP to the client’s individual goals.  

Interview Questions: 

13. Describe your process for gaining buy-in from client stakeholders.  

14. How do you determine who the key decision-makers and their influencers are? 

15. How do you establish what is of most importance, and what is not to a decision-maker? 

16. Tell me about your research process and approach when learning about a client’s business.  

17. How do you identify and track people that are opposed to your services in a client’s business? 

18. Tell me about a time that your services did not align with your client’s needs.  

What makes a good answer?  

• When identifying who the key decision-makers are and their top priorities, the Consultant follows a structured process 

• Each sales pitch is explicitly tailored to the unique needs of the client  

• The Consultant develops the relationship from transactional to a partnership, that mutually achieves the client’s objectives

Red Flags: 

• The Consultant is not aware of all the stakeholders involved in a process  

• They do not tailor their pitch for the different stakeholders that they engage  

• Their relationships are very transactional  

• They do not clearly understand the client’s business priorities  

Identifying economic drivers of the client  

To identify economic drivers, a consultant must closely track and assess industry and economic trends and have a strong understanding of how it can affect a client’s business and potential new business opportunities. It is essential that the Consultant educates and teaches clients about current industry trends and best practices adopted by their competition.  

Interview Questions: 

19. How has the current economy has affected an industry that you work with? 

20. Tell me about a time you modified or helped shape your client’s business priorities?  

21. Would your colleagues consider you an expert on the industry and economic events? If so, why? 

22. What resources do you utilize to learn about the current economy? 

23. Tell me about a new business opportunity that you found and pursued. 

24. Describe a time you taught a client about an industry best practice.  

What makes a good answer? 

• The Consultant understands the current economy and market and can relate it to the client’s business 

• Their clients proactively approach them throughout the process for advice  

• They often identify new client opportunities and expands their book of business   

Red Flags: 

• They do not have the in-depth industry knowledge 

• They are unable to associate economic events to client’s goals 

• They have not identified of brought on new business 

• They are not able to consult with clients on their business priorities 

Comfortable discussing money  

A consultant must know how theirs and their competitor’s service is priced while also understanding the clients’ budget. To overcome pricing negotiations, they must associate their USPs to the cost of their service. It is essential that they also know when to walk away from a deal.  

Interview Questions: 

25. Describe a time when you successfully got around a price increase  

26. How do you respond to a client demanding a price concession? 

27. Tell me about a time you successfully negotiated when the price guidelines were unclear.  

28. How do you react to a competitor who constantly undercuts your prices? 

29. Tell me about a time you walked away from a deal because of money.  

What makes a good answer? 

• They do not rely on structured pricing guidelines and can discuss money at any point in the process, not just at the end  

• They help the client see beyond the price and understand the value they are getting from the service 

• They have closed deals with clients at a significant fee percentage  

Red Flags: 

• They are not able to justify the price of their service with the value they are providing 

• They do not understand the clients purchasing capacity 

• They often give into negations and offer discounts  

Able to put pressure on the client  

To put pressure on a client successfully, the Consultant needs to know the decision-making process within a client’s organization and influence the critical decision-makers throughout that process. They must foresee potential roadblocks and push the client through them to achieve a positive outcome. An advantage of putting pressure on the client is that they begin to advocate on the Consultant’s behalf within their organization, building consensus around your services.   

Interview Questions: 

30. What is one thing your clients would say about you? 

31. Describe how you build consensus among different stakeholders?  

32. Tell me about a time you advanced a stalled deal.  

33. How do you deal with clients that are agitated by your negotiation tactics?  

34. Tell me about a time you conceded to close a deal. What was the final offer? 

35. Tell me about a time you convinced a client to advocate and sell on your behalf.  

What makes a good answer?  

• They understand the decision-making process and priorities of different stakeholders 

• They are an experienced negotiator 

• They create consensus among various stakeholders and independently close deals with them 

• They target clients that advocate on their behalf, as opposed to the most senior stakeholder in an organization 

Red Flags: 

• They are overly aggressive with passive clients 

• They have a difficult time building consensus with stakeholders   

• They allow discounts to end negotiations  

• They are narrowly focused on the most senior contacts within an organization  

Why you need to start asking these interviews questions today 

An Interview will not tell you with 100% certainty that a candidate will excel at their job. However, if you ask these interview questions based on top billing recruitment consultants’ unique attributes, it will help. 

Interviewing is a considerable investment of your time, and likely your budget. Get the right candidate the first time and be assured they can sell.