9 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Business Strategy Consultant

9 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Business Strategy Consultant

Are you looking to hire a management or strategy consultant to help you navigate crucial business challenges and opportunities? If you’ve never hired for this role before, asking the right interview questions can make the difference between a mediocre outcome and great results. At Graphite, we help companies hire pre-vetted and top-tier strategy and management consultants, so we’ve prepared some interview suggestions to help you find the best possible candidate.

1. Do you specialize in any particular areas of business strategy?

Generally, each management and strategy consultant will have areas of specialization or comparative strengths. Some consultants specialize in particular industries, markets or strategic issues.If you already know the business challenges and opportunities you need to address, make sure your candidate has expertise and proven experience in those areas. It’s also preferable to hire a strategist with recent experience, to ensure you’re getting the latest insights and recommendations.

2. How well do you know our industry and market, and what relevant experience do you bring?

No management consultant can cover every market and industry equally. However, it’s best to work with someone who has proven, relevant experience in your sector. Someone who has been working in your industry and is current on the latest trends and developments can offer work more efficiently and offer specific analysis and guidance on a shorter timeline.

3. What do you know about our company and our competitors?

Strategy consultants will often make recommendations based on the complete context of your business, including its value proposition, resources and its place among competitors. While you can’t expect an independent strategy consultant to be intimately familiar with your company and competitors before an engagement even begins, a good candidate will do some homework before your interview. Did your candidate care enough to do some homework in advance? If so, this demonstrates interest and due diligence. If not, this could be a clue to look elsewhere.

4. Can you give me some examples of your strategic consulting projects and specific results?

Ideally, you want to hire a management and strategy consultant who has tackled similar projects successfully and helped other companies make sound decisions and achieve measurable results. Due to confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements, your candidate may not be able to reveal company names, financial data or other sensitive information. However, a good consultant should be able to provide some examples of recent work and recommendations as well as specific indicators of successful results.

5. Do you have a background in finance or an ability to perform financial analysis, modeling and projections?

A strong background in finance is hugely valuable in a business strategy consultant. Many projects require an ability to analyze financial data, build models and forecasts, and develop financial projections. This work is critical to analyzing and prioritizing issues and opportunities facing your company. Thus, it’s often best to hire a consultant who has a solid background in finance or extensive experience in performing financial analysis. At the very least, a strong capacity to work with numbers and an interest in using data to answer questions is crucial.

6. Can you describe how you’ve successfully tackled strategic issues that were outside your experience and expertise?

Strategic and management consulting requires learning. Even if a candidate is familiar with your industry and the challenges and opportunities you’re facing, there’s still a learning process. Any consultant will need to take the time to understand and analyze your organization, its people and its unique concerns.

As part of advising your company, it’s also likely that a strategist will encounter issues, challenges and opportunities outside his or her expertise. In these cases, a good strategy consultant can learn quickly, think critically, and call upon reliable research, data and outside experts to provide informed guidance and make recommendations. Hearing some examples of how a strategist has done this successfully will give you confidence in his or her qualifications.

7. If you were presented with multiple strategic challenges and opportunities, how would you start evaluating and prioritizing them?

Your company may be facing multiple competing concerns or prospects, and your strategist may need to help you evaluate and prioritize them. This requires strong analytical and organizational skills as well as an ability to simplify and structure complex problems while staying goal-oriented and fact-based. Asking how your candidate would start evaluating and prioritizing multiple issues or opportunities can give you a sense of a strategist’s process and how effective that person will be.

8. When you’re consulting, how do you approach differing personalities, opinions and priorities? How do you bring teams together and secure buy-in?

Inevitably, in learning and analyzing your business and recommending strategic decisions, a consultant will need to work with various members of your team. This will include top-level executives and possibly middle managers and front-line team members. This also means there are opportunities to encounter clashing egos, priorities, and opinions within the organization. There’s also the potential for disagreement or pushback from employees who don’t trust your consultant’s expertise or believe they know better.

Thus, it’s critical for a management and strategy consultant to have outstanding people skills. It takes proactive communication and outreach to build trust, build a good business case, find common ground, and achieve buy-in from key stakeholders with differing views and agendas. Make sure your candidate can demonstrate these skills and explain how he or she has used them successfully.

9. What would you bring to this role that no other consultant could provide?

Thanks to the growing number of strategy consultants working independently these days, you may find yourself choosing between multiple candidates with strong qualifications. Asking them to describe their unique qualities, qualifications or capabilities can help you differentiate between candidates and make an otherwise tough decision.

Two Bonus Questions to Ask Yourself

1. Is your candidate inquisitive?

A great strategy consultant will ask questions during the interview and seek to learn more about your business and your needs. Does your candidate ask questions, and are they precise, targeted and strategic? Do they reflect a highly analytical and organized approach? If so, those are signs that your candidate will take the same approach to your business consulting needs, which will generally lead to better results.

2. How well does your candidate listen?

During your interview, does your candidate listen intently and take notes? Does the consultant ask follow-up questions or probe for more details?Listening is a crucial part of being a good strategy consultant. It’s critical to gathering internal insights and understanding all the perspectives, issues, challenges and opportunities confronting your business. A good, attentive listener will ultimately make for a better strategy consultant for your company.

Ready to Find the Right Strategy Consultant?

At Graphite, we offer access to a global network of pre-vetted and highly qualified strategy consultants. Our independent consulting professionals offer deep and proven expertise to help you tackle all your business-critical challenges and opportunities. From pricing, product development and corporate strategy to finance, sales and marketing, HR, and IT, Graphite management consultants will help you navigate and solve your biggest business challenges and capitalize on your best opportunities for growth and success.

Visit us now to start your search for a top-qualified strategy consultant.

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