When you need help prepping for an interview this article can be of assistance to you.
How have you ensured maximum value for money when managing resources?
Question: Money is tight. Do you know how to squeeze a dollar for all it’s
Top-line Tactic: Don’t shy
away from giving them figures.
For all competency-based
questions, providing quantifiable results is always a good idea, but for
questions like this that are designed to gauge your ability to manage scarce
resources, work within budgetary constraints and make cost savings, getting
down to exact figures is even more important than usual.
It’s also important to
keep in mind that, while controlling the budget is generally a management-level
skill, this question might be asked of candidates on any rung of the career
ladder. Companies want people at all levels of the organization to make the
most out of company resources. You might not be setting the budget, but no
matter what you do you make choices about using your employer’s resources.
The bottom line: don’t
say this isn’t your area, try to choose an example where you can quantify the
end result of your efforts and then just apply the STAR method, stressing, as
always, not just what you accomplished but the skills and behaviors that got
you there. For a more junior-level position, that might sound something like
While I wasn’t
directly charged with handling my department’s budget, I’m the type who always
likes to get the most for my money, so when my supervisor sent me to pick up
some materials we’d had printed I couldn’t help being surprised by the size of
the bill. At college I was active in the drama club and got flyers and programs
printed up, so I knew we were paying too much. I asked for quotes from a few
printers and found one who was 20 percent cheaper. My supervisor was delighted.
We switched suppliers and saved over $5,000 a year.
Name some top opinion influencers in this industry
Question: Do you care about thought leadership? Do you agree with the people I
Top-line Tactic: Get a
spread of names, from “safe hands” to mavericks.
This is one question
where a highly motivated career-switcher can score just as well as an industry
veteran, because finding opinion influencers has never been easier. The world
is positively dripping with industry opinion. Here are two ways of putting
together an impressive roster of names.
Power lists: most trade
magazines publish an annual survey of the most powerful, influential or just
plain wealthy people in a given industry. They usually give these lists corny
names like “Landscape Gardening’s Power 100.” Follow the top few names
in these lists and you won’t go too far wrong. In all probability you’ll only
be reciting the same old names as everyone else, and maybe the same old ideas
too—but you need to start with the classics, as Liberace used to say.
Event speakers: most
industries have big trade shows, like the Geneva Motor Show or the Ideal Home
Show. These exhibitions usually feature a seminar program, and the speakers
come in two varieties: a keynote speaker and a Sideshow Bob. The keynote
speakers are typically on the “Power 100” lists mentioned above, so you’ve
already got those covered—it’s Sideshow Bob you’re really interested in. He or
she is someone who has yet to make it to the keynote stage but often has the
most fresh and radical ideas. You don’t have to parrot what they say—they might
be on the fringe for a reason—but in interview it’s enough to show you’re aware
of thinkers who exist outside of the consensus. It’s also important to show how
you feed your mind, not just what you feed it.
In property, you
can’t ignore the opinion of people like Donald Trump. Their opinions are often
influential partly because they get so much exposure anyway. What they say
often ends up being true just because they’ve said it. That’s not to take
anything away from them—they’re prominent because they know what they’re
talking about, after all.
But I also try to take in
the views of people on the fringes, people like Campbell Robb of Shelter. I
read his thoughts on the recent sharp rise in house prices we’ve seen across
the UK, when he said homelessness, house prices and our benefit bill will
continue to rise out of control if nothing changes. I can’t say that he’s
right, but most people in the industry have vested interests in keeping the
whole thing going, and he doesn’t—so you can at least be sure he believes what
I think the range of opinion
in the industry is one of the things I like most about it—I try to read the Property Gazette every week and I have a few blogs set up as
That’s how I follow
And if you don’t read the
trade press every week, be aware you’ll almost certainly be competing with
people who do.
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