Interviewing an independent consultant is different than screening for a full-time role or a permanent hire.
If you are wondering why so, the answer is simply because the former is project driven. You’re not looking for a long-term hire when factors like growth potential, team and business fit or executive development are important.
You’re looking for project assistance and filling in gaps in specific areas of expertise. Or sometimes just to introduce freshness of thought or provide a second opinion.
To identify an independent consultant who will contribute to the success of your initiative, you must first rigorously: define what your needs are, what your project parameters are, and what success will look like.
Then, you can start assessing people based on those criteria.
The independent marketplace is as diverse as its full-time counterpart. Each independent consultant has a unique professional background, domain expertise, and strategic strengths.
Corporate projects are equally variable, as are the specific skill sets they require. To find the best match, consider:
- Your biggest pain points
- The most compelling opportunities you’d like to explore
- The skills you need to tackle these purposefully
Then, consider how having on-demand access to those skills would change the way you think about your priorities.
What, or what else, could it help your team accomplish?
What to Ask
1. Why is this project of interest to you?
What interests an independent consultant about your project is as important as a potential employee’s interest in a job role. It tells you a lot about their motivation and excitement about the project at hand. Help them to get specific with their statements, as this will help you assess whether their vision aligns with your project goals.
2. Have you tackled a stand-alone project like this before?
Trigger hands-on stories and not high-level philosophies. Look for specific situations where the consultant helped clients address similar situations and deliver on similar projects. Dig deep to understand the level of the consultant involvement on the project delivery.
3. What is your level of expertise in this particular HR aspect?
Specialized HR projects require specific HR expertise and it’s up to you to evaluate whether the consultant has the right level of expertise you need. You should also ask your consultants to motivate as to why and how that expertise is relevant to your project, and how their style of work can support it.
4. When and where have you worked on a similar project?
When you engage independent consultants, you’ll need to understand how their abilities and working style align with your project goals. Be specific about what you need them to do, and when. Are you after a specialized level expertise, or do you need more abstract skills like develop a storyline to communicate a certain people initiative?
MYTHBUSTING: Dispelling common assumptions about on-demand consultants.
- They’re too senior to get their hands dirty. Don’t judge independent consultants by their previous job titles or assume they’re too senior to work on your project. Often, consultants choose the independent path because they enjoy a little hands-on analysis—and prefer doing exciting work to talking about it. This is especially applicable to specialized talent.
- If they were that talented, they would be in a full-time role. Remember that 70% of independent workers are independent by choice—and even more at the high end. They value autonomy and flexibility, and they report greater professional satisfaction than those in traditional roles.
- They need to be persuasive to succeed. Some people are good at giving pitches; others aren’t. Give them the benefit of the doubt, rather than disqualifying them based on presumptions. There are those who are very qualified at what they do but not good at selling their skills. They find comfort in curated platforms where they do not need to pitch or hard sell.
Overwhelmed by the prospect of interviewing an endless stream of candidates?
Consider working with an on-demand talent partner that combines the selection of a marketplace with more personalized services that ensure you’re getting the best consultants for each engagement.
At One Circle, for instance, our dedicated team curates and vets our talent to deliver the right expertise for your HR project—all at an open sourced price.
Post a project here and experiment getting the work done by one of our independent consultants.
One Circle is a freelancing platform for independent HR consultants.
Where businesses of all sizes can find coaches and HR specialist consultants across the entire HR spectrum with multiple areas of expertise. If you are a business and are looking to get HR projects done, virtually, consider signing up!