Interview Coaching

Competency 4. Strategic Planning

Lesson 6

What is Strategic Planning?

It is important to distinguish all things strategic from that of operational. Strategic planning takes in the long haul and more global vision of an organisation. Granted some operation projects can factor into to this, but at a strategic level the responsibility level increases greatly and it is important to reflect this.

Showcase examples of stories which show when you:

• ​Define competing priorities in terms of importance (distinguish between short-term / long- term concerns here)
• Focus energy and resources where they need to be.
• Strengthen ​organisation's position
• Ensure that employees and other stakeholders are working towards a common goals
• Establish agreements around intended outcomes/results, and assess and adjust the organisation's direction in response to a changing environment.

Effective strategic planning articulates a Vision.

This will include:

• Where an organisation is going
• The actions needed to make progress
• How it will know if it is successful

Strategic Planning Interview Questions

• Assigned to lead a new project, outline the steps that you have taken in the past, or would take in the future, to get the project on track and moving.

• Describe the work environment or culture ​which you have fostered in a previous role and feel is most conducive to performance.

• Have you ever participated on a team that required you to cooperate in the planning of a large scale project? How would you describe the role that you played?

• Describe the components of your past jobs that had to do with planning. How effective was your performance in this planning role? Result here will rule the day. Or, indeed, how you present these results.

• During the most recent project, how did you participate in the planning ​responsibilty? Describe your role in accomplishing the action steps needed to complete it and how you measured success?

• What career goals have you set in your life? What is your plan to accomplish them? We all review our careers from a strategic vantage-point. In essence we are asking about getting the maximum return on what we are good at based around our desired work environment. You responsibility in a strategic role will be the same to a business in terms of market share and long-term viabiity of what the business offers. If you have a clear message here it shows your strategic acumen.

• ​How would you define “success” in your career? At the end of your work life, what must have been present for you to feel as if you had a successful career? Again, here a sense of self-efficacy will work very well. What do you want and how are you going to get it. This shows an action centered focus.

• How would team members describe the role you played and the effectiveness of your contribution on a recent team project, department planning effort, or project? This can be facilitated well by testimonials and ​is an opportunity for showing how others appreciate your work.

• What​, in your opinion are the keys elements for someone who takes on a role involving planning, making projections, and accountability for decisions? Draw from you experience here. The board is trying to ascertain how you think about large-scale responsibilites. Give them a window into your thinking. 

• Describe the central responsibilities that you have had in the past for ​human resource planning, materials and supply planning, shipping schedules, or vendor interaction? Strategic leaders ideally operate across a multitude of concerns. The more adept you are at demonstrating your capacity to juggle various responsibilities well, the more chance you have of separating yourself from the field. 

• Describe the actions and behaviours of the managers or supervisors that​ you are most likely to assign responsibilities when ​over-seeing a project. This question is really asking about the type of culture you would build at the helm, or amongst the senior decidion-makers of an organisation. It is useful here to do some research on the organisation so as you can tailor your answer to ​match their environment as much as possible. The one caveat here is to ensure that is is a culture you would be happy working in. A useful tool for this sort of research is Glassdoor, the HR review and recruitment website. But we would also caution you to recognise that people are more predisposed to write about negative experiences than positive ones, which can sometimes skew the returns.

• If you've had no hands on experience in business planning in the past, what makes you believe that you would successfully handle this role in our job? In all likelihood, you wont get far enough in the process to hear this question if it is that obvious. However, if you are tailoring or emphasising some of your operational or project experience to a strategic role then it is important that you demonstrate the extra levels of responsibility required to do this. So basing this on our original description of Strategic management what were the moving parts and the large scale elements involved in what you had to do? If you were under-resourced or had tight deadlines for an extended run then perhaps you can emphasize this.

• Describe the process that you used to develop a strategic plan for your department, section, or overall organisation. The key word in this is process. Again, this is you thinking and how you implemented it. What were the initially things you reviewed. What elements of your resources of long-term target mostly influenced your decisions. Again, we are in a sense letting the interview board into your head. Here is how I think. These are my robust decisions and this is why I make them.

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