There is nothing quite as frustrating as putting a lot of work into a customer or client project only to find that all of that work was for nothing. There is also nothing quite as common, especially when you work for others. For better or worse, customers change their mind often, and employers want to hire someone that isn’t going to flip out when that happens.
Behavioral Interview Question: Describe a time when a customer or client has changed the objective of a brief and/or project. How did you react? What steps did you take to meet their needs?
For starters, the most important thing to remember is what NOT to talk about. Don’t talk about the fact that you:
- Were frustrated with the customer’s changes.
- “Had worked weeks” on the previous brief.
- “Knew” that the new project would be late, etc.
Your goal isn’t to complain about what the customer did. Your goal is to prove that even if the customer changes scope, you can deliver outstanding customer service and a positive attitude in the process.
“One of the first things to remember is that sometimes not even the customer realizes the effects of the change they are proposing. They’re simply excited by a new idea. So if the change to the brief does represent not only a lot of added work, but more importantly the potential for less benefit for the consumer, then the best way to address the issue is to provide a bit of supportive feedback, such as:
‘You know, that’s a great idea. But I’m concerned that, even though it seems like a small change, it may push the completion date back a few more weeks. If you’re certain you’d like the change then we’re happy to make it, but the current iteration is almost complete so it may be beneficial to finish the project as is and see the results before adjusting in the future. What do you think?”
You can see how this answer works for almost any issue that arises as well. For example, if it would cost the customer more you could say:
“I’m concerned that the increased cost of the change in scope may not be worth the value of changing the brief. Is it something you are passionate about?”
Nowhere do you imply it is a bad idea, nor do you threaten the customer with an increase cost. If anything, you imply that the customer already knew of these issues, but you’re checking to make sure it’s what they want.
Overall, this type of answer gives you a solid response to a challenging interview question.