Is it the first time that you receive an invite from an expert network and have no idea what an expert interview will be like? Or are you seeking guidance on how to up your game to prepare for a consultation as a more experienced expert advisor? Regardless of your prior experience as an industry expert: this is a must-read.
Although in principle, as an expert you should be the authority in your niche, and preparation for an interview would typically not be necessary to be able to answer all the interviewer's questions with ease. However, knowing what to expect in the interview can be extremely helpful to those who experience it for the first time.
In this article, we will talk about:
In general, clients of expert networks are doing market research for improving performance, understanding consumers, launching new business lines, and due diligence. The typical clients you will be speaking with include investing firms, consulting firms, entrepreneurs, strategy departments in companies, and academic researchers. They are looking for first-hand market insights from an expert like you to help them make better decisions.
Although each client has a different focus, there are some topics that our clients are typically interested in: market overview (marketing segmenting, size, growth, etc.), competition (key competitors and their SWOT), customers, technological innovation, and regulatory.
The concept of short expert consultations is based on "non-material" preparation time. You are consulted based on your accumulated expertise and hence able to answer most questions without preparation. And if you don't know, you don't know. As simple as that.
As an expert network that hosts interviews on a daily basis, the most common feedback we receive from our (beginner) expert advisors is that they wish they could have learned more information about what topics will be discussed and what kind of questions will be asked.
The project information in the invite you receive from us and the vetting questions you answer in the project acceptance process are very strong indicators of the topics of interest of the client. It typically states which areas (or topics) the client will probe into. The vetting questions can already tell you a lot about the more detailed interests of our clients and they will often be asked in the interview as well.
Clients do not always share more information in advance. In that case, the above information is all you have. As the client is paying for the interview, it is at their own expense if this information limits the depth of the discussion. It always helps to have questions prior to the interview but clients sometimes come to the interview with detailed questions that could have been given prior and given better answers with some preparation. There is, unfortunately, nothing we can do about this, apart from educating clients on how they can have better insightful discussions when they share a list of questions in advance (which we do by the way).
On our platform, clients are able to send you a direct message in advance to notify you about the outline of the interview. But what if you don't receive a message or you are using other expert networks that don't support direct communication with the client before the interview?
Just to give you an impression, below we listed the most common topics our clients discuss in an interview:
And here are some example questions:
Clients are typically looking for "underlying drivers". For example, in the market for home improvement, the underlying driver could be a low interest rate which will drive consumers to take out loans for more money from banks to spend on home improvement.
Clients are interested to learn who supplies or sources from whom, via which channels, and if this is different per segment of the market.
Unique value comes from a unique benefit exhibited by a company, service, product, or brand that enables it to stand out from competitors. The concept "sustainability" comes into play here, pointing to the question if a company is able to retain their unique benefit for some time in the future or that it would erode in some way (perhaps as other competitors are being able to also offer this benefit).
Clients are looking to understand what customers assess before purchasing products or services. These could include price, perceived quality but also very specific matters such as payment terms or integration possibilities with existing products or technologies.
If you are a first-time user of an expert network, please notice that some clients prefer to keep their identity confidential. In such cases, the client might only present themselves by their first names and will not disclose their company names. Please respect this. It's not for the purpose of being unfriendly to you, it often has to do with potential non-disclosure restrictions or to make sure your answers are completely unbiased.
Expert networks have built-in processes to make sure you are not placed in conference with potentially conflicting clients. Be sure to notify your expert network of any companies you would be conflicted with to speak to you. Please take great care in reviewing your expert network's compliance framework. On our site, we have also included a summarizing guide with the key compliance rules for your convenience.
Remember, presentation matters. Give yourself some time before the interview to test your audio and video are functioning, using the video call link we send you.
Be sure to find a secure internet connection that will not drop during the call.
Showing up late will give not only the client a bad first impression but can hurt your reputation and reflect badly on an expert network. Therefore, it's crucial to always be professional and punctual.
Most expert networks set up audio calls between clients and experts. You are also able to do audio-only calls on our platform, but we like to emphasize our preference for video. Video calls can create a more comfortable environment as both client and expert can see a friendly face.
Make sure you're using the video call feature to your advantage to build rapport and trust with your client.
When you are asked to introduce yourself, make it short and relevant. The fact that you are hand-picked by our client for an expert interview already means they acknowledge you as an authority in your field so no need to have a lengthy introduction.
Please also note our clients already have your profile on their hands so you don't need to spend 10 minutes to tell your life story. Also, if a client asks about your previous experience, stress the parts that are relevant to the topic of the interview and roughly summarize other job experiences if you really have to mention them.
Typically expert interviews follow the format of a 1-hour video call, however, sometimes clients may want to exceed the 1-hour time limit to get the most of the expert when they happen to still be in a steady flow of questions when they approach the 60 minutes. You are not obligated to have more time reserved for this call, but it's good to let the clients know if you are unable to exceed the given time. In some cases, the client would opt to schedule another hour with you, which could be scheduled at an appropriate time for you.
This is not simply a presentation or pitch but rather an opportunity to share your unique expertise and current insight on the particular market or industry. It should be an interactive and fruitful conversation with the intention of giving the client a real understanding of the topics of their interest. Encourage the client to ask if there is something that needs to be clarified or further discussed. Check in with your client throughout the interview to make sure you're on track in answering their questions.
The client not only needs your insight but wants your expert opinions on issues that can ultimately help them make the right decisions. By sharing your opinions the client can gain a real understanding of the specific field. If the client is on the wrong track with their research or understood something the wrong way: tell them. Although they may have some ideas, remember you're the expert, so your job is not to just agree or provide answers you think your client wants.
Let the client's questions guide the discussion but don't feel limited by the questions. If something outside of the talking points may be relevant to your client, bring it up. The client will really appreciate the extra effort and attention to detail.
Clients love numbers so give them any relevant data points, statistics, or quantitative data you have (and is not confidential of course) as it can make a big difference, especially for clients in investing or consulting. Providing numbers will help to support your points as well as shed light on the industry you're in. This can also include any relevant sources to market intelligence, report, or branch organizations that may help the client.
One last thing, expert interviews are not only crucial for the client but can be rewarding for you as an expert sharing your unique insights on the market. Having the opportunity to speak on an industry you're passionate about and experienced in keeps you on your toes within your field and - to be frank - gives an enormous confidence boost when being interviewed for your knowledge.
Remember that our clients are without exception top-tier professionals in their fields including strategic consultants, investment professionals, and ivy league research institutions who often have razor-sharp questions which also structure your own thinking about your industry. Both come out wiser after an hour of knowledge sharing.
Enjoy your expert interview!
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