10 Questions an SAP Interviewer Should Ask an SAP Interviewee.

SAP Hiring Managers can identify the best candidates for SAP jobs through technical screening but should also consider that they need more than just hard skills – they need to hire for values and the right attitude in order to successfully build a team that can deliver a successful SAP implementation.

Hiring Managers (Interviewers) can identify great candidates for their SAP team through skilful questioning. Below are some of our suggested questions for SAP interviewers. SAP candidates (interviewees) can also benefit from reading these, to understand an interview from the interviewer’s perspective. Interviewees should also read Eursap’s previous blog post: “How should I prepare for an SAP Interview? – SAP Interview Tips“.

1. Imagine that an SAP system goes live soon – what is a possible worst-case scenario for the go-live and how will you handle it?

In the final stretch of an SAP implementation, a consultant will be flooded with last-minute changes and troubleshooting. Despite all these conflicting orders, the go-live date doesn’t change. A good candidate will be able to recall from experience and demonstrate the worst thing that can happen in this scenario and provide a solution. This requires a good handle on setting priorities, even if everything is urgent, which is often the case. A project manager wants someone on their team who can manage time and expectations, someone who can make intelligent decisions when given the choice between urgent and important. Someone who can anticipate worst case scenarios so that they are ready to resolve them – or prevent them from happening in the first place.

2. What are the top 3 SAP modules that you can talk about in detail?

No SAP consultant can work as an island. Teamwork requires one’s intention and ability to understand other team members and their work. A project manager wouldn’t want a candidate who is very good at their module but disregards others. A good candidate will have competent cross-component functional knowledge.

Talking about SAP modules, apart from the one(s) they specialise in, will help demonstrate a candidate’s intention to work in synchronicity with other members of the group. For example, the procurement process in SAP Materials Management (MM) ends with paying a vendor for delivered goods, which is in the domain of SAP Financial Accounting (FI). Processing a customer’s sales order in SAP Sales and Distribution (SD) is considered complete upon handling a customer’s payment, which is managed in SAP Financial Accounting (FI). Cross-component knowledge allows an SAP consultant to paint a bigger and clearer picture to diverse stakeholders they will interact with. SAP integration is also an important point for any SAP Consultant – knowing the touching points between the different related modules.

Having an interest in more than their own modules of speciality also demonstrates a candidate’s drive for growth.

3. Can you explain this SAP business process to me as if I was a 12-year-old?

A lot of candidates can talk about their vast knowledge in SAP. They can tell you their history, how many modules, how many companies and successful implementation cycles they have been involved in etc…. A real master can translate the same enthusiasm and knowledge to any audience – even a 12-year-old!

In the real world, consultants encounter clients who may not necessary understand SAP and its inner workings. It is important that a consultant knows enough of the subject to relay aspects that are relevant to the client, in a language that they will understand. This helps ensure meetings and correspondence are smoother between consultant and end user. An SAP Consultant who can only explain things at one level (to one type of audience) is not going to do well in an implementation project.

4. What can you say about traditional project methodologies Vs Agile?

Not all SAP consultants may be knowledgeable in project management concerns such as implementation methodology. But Agile has been a pervading trend for years and anyone who keeps themselves updated will have an opinion about it. It will also be an opportunity for the candidate to show their wider know-how, experience, and openness and ability to adapt to change.

5. What’s more important, completing the scope perfectly or completing on time?

This question does not have one correct answer. Different PMs will have different opinions, but a candidate’s answer will show what’s important to them, what their strengths are and what kind of values they have. Some will put a higher value on doing everything right the first time whilst others will see the benefits of responding to business requirements fast and improving along the way. There is a lot that can be learnt from a candidate’s working style and ethics based on the defence of their answer.

6. How will you incorporate a company-specific business process that does not align with SAP best practices? Will you change the process or customise the SAP system?

With this question, the project manager will be able to assess the candidate’s conflict-handling skills. Deeper than that, their resolution will demonstrate their business acuity. They should recall a concrete example from experience from a specific industry. They should be able to assess how important the deviation is from best practices. An industry expert may be able to approach the challenge from a process perspective – after all, SAP is a technology that enables businesses to run well. The candidate may be knowledgeable in new SAP features that may solve the problem. They should be able to assess whether the effort and cost to develop ABAP customisations will benefit the business.

7. What was the worst situation you have ever had with a client and how you did you handle that situation?

SAP consultants will have to deal with different personalities and different user groups such as IT, other SAP consultants, project managers etc… and even stakeholders! In an important investment like an SAP implementation, it is likely they will face some tough situations with the client. A good SAP candidate should be up for this challenge and know how to deal with the various problems that may arise along the way.

Describing their worst situation will demonstrate what irritates the candidate, how patient they are or what attitude they prefer from the people they work with. More importantly, their answer to this question will show how well they are able to handle pressure. If they are good at coping with a hostile environment, they will be excellent when working with a nurturing team.

8. How long and how often do you think update meetings should be?

Once again, there are many ways to answer this question. Some prefer daily stand-up meetings whilst others prefer publishing updates in a communication tool and only require face-to-face meetings for clarifications. Others are comfortable facilitating frequent meetings but follow a strict protocol to make them as effective as possible. A project manager will be able to better understand a candidate’s leadership skills, ability to delegate, and approach time management. Perhaps the PM can even pick up a new idea or two about meetings.

9. What tools do you use to document your work?

A lot of people dislike documentation – it’s tedious and often takes you away from the work you should be doing. But it is a must! Smart candidates will have creative ways to get their documentation completed effectively and efficiently, through apps, a distribution scheme or other tactics. Their answer to this question will also give the project manager a clue relating to their organisation skills. A lot of the team’s effort can be protected if only everybody documented and filed things neatly and diligently.

10. What did you like best about Bill McDermott’s latest SAP keynote?

Updating oneself with the latest in their profession takes only a few minutes of online research. A project manager will want an SAP consultant who believes in the product, in helping the client achieve their business goals through SAP, and cares enough to know the latest in the SAP community. If a client talks about the latest news in SAP, they would expect their SAP Consultants to know and have an opinion on these.

A professional recruiter’s advice:

“Don’t be afraid to challenge a candidate during an interview. If you suspect they might have an issue in a certain area, you should really test them on that point. Don’t just ask them about it, make them experience it in the interview itself. I’ll give you a couple of examples:

If you suspect that a candidate may not be able to handle time pressure, ask them a difficult question and give them 60 seconds to give you ten examples/answers. This is a great way to see if their performance changes once the clock is ticking. SAP Consultants need to think quickly and deal with time-pressure, especially in the crucial latter stages of an SAP Go-live.

If you suspect they may not cope well with criticism, don’t just ask them “how do you handle criticism?”, instead find a mistake or poor aspect of their SAP CV or application form and highlight this to them. It will give you a far better insight into how they handle constructive criticism and whether they are able to deal with it positively. Are they able to acknowledge their mistakes? Are they able to stay cool and calm and defend their position? Can they give reasons/examples for why you should not rule them out due to this one mistake? Or will they take offence and give an unprofessional response?

Don’t be too soft during an interview! SAP projects can be difficult, pressurised and full of challenges – recreating some similar scenarios during the interview will be far more revealing than just a friendly chat. It is however important to strike the right balance during an interview. It is a two-way process (the interviewee is also judging you, and deciding if they want to work for your company!). You want the overall experience to be a positive one, leaving a good impression.

Don’t start the interview with a deeply challenging approach, sandwich this part between some more pleasant topics later on in the interview. Such challenging should only be done if the traits you wish to test are deemed as essential for the job itself, and if the candidate has given you good reason to have doubts about this specific area.

Not every interview should be the same. An experienced and skilful interviewer will know how to get the balance right and how to adapt their interviewing approach as per the specific situation”

Daniel Patel – SAP Recruitment Delivery Director Eursap  

Daniel Patel - SAP Delivery Manager - Eursap

Final remarks:

For SAP Hiring Managers it can often be a hard task to decide between candidates that are all technically strong. Hiring managers should not only consider the technical skills but also the values and soft-skills of the candidates – making sure they are a good fit for the company and the team! This can be achieved through carefully planned questioning: Open questions, which allow the candidates to talk in detail; probing questions that give a deep insight and prompt experience-based examples.

SAP candidate screening can be a difficult and time-consuming process, often involving many steps. The financial and time cost of a bad hire can be astronomical! SAP Hiring Managers may wish to consider the use of an SAP specialist recruitment agency like Eursap to handle the bulk of this workload and expertise for them.

Authors: Marvi Torres and Jawad Akhtar

Are you looking for an SAP Specialist Recruitment Agency to handle the time-consuming initial screening/interviewing for you? – If so, Eursap is ready to help. Contact us today to see how we can help with your SAP recruitment needs: info@eursap.eu / +44 (0) 203 1500 318

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