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Robotic process automation (RPA) job interviews: How to prepare
Want to move into the growing job market for robotic process automation (RPA)? Here’s what hiring managers and candidates should know, including sample RPA job interview questions
RPA job interviews: Additional skills to hone and highlight
From a technology perspective, Reichle says that gaining experience – or at least summary knowledge, to begin – with different RPA solutions on the market is a good starting point. In addition to Nintex, Reichle points to Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism, and UiPath as examples. (For a longer list, check out the top 10 vendors by market share, according to Gartner.) Reichle also suggested studying up on potential RPA use cases as well as industries where RPA adoption is growing.
While RPA is a software category, deep programming skills aren’t necessarily a must. This opens the door for other roles, including those with plenty of process expertise, such as business analysts or project managers. But technical know-how is still a good thing.
“Candidates should highlight their advanced technical skills – not necessarily programming but their ability to handle diverse enterprise applications and challenges,” Reichle says, adding that any past experience with getting quickly up to speed with new tech should highlight that work. “Candidates can highlight how quickly they can learn new processes, map sophisticated processes, identify opportunities to enhance and streamline processes, and understand the best ways to scale these processes. Enterprises will be especially receptive to candidates with experience in enterprise Centers of Excellence, as they will have greater experience testing and experimenting with new technologies and processes.”
If you’re weary of hearing about the importance of soft skills, an RPA career path won’t save you. Huff notes two particular needs on this: critical thinking and relationship management.
“Critical thinking is required as the candidates will need to balance process optimization with process automation during design, development, deployment, and sustainability of their RPA program,” Huff says. “Relationship management is required as the candidate seeks to navigate all the personas required to scale and sustain an automation program.”
By the way, Huff notes that those personas include some VIPs, including the CIO and the human resources exec, not to mention any employees whose jobs will be impacted (positively or negatively) by RPA.
RPA job interview questions: Tools, governance, and change management
Reichle shares some likely examples of the kinds of questions you can expect at the interview table:
- “For a given business challenge, is the best solution desktop/attended RPA or unattended RPA?” (You can find a variety of explainers online about the difference between attended and unattended RPA. Here’s a clear breakdown from RPA vendor Automation Anywhere.)
- “What is the relationship between RPA and AI?” (We recently explained the relationship and differences between RPA and AI.)
- “How do you think RPA will impact company resources (operationally, employee, and from a revenue standpoint)?”
- “Describe your understanding of, and experience with, process management.”
- “Can you provide examples of where RPA was used for scalability?” (If you don’t yet have real-world examples, consider coming up with a hypothetical scenario grounded in reasonable assumptions.)
You’ll notice something about this relatively brief list of possible interview topics: Because RPA squarely intersects with business processes, hiring managers won’t just be asking technical questions. (If they do, it might indicate that they themselves don’t really understand RPA yet.)
“Questions will likely span the spectrum of technology, governance, and change management,” Huff notes.
On the technical front, Huff says candidates should be prepared to discuss different RPA vendors and their technologies, as Reichle mentions above, as well as expound on why you might choose one or the other. One way to think of this: Different solutions might be better fits for different business problems, so be able to discuss potential pros and cons of at least some of the options on the marketplace.
Governance questions, Huff says, will likely dig into how the candidate would go about building a sustainable and successful automation program and the various levers she/he would use to accelerate scalability.
Huff thinks change management is an area that candidates who focus too narrowly on RPA software will overlook. But count Huff as a believer that RPA is as much about people as it is technology. The best candidates will be able to speak to this in an interview.
“Questions around change management will seek to understand how the candidate will gain and retain executive stakeholder sponsorship [and] work with employees so they adopt and use the technology, while also deploying a robust training and enablement program to support a federated model that empowers various lines of business to provide digital workforce capacity,” Huff says.
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