Interview Question: How Did You Impact the Bottom Line?

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When employers hire new employees, they're looking for candidates whom they know will make a difference. In order to gauge your potential to add value to the company, an employer might ask, "How did you impact the bottom line in your last job?"

How to Answer Questions About How You Made a Difference to the Company

The "bottom line" traditionally refers to an increase in revenue and/or a reduction of costs or expenses.

However, you need to think more broadly about the bottom line for your field. The bottom line has different meanings for different fields.

Examples of Best Answers

For a recruiter, the bottom line might be the relative productivity of new hires or the longevity of their hires.

For an admissions representative, it might be the quality of candidates, as defined by grades and test scores, who end up applying to their institution.

For a quality control specialist, it might be a reduction in waste as part of the manufacturing process. 

For a clinical director at a hospital, it might be a lower rate of misdiagnoses, malpractice claims, or administrations of the wrong medicines.  

Include a Quantitative Measure of Success

In preparing your answer, first, you need to determine what the bottom line was in your past jobs. Be mindful of how success was measured for your job and department.

The optimal answer will involve some quantitative measure of success, like "I increased sales in the Northeast region by twelve percent," if an answer like this is appropriate to a field.

You should also substantiate your assertion by describing how you were able to generate those results.

So, you might add, "I achieved this result by implementing a customer service program that expanded repeat business." Whenever possible, incorporate references to a critical skill that your prospective employer may be seeking.

For example, if the employer is looking for a sales manager with training expertise, you might add that you "introduced a training program to help salespeople to uncover and address customer issues with our product."

In order to demonstrate how you brought about specific change, you'll need both a baseline for where things stood prior to your involvement as well as an indicator of your results. But, in some cases, specific measurement will not be possible, and your response will be more qualitative.

When Results Aren’t Quantifiable

If the change you brought about was more qualitative than quantifiable, then in order to be convincing, you will need to share evidence of how your efforts brought about a marked improvement. One approach is to report the feedback of others in authority. For example, you might say "Customer satisfaction improved greatly, and my supervisor mentioned that the number of complaints was reduced, and positive feedback from clients had increased." 

A good way to provide extra emphasis to these anecdotes is to have your supervisors affirm their support in their recommendations. Again, it will be important for you to explain your strategies for improving things and to cite skills that you applied to bring about the change.

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