Interview- something that has been faced by each and everyone who is working and which can make or break an individual’s chances of landing their dream job. It might be needed by them for financial purposes but it does not go without an interview. A resume may look super cool but there are chances that the interview will make or break their chances. It is a critical step in the process of looking for job as it is a chance to showcase the knowledge, skills we have and present ourselves as the best possible candidate that they can have. An interview can clear the mind of the interviewer about your skills or knowledge and at the same time it can present flaws that are not visible in the resume. Same is the case for those who wish to get into project management area and if they know some of the common questions that are going to be asked from them, chances are that they might sail more smoothly through it and increase the chances of selection. Hence we have compiled a few questions which will help any budding Project Manager to go through the interview process:-
1. What skills does a project manager need in order to succeed, in your view?
This is a favorite question of the interviewee because it allows the project manager to choose from various skills that are available. Thought there is no particular response that can be termed as technically correct, however, the answer that you give will reveal a lot about you, your choices and your personality. A good way to answer is what you feel is your greatest strength as a project manager. Further, whatever the answer is, it should be substantiated by how the candidate expects to apply it in the given position. It might depend on the company what answer they need and like, however one of the most common and favored answers would be team building skills, being flexible and a proven ability to finish projects on time.
2. What methods will you use to finish the projects that will be assigned to you and deliver results?
The question should be answered by highlighting techniques that the candidate has used in the past and identify the tools and support that you expect from the employer. However it is also important to be shown that the challenges that may arise are known and the candidate is familiar with them. It displays whether the employee has a one solution approach to all problems or has he given any thoughts to the demands of the job. The interviewee wants to hear that the project manager will treat every project as separate and not apply the same answer to all the problems.
3. How do you plan to put together your project team?
The interviewee asks this question to find out what kind of leader is the candidate. They wish to know how far competent are you to handle and understand the diverse skills that are needed to complete the given projects. Whether the candidate will be able to inspire and lead the staff and secure their support and co-operation. A go project manager should know how to put together the whole set of people working along with him and not necessarily know everything himself.
4. What is your view of project management?
Project management involves application of knowledge of all the team members, including the project manager, tools and applications which are available to make sure that the tasks as defined are completed on time. Completion in a proper way means that the end results are achieved within the given cost and time limitations. It may relate to balancing of constraints of range, agenda, excellence and resources.
5. What is the difference between projects, portfolio and program?
The answer to this question should state that projects are undertaken for a specific purpose. A portfolio is a group collection of projects, many programs and it might even include few other portfolios that help the organization to achieve a common business objective of high level. A program is a set of many projects which are handled and managed in a well planned and coordinated manner to achieve different smaller targets which are a part of the common goal.
6. Can you explain the life cycle of a project:
A project has different phases wherein the ranges of activities that are required to carry out the project work differ in their own way. There is a “start” phase, which is followed by an organizing and the last preparing phase. The actual execution part of the project is the “Carrying out” phase. The phase which ensures that the other incidental activities related to main project get completed on time systematically is the “Closing” phase. The transitional points of time are named as phase gates, milestones or exits. When the project reaches such points, it can be reviewed whether the project is performing as per the original draft or whether the need of the project has vanished.
7. What do you know about plan baselines?
Baselines are the final description of all plans that are read before the phase of project execution starts. They are the preliminary versions of all related plans of a project, be it the quality plan, time schedule or the communication plan. This acts as the position, a reference against which the performance of the project is measured later on. If the project manager does not know the answer to this, he is going to have a tough time handling the responsibilities at a later stage.
8. What are the skill areas that are relevant to a project?
This is the answer that is again general but the candidate should know it for quality management of the project. A few obvious areas are Scope management and knowledge of managing time and cost. Same is the thing for quality management as in order to complete a project in all its relevant aspects, one need to be conscious of the project incorporation knowledge area.
9. What are the important processes for project integration management?
A candidate who wishes to apply for project manager should know about the nuances of integration of project management and it starts with a charter for project development. The process of directing, managing project execution and monitoring as well as controlling of plans should be followed throughout the project. The final set of activities for integration management is the closing phase. Since changes are usually inevitable, a plan that contains integrated change management must be developed to lead all changes systematically and methodically.
By asking the potential candidates about the job responsibilities and work that they have done in their earlier offices, employers get an idea what role did the employee perform in his past job and whether the experience and skill acquired during that phase will suit the present opening. Just like mentioned above, there is no proper answer like whether it is wrong or right to majority of the questions asked nowadays.
Everyone has different opinions on what abilities are important for project manager. But in general, employers are searching for a candidate who understands the work and is ready to dedicate energy and time to learning the new work. Adaptability is one of the most sought after quality in every candidate who wishes to go for a job change. Preparation and training is the best instrument any individual can have when it comes to wading through the taxing waters of an interview successfully. It doesn’t matter whether an individual is just in the preliminary stages of the career as a fresher or whether they have a project organization degree, or are looking forward to have a successful career in corporate field; chances are that the above questions will be asked to them. Hence this can be used by both- recruiters and candidates, alike.