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Prepare To Answer the Top 10 Most Common Project Management Interview Questions

Prepare To Answer the Top 10 Most Common Project Management Interview Questions

Lack of interview preparation is the number one reason why people don’t get called back for the second interview.

It is often the simple and most obvious things which can make the difference between securing and losing your ideal job offer. Before the interview, there are several things that you can do that will help you give you an advantage over other applicants.

 

Preparing for the Interview

  • Research the firm current events, press releases, etc
  • Know at least 1-3 of the company’s strategic goals and /or top challenges
  • Learn about the company’s growth strategy/ products and services /key competitors
  • Learn as much as you can about the people you will be interviewing with. Go to LinkedIn and research the following:
    • Confirm the hiring manager’s title
    • Division/Group name (ie. Do they report to IT PMO, or direct business line)
    • Determine how long they have been with the firm
    • See what kind of recommendations they have
    • Investigate if you both have common connections
    • Reach out to your connections who may know them or have have worked with them and inquire about their personal work style, and see if you can find out what is most important to them etc.
  • For every responsibility listed on the job description, take the time you need to outline how your experience demonstrates the ability to perform the requirements of the position
  • Summarize your transferable skills and core competencies – As a Project Manager, they will be interested in specific soft skills that you have, especially how well you communicate
  • Summarize significant accomplishments that will clearly demonstrate how your experience meets the qualifications for the job. For example, they will want to know about projects that you have managed, and what challenges you experienced.
  • Prepare 10 relevant questions; you'll probably cover 3-5 in the interview
  • Practice answering questions so you are comfortable prior to meeting with the hiring manager

 

Make a Great First Impression  

 

first-impression

The first thing to consider is making a great first impression.  Many people start to form an opinion within the first five minutes of meeting you.

In Person Interviews

  • Dress appropriate - Depending upon the type of company you are interviewing with, you should determine what is the appropriate clothes to wear. For example when going to a corporate interview, you would generally wear a blue, black or grey suit. If you were going to a start up, a suit and tie may not be appropriate.
  • Reach out to shake hands with a firm grip and acknowledge their name
  • Keep good eye contact immediately. This may seem fairly obvious but it’s very important not to overlook this and a great way to establish a connection with the person you are speaking with.
  • Show a positive attitude - Hiring managers want to know that you are enthusiastic about the position
  • Be mindful of speaking clearly, be concise and be careful not to say too much and speak too quickly

 

Phone Interviews

  • Let the interview lead the conversation. Take time to pause when answering or asking them a question. Sometimes it can be more difficult when you are communicating over the telephone and you may inadvertently interrupt them.
  • If you are using your cell phone, make sure you’re phone battery is charged

 

Skype

  • Check your Skype account in advance to make sure that your audio and video are both working properly
  • Make sure you aware of your background and are certain you will have no interruptions
  • Make sure you have the interviewers accurate Skype ID and have added them to your contact list prior to the interview.

interview

 

During The Interview

  • Speak slowly and clearly. Sometimes when nervous, some people may tend to speak quickly. Be mindful of your breathing and staying calm.
  • Consistently show your enthusiasm and maintain eye contact and be aware of positive body language because they are essential
  • When answering questions it is essential that you provide more than a monosyllabic answer
  • Always answer your answer with a specific example related to your experience that supports the job description
  • If you are not certain what the question is, ask the interviewer for clarification
  • Try to engage and ask relevant questions throughout the interview. If at all possible, try not to wait until the end. This will leave the interviewers with a more positive impression of your interest in the position and your ability to interact well with others.
  • Be prepared to demonstrate how  your experience can benefit the company
  • Always, ask questions about the company and the position.
  • Explain how your project management leadership experience will benefit the company
  • Emphasize your willingness to learn about their firm’s initiatives,
  • Demonstrate your future career goals  

 

Things Not To Do

  • Don't discuss money, unless asked (emphasis the position is the priority).
  • Do not discuss salary in the 1st interview, unless they ask you
  • Don't be negative about previous/ current employers.

 

10 Questions Always Asked When Hiring For The Big PM Jobs
(and how to answer them)

Although there are many questions that   may be asked during an interview. Listed below are some of the most common.

 

1) Tell me about yourself

They want to listen to how you well you can communicate and whether or not you can answer questions clearly and succinctly.

You can consider this question to be your ‘elevator pitch’.  You will want to emphasize the skills that are most relevant to the Project Manager position you are applying for.  

Example:

I am a results-driven IT Project Manager with more than 10 experiences in Financial Services industry. I have years of experience building teams and implementing large scale business transformation initiatives that generate revenue, optimize operational efficiencies and increase customer satisfaction

 

2) Tell Me About Some of Your Most Recent Accomplishments

List relevant accomplishments and examples that demonstrate you can lead projects and teams that are relevant to what they are looking for.  It is important to quantify business benefits and be clear on what your role was.

Example:

Implemented sales for tracking system for 3000 sales agents, resulting in 20% increased sales revenues in the 2th quarter of 2016. My primary responsibilities for this project was to manage a team of 12, including the off shore development and Quality Assurance teams and act as point of contact to the District Manager of sales in the North East Region to ensure project was delivered with high quality, on time, on budget.

 

3) Why Did You Leave Your last job?

No matter what the circumstances were for leaving your last position, never provide any negative responses for your last position.

Examples:

Recently due to recent economic challenges, my last position was downsized.

I really enjoyed working for my last employer and learned a great deal. Recently I have decided that I wanted to learn more about the health care industry. I am really interested in the new health care reform changes impacting our country.

 

4) Tell me what you like about being a Project Manager

They want to know: Are you confident, happy, positive, ambitious, etc?

Example:

Although there are many reasons why I really enjoy the Project Manager profession, I would say that my top reason is that  I am results driven person and it gives me a great personal satisfaction when I been able to work across an organization to bring people together to reach a common goal.

 

5) Tell me the most challenging situation you have faced recently and how you dealt with it?   

They want to know how you handle conflict and how you show your leadership skills. Be careful how you respond to this question. Make sure that you select a difficult work situation where you were not the cause and outline the possible options that were available to you, why and how you selected the appropriate option and why it resolved the situation with a positive outcome.

Example:

One of my biggest projects that I was responsible for was to implement a paperless stream lined process in an insurance firm. During the testing phase, we were finding that we had many unanticipated delays with the vendor and having challenges with communications.

I knew we needed to try something different so I facilitated a few brainstorming discussions because I knew I had to get buy in from internal and external resources.

We collaborated together to come up with a change in the testing process by partnering the developers and quality assurance teams by function. We had them each travel to the vendor site to partner and test the code and fixes together.

By collaborating and getting team buy in, the teams were motivated to come up with a solution that worked for everyone. We were able to make up the lost time and fix the defects in time without missing the project deadline.

 

6) What are your greatest strengths?

They want to know what value you will add to the company. List three or four of your main strengths could benefit a new employer in the particular project manager role. Consider your technical proficiency, fast learning ability, determination, positive attitude and your strong inter-personal skills and team leader ability. You should provide examples which highlight your strengths.

Example:

I consider myself to be results driven, an effective communicator and a great leadership ability to influence others, which enables me to motivate and work well with people across the enterprise.

 

7) What would you say are some of your development opportunities?

They want to get a sense of what your self-awareness is like. Do not ever say you don’t know. It is best if you use a professional weakness, which is not essential for the job you are being interviewed for. You could take a negative trait and make it sound like an asset.

Example:

For example, say you are a stickler for meeting deadlines and will stay on top of a project until it is done according to the specifications, which may cause me sometimes to work too late.  At times, I felt off balance and feeling a bit of guilt with lack of time with my family.  I now make it a point to take care of myself and be mindful of my work life balance because of my strong personal family values. It is especially important for me to spend some time with my children before they go to sleep.  

 

8) What decisions do you find difficult to make?

As a project manager, it is often that you will be faced with critical decisions. They want to know how decisive you are and also how you think through the decision making process.

Focus on decisions that have to be made without sufficient information. This will show your positive side.

Example:

I have been faced with difficult challenges over the years, but one of the biggest challenges I had to face was when I was offered a new position in a start up division as my last firm. It was important to me to continue to explore new opportunities but I was provided an opportunity during a critical time for my current supervisor. I decided to discuss the opportunity with my manger and together we came up with a plan that benefited both of us. I did take the position but was able to negotiate the start date so it was win/win for everyone.

 

9) What did you like least or do you like least about your last or current job?

The interviewer is trying to establish what might disinterest or de-motivate you or what could cause you to leave the prospective employer. Try not to mention politics and people.  Your best approach is to concentrate on tasks, stating that having given the question some thought you were on the whole very satisfied with your job but a certain task or responsibility which was unusually or disproportionately time consuming took you away from using your real strengths

Do not give a negative response about your boss or your company. One of the purposes of this question is to find out if you're going to be satisfied in the job for which you are being interviewed for.

Example:

There were so many things that I did enjoy, but one of the things that I didn’t like as much was that the communication between groups overall were primarily via email and phone. As a leader, I am mindful of how important connection is, and I try to do what I can to establish face to face communications whenever possible. For example, when I facilitate meetings, I let the teams know that I prefer that they attend the meeting in person if they are on site, rather than calling in via teleconference. I think this establishes better team collaboration and improves relationship building.

 

10) Why do you want to work for this company?

The interviewer is looking for an answer which shows you have thought about where you want to work The answer to this question will make you stand out as a more informed and competent candidate provided you have researched the company and the industry before the interview. Your answer to this question should incorporate the fact that you have researched the company, the knowledge gained about the company and where your background, experience and skills can be used in a positive beneficial way.

You should also include a statement providing two reasons why the job is a good match for your skills, strengths’ background and experience. Your answer must demonstrate your interest and enthusiasm for the company and its aims and how you could be a member of the team.

Let the interviewer know you are being selective about where you want to work and you're not just going to take any job offered to you.  

Example:

I have read about your recent merger with Aetna and your strategic goals to provide new innovative health care solutions to more than 1,000,000 participants. I have extensive experience with company mergers and I am really excited about entering the health care industry. With years of and data management experience and my proven track record implementing data management systems, I am really excited about this opportunity to share my leadership skills and potentially join your firm.  

 

After the Interview

After the interview it is essential that you send a thank you note, email or handwritten letter to everyone that you have met.

Highlight one or two relevant points from your discussion and specifically ask when it would be a good time to follow up with them.

Let them know you are available to answer any additional questions they may have
When you are prepared and have taken the necessary steps to conduct your research, you will feel more confident during your interview. You know what talents you have. It is just important to know how to present yourself in a way that will get the hiring manager’s attention. Although you are looking for a position and may find yourself feeling a bit nervous initially, just think of the interview as a conversation. Remember they are looking to solve a problem and they need the right candidate and that just may be you.  

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