I'm struggling with explaining my projects during job interviews. I know the projects in and out but find myself wanting to say, "I got it done" or "I just make it happen" HELP!! I guess I don't know how to explain step by step how I move projects forward. Thank you for any wisdom you can provide.
I just became a member to this site and came across this window and read your question.
My response is that of a PMI one. "I'm the oil in the engine. No project gets done unless project management moves it forward from inception to completion. Once projects are initiated, you activate, get involved with planning, execution of the project all while monitoring and controlling each, iteration until closing. You use your cross-cutting knowledge and skill set of active listening, brainstorming techniques and always having a professional business acumen, coaching, mentoring, training and motivational techniques, deal with conflict resolution to satisfy customer metrics. You are involved in decision-making, delegation techniques, you have a keen awareness of diversity and cultural sensitivity and emotion intelligence is always in proactive mood. You have strong interpersonal skills and knowledge management, and you use leadership tools, techniques, and skill learned from previous lesson learned for successful management application. But it is your team-building technique and situational awareness that keep project on target and budget. Relationship management is the key and you relate very well with kindness. This is how you prioritize time and management to get the job(s) done.
You know this, now give them these points in your next interview and get the job. YOU ARE PROJECT MANAGEMENT, in your Professional life and Personal. I hope this helps. Let me know how it goes. Best.
Think about specific instances where you made a significant impact on your projects. Write down:
- What was the situation?
- What did you do? (How you got it done.)
- What was the outcome?
Be very specific. You are trying to explain how you determined the right course of action and followed it through to affect a positive outcome. Writing down those specifics on a variety of your best PM moments will give you a portfolio of stories to use to explain your value to the potential employers.
Think like an executive - lead with the purpose of the project, cover the key dimensions (e.g. duration, cost), talk about the business outcomes or benefits achieved, and a couple of key decisions or actions you took which helped to reduce risk or deliver the project successfully.
I think you should use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to answer. Also, you have to make sure that your answer demonstrates your abilities with setting priorities, making decisions, hitting deadlines, and delegating tasks.
1 reply by Erikka Cullum
May 31, 2019 9:52 PM
Yes, I've been using STAR, but in my last interview they wanted to know how I applied Agile methodologies, etc. So I will continue to drill down with the wisdom I get from the replies.
If you could cover the aspects as Kiron said regarding benefits, risk and purpose of the project and also cover challenging issues that you managed to overcome - for example
1) Did you deal with remote teams?
2) Did you have issues with difficult stakeholder and communication breakdowns
3) Did you face scope creep or budget overflow
How did you handle those kind of situations and still manage to deliver successfully?
That will give your interviewers a deep understanding of how good you are as a Project Manager
Think about how projects are challenging you to make that happen. Working with complexities, resilence, managing team morale and integrating different stakeholders to align everyone to the same goal. We have an important role to make things happen and to connect strategy with execution SELL YOUR SELF as the person that integrating knowledge, skills, relaltionships and strategy thinking is able to make things happen.
1 reply by Erikka Cullum
May 31, 2019 9:53 PM
Thank you Dora. Yes have to work on selling myself.
All the stalwarts have given you good guidance, additionally you could search on the net, get across scenario based Project management questions. Write them down, step by step as to how you will answer. How you will start your explanation. Give anecdotes. By the time you answer all the scenario based questions you would have covered good ground. Practice speaking, maybe you are getting nervous and the flow of explanations might not be clear. Ask a friend or colleague to ask you those scenario based questions you have collected, or if that is not possible – record your own video and review it to improve your explanations. Once you are well prepared, you will be able to handle the interview well. All the best, do share you success.
Tha important thing is to said what your interviewer like to hear. When going to an interview you have to perform the same activity when you are asigned to a project: elicitation. You need to know all you can about the organization where you are applying. Mainly you need to know about the pain they have and are the reason to search project managers. That´s the focus.
Very good tips already provided. In addition, think of a project or two about which you are extremely proud. Perhaps because you took it over from a lousy PM and were able to turn the project around, or because it was company's mission critical and you delivered it with flying colors. Showcase them well, exceed interviewers expectations and get the job! Good luck!
1 reply by Erikka Cullum
May 31, 2019 9:55 PM
Yes, I was asked this at my last interview and I did have a story about how I took over for another PM. I think I'm just getting nervous.