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Topics: Agile, Career Development, New Practitioners
Struggling with explaining projects during interviews

Hello PM's.

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.

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Just try to give some information about the size and complexity of the project and then describe your actions using PM terminology and add the examples from your project for each significant step.
1 reply by Erikka Cullum
May 31, 2019 10:00 PM
Erikka Cullum
Agree and will do!

I have the same problem. I can prepare in advance, but I feel like I stumble through the interview trying to explain my past projects. They ask a question and I struggle to recall a relatable answer (until after the interview)
1 reply by Erikka Cullum
May 31, 2019 9:58 PM
Erikka Cullum
Im so glad someone understands!!

Remember this Alan Davis (the Master on requirements) said to me: people will not buy the product or the project. "Those interested in the solution are not buying the resulting product, nor the project that gives rise to it. They are buying the security that the person in charge of the project and the product, can offer them respecting that their expectations about the product and the project will be reached "
1 reply by Erikka Cullum
May 31, 2019 9:57 PM
Erikka Cullum
WOW yes! Thats really good!

I think it is important not to assume that the interviewer understands the "project" you are trying to explain. I would give a brief high-level description, how you handled the complexities, challenges and celebrations. Showcase yourself as a leader and how you and your team lead your project from inception to completion

May 30, 2019 5:08 PM
Replying to Thomas Walenta
How did your stakeholders experience the project, your guidance / leadership, the outcomes and how did it improve their lives?
Thank you.

May 30, 2019 5:16 PM
Replying to Stephanie Clark

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.
Thank you, Stephanie!!

May 30, 2019 6:24 PM
Replying to Kiron Bondale
Erikka -

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.

Yes, thank you, Kiron

May 30, 2019 7:01 PM
Replying to Deepesh Rammoorthy
Hi Erika

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

Good Luck
Agreed, thank you Deepesh.

May 30, 2019 6:48 PM
Replying to Anish Abraham
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.
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.

May 30, 2019 8:31 PM
Replying to Dora Mejia
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.
Thank you Dora. Yes have to work on selling myself.
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- Mark Twain



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