our everyday life

Interview Preparation for a Project Manager

by Nicole Vulcan

As a project manager, you should already know a thing or two about stress. To handle the pressures of budgets, time constraints and needy clients in your working life, you've probably learned that preparation and organization can be key. As you get ready for a job interview for a new project manager position, use those skills of organization and preparation to help you dazzle your prospective employers. This means setting aside some time to evaluate your past jobs and prepare some valuable information about what you've done.

Past Projects

If you're applying for a project manager position, chances are you have experience in project management or other leadership roles -- and you can bet the hiring managers will ask you to describe your experiences. They may also give you a hypothetical situation and ask you to describe how you would handle it. In employment parlance, that's called the "behavioral interview." To prepare, take stock of the jobs you've held in the past. Write down a few key learning experiences, including projects or approaches that worked well and those that didn't. Think about the budgeting aspect and prepare a statement about how you handle competing demands between the customer and the project constraints, advises Morgan Sourcing, an IT staffing, consulting and employment agency. Be prepared to share your "strengths and weaknesses" as a leader and to talk about how you communicated with your team and helped them stay organized and on task.

Motivation

Project managers often provide the spark that can help staff members stay on task. Another "behavioral" question may pertain to the challenges you've faced with staff members. The hiring managers may ask you to describe the most difficult employee you've had and how you handled her. They may also ask you to describe how you've kept your staff motivated, or how you deal with workers who are underperforming. To prepare, brainstorm some of the issues that had positive outcomes, writing down each step you took to deliver positive results. Spending time working out the details ahead of time will help you deliver a cohesive story during the interview.

Company Research

You'll also need to be prepared to talk specifically about how you would contribute to the company's projects. That means doing research that helps you identify details about what the company is doing and its common practices. Don't just rely on the job posting -- though that will give you some good information to start with. Read industry journals, magazine or newspaper articles, blogs, the company website and other online information to find out as much as you can about the company and its projects. Then be prepared to bring a few ideas about how you might approach the project or first steps you'd make to take over the reins.

Details

As a project manager, you'll be expected to demonstrate leadership and initiative. You should be impeccably dressed, dressing a step or two above the standard dress of the staff. Use your research about the company to determine whether business casual, upscale or downright casual attire is the norm, and then dress accordingly. Also, while little details such as showing up on time and appearing confident are important for any job candidate, they're especially crucial for those in a leadership role. Don't let the little things take you out of the running.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images