Episode 228: Project Management Interview Questions Made Easy (Free)
This episode is sponsored by The Agile PrepCast for The PMI-ACP® Exam:
Today’s discussion with Andy Makar (www.tacticalprojectmanagement.com) is about his book “Project Management Interview Questions Made Easy” that will help you get ready for your next job interview. If your finger is now already hovering over the Stop button because you are currently employed and you don’t have to take a job interview anytime soon and you think that you don’t need to listen to this, then give me just a moment longer to tell you why you should still listen to what Andy has to say anyway.
Well... in fact, let me read a review written by Tim Cermak on Amazon about the book. He says.
"Dr. Makar delivers easy to read information; valuable whether you're new to the PM industry or a seasoned professional. Often PM's find themselves interviewing for positions even when they are fully employed; as companies worldwide hire professional PM's to consult. This is not a one-time read. This book should be a reference source in the desks and bags of every PM out there."
Well then.... have we changed your mind and you’re not going to press stop? Good.
Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.
Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to Episode #228. This is The Project Management Podcast™ at www.pm-podcast.com and I am Cornelius Fichtner. Nice to have you with us.
Today’s discussion with Andy Makar is about his book “Project Management Interview Questions Made Easy” that will help you get ready for your next job interview. If your finger is now already hovering over the stop button because you are currently employed and you don’t have to take a job interview anytime soon and you think that: ‘Well, I don’t really need to listen to this,’ then give me just a short moment longer to tell you why you should in fact listen to what Andy has to say.
Well actually, let me read a review written by Tim Cermak on Amazon about the book. He says: "Dr. Makar delivers easy to read information; valuable whether you're new to the project management industry or a seasoned professional. Often PM's find themselves interviewing for positions even when they are fully employed; as companies worldwide hire professional project managers to consult. This is not a one-time read. This book should be a reference source in the desks and bags of every project manager out there."
Well then, have we changed your mind and you’re not going to press stop? Good! So now then, get ready for your next interview by enjoying the interview.
Female voice: The Project Management Podcast’s feature Interview: Today with Andy Makar, IT Program Manager and author.
Cornelius Fichtner: Hello Andy and welcome to The Project Management Podcast™.
Andy Makar: Hello.
Cornelius Fichtner: So you wrote a book titled “Project Management Interview Questions Made Easy”. Now since there are so many interviewing books out there, why write a book on the topic?
Andy Makar: Well, that’s a good question. The purpose of the book to really focus on the project managers who are out there looking for project manager jobs. And if you do a good quick Google search, you will find that there are hundreds and hundreds of project management related questions and websites that will tell you what questions are on the project management interview.
The problem is these questions list, there are hundreds of them. And trying to memorize a hundred questions for an interview that those questions may not be asked at all, that’s a challenge for anybody on an interview situation. So what I did is I focused on interview strategies as well as some core interview questions could be used in a project management interview.
Cornelius Fichtner: So what will readers actually learn from reading your book?
Andy Makar: So in the book, I provide the 7-step process for a successful project management interview. I start out by taking the reader through the importance of preparing the professional management profile, as well as going through several steps to find the right opportunity. We’re going through steps the pass the phone screen looking to prepare for an onsite interview and actually getting in to the project management interview itself. I know there are a few other things to think through when you go to thank you, followup, as well as even negotiating and accepting your offer.
Cornelius Fichtner: Alright! Before we get into the details here, let me take a complete detour and make a left turn here because certifications is always a big topic when it comes to getting a job. How important are certifications these days in regards to getting a job?
Andy Makar: I think today’s certifications are still an important tool to have on your resume. I know when I hire my project managers, I look for the PMP® certification because it helps establish that we have common language and common understanding of what a project management framework is.
Now there’s a lot of debate out there in terms of ‘is the PMP® certification really required for a project management job.’ I found it helpful to have that when I work with my team. It is definitely a helpful certification.
That’s even when I look into how you prepare your project management profile making sure you’re either indicating or preparing for PMP® certification or you’re involved in a professional project management organization. Those are helpful indicators that to see that that you take your profession seriously. It’s not only within the job but it’s also within the local project management community.
Cornelius Fichtner: So you mentioned a few steps that you have in your process. In fact, when I look at the Table of Contents, that’s pretty much your table of contents, prepare your project management profile, find the right opportunity, pass the phone screen, prepare the onsite interviews. So far, I haven’t really seen anything that I wouldn’t find in any other interview book.
Andy Makar: Well, the first 3 steps, it takes you through some formal interview techniques and things you want to think about when you clean up your social profile as well as making sure you represent a true project management professional image. I guess today’s day of social media, you also have people who will go out and search your own profile on the internet and see a little bit about what you are about not only on your resume but also what your social media footprint looks like.
In step 2, I do take a new twist on how to develop a career contact matrix. This is a free downloadable tool with the book that will help you build out your networking matrix of contacts, opportunities and it provides a roadmap that let’s you do followup as well as help network with other project managers and help find those other opportunities.
Cornelius Fichtner: In the past when I was looking for a project management job, there were two opportunities that usually came up. It was either a general project management job. You know you work for a company somewhere in the department and you will be managing multiple projects here or “Oh we need you as the main project manager on this humongous project over here. You being nothing but this” and you know it’s a contractual position and then afterwards you’re done. Will the book help in both cases?
Andy Makar: I think so because particularly in step 4 when I talk about preparing for the onsite interview. This is where you want to rely on your experiences. There are certain core fundamental technical and managerial project managerial project management questions that will be asked in the interview. But in your example working on a large program, working on a smaller project, those are all scenarios that you are going to want to brainstorm and rely on.
So when you go into an interview and they ask you off-the-wall question, you can still related to a particular experience because you’ve done this review and you’ve actually looked at your own profile and thought back to what were the lessons learned, the action items as well as your roles and contributions to those previous projects.
So what you’ll find is that as you build out your core contact matrix and as I get in step 4, I help the reader construct the actual mind map to help prepare for that interview. You’ll be able to use those tools to help find additional jobs as well as find other jobs within the company.
Cornelius Fichtner: Okay. We originally discussed that we would be doing this interview about your book, you suggested that ’you know I have several good tips that I can give to the listeners here’ so we want to look at 3 tips that you have and what we’re doing is I’ll just be reading up the tip for you that you sent kindly by email and then you can talk to us a little bit more about this tip and tell us how to use that in our project management job interview. So project management interview Tip #1 “Be prepared for project management leadership related questions.” Tell me about this one.
Andy Makar: This gets into the core leadership behaviors of what does it take to be a project manager. And yeah, I focus heavily on demonstrating a drive for results, demonstrating courage as well as following through with a customer focus. And those are all core leadership behaviors that project managers need to demonstrate and that’s what your clients are looking for because they’re looking to hire you to get the job done.
And so when you think about specific leadership behaviors, you want to think about scenarios in your past career where you demonstrated leadership on your projects. You may have been the full-time project management lead, perhaps you are a project coordinator looking at getting to a PMO role or looking to take your first project management job but focusing on what were you demonstrating leadership to help deliver a project for a client, it’s critical in a project management interview.
Cornelius Fichtner: Okay. Tip #2, “Be prepared for technical project management related questions.” What about this?
Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete PDF transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.