You want to ask questions – always ask questions – especially when the interviewer asks if you have any questions. Ideally, you want to answer questions with a positive response. Try to avoid, “no” or “I don’t know” or “I’ve never had experience with that”, etc. Instead, search for ways to apply experience, a quantifiable success story or highlight your leadership qualities.
Make sure to ask intelligent questions. Make them worthwhile so that you are actually gathering information that will help you determine whether or not this is your dream job.
Here are 5 legitimate fact finding questions you can (should?) ask in your next interview for a project management position.
What is your average size project in terms of dollars and team members?
This type of question – a good quantifiable question – makes the interviewer think hard and will allow you to follow-up (possibly) in terms of size of projects and teams that you have led or worked with.
Do you have business analysts assigned to the projects?
You want to know this because this gives you an idea of the level of project management oversight vs. hands-on tech work on requirements, functional design, test preparation, etc. If there are no BAs – and that does happen – then usually what they are looking for is a project manager-business analyst combo position. If so, make sure you are experienced in both areas and willing to play both roles.
Is there a PMO?
Tell me about the structure of your PMO. Finding out details about their project management infrastructure will help you frame your other questions as well as your responses to the interviewer questions. It may also, ultimately, help you decide whether you want to accept the position should it be offered to you.
Does the pool of project managers run through policies, tools and templates annually to discuss changes and improvements?
This is a good one because often PMO’s and pools of project managers will have annual getaways or working sessions where they brainstorm on process improvements… think of it as a huge internal lessons learned session. It can be fun, but most of all, it’s productive and tells you something about the progressive and focused nature of the organization’s project management infrastructure.
Not in their protocol? Well this may give you a leadership edge to spearhead this effort in the near future if you are up for the challenge.
Describe the process flow of the average project through the organization from conception to completion.
This response will give you insight to when the PM gets involved, what the pre-engagement project structure or process looks like and what handoff to support looks like.
No one can guarantee, of course, that any particular conduct or Q&A in an interview will ensure that you get hired. However, asking compelling questions like these during the interview will show the interviewer your genuine interest and will most likely leave a lasting impression.
Project Management ChatHow about our readers – what suggestion questions or tips do you have for other readers seeking a first time or new project management position?
Questions or comments? Feel free to share them below!