Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Must Know Management Interview Questions and Answers for Program & Project Managers

Make sure that you are spending enough time for the interview preparation. As a guideline, as part of the interview preparation, gather important experiences you have got throughout your career. Make sure that you are collecting it all skill levels like managerial, operational, negotiations, technical, knowledge level, process level etc. when you answer below questions, identify the appropriate experience and try to fit in to the answer. For that, Convert the relevant experiences into Stories, the story shall contain A situation with a problem, actions taken to solve the problem, resolution, lessons learned and how it is going to be useful for the opportunity you are looking for.

What management style have you found to be most effective?

 Each individuals having their own styles of management like democratic, autocratic etc. Many successful managers will have multiple styles and they adapt to the required one based on the situation. Here the interviewer is evaluating your ability to adapt your management style to different people and circumstances. Describe the styles you are following and how it was effective by sighting the recent examples. Each style will have its own advantage in different jobs, for example a aggressive management style will be suitable for a marketing or a sales job.

Eg. with inexperienced employees I use a management style that involves a high level of task instruction and close supervision. I find this effective because the employee needs to be secure that they know exactly what to do and how to do it. They also require constant support to build their confidence. For a more experienced employee who is comfortable with the work, I delegate the task and expect them to come to me for help if they need it

What type of people do you work with most effectively?

This is an important question because it evaluates the flexibility of your management style. Are you able to communicate and interact effectively with a variety of individuals and establish good working relationships with a diverse group of employees? Interviewer will evaluate what type of employees do you get on with and what type of employees you find it difficult to work with from the answer. You can impress the interviewer if you have experience in working  with a diversified team.

For example, "I work well with people who are hardworking, competent and confident of their abilities. However I have had to manage people who do not fall into this category. When this happens I take this opportunity in developing the employee and helping them to use their skills to their fullest potential"

What aspect of your management style would you like to change?

This question almost resembles to the question ‘What are your weaknesses!
No-one is a perfect manager, so denying this shows that your lack of self awareness. Identify your weakness and management style and describe the steps you're taking and give evidence on your progress. Remember not to explicitly say any weakness which you feel that a must quality for the job opportunity..!!

Describe your experience in managing a diverse project/program team towards a common goal

Now days, many projects/programs are global in nature or based out of multi-location. Focus on how you clearly defined project roles and responsibilities and how you monitor and control it. You can emphasis on your ability to delegate, kept personality clashes and conflict to a minimum and how well you feed back to the project team. Answer will be more convincing if you could outline your management style and why it worked.

Tell us about your experience in managing different projects and how this can contribute to our position

This is a multi-layered and fairly complex question. Hence you have to structure your interview answer. Better to start by explaining how you will answer the question. This keeps your answer on track and to the point. For example, "I will begin by giving you a short description of my last three projects. I will then detail the skills and abilities I developed as a result of each project and then demonstrate the value of these skills to this position."
You have to describe the skills you acquired during the project. Demonstrate how these skills will benefit the position and company.

Describe the most complex project you have managed from start to finish

You have to briefly explain the project and state why do you feel it was challenging. More formal processes and techniques are required to effectively manage the project/ program. You have to explain how you managed the challenges and brought the project/program to the closure. Be enthusiastic about your accomplishments and specify how your experience will benefit the interviewing company. Point out where you made a difference on the project in terms of expenditure, quality, efficiency, customer satisfaction and organizational success.

In your experience what are the warning signs that your project/program may fail?

How did you pick up the warning signal and how did you manage it?. Warning signals can include constantly changing specifications, lack of interest from stake holders, incompetence, business environment changes and inadequate resources. Apart from that cost and schedule slippage impacts as well. This question has to answer with process and with examples and how you managed it.

Give an example of a win-win situation you negotiated in your project/program

In all projects there are a number of stakeholders who all see their concerns and issues. Effective project management means responding by finding the best solutions that address the issues without compromising the other stakeholders or the overall project. Focus on how you are able to communicate essential information and workable alternatives in a way that gains acceptance to the respective stake holders.

What was the most stressful or difficult situation of your last project and how did you deal with it?

Show how you are able to stay calm under pressure and plan to reduce stress focusing on aspects such as your people management, technology management, risk management and expectation management.

Tell me how you manage changes in your project/program

Changes are inevitable in any kind of project management scenarios. This question has to be answered based on the proper change management process and how you implemented it in your project by quoting an example. Answering this without formal process will not give any benefit. Your answer should emphasize your ability to plan properly and thoroughly for change.

What are the most important considerations when recruiting and building an effective project team?

The recruitment should be based on need basis and for that the manager has to define the roles and job descriptions for the post they are recruiting foe. In your answer, highlight how you not only consider the necessary experience and technical skills but look at critical roles and responsibilities and the dynamics between team members.

How will the person fit in with organizational beliefs and goals? How will the person relate to the stakeholder group? A clear understanding of what is expected of each project member is essential.

Describe a time when your communication and interpersonal skills helped in dealing with difficult clients or team members

When answering this question it is important to show how you are able to adapt your style of communication to the person you are dealing with. Empathy, understanding and self-awareness all play a role in doing this. The ability to communicate with different stake holders on various levels with diverse project interests is important for successful project management. Every project team and every project is different, you must be able to adjust. your style to their needs.

Other Standard Project/program Management Interview Questions for reference

  1. Give me an example of how you used your leadership skills to help your project team meet a difficult challenge.
  2. What do you consider to be the most important project manager skills in terms of people management?
  3. Describe some innovative ways by which you have improved effectiveness on recent projects.
  4. What did you learn from your last project?
  5. How do you determine realistic schedules for the project?
  6. Explain your methods for resource allocation.
  7. How do you manage venders/partners/suppliers?
  8. How do you inform all the stakeholders of the progress of the project on a regular basis?
  9. How do you monitor risks to the project and mitigate them?
  10. What tools do you use to monitor and control projects?
  11. What project management methodologies are you most familiar with?
  12. What project/program management software have you used?
  13. What are the practices you follow for closing a project and ensuring the completion acceptance criteria?
  14. What specific program/project management training have you had?
  15. Do you mind not seeing your family, wife, or children for weeks at a time?
  16. If I were to tell you that you aren't ambitious, how would you refute me?
  17. What has been your greatest achievement to date?

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