We’ve looked at the application process and the cover note so far in this series of Project Management Recruitment Idea, this week I’m going to jump to the interview process and share a few thoughts on competency interviews in project management.
When you’ve made it through the shortlisting process with your job application, the interview is the next place for you to make the right impression. More and more organisations are using competency based interview techniques to help them make the right decision in hiring. Briefly, competency based interviews are questions which have been chosen to find out an individual’s competence levels in any given role. The questions are “situational” rather than asking directly about an individual’s previous experience. WikiJob gives a good overview.
If the competency interview for project managers (and indeed other roles within programme and project management) focuses on the competences of project management, are you prepared for the different types of questions you could receive? You need to understand what the key competencies are for the role you are going to be interviewed for. The key competencies may be already listed clearly in the job description but if they are not you need to understand what the key competencies are for a project manager, programme manager, project co-ordinator etc. I advise that you invest in a competency framework for project management (PMI, APM, IPMA), these frameworks are great for showing each competency in project management (estimating, business case, planning, scheduling, risk management, communication, teamwork, negotiation, legal awareness, organisation structure etc). Within each competency there are levels of knowledge and experience that are needed – or indicators – that can be used in your interview preperation for a competency based PM interview.
See the example below from APM’s Competence Framework, in this image it’s the scope management competency (from the technical competence domain). Take a look at the indicators that make up scope management. It becomes clear to see how you might receive competency based questions on scope management in an interview; “how do you document and agree the project scope?”, “how do you incorporate changes into the project scope?”, “how do you use WBS?”