We’ve looked at the application process, the cover note, competency based interviews, brushing up on your project management knowledge and looking after your information so far in this series of Project Management Recruitment Ideas. This week we turn to the job interview. Most people will tell you that it’s OK to feel slightly nervous when you’re going to attend an interview, after all, if you didn’t feel some nerves you wouldn’t be human. This post is all about making sure the nerves don’t get the better of you and more importantly how you can prepare to make sure you perform well in your project management interview.
So you have received the news that you have been selected for an interview, congratulations your hard work has paid off. Now you must turn your attention to making sure you are fully prepared for the interview. If you found this new opportunity through a recruitment agent or direct with the employer, you need to ensure you have the right information before planning for your interview.
- Do you have the current job description and advertisement for the position you are being interviewed for? If not, make sure you receive this (you really can’t plan at all if this information is not forthcoming!)
- Do you have the interviewers names and job titles? It’s common sense that you have some idea of who you will be meeting
- Have you been told what kind of interview it will be? Informal, straightforward Q&A, competency based, presentation required?
- Do you know where you’re going? Not just the location of the office but where on site it might be (especially if you’re meeting at a place like a hospital or campus)
- Is there any other material available that tells you more about the project or the reasons for the project in the first place? Often with public sector projects there will be whitepapers and websites available that give this detail.
All these initial details allow you to start planning for the interview and the more planning you do, less is left to chance and when “chance” is taken care of, there is less reason to feel nervous about the interview.
So you have the job specification and a little detail about the background of the organisation and the project, couple that with the interviewer’s names it’s time to hit the web to see what other information you can find that will help in your planning. Searches for press releases, information available other than from the corporate website will help you build a more rounded picture and also impress the interviewer’s with your research and planning. You can look for the interviewer’s names (they will probably be on LinkedIn or similar websites) and gain a better understanding of where they have come from and how their career has progressed. If there is something on the job specification which is very specific to the organisation or a specific industry sector, make sure you do your research and find those jargon and acronyms busters. You may need to extend your searches if the project is about new technologies or services.
After getting a better picture of who you are meeting, what the project is about and what they are looking for; it’s time to pay attention to the job description in a little more detail. The objective of the job description is obviously for the organisation to lay out exactly what they’re looking for in the person; the tasks and activities you will be expected to be able to perform, the personal specification or softer skills you will be expected to exhibit, the overall objective of why this role is needed and what outcomes are required from hiring someone in this position.
To make sure you have planned effectively with the job specification I suggest that you take a blank sheet of paper and draw a line right down the middle. With the job specification take each sentence and bullet point in turn and make a note of each on one side of the paper. With your own thoughts and with your CV to hand, making a note in the opposite side of the column, against each point in turn. For example;
This is a perfect technique to use when trying to collect your thoughts about a role you are being interviewed for, it allows you to not only really understand that job specification inside and out but also allows you to think about perfect examples that really demonstrate you at your best. The trick of course is how to remember this in the interview itself. Well, after you have done this exercise you will find that you have six or seven examples that really touch on several of the points in the job specification. If you can remember six or seven examples, you will find that questions you receive in the interview itself can be answered using one of the examples. This way you ensure that your interview answers don’t keep mentioning the same project over and over and remain fresh and interesting.
I’ve been giving this advice for over eight years to project management professionals; it’s an excellent way to feel in control of the interview process, and the more you feel in control, the less nerves affect your performance.
Part 2 of Project Management Recruitment Ideas – The Job Interview is now available and in that we will looked at project management interview questions to fit the type of interview you are attending.
*If you have a project management interview coming up and would like 1-2-1 advice in getting prepared, see the project management career clinics from Arras People**