Friday, December 23, 2005

Project manager interview

This one's a project management job with a non-profit serving libraries. Two person interview panel.
  • What attracted you to the job and the organization?
  • What was the most challenging project you've worked on?
  • Give us an idea of the range of projects you've worked on.
  • Are you involved in any online communities?
  • Give an example of a time you worked on multiple projects simultaneously and discuss how you prioritized competing demands.
  • Describe a project you worked on that went wrong.
  • How do you feel about doing the more mundane side of project management (the grunt work that just has to get done)?
  • What kind of tasks do you enjoy most?
  • What kind of supervisor do you work well with?
  • Talk about your Spanish skills.
  • If you had to describe yourself using just three words, what would they be?
  • What one thing do you want us to remember about you?

I'll admit, it was hard to be in interview mode on December 22. On the upside, I was too exhausted to feel nervous.

This one was interesting because it's a different sort of job than I'd been picturing for myself. Actually, the more I think about it, the more it seems like it might be a good fit. Still, it can be tricky to switch gears. You can describe your duties and responsibilities at one job in half a dozen different ways. It all depends on what you choose to emphasize, and what works for one interview won't necessarily work for the next.

There's a lot you can tell about a job from how they conduct the interview. Sometimes the questions are vague and you get a sense that they're not really sure what they're looking for. Other times you can tell that they're looking for something in particular, that there are right and wrong ways to answer each question, and how well you do will depend on your ability to match their expectations. This time, I felt like the questions were pretty open, and the interview wasn't just about my answers, but about judging how I create structure when presented with general guidelines rather than precise instructions. I imagine that is representative of what the work environment would be like.

Personally, I don't like the "pick three words to describe yourself" kind of question. It's a little generic, and I'm more impressed when the questions are tailored to the specifics of the job. As an interviewee, I like it when I can tell why a question is being asked and what it will tell the interview panel about my qualifications as related to the job description.

I still think one of the biggest challenges in an interview is to give specific examples. It's to easy to generalize, and every answer can be improved when you pair it with an example that illustrates what you mean.

And, this was the first time that I talked about this blog during an interview (hello to my interviewers if you're reading this).


At 2:20 PM, Anonymous PM Hut said...


I have published (a long while ago) a list of 300 (yes 300!) interview questions for project managers. Take a look, the list is pretty exhaustive and most of the questions are actually being used in real interviews...


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