So you’ve worked hard to get noticed by the employers or been through the battle of getting recruiters to represent you and the hard work has paid off as you have an interview pending, or if you are fortunate then you may have a few lined up. This is the point where you don’t sit back and wait for the day; you need to apply yourself to really impress the interviewers. Often those who have reworked their CVs find it an important refresher for what they have done over the years and it really brings home the fact that we easily forget important (and relevant to interviews) pieces of work. Also those who have sat comfortably in a role for a long time or have secured assignments without interviews will not be as prepared as those who regularly go for interview. Here’s a guide to getting yourself ready and creating a good impression at interview:
- Go through your CV and refresh yourself on what you have been doing over the past few years, pay particular attention to areas relevant to the role you are interviewing for and dig deep into your memories by walking through assignments step by step to draw out any additional detail which may not be addressed on the CV.
- Read the job description and draw out key areas of requirement, those listed core competencies are a good starting point. For example if they are asking for Change Management then you will need to supply a good example of when you have managed change, think about the bereavement curve, what the key challenges were and how you overcame them.
- Start to pull out some strong examples which you feel will be good to talk about and apply the STAR technique (Situation, Task, Actions, Results), be clear on the message you want to deliver and keep to the facts, being theoretical is not useful to the interviewer especially when you’ve actually done it so tell them how it was.
- Examples of work, some interviewers may ask you to take an example of a stakeholder communication plan or project plan – in this case take a portfolio with some strong examples and be prepared to answer questions about it.
- Research the company, so many people barely do this so take time to really understand what the business does and what key challenges they may be facing, who are their competitors, what’s new on their news pages. Also take a look about what others are saying about them, know all there is to know – really demonstrate your buy-in to them and the role.
- Do a dummy run to the offices – don’t leave the journey to chance. It is always good practice to time how long it takes and which trains/buses you need to take (or where to park the car) and going at the same time of day as the interview will take place a day or two before will give you a good idea of traffic etc. Do remember to take enough change for the meter if you are driving, I have known one candidate turn up to interview stating they can only stay for half an hour as they only had enough change for that on the meter – yes really!
- Organise what you are going to wear a day or two before; ideally all should wear a suit or smart office clothes, even those who are fashion conscious need to tone it down for an interview. Nothing too outlandish or uncomfortable either.
- Put together some good questions to ask the interviewer, it is good practice to think through the role and business – this will naturally bring up some questions about how you will fit into the team, what you’ll be doing and what is expected from you within the first few weeks/months. Write a list, better to include more than you’ll ask as some will inevitably be covered by the interviewer during discussion.
Ready to start applying for a new job, but have you done the necessary to ensure you are in with a good chance of securing interviews? Here we are going to run through a few areas of key criteria you should be addressing in your Project Management CV:
- Well presented CV – move away from using fancy fonts and colours; make sure you spend some time formatting your CV to ensure it is clear and easy to read. Remember this is a professional document!
- Grammar and spelling – don’t rely on spell check for this, print off a copy and go through it word for word highlighting any errors for amendment.
- CV length – keep the document short, ideally 2 pages but 3 maximum keep the detail around your most recent roles and less so on the older positions.
- Contact details – seems obvious but so many forget to put a contact number and email address, make it possible for employers and recruiters to contact you.
- Profile – make sure you include a short statement at the top of the CV which clearly tells the reviewer what you actually do, where your key skills lay and ensure you take a holistic view.
- Achievements – as a Project Management professional you should address some key areas which demonstrate where you go above and beyond the call of duty. Include how you add value – employers want to see what they get for their money and it is often the case that PMs will do so much more than just deliver the project.
- Employment history – starting with most recent experience first, look to include detail of the business (so the reviewer can see which industry/sector you worked in), detail of the projects delivered, and how you deliver. All the skills often listed separately in the CV should actually be worked into this part of the CV as the stand alone list does not add value so leave the list out.
- IT skills – this can be a useful area to add in software used such as planning/tracking tools (e.g. MS Project, Primavera, Jira etc.)
- Hobbies – an optional area which adds a little personal detail, sometimes it can really work in your favour as I have had clients who have specifically requested candidates with a passion for the arts / travel etc.
- References – just state “available on request”, don’t include names and contact details as you will find your referees getting harassed by recruiters looking for leads.
The key to a good CV is to make sure you include enough detail so reviewers can understand what you do, how you work, size of teams/projects and the types of projects. Strike a balance of information including keyword searching criteria. You should be ensuring the CV is understandable to everyone, from recruiters/HR staff with little understanding of PM to hiring managers/senior management.
After all the hard work you put into making your CV stand out and impressing an employer with your application form, it’s the best feeling in the world when they want to meet you in person for an interview. But now is not the time to relax, this is where the hard work really starts. Now it’s time to really sell yourself and stand out from the other 10 or 15 people they may be interviewing! Here are a few tips to help you do that:
- First impressions count – It takes between 5 and 30 seconds for a person to make their judgement about you, and once they’ve made their assumptions it’s very hard to change their mind! So it’s really important to create the right first impression in an interview. Obviously the way you dress will be one of the first things they notice about you so keep it smart and well-groomed, and avoid too much jewellery or excessive perfume/aftershave. If you’re not used to wearing smart clothes wear them in the house a couple of times to get used to them and ensure you feel confident and comfortable. Carry yourself confidently, head up, shoulders back and offer a firm, confident hand-shake!
- Speak slowly and clearly – It’s perfectly natural to be nervous in an interview but there are ways you can ease your nerves and appear more confident. Speak slowly and clearly, there may be one interviewer asking the questions and another one recording your answers so think before you speak and don’t talk too fast! If English isn’t your first language you may want to consider taking a course to improve your conversational skills. Most cities in the UK have a language school. Taking English Courses in Manchester, London, and Birmingham etc is useful as larger cities provide more opportunities to practice your conversational skills.
- Research the company – Every company worth working for will have a website, so use it! Look for key information such as the roots of the company, any future visions they have, their ethics and morals etc. If there’s not enough on the website then it’s a good idea to give them a call or visit their premises to ask a few questions. It’s good practice to structure your research as a SWOT report: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. Look at what the company does well already, areas they could potentially improve on, what’s happening in the industry that could provide good opportunities, and any external threats from competitors or the economy.
- Preparation is key – There are certain interview questions that always get asked, such as “Why do you feel you’re right for the position?” and “Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?” So prepare some answers to several commonly asked questions and you’ll feel more confident when these questions arise. Try to think of several situational stories/anecdotes that demonstrate your skills, for example if you’re asked about a time when you gave great customer service, be specific, talk about specific situations and customers. Make sure you know what the job description and person specification are for the role and answer questions accordingly to demonstrate how you meet the employer’s needs.
- Ending on a good note – Make sure you’ve prepared 2 or 3 questions to ask the interviewer at the end of the interview. Try asking them things like “What does your training plan offer?” or “How much scope is there for personal development?” Questions like this show that you’re interested in the company and a long-term future with them. It’s also good practice to thank the interviewer for their time, perhaps followed up by an email the following day. Little touches like this may make you stand out more than other candidates.
Classic project management in many ways is no longer realistic in today’s world. The tough economy
has provided the perfect opportunity to encourage self-motivation and independence
amongst employees. A new approach to project management has emerged; social project
management. Social project management incorporates both social technology and software with the
basic elements of traditional project management. One important aspect of social project
management is having an online project management tool like LiquidPlanner, which brings together social
technology and an adaptable project management architecture.
The 5 laws of social project management shown here illustrate
how and why social project management can be so effective when it allows the unique abilities of each team member to contribute in a collaborative environment towards a shared project goal. Learn social project management laws, like
why autonomy and transparency must be maximized in social project management, and how projects
can be managed to allow every team member to contribute fully and efficiently.
Published by LiquidPlanner