I always receive a mixed response from candidates regarding interview expectations, most are confident that once they are interviewed they will be offered the job – great to have such confidence and I hope the theme continues that way. However there are a number of candidates who find interviews terrifying, understandable if you haven’t had much experience of interviews or it has been a long time since your last one. The element of not knowing what to expect is where the fear kicks in for most, in this article I want to address Stakeholders.
Now, whether you are a Senior Programme Manager or a Project Admin, stakeholders are arguably the most important element of project success. Whenever I have seen a project not reach success, it has often come back to a failing communication element.
Here are some questions based purely on the stakeholder aspect which you should look to consider and compare with your own experiences, so you can create a number of responses to use in your forthcoming interviews. Remember to take a holistic approach to your responses, giving detail about the project/situation, your actions and finally the results achieved.
- How do you identify the key stakeholders on your project?
- Realistically this can be as simple as a meeting with all involved and/or;
- Rating their level of interest and involvement in the project.
- Once identified, what do you do next?
- Think about stakeholder mapping, communication plans etc.
- Give me an example of a strained stakeholder relationship, what did you do to resolve the issue?
- A great question, which answered correctly, can really draw out your relationship building skills. Soft skills as more important than process in PM.
- When working with external stakeholders, how do you ensure a balanced communication process is maintained?
- This is an interesting question; it could be a trick to see what information you are willing to share with outsiders to the company. Always difficult to gauge how organisations work, some are transparent whereas others like to keep all issues in-house. Of course the core part of the question is really asking how you keep in touch with the external parties, always check questions which might generate a leading response.
Once you have some good examples to talk through – practice, give the questions to your partner/friend/colleague and run through them, ask them back what you just told them to see if you are communicating clearly. Practice makes perfect and it is all too easy to get embroiled in internal terminology (from your current/previous company), and you need to be able to engage all at the interview including HR and other non-PM people.