How to ACE the Interview and Land your Dream Job as a Project Manager

Monday Jul 31st, 2017


To be honest with you, whether or not you end up getting your dream Project Management job all boils down to the face to face interview. You may have the perfect profile, stellar resume, exceptional references and more, but the face to face interview is critical, because here the interviewer evaluates if they ‘see’ you working and being successful in their business environment. And somehow, you need to convince them in that 30 minutes to 1 hour that you are that person. Below are a few pointers on how to do this – to put these into practice and learn more skills for winning at the interview, join our Mock Interview Program.

1. Be friendly and smile

Everyone wants to work and be around happy, personable people. So don’t be so stiff and serious during your interview. Project Management may sound scary, intense and intimidating, but it really is about leading a team to deliver a series of business objectives. When you smile, it reflects that you are at ease, are welcoming and are happy to be there. And happiness is everything; it even leads to the success of people, and therefore the success of the project. So when you get into that interview room, make sure you smile!

2. Dress for success

I know you know this, but I need to add this to the list to be comprehensive! To get a job as a Project Manager, you need to be in a business suit. Business formal attire all the way, regardless of which industry you are applying to be a Project Manager for. Project Management is a senior level role, and you will have to interact with Senior Executives. Show the interviewer that you look the part by wearing a crisp black business suit.

3. Be ready for the ‘tell me about yourself’ question

Most interviewers will start off by asking you to introduce yourself. Here you want to focus in on why and how you got into Project Management as a career. Then briefly state where you see yourself in the next few years and then conclude with a fun fact that is connected to project management – for example, you learned that you love working with people from diverse backgrounds on a volunteer trip in Costa Rica and since then you travel overseas every year to volunteer (make sure you only mention what you do! ‘making things up’ is NOT cool).

4. Focus on quality not quantity

At some point in the interview, you may be asked why you think you should be given the job. Here, you need to focus on the quality of your past experiences. Highlight any projects that have been high stakes and challenging for your organization and speak about the result you attained as the Project Manager. It is irrelevant to say that you should be given the job solely because ‘you have many projects under your belt’. Remember, quality over quantity is valued always.

5. Tell a story

Think of the interview as your story telling session and demonstrate to the interviewer how truly unique you are. Always remember that there is no one path to become a great Project Manager. Tell the honest story of your path, being authentic and genuine will definitely get your noticed. One of my friends studied medicine and graduated as a Doctor. However, the hours soon burned her out so she decided to apply for a Project Manager role at a hospital. The interviewers were surprised at the shift in her career path, but she ended up getting the job because she told them the story of how and why she chose project management and gave examples on how she would be successful in this role.

6. Give examples ALWAYS

The interview is your opportunity to DEMONSTRATE that you will make a good Project Manager. Do this by giving detailed examples when asked any interview question. For instance, the interviewer could ask you to list your top three strengths. Rather than just listing off your strengths, elaborate by describing a time when you demonstrated them. For example, instead of saying ‘I have excellent interpersonal skills’ say ‘I have excellent interpersonal skills. In my previous company, I was the team lead of the social committee and I went above and beyond to make my team feel valued in order to engage them and as a result we had the largest ever participation in our company-wide events that year.

7. Have a conversation and ask questions too!

The interview is also an opportunity for you to determine if this role and company is the right fit for you. Therefore, make sure that you also ask questions. Usually the interviewer will keep this for the end. For this, prepare intelligent questions that will help you learn more - examples of good and insightful questions can include asking about the company culture, more details on the types of projects or anything else related to the work. However, don’t forget that the best interviews are ones where two people actually have a great conversation. Therefore, if relevant during the discussion, feel free to ask any pertinent questions to help the conversation flow better and more like a discussion, rather than just your interrogation. If you can master the art of having a great conversation while also conveying your skill set during the interview, you will be sure to ace it!

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