My first interview as Project Manager

Evening 4 PM was the schedule, I reached 15 minutes early, there were lot of people coming and going out of this office, I was sitting at reception and waiting for my turn out of a few people already waiting before me. After an hour or so I was called in a meeting room near to reception and I was greeted by a mid aged person, lets say A.

A was already having my resume and he started by just saying can you introduce your self in a way that you do not mention any of your achievements and the projects that you have done but by the learning that you have gained over the period of time.

I replied by mentioning, my first project as a Project Manager was when I learned to work by the side of another Project Manager, as he was moving out of project in sometime, there I had a chance to understand, there is a certain pace in each of the project and if a PM is well aligned with the overall pace, half of the battle is already won. There is a lot of learning in terms of how that PM thinks and acts in situations and how you would be doing in that scenarios, this gives immediate learning and options to comparatively analyse your base knowledge and improve.

There were many projects in between but I will like to mention another project where I traveled onsite to Client’s location for requirements gathering and interacted to the actual business users of the Project, til now I have been working primarily with the technology managers or intermediate managers that generally got the requirements from business users and translated into requirements. This time I had this first hand experience where I have to talk business first and then translate it to requirements, I had a great learning in this project and I have started to think about the pain areas of the end user, no matter how difficult the requirements will be but now I have started to think from user’s point of view, this has drastically improved my involvement with Client and the trust factor that helped till the end of Project.

A asked what was your toughest project to manage and what were the challenges ?

I replied there are certain aspects in each of the projects that needs attention and plan to execute considering them, but specifically there was one account that had 4 projects ongoing and a new project to be started with the same client. All the four projects were ongoing since few years with a team size of more than 20 resources and things were smooth, with the new project in discussion a new Manager from Client side got added and she had her own preference in terms of her preferable vendor to work with. I initiated the discussion about the requirements and estimates but in a few days I got the understanding that she is very biased towards other vendor and trying best to knock us out of the Project, so I started following the process very carefully with everything documented and that helped a lot even if we were not selected to work on this project later but internal stakeholders were very happy to see my professional approach even knowing that we would not be doing this project.

Can you mention any positive risk in any of you projects ?

This specific question I didn’t had answer to, as I had never thought about a risk that can be positive, risks are always negative as per my knowledge, but then A asked me to remember a situation where you had more than what you would need to execute a Project, suppose you need 4 person in team as per the work but you have the luxury to have 6 resources, these two additional resources are the positive risk. If you can deliver a project in 4 months but you have been given 6 months to complete these two months are positive risks. You can always raise these positive risks and improve on the Project’s Profitability margin and optimize the resource utilization.

What all tools you use for Project Management ?

Generally I use Jira/Confluence these days but I have used many tools like Wrike, Basecamp, Trac, Mantis, Trello, OnTime, MicrosoftProjectPlan, Microsoft Office and other tools as well. It purely depends on the Project and sometimes as per availability or Client’s preference.

With this the Interview ended with a brief about the roles and responsibilities that I might have if I am selected !

Every interview gives you a possibility to introspect and learn as well, so keep participating in interviews regularly.  What is your view on this, please add comments !

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Adil is 15 years experienced IT Professional currently working as Project Manager managing multiple projects deliveries. He started as a Programmer and continuously progressed with increased responsibilities, he has worked on more than 100 IT projects with small, medium to large Client accounts. Adil's interests are to get into new technologies and start delivering successfully.

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