Common interview mistakes to avoid for Project Managers

 
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The information below is written to help Technology Project Management Consultants  avoid common interview mistakes and win jobs

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1: Avoiding negative first impressions: One of the main reasons hiring managers reject candidates is due to the first impressions they receive. Whether you are taking a phone interview, Skype call or in-person interview, your first impressions will shape rest of the conversations. Here are some dos and don'ts:

Phone Interview: When Answering the phone, don’t say “hello” and pause. When you say hello and pause, you pause the flow of the conversation. The hiring manager now needs to confirm that they are speaking to the right individual and forced to ask questions like - "Hello, am I speaking to John; is this John". Now imagine for a second that your name is Apichatpong Weerasethakul or Gbenga Akinnagbe and you answer the phone with just hello. That would put the caller in a really stressful situation since they probably don't have a clue on how to pronounce your name. Your phone greeting is the first point of contact with the caller. Don't just stop at hello! Make your phone greetings as pleasant as possible and always include your name in your greetings.

Skype Interview: Make sure to test your connection with a friend prior to the interview.  Get feedback about ambient noise, connection quality, and room lighting to make sure that the interviewer has a pleasant experience over the Skype. Do get on Skype call with the interviewer and try to troubleshoot. It shows that you are not a forward thinker and don’t have your ducks in a row. 

In-person Interview: Always dress to impress. Some organizations will say that they are casual and don’t require a tie. Which is fine, but don’t show up in a T-shirt or jeans, dress appropriately. Your clothing and how you dress portrays your work style and the quality of the work you will produce. 

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2: Answering the question, tell me about yourself: This is probably the most important question you can answer as a candidate. Response to this question will determine if your candidacy is a good fit for the position.  Keep your answer precise and aligned to the core responsibilities of the job. Limit yourself to 1-2 minutes max responses. Anything more than 2 minutes can dilute your response and potentially cause TRIGGER-FREEZE. Trigger-freezes are anything that the hiring manager doesn't like, had a bad experience with, or they deem irrelevant. If any of those are triggered, they can immediately disqualify you. If the hiring manager is looking for additional information, they will ask you for it or you could simply state, "Did I cover all the points you wanted to hear?". Always diagnose before you prescribe. Diagnosing what the hiring manager is looking for and aligning your responses against them will keep your profile high in their mind.

3. Hone your delivery skills: Practice your delivery in front of a mirror. Are you speaking too fast, too slow, how are your facial expressions, does your voice and tonality matches the job you are going in for? Your communication is the doorway to your thinking process. Make sure you come off as professional and eloquent as needed for the job. Whether you are an experienced consultant or new to the job market, practicing your delivery in front of a mirror can only make you better. 

4. Be Ready: Whether you are taking a phone interview or going in for in-person, always have a copy of your resume and your job description PRINTED. Having those two printed will give you more relevant information to talk about. Never go to job interview empty-handed. Also, you can write your notes directly on the job description. You hiring manager will see that as being proactive. 

5. Listen first, speak later:  Two rules to follow here - first, never interrupt the interviewer, second, listen to understand and not to respond. By listening deeply to the interviewer, their true needs can be discovered. As a human, we often have the tendency to jump into a conversation, cut people off and state our own opinions. Avoid that urge and only speak at the end of interviewer's sentences or questions. 

6. Have a list of questions lined up: When the interviewer asks, do you have any questions?, instead of responding with - no, I am good to go, take that as an opportunity to learn more about the project. Also, this part of the interview can be leveraged to strengthen your position on any of the weak answers you might've provided earlier. Some sample questions are:

  • What is the size and budget of the project? 
  • Is this a backfill or a brand new role? 
  • What are some of the challenges you foresee with the project? 
  • How would you describe the culture of the organization? 
  • Is the project team local or geographically dispersed?
  • Are all the project members hired and assigned?
  • What type of project management software do you use?
  • What is a typical work schedule looks like at your organization? 

One a final thought, interviewing is similar to dating. You first interact with someone online, talk to them over the phone, meet them in person, and finally get into a relationship. Interviews should never be one-sided, it should be conversational as if you were talking to a friend under professional settings. So go have fun with your next interview and thanks for stopping by.