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  1. When is an Interview Free Consulting?
  2. 4 More Tips to Answering Project Management Interview Questions About Metrics
  3. 4 Tips for Preparing for a Project or Program Manager Interview
  4. Networking Traps and Tips Slides Posted
  5. Hiring for Cultural Fit Slides Posted
  6. More Recent Articles
  7. Search Johanna Rothman, Management Consultant » HTP
  8. Prior Mailing Archive

When is an Interview Free Consulting?

I’m a big fan of auditions in an interview. (I have many posts about auditions in this blog.)

However, some hiring managers and teams push interviewing and auditions too far. When you’ve had three interviews, and your interviewer asks you to solve a problem for them—again—is it a hiring issue, or are they asking you to consult for free?

Here is a way that works for auditions and interviewing:

  • Create the dirtbag phone screen, if that matters to you.
  • Use a technical phone screen to make sure you want to bring the candidate in.
  • Interview in person with solo interviewers, for 45 minutes each. Use behavior-description questions and one 20-minute audition. Use the interview matrix so all the interviewers ask different questions.
  • At the end of that interview, if you have several great candidates, ask them to come in one more time, and meet with up to 4 people. Maybe use another 20-minute audition.

That’s it. You don’t need a third round of interviews. You don’t need that person to meet with more people. You should be able to decide based on your data to date, assuming you have organized your questions and auditions.

You don’t need the perfect candidate. That candidate doesn’t exist. You need someone who fits your culture and can learn fast enough for you.

If you have people do more than two 20-minute auditions, and/or meet with more than 8 people, you are dangerously close to asking for free consulting. Do you mean to do that? I find it demeaning to the candidate. It doesn’t show your company in the best light.

You might want to read this post: Three Tips to Streamline Your Interviews and Auditions, Part 4.

HiringGeeksThatFit.150 Remember, the best interviews are conversations. If you pay attention to your candidates as human beings, you will get farther faster, than if you decide they are “resources” that you can take advantage of. (People looking for work talk to each other.)


4 More Tips to Answering Project Management Interview Questions About Metrics

Some of you would like to know how to answer questions about the metrics you can gather and discuss when you look for a job as a project or program manager. Here are some tips:

Tip 1: Separate the quantitative questions from the qualitative questions.

I bet you have qualitative “measures” that you use either by design or by intuition. Here is one of mine.

  1. On a non-agile project, I ask the project team when the think the project will be done, each week or two.
  2. I ask them, “What did you see or hear to make you think the project will meet last week’s date/not meet last week’s date?”

This provides me data about how the team feels. I can probe further or look at risks differently.

Tip 2: Tell the interview what you normally measure and why.

  1. I always measure more than one dimension of the project. I look for trends over time. (See Manage It! Your Guide to Modern, Pragmatic Project Management to understand why.)
  2. Some of the trends I measure: changes in requirements over time; defect arrival, closed, and remaining open rates over time; features complete, remaining, and total features over time.

Tip 3. Ask what the interviewer needs as measures.

Ask the interviewer what they normally measure and explain how you get to the same data, especially if you get there in a different way.

Tip 4: Explain what you never measure and why

Everyone has their little bugaboos about project measurements.

  • I don’t like earned value in software, because as soon as you complete a feature you can change it. I don’t find earned value helpful as a way to measure progress. On the other hand, I do want to know about progress. I measure features complete, remaining, and total over time.
  • I cannot remember the last time I measured a burndown of time. Time goes on. (I always measure burnups.) I might measure when the people I need arrive on the project. That’s because late projects never make up time, they get later.
  • I don’t “measure” technical debt. I often measure fault feedback ratio, to make sure the developers are making progress.

I have other measures I can use for projects. I use different, more holistic measurements for programs.

Do you see how what you measure creates a conversation with the interviewer?

If you don’t manage projects the way I do, or you have non-software projects, you won’t answer these questions the same way. That is why it’s impossible for me to provide you the Right Answer to these questions.

See also Interview Questions for Project Managers, Interview Questions for Program Managers4 Tips for Preparing for a Project or Program Manager Interview and 6 Tips to Answering Project Manager and Program Manager Questions.

MYJS_border.150If you are looking for a job, see Manage Your Job Search.

If you are hiring, see Hiring Geeks That Fit.


4 Tips for Preparing for a Project or Program Manager Interview

I have a post on this site, Interview Questions for Program Managers. There are a number of comments. Some ask how to answer the questions. Some want more information. Maybe you also read Six Tips for Answering Project and Program Manager Interview Questions or Interview Questions for Project Managers and want more detail. This is the detail.

If you are a project or program manager and you want to know how to answer these questions, do this:

  1. Think about your most recent project or program. Ground yourself in recent reality.
  2. Define the value you provided to your organization. Use Four Tips to Defining Your Value.
  3. Now, practice the way you will explain your value in an interview. This is a story, one of many of your career. As part of this story, use data to explain your value.
    1. Did you save the company money?
    2. Did you solve a gnarly problem that kept managers awake at night?
    3. Did you do something to help the company retain or acquire customers?
    4. Did you help the project meet or beat the desired schedule date?
    5. Something else you can quantify?
  4. Make sure you tell the story in a way that can relate to your interviewer’s context. You can’t memorize your story. You can emphasize different pieces of it to make a specific point. If you are not sure what your interviewer wants to know, answer the questions in a way that explains your value.

Here’s why there is no right or wrong way to answer questions. I did a PMWar with a colleague on I only answered about 8 questions. I think I got 4 of them “wrong.” The reason I put wrong in quotes is that one of the questions was something like, “How many tools do you have to resolve conflict?” The answers were 6, 7, 8, 9. I answered 9 because I know of at least 9 ways to resolve conflict. (I would argue there are an infinite number of ways to resolve conflict.)

My answer, 9, was wrong. There are some number of ways according to some authority to resolve conflict. Bah! I don’t buy it. And, I have the stories to prove it.

That is why you can’t win with, “this is the right answer for a given question.”

On the other hand, you might like to know some ways to answer questions about metrics, specifically. I’ll address that in another post.

To summarize the four tips:

  1. Think about a recent project or program.
  2. Define your value.
  3. Practice how you will explain your value.
  4. Decide which pieces of the story you will emphasize in different contexts, so you answer your interviewer’s question.

There are no “right” answers for the questions you will encounter in a project manager or program manager interview. You need to answer questions truthfully based on your experience. When you prepare for your interview, you will have more success.

If you are looking for a job, read Manage Your Job Search. That book has much more detail about how to prepare for an interview. If you are hiring these kinds of people, read Hiring Geeks That Fit.


Networking Traps and Tips Slides Posted

I gave a webinar this past week to the BU Career Connection. We had a great turnout. I have posted my slides: Eight Traps (and Tips) of Networking When Job Searching.

MYJS_border.150The slides are based on Manage Your Job Search. Since I published the book and have given talks about it, I have discovered more traps.

I hope you enjoy the slides.


Hiring for Cultural Fit Slides Posted

I’ve given webinars and talks about hiring for cultural fit for years. A couple of weeks ago, I was in Waterloo/Kitchener, Ontario. When I spoke for Communitech, I updated my talk, Hiring for Cultural Fit.

It’s easy to get cultural fit wrong. It’s more difficult to get it right. I hope you enjoy the slides.

HiringGeeksThatFit.150BTW, if you want the details on how to hire for cultural fit, read Hiring Geeks That Fit.


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