Tag Archives: Project Management

Project Manager Interview Q&A

Give me an example of how you used your leadership skills to help your project team meet a difficult challenge.

An effective project manager needs to lead though setting goals and using the right methods to guide and influence the project team towards goal attainment. Good leaders enable team members to feel they have a real stake in the project and encourage them to participate in problem-solving and decision-making.

Describe a time when your communication and interpersonal skills helped in dealing with difficult clients or team members.

After leadership, the ability to communicate effectively with people at all levels is regarded as the second most important project manager skill. Good project management requires clear communication about objectives, roles, responsibilities, performance, expectations and feedback. The project manager should be able to effectively influence and persuade clients and the team to ensure success. Explicit guidelines and expectations should be communicated to accomplish results.

Give an example of a win-win situation you negotiated

In all projects there are a number of stakeholders who all see their concerns and issues as the most important. Effective project management means responding by finding the best solutions that address the issues without compromising the other stakeholders or the overall project.

What was the most stressful aspect of your last project and how did you deal with it?

Very few projects stay on schedule, under budget and with no major problems. The ability to handle stressful situations is key to successful project management. Limited resources and time, changing demands and new circumstances all result in stress on the project manager.

Tell me about a situation during a recent project when you had to adapt and manage change

Show that you can adjust effectively to meet changing demands and tasks. An effective project manager can quickly assess a new situation and adapt to it. The change management process is critical to the success of a project.

from: http://www.best-job-interview.com/project-manager-interview-questions.html

Great Project Management Job Search Sites

Indeed.com has an RSS feed while Careerbuilder.com has an iPhone application. In general, but in your key words (like project manager, or PMP) and then zip.

Why not try them both?

The Magic Triangle


from http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/project/HA102352381033.aspx


What is a Baseline Snapshot and Baseline Variance within Microsoft Project?

1.    A baseline is a snapshot of the planned number of hours at the start of the project (as of a base date) i.e. Baseline #1 

2.    Later one may need to change the number of hours, the work column will show the new number hours and thus the (within the capacity report) Baseline and Work Variance columns will show the difference. 

NOTE: the PM should not change (i.e. re-baseline) without agreement from line managers/resources/sdm

Every wonder what the difference between (resource) capacity and utilization is?


Check this out…

PM Tips: What’s Your Message?

From http://www.gantthead.com/content/articles/237850.cfm

I have noticed that there are a growing number of PMs that don’t necessarily identify with the service or product that their project is delivering. They almost seem to think that the templates, reports and plans ARE the project deliverables. In their mind, these documents represent the tangible fruits of the project manager’s effort.

In the case of IT, this may be a strange phenomenon of having had managers come up through the software coding ranks. Now that the individual has achieved the coveted position of project manager, they feel somewhat naked without having something tangible that represents their contribution. However, being able to communicate a message and gauge whether it’s being successfully received many times requires that you step outside of your deliverables. It requires a different skill set.

Vertical Agility

I had a teacher early on in college who would not allow answers on exams to be word-for-word recitations from definitions in the textbook. The key, she explained, is that you don’t truly understand the material until you can answer it your own words and from a few different perspectives. Otherwise you’re just memorizing what’s in the book, and that does not mean that you understand it or can apply it. In my mind, this is horizontal agility–being able to come at something from a variety of directions.

Vertical agility, on the other hand, is the ability to succinctly and rapidly move anywhere from the technical elements of your project to the executive summary quickly and efficiently, all while keeping the important points at the right level of detail and never losing your particular audience along the way. Vertical communication agility in project management is crucial to keeping all of your internal and external stakeholders up to date.

You can think of vertical agility as being the translator for your project. You are able to speak with each group of stakeholders from engineers to business users to the financial department in their vernacular. The ability of the PM to effortlessly shift between groups through the course of a business day is the essence of vertical agility.

Communication agility, in a form explained by my former college professor 20 years ago, has never rung truer for me as it does today. It is not until we can apply the practice with the finely honed ease of a journey tradesman that we can deliver on the overall perceptions of the project management promise.

What’s Your Message?

Once you have adjusted your tone for your audience, you now have to deliver the message. As the project manager, you have to be a master communicator. You don’t have to be a great orator, but you do need to have a firm grasp on your project and the ability to target your message to your audience.

Think about any of the reality television talent shows. When a would-be singer starts his or her song, you know pretty quickly whether they know how to sing or can hold your interest. They only have a brief window to connect with you before you start to tune out. Think about that the next time you are communicating to your audience about your project highlights.

The most important part of creating that message is to make it easily communicated and understandable for your audience. Any message, whether project related or not, is best viewed from the perspective of your intended audience. Asking questions like, “If I am in their shoes, what would I want know?” or “Why is this important to them over, for example, some other points?”

As I craft my message, I am constantly viewing it from the perspective of those about to hear it. The majority of my most effective communication has been scrubbed of all but the most important project lingo. Terms like “effort-driven” and “task constraints” don’t make you sound intelligent as much as it shows your inability to connect with your audience at its best, or make you seem arrogant at its worst.

This is especially effective with clients and business-oriented team members. They are typically not fluent in formal project lingo. Try to keep it to a minimum. Being able to see how your message is being received and having the skill to adjust and correct that message for maximum impact can be called “connection agility.”

One word of caution, however, is not to make your message too simplistic sounding, either. Talking down to your audience is a sure way to lose them out of the gate. By the same token, don’t hesitate to use project jargon with your team, the verbal short-hand will save time and insure rapid understanding. Always treat your listeners with respect and will come out ahead.

Maximum Impact

Every time you are asked to give an update on your project, your message should be succinct, to the point and memorable for that audience. Think about what the two to four points are that you want this person to take away with them. On occasion, you have time to prepare this message beforehand; often you don’t and have to craft this message on the fly.

If you have to give a five-minute overview of the project to the CIO of the company, you should already know that “number of tasks started on time” probably doesn’t mean much.

If I had five minutes to update the CIO on my project, what I would want to communicate is: 

·       This is what the project is delivering to the business

·       This is where I am at in the timeline

·       This how much I have spent and what I have left to spend

·       As of today I am (on schedule/behind, but we can recover/behind and we need help)

·       Any other hot issues that the CIO needs to be aware of

I would use this same type of approach but at varying levels of details (vertical agility) to address business clients and technical team members. Knowing your message and thinking through both its relevance and appropriateness to your listeners will make you a star.

As a project manager, you must absolutely understand that until your project delivers its product or service, the only thing your stakeholders have is your communications. The project manager is the project’s chief spokesperson and is in the best position to express the project’s status and merits. The project management framework gives you some good tools for communication, but ultimately you need to craft the right message for the right audience using vertical agility, and “that hasn’t changed in (at least) over 30 years.”

The Art of Being Assertive

The Art of Being Assertive

Denene Brox, for Yahoo! HotJobs, Yahoo! HotJobs

There are many factors that contribute to your career success, but one that’s often overlooked is the art of being an assertive employee. If your idea of standing out as a good employee is to simply show up everyday and do the work put in front of you, you are losing out on many opportunities to advance your career and earnings potential.

“Assertiveness is the balance between being mousy and being aggressive,” says career coach Cheryl Palmer. “It is standing up for yourself, but not at the expense of others.”

For some, striking that balance may mean not being so harsh and bold. For others, it means stepping up and asking for what you want. Palmer says that taking an honest, introspective look at yourself is the first step to measuring your level of assertive self-expression.

So in what areas of your career is it crucial to become assertive? Following are three key areas where assertiveness pays.


“Being assertive can earn you more money throughout your career,” says Palmer. “I have seen many clients lose thousands of dollars because they are not assertive enough to negotiate salary or speak up and ask for a raise. Women in particular tend to have issues with assertiveness when it comes to money.”

Career coaches agree that if you’re waiting for your boss to notice your contributions and reward you with higher pay, you’re losing out. Dee C. Marshall, a career and life coach, says to put your request for a raise in writing, outlining all of your achievements, and ask for a meeting with your boss to discuss. “You must go confidently and ask. No one is going to hand you anything,” says Marshall.


“Meetings are the perfect situation to be assertive,” says career coach Rebecca Kiki Weingarten. “It can be an opportunity for you to shine and show your stuff.”

Using meetings to share your creative ideas and solutions to problems will help you stand out in front of key leaders. Weingarten points out that even asking the right questions in a meeting is being assertive.

“One of my clients was promoted to vice president of the company just because he contributed in meetings,” says Palmer. “He had been at a much lower level in the organization, but his contributions were so salient that upper management saw his potential and promoted him. He ended up making six figures.”

Setting Boundaries

If your coworkers are driving you crazy or bullying you around, it’s time to put good boundaries in place. Palmer says that there are a lot of workplace bullies, and being assertive allows you to set limits without being becoming a bully yourself.

Learning to say “No” to projects when your own workload is full is an important skill for employees at all levels. Saying “No” is the hardest mode of assertiveness for some people, says Palmer.

“Assertiveness training can be beneficial not only for people’s careers, but in their personal lives as well,” she concludes “People who want to feel good about themselves and their work need to be assertive.”

Project Managment – What is It?

Project management is the discipline of organizing and managing resources (e.g. people) in such a way that the project is completed within defined scope, quality, time and cost constraints. A project is a temporary and one-time endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or service, which brings about beneficial change or added value. This property of being a temporary and one-time undertaking contrasts with processes, or operations, which are permanent or semi-permanent ongoing functional work to create the same product or service over and over again. The management of these two systems is often very different and requires varying technical skills and philosophy, hence requiring the development of project management.

The first challenge of project management is to make sure that a project is delivered within defined constraints. The second, more ambitious challenge is the optimized allocation and integration of inputs needed to meet pre-defined objectives. A project is a carefully defined set of activities that use resources (money, people, materials, energy, space, provisions, communication, etc.) to meet the pre-defined objectives.

(Wikipedia, 2007)