7 Tips to Land Your Next Project Management Interview

project management interview tips

Written By Andrew Makar

Professional Cat Herder and an Agile Enthusiast with a keen interest in putting PM theory into actual practice.

The following is a guest post from my colleague, Kelly Keating – a professional resume writer and author of Best Resume Tips: From Fail to Fantastic.  I also included a few comments along the way. – Andy

We all know the project management field is booming and continues to grow!  PMI estimates the global economy will have introduced 15.7 million new project management roles by 2020. There is plenty of opportunity out there and it’s up to you to seize it! Opportunity alone does not guarantee your place as you still have to build your brand to get the career you desire. Here are seven tips to land your next project management interview and seize that opportunity.

#1 Get specific!

Project management is a very broad category. It opens the doors to all kinds of companies and industries. If you have a particular niche in mind already, you are on your way. If not, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What type of work environment makes you happiest?
  2. What field would benefit most from your particular skill set?
  3. Think back to your past experiences.  What kind of work interests you most? Feels most fulfilling/satisfying?

The answers should help you set a laser sharp focus and focused efforts lead to a shorter and more fruitful job search. Start with your top choices and pursue them vigorously. Go after the job you want and customize the materials and communications with genuine passion behind them. Believe us – it will make all the difference.

Andy’s Add-On:  You often hear, if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.  Ok..maybe tracking project schedules wasn’t your dream job but if you can do the work in an industry you are passionate about, it’s a lot more fun.  Consequently, you’ll be excited to find jobs in your specific area of interest.

#2 Upgrade your LinkedIn presence

LinkedIn has become your virtual resume and can be a critical component to a job search. Make sure your experience is up to date, your profile photo is professional, and you have a headline that touts value in relation to your focus. LinkedIn will play a vital role in communicating with your network, gathering recommendations, as well as finding and applying for jobs. If you’ve been neglecting this part of your professional portfolio, get started today.

Andy’s Comments: Find a professional photographer doesn’t have to be overly expensive.  A quick search on www.groupon.com identified dozens of photographers offering discounted deals.  You can also submit a request on thumbtack.com for professional headshots and get multiple quotes quickly.

thumbtack photography

#3 Network!

So many jobs are unadvertised these days, and employee referrals are often ranked highest for sourcing quality candidates.  Don’t underestimate the importance of networking! When people know you’re looking for work, they can keep their ears open, pass along your resume, introduce you to new connections on LinkedIn, and even advocate on your behalf. Your network will be critical to long-term success so make sure you are active with yours and not just when you need something.

Andy’s Add-on:  I’ve been on interviews where I’m a “cold lead” and in others where I knew the hiring manager well from past networking relationships.  Which one do you think worked out best ?

#4 Leverage social media

There is more access than ever in the digital age, and that is to the job seeker’s benefit, so take advantage of it. Companies and people that you’d like to learn from, associate with, or work for are only a follow away.  LinkedIn is essential but branch out to Twitter as well. Social media can be a catalyst to landing an interview without going through the usual online application black hole. Share content, comment on threads and stay up to date on the breaking news in your field or desired company.

This activity allows you to stand out in a memorable way and when the time is right, you may find yourself with the opportunity to inquire about an opening directly with the Hiring Manager or Department leader. People want to work with others who share their passion for the job; this is an excellent way to get involved in the conversations that prove your expertise and enthusiasm.

Andy’s Add-on:  I’ve haven’t tried Twitter for local jobs but if you’ve got a network of PMs that your follow you and you’re willing to travel, tweet away!  I’ve connected with several professionals offline after meeting them virtually over Twitter.

#5 Don’t be afraid to bring a recruiter into your job search

Involving a recruiter can give you access to additional opportunities and provide you a partner in the hunt. Do some homework to find one in your desired field and politely reach out. There’s no cost to you and, if they are worth their salt, they may provide some helpful advice regarding your particular search that can be invaluable.

Andy’s Add-on: Professional recruiters earn their money through commissions which is typically a percentage of your hiring salary.  Consequently, they have a good idea of the market range for your current skill set.  They can also help you steer clear of pitfalls and companies you’d want to avoid based on reputation and corporate culture.

#6 Throw out that form cover letter

When applying for jobs, there is always the option of the cover letter.  Most people agree it’s important to send one.  The problem is, often they do more harm than good because people put zero effort into them. Don’t even think of including a form cover letter with your applications. HR can spot those a mile away and frankly it shows a real lack of interest or excitement for the role.

Make sure you personalize it: address it to a specific person, include reasons about why you want to work for the company, and, most importantly, articulate the value that you can provide. Cover letters are almost always read AFTER the resume, so if someone on the hiring team has made it that far, the cover letter can move you to the interview list or the trash pile. Don’t waste the opportunity!

#7 Brag on your resume

Your resume is not the place to get caught up in the minutia of your work. As project managers, you know there is plenty. Your work experience should summarize the results you’ve achieved and how you led them. Think IMPACT, not responsibilities. If you’d be bored reading your descriptions, chances are HR will be too! Talks about your value and worth in terms a company can clearly understand like budgets, manpower, deadlines, etc. If you do this correct, they should be calling you right now for that interview.

Andy’s Add-on: The goal of the resume is to get a phone call to start the company’s interview process.  The biggest challenge I have is quickly scanning the resumes to find the best project managers.  If the resume isn’t easily scannable and doesn’t have the right keywords that resonate with the project management need, it goes to the bottom of the pile.

Project Management Interview Next Steps

If you’re ready to make big moves in your career, these tips will surely help propel you to the next level. Make the effort; you’ll never be sorry you did. So many people get caught in something that was supposed to be a stepping-stone and never make the necessary efforts to get to the next goal. Don’t be one of those people. Put this advice into motion and land an interview for your perfect project management position.

By the way, Kelly’s new book Best Resume Tips: From Fail to Fantastic is FREE on Amazon Kindle on December 3rd and December 4th!  You can also reach out to Kelly and her team at http://www.redletterresumes.com/

Want some Project Management Interview Questions?

Once you’ve landed your project management interview, you’ll want to plan for various project management interview questions.  Below are a few resources to help:

About the Red Letter Resumes

Red Letter ResumesRed Letter Resumes helps individuals craft a brand around their experience and skills so they can have the career they’ve always wanted. Our LinkedIn profiles and resumes are customized for every client we serve. Your career story is unique so why does your resume sound like everyone else? Branding people is what we do; check out our site to learn more! www.redletterresumes.com.

Get the Job You Deserve in 7 Easy Steps

Learn a simple 7 step process for finding, preparing and passing your next PM interview

project management interview questions

Learn how to:

  1. Write a project management specific resume. Optimize your resume to highlight your PM experience and get an interview
  2. Find the right opportunity. Ensure the opportunity is a fit for you as well as the company. Finding the right opportunity goes beyond applying to job boards and attending a PMI meeting.
  3. Pass the initial phone screen. Learn how to pass the phone screen and learn the secrets recruiters use to validate your profile.
  4. Prepare for the on-site interview and the stages afterward. Learn how to successfully prepare for the on-site interview using a proven technique with minimal preparation.

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