Whether you’re finishing your degree or moving on to a better position, the job hunt is something we all go through from time to time. Here are ten interview tips to help you prepare, and land the project management job you want.
1. Optimize your resume/CV. Make sure to use action words when describing your previous experience! Think of the difference between “managed a team of ten people on a project to redesign and build the sporting goods section,” versus “directed the design and construction teams to successfully overhaul store section layout.” One is a boring description, and the other is action packed and invites a reader to think about what you did. Add data whenever you can – “Remodeled layout increased sales by 300%.”
2. Sleep the night before! You’re never as sharp as you could be when you’re tired. You don’t want to struggle to recall information or fight through the fog in your mind to find the right wording for what you want to say. Sure, you might be nervous. But entering your interview bleary eyed is not the best impression you can make. Get your beauty sleep!
3. Do your homework. Find out about the company! Speak to people who work there. This will help you with making an informed decision on accepting a job offer, and it will also help your interview. You’ll be given a chance to ask questions when you’re being interviewed. Having a list of relevant questions that show you researched the company is impressive to an interviewer, and shows you are taking the interview seriously.
4. Prepare for the typical interview questions. “Tell us a little about yourself.” “Where do you see yourself in five years?” “What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?” We all know these questions, and they’re stereotypical for a reason. Prepare your answers! You’ll want to think about what to say, and NOT say, ahead of time.
5. Practice. If you’re in the beginning stages of your career, you may be lacking experience with interviews. Practice! Get used to the questioning, the thinking on your feet that answering may require, and the mindset of putting your best foot forward. It can make a difference when the real interview comes.
6. Dress for the part. Wear your nicest clothes to an interview. Look professional and put together. First impressions are crucial for landing the position. If you aren’t sure what the company dress code is, err on the side of caution – if choosing between business and casual, go for business.
7. Be confident! Your demeanor is a large part of your first impression, too. Confidence is attractive, and it screams competence too. Don’t be shy, and don’t second guess yourself. Be calm, cool, and collected – hey, you got this!
8. Highlight your accomplishments. Bring the interview conversation to your achievements. Show that you have the skill set they’re looking for by pointing to concrete examples of those skills in your career. “We are looking for someone who can manage a team with a lot of different personalities. Do you think you can do that?” is an invitation for an anecdote, a data point, or an entry from your CV that can show you have the skills. “Yes, I can do that. In my previous job I managed a team of ten people who were very diverse with different personalities, and we exceeded our targets. The way I accomplished this was…”
9. Point to your technical skills. You want to show that you’re a “compatible project manager.” Mention your computer proficiency, your familiarity with project management software, and any other relevant technical skills for the company.
10. Follow up. Send an email the next day thanking the interviewer for their time. If you don’t hear from them after a week, send another. Don’t be pushy, but stay on their radar! It shows initiative, and the ability to see things through. More than one person got their job thanks to a follow up email – a hiring manager on the fence saw that and decided it made the difference.