Bagging that dream project managers job

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The author spent the first part of her career working in IT and IT Project Management in the oil industry and investment banking on complex global projects involving the management of outsourced project teams. She now runs a digital marketing company with particular expertise in technical SEO and Content Marketing.

Finally, after tonnes of applications and hours of trawling job sites, you have found your dream job. Not only that, but you’ve been invited for an interview. Congratulations!

But now the hard work really starts. No matter how well qualified, how experienced or how charismatic you think you are, if you don’t invest some time into preparing for this job interview you might as well not go at all. Competition for good PM jobs is fierce, and if you don’t do your homework properly, you can bet that one of the other candidates will, which will put you on the back foot from the start even if you are a better match for the role.


Here are some top tips for acing your interview and giving yourself the best chance of securing your dream project management job.

·        Investigate the company

You might well know what the project is you’re applying for, but do you really understand who the company is? Do you know who they are owned by, or who they own? Are there other branches to the business that you need to know about? Going for a job in an area where you have a general interest or some sort of background is much better than just going for a project management job in any old field. The employer will want to see that you are interested in their industry in general, as well as interested in running projects.

In these modern times, there is absolutely no excuse for not knowing the basics about the company who is interviewing you. Google holds the key to a wealth of knowledge on the subject, and whilst you may not need to know their precise share point index on the day, or be able to recite the names and dates of their previous CEO’s in order, you should at least have a good understanding about what they do, who they are and some of their major achievements.

·        Understand the job

Job titles vary greatly from one company to another. What might be called a ‘programme assistant’ in one job description could be a ‘project executive’ in another. The easiest way to get your head around your future role is to ask for a detailed job description and person specification. Take some time to match your skills and abilities to each of the attributes listed in the person spec, and make sure you understand what you will be doing day to day so you can answer their questions fully and confidently in interview.

·        Plan some questions

Without fail, every job interview ends with an opportunity for you to ask questions. Looking dumbstruck is not likely to leave the interviewers with a wholly positive impression of you, so prepare some questions to ask at this point that will show your understanding of the job and your general interest in their company. Avoid asking about salary and leave entitlement; save this for when you get the job offer!

·        Dress to impress

It goes without saying you need to look the part. A suit is always a winner in an interview situation, but if you are in any doubt, call the HR department beforehand and ask about company dress code.

·        Arrive early

Aim to be there at least 15 minutes early. This will give you some leeway in case there is traffic or some other hold up on route. If you are going to be late, call the interviewer and let them know.

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Project management has developed into a fully-fledged chartered profession since the granting of the Royal Charter in the UK to The Association for Project Management (APM) in 2017. Training courses for project managers were already available and highly popular to help people gain professional project management accreditation, but with this wider recognition of the profession it is now seen as a desirable career path for many. Whilst the APM has the coveted Royal Charter and continues to develop its APM PMQ (formerly the APMP) programmes, there are also other internationally recognised qualifications that continue to be highly regarded such as PMP and PRINCE2.

Organisations have become increasingly project-focused in this era of rapidly emerging new technologies and they value the expertise that comes with experienced and fully qualified project teams and managers. By investing in their project management capability businesses can be confident of delivering their new projects in time and on budget more often and more successfully. Many major corporation are now training their people to have the right project management qualifications as well as relevant experience, through internal Learning & Development (L&D) programmes; or by using external project management training providers.

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