profession, there’s another technique that can specifically help project practitioners showcase their
project experience. It’s called (IM)PACT, which
stands for I manage: project challenges, actions,
communication and transformation.
Right off, the “I” serves as a reminder that the
interviewer is interested in you: What did you
manage? Rather than a situation or task, address a
particular challenge faced on a project. This focuses
the discussion on the project environment rather
than just any work situation.
Once the challenge is presented and the scene
set, talk about the actions you took to overcome
the challenge. Then, the communication: As a project practitioner, you work and communicate with
many people—your teams, stakeholders, sponsors
and clients. This is also a great time to show off the
leadership skills you use as a project practitioner.
These skills, such as influencing and persuading,
are part and parcel of what you do yet are often
neglected in an interview.
Lastly, the transformation: This is the change
that came about because of the actions you took
and the way you managed projects. Talking just
about the results of your actions doesn’t fully convey the impact you potentially have as a project
manager—not only on the project and team, but
also on the wider business. During this part of your
interview, you can detail how your actions had a
positive effect on benefits delivered or the organization’s bottom line.
To prepare for your project management interview, consider the impact you could have on the
interviewer. Think about how to best describe
your experiences so that he or she sits up and
Q: I’m moving to another country
later in the year, and I’m concerned
about how to find a new job quickly.
A: Get started now. Research your new market
before the big move. You can get a sense of the
types of positions available and the knowledge and
Q: I have an interview coming up. How
can I get prepared?
A: Count on the interviewer using the phrase,
“Tell me about a time when…” Interviewers love
to use this classic setup because it allows them to
concentrate on core competencies the position
needs—and because the same request can be made
of any project practitioner, regardless of where or
how long he or she has worked.
Examples include “Tell me about a time when
you had to manage a difficult team member.” “Tell
me about a time when you managed conflicting
resource demands on a project.”
An effective way to prepare for these interview
moments is to practice the STAR technique—
situation, task, action and result. In the stressful
environment of an interview, this tool provides a
helpful, reliable structure.
First, explain the situation—the context and
background. Then describe the task you needed to
achieve. Once you have briefly set the scene, discuss
the actions you directly took that demonstrated
your ability to deal with the situation or task.
Take note, project practitioners: It is important
that you concentrate on your own actions. Many
project managers fail to do this in interviews
because they are so used to working in a team
environment. It is your direct actions—not the
team’s—that the interviewer wants to hear about.
Finally, the results: What were the (favorable)
outcomes from the direct actions you took?
While STAR can be used for interviews in any
To succeed at a job interview,
project practitioners should
follow a rule they already
know well: Be prepared.
BY LINDSAY SCOTT