needed in the finance area. Project finance is much
easier to learn than leadership and communications.
And keep in mind that there are many project
managers who don’t have project finance skills: 14
percent of project managers in the Arras People
2014 Project Management Benchmark Report said
they don’t have any budget responsibility at all, and
68 percent don’t have any profit-and-loss responsibilities. Chances are that other candidates don’t
necessarily have the exact project finance experience either.
Practical things you can do now include taking
a course on project finance. This will show interviewers that you are aware of a skills gap and are
addressing it. This will also score you some points
in terms of initiative and professional development.
Q: I’m preparing for an upcoming interview
by searching the Internet for sample interview
questions. Do you have any recommendations?
A: You can come up with a list of questions
based on the job, which is much better than random questions posted around the Internet.
Here’s how you start: Take the job specification
for the position and group the roles and responsibilities. You will see the groups fall into compe-
Q: Since leaving the military, I’ve been trying to
land a project management job, but I seem to
fall short at project finance. I’ve always worked
within budgets, but interviewers tend to focus
heavily on project finance skills, which counts
many candidates out. How can I prove I’m
ready for the job?
A: You are being selected for interviews, so you
obviously have something that interests organizations. Project managers with a military background
offer a management style built on communication
and leadership. These are often the skills that project managers struggle to develop, so you’re already
ticking a lot of boxes.
To overcome the hurdle of project finance, make
sure you first understand what the organization
means by the term. What responsibilities does a
project manager here have with regard to finances?
Many project managers are tracking costs, but
the majority of accounts work is carried out by
the finance department. You need to fully understand if the organization uses the term “finance”
interchangeably with “commercial,” meaning the
private sector. When you have worked for a public
organization, like government or the armed forces,
it is often the perceived lack of this experience that
is the real sticking point with organizations.
Do they expect experience with contracts and
procurement? Think about what questions you
need to ask to help you address any shortcomings
the organization might see in you.
At your next interview, focus on your strengths.
If your strengths are good enough, an organization
will hire you on the provision that development is
Acing an interview starts with taking a long,
hard look at your strengths and weaknesses.
BY LINDSAY SCOTT