Lindsay Scott is the director of program and
project management recruitment at Arras People
in London, England.
The topic is normally a specific project management scenario, so taking a structured approach to
the presentation is crucial. For the first slide, start by
introducing yourself and presenting the scenario, laying out your understanding of it and any assumptions
you’ve made. The next slide should be dedicated to
the planning you would undertake.
Be careful with project management jargon. Not
everyone on the interview panel will have a detailed
understanding of project management. Plus, your
language use will indicate how you convey information to different audiences. Make sure your content
is short and incorporates bullet points. Use them to
prompt further detail in the speech.
Interviewers are interested in the steps you take
just as much as the final outcome. After outlining
your plans, your next slide will cover what needs to
be done and your ownership of that. After that, cover
the outcomes and leave time for a summary. This is
a powerful way of wrapping up, ensuring that all the
dots are connected.
Throughout the presentation, make sure you make
eye contact with each person on the interview panel,
as well as the clock. Leave time for questions.
If you won’t be given the topic until you are at
the interview, you still can do some preparation
beforehand. In this type of interview, candidates
are expected to analyze, summarize and provide a
course of action based on mocked-up documents,
such as project status or progress reports. Your
presentation is normally nothing fancier than a
flipchart. Aim for one page for the summary and
one for the course of action. Although time is
short for preparation, make notes before committing them to the flipchart and check your spelling.
These presentations can feel high-pressure, but
organizations use these “stress tests” to see if you
can deliver under the gun. The plus side is that a
good presentation often works much more in your
favor than a question-and-answer interview. You
usually can better convey and actively demonstrate
Q: I need a mentor to help me progress in my role
as a project manager. Do you have any advice on
what steps I should take to find the right person?
A: There are three main factors involved when looking for a mentor. First, think about what exactly you
are looking to get out of the mentoring relationship.
Think about the key areas of the job that you are
looking to improve and what you think the outcome
of a successful mentoring relationship might look
like for you.
The second factor is finding someone who has
the right level of experience. The third, crucial
factor is finding someone who has the time—and
sometimes that’s the most difficult thing to find.
Start by looking within your organization.
Approach your own manager for his or her
thoughts on potential mentors. He or she might
have suggestions you haven’t thought of. Consider approaching the project management office
(PMO), if your organization has one, for suggestions. The PMO works closely with people across
the organization and will have a good idea about
the level of experience and personalities of potential mentors. If you already have identified potential mentors and know what you are looking to get
out of the relationship, you need to state your case.
The mentor-mentee relationship should have a
structure. There should be a first meeting to set up
objectives. There should be time set aside that suits
both parties. There should be an understanding of
what happens in the long term when goals are met.
Potential mentors might feel more comfortable
if the mentoring were treated like a mini-project,
with a definite beginning and end.
There is a host of additional advice on mentoring and being a mentee on PMI’s Career Central, so
take a look for more insights and inspirations. PM
The plus side is that a good
presentation often works
much more in your favor than a
Don’t travel down
your career path
alone. Find advice
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