Secured an interview for your dream Project Management role? You’ll need to make a great first impression and bring your A-game. But before you even start thinking about the interview itself, always ask first about the format of the interview so that you can plan the best way to prepare for it.

The first interview is usually in one of two formats; CV-led or competency-based.

In a CV-led interview, the interviewer will ask straightforward questions about your current and previous positions, training and academic qualifications. The format looks at exploring hopes and expectations for the role you’ve applied for. To excel in these types of interviews, make sure you know your CV inside out – you’ll need to confidently explain your key achievements and responsibilities from past roles.

Competency-based interviews put everyone on a level playing field

The second format is the competency-based interview. Businesses use this interview technique to put everyone on a level playing field by asking all candidates the same set of questions. It’s objective and helps interviewers understand how an individual’s certain behaviours and skills could play out in the workplace. The questions are ‘situational’ and are made for you to display competence in key areas of project management, e.g. planning, team management, leadership and commercial knowledge skills.

The STAR method

A great way to ace a competency-based interview is to use the STAR method to formulate your answers. Adopting STAR is a simple way for you to provide clear, concise and concrete answers based on real-life examples from previous employment.

The STAR method stands for:

Situation – What was the situation?

Task – What tasks were involved in that situation?

Action – What actions did you take?

Results – What were the results of those actions?

Keep your answers short – you need to convey the maximum achievement in the minimum time. Also, remember to end your answers on a positive note so that you come away with an overall strong impression.

How to use the STAR method in project management interviews

Think about each area of project management competence and reflect on how you can demonstrate your abilities, skills, personality, style and approach in each of the key areas. Essential PM skills include team management, planning, negotiation, problem-solving, leadership and adaptability.

Example using STAR:

‘Describe the steps you take when planning a new project for the first time?’

1.       Situation: Choose a particular project from a past work experience which was particularly complex or challenging

2.       Tasks: Provide background information about the example you’ve chosen while also describing the core tasks involved within the planning phase of the project.

3.       Action: Your answer should then cover actions specifically taken by you that focused on areas such as definition, scope, schedule and planning best practices etc.

4.       Results: End the answer by clearly stating the specific actions you took which resulted in a favourable outcome. It is key to end your answers on a positive note to leave the interviewer with a good impression of your skills.

If you have any questions about prepping for a project management interview, or want to know more about using the STAR model, please drop me an email on tania@wearefutureheads.co.uk and I’d be happy to help.

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