As an IT consultant, landing the project you want is preceded by discussions with an agency contact — and multiple interviews with company employees — if all goes well. So although speaking with the hiring manager is a good sign, you must first receive a recommendation from those leading the search for consultants. And given the technical nature of most IT consultant positions, each agency looks for something unique to the project at hand, details that are not often revealed unless you (the consultant) touch on their significance. Of course, a little feedback can go a long way when preparing for the next interview. This is why we have created a list for you to reference. Here are five sample questions every IT project management consultant should prepare for:
1) Talk about one challenge you faced on a recent project, how did you work towards finding a solution?
This sample question is best answered with a clear, focused response, even though it’s enticing to deliver one that’s seen through a macro-perspective, and too vague for the interviewer to learn enough in the short time you have. If you are confronted with this question, here’s what we recommend you do:
Answer the question head-on; give a direct response that shows your confidence.
Choose one project and thoroughly communicate the challenge with specific contributions you provided towards the solution.
Eliminate distractions from your response (i.e., words and phrases not relevant to the role being discussed), and remain concise from beginning to end. Remember, detail (as it relates to the job description) is key!
2) Can you describe how you manage projects?
This isn’t a trick question, and it’s vague for good reason: it’s intended to pull specific information from the PM without getting into the weeds, unlike the previous question on this list. This is what you should consider in your response:
Review standard methodologies you use and/or specialize. Know what words to use — and when to use them.
Briefly outline the techniques you use within your discipline.
3) Can you describe a recent project you managed and highlight the similarities?
The key here is to dive right into the example, presenting a clear description of the project and the identified goals. Basically, share a project example with clarity in few words — without the fluff. Try sticking to these tips:
Before you take the interview, have one example ready in your mind (or on paper).
Rehearse your description.
Review the project requirements prior to the call and outline how you can meet the client’s needs (i.e., scale, challenges, pace, complexity, collaboration).
4) What do you think makes a good Project Manager?
Let your experience do the talking for this question; show confidence with a strong answer that’s memorable — make it you! Ask yourself, how will I impact the organization and all stakeholders involved (customers, shareholders, and the team). To better prepare, consider these tips:
Identify your top three strengths. Know them.
Choose three strengths that also closely relate to the client’s needs.
Present concise information the hiring manager can use to promote your skills and fit.
Leave the interviewer with a statement unique to you — a mantra.
Keep it crisp and concise, easily written down in one or two sentences.
5) What aspect(s) of project management do you find most rewarding or most challenging?
This final question is your opportunity to get personal and tastefully promote your depth of experiences as a project manager. The more subject matter experience (and therefore knowledge) you have as a PM, the more convincing you are as a candidate (or, at least your odds of success are greater). For this question, highlight a differentiating factor from others: being a brand or product evangelist can be more impactful than simply being an expert. To equip the interviewer with the right information, consider this one (most important) tip:
Show personality in this response; tell a brief story or explain a past scenario that speaks to ‘why you are a PM.’
Research the company culture and share details on why you are a good fit.
Speaking with an agency contact is the first opportunity to create a good impression and communicate your superior skills/fit as an IT consultant. And as it pertains to project managers, the initial discussion should cover a plethora of crucial details (e.g., soft skills, technical knowledge, past performance, and personality). Rather than dwell on the “what-ifs,” do adequate research and prepare by curating your best material; project examples and success stories you are proud to share. And, of course, be yourself. It’s the only factor you can completely control.
Good luck on the search, we look forward to speaking with you.