The higher the level of accountability, the more detail and examples will be required to demonstrate your ability and accomplishments. Being specific as possible with your examples through stories of your experiences will add to the credibility of your statements.
Keeping Abreast of Current Trade
Question: “There have been a great many changes in this industry in the past year. How have you kept up with the latest industry news?”
■ “Every day I take time to read journals and newspapers. I guess you could call me a ‘newshound.’ I also have an excellent memory for detail and can sometimes relate something that I read to an event that occurred months ago. I make sure that I am up-to-date with industry news.”
■ “I find the Internet to be the most valuable tool out there. It’s very easy to keep up with what’s new, and I can do it on my own time. I’m a night owl and am often on the computer into the wee hours of the morning reading up on the latest trends and issues.”
■ “Between the TV and radio news and reading various newspapers and journals, I keep up to date on the industry as well as the world news. Globalization makes it necessary to reach beyond local issues. I spend a great deal of time in my car and always listen to news programs on the radio. Those shows allow me to hear snippets of news that I can follow up on the Internet in the evening.”
The Big Picture
Question: “How do you manage others day-to-day while focusing on the big picture?”
■ “By setting key objectives within the larger organizational context, I am able to stay focused and on top of the management of projects while still maintaining the team’s trust. I don’t think you’d find anyone that I have ever worked with who would say that I ‘micromanage.’ I believe in helping others maintain their focus and avoiding ‘analysis paralysis,’ I have been successful in moving projects forward while not taking away from the leadership of the project.”
■ “I pride myself on making decisions only after I have considered the ‘bigger picture.’That is to say, I am very aware of how the pieces fit together while working with individual team members. Each member of the team plays a part in the success of a project, and I encourage each person to stay focused on the ‘whole’ project, whether it’s a customer’s need or a long-term goal. I believe that my open communication style has contributed greatly to my success in managing people.”
■ “My approach to marketing involves retaining current customers first, and attracting new customers second. One challenge I have faced is customer retention. I work with my staff and members of other relevant departments to retain first, build second. One method that has worked in the past is to send teams to interview ‘the customer.’By feeding the data collected to the marketing department, we used ‘permission marketing’—ask first, send only upon request for information.The success of a program is our working together as a team to support any campaign from the beginning.”
Question: “How would you describe your style of managing people?
■ “My project management style is to lead by example as a catalyst, and role model in achieving results through others. I make an effort to be visible and involved with employees, letting them know that I am available and willing to help in anyway that I can.”
■ “As a manager who came up through the ranks of this company, I keep those who need to know informed and up-to-date with relevant and useful information. I stay particularly close to the sales representatives who are out there selling the company and the product. I see them as the basic foundation of keeping the company afloat.”
■ “I believe in the development of those working in any capacity in the company. By offering learning and continuous growth opportunities, I have seen more employee loyalty and motivation. I believe every employee should feel he or she is making a contribution to the bigger picture and that there are opportunities for growth with the company.”
Project Management Leadership
Question: “What was your leadership role in your last company?”
■ “In every job I have assumed more accountability with success. My last position was as general manager of the entire East Coast operation. I built and led new project manager trade units, that resulted in lower expenditures and greater returns on investment. My strength lies in my interpersonal relations.
I learned early in the game that people are the cornerstone of success, and I am always sure to give credit where credit is due.
■ “As national sales operations manager I trained, developed, and lead a 15-person national account sales and support team targeting hospital accounts worldwide. I also provided strategic and tactical leadership and successful technology installations.”
■ “As CEO of a retail chain I was in full charge of strategic planning and operations. I also had distribution and profit-and-loss accountability under my project management. I led the operation to accelerated growth and nationwide expansion.”
Question/Answers about “Financial Savvy”
Question: “Tell me about a time when your knowledge of project manager finance and trade operations made a difference in the company’s profits.”
■ “The key staff members of the last company I worked for all agreed and were committed to a goal of increasing profits 20 percent by the end of the fiscal year. As the CFO I met with the manager team, and we set very specific goals to accomplish this. I was able to get the commitment of individual team members, and we agreed they would receive a percentage of profits at the end of the year if things went as planned. I personally was committed and held accountable to the board of directors.We worked as a team to achieve a very successful campaign rollout.
The key was to keep our specific goals in mind and to also keep in continuous communication with one another on the progress of our projects. As it turned out, we exceeded our goal, and every one of us benefited from the team effort.”
■ “One of the projects that I was most proud of at my last company was the streamlining and enhancing of the corporate budgeting process. I was able to analyze the company’s needs and processes and to benchmark activities.The realigning made the process the corner-
stone of the way the company’s operations are currently measured.”
■ “When I joined my current company, all the accounting and payroll functions were outsourced.This was not only cumbersome to manage, but also very expensive. By developing and implementing appropriate internal policies and procedures, I was able to convince project management to bring the functions back in-house.The overall savings was over 40 percent of what had been spent in a six-month period.”