One of the questions I get asked all the time about is interviewing for PMO Director or PMO Manager positions. When asked, one of the first things I tell people is “you must realize this is very different from interviewing for a project manager position.” Obviously right, but you would be surprised. See, PMO Directors/Managers must be focused on both the organization they are managing and the programs and projects they are executing. It is a balance of course, but when interviewing, please remember that interviewers are looking for people with that balance. A person with too much on one side or the other, either too focused on people or two focused on projects will struggle to be successful in this role.
Wait… Wait, before we go to far I developed a quick YouTube video on this topic which I am sure you will love. Check it out here:
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below the video. I am dying to hear what you think!
Ok, on with the article.
Who am I am what background do I bring to this space? Well, if you read my articles and background, you will know I have 30+ years of tactical project management experience and for over 19 of those years I have been specific in PMOs. So, I am coming at this from many-many years of experience running PMOs and sitting in PMO interviews. I am currently running my 10th PMO and after countless interviews; it comes down to not only can you run a PMO and some of those challenges, but your people and leadership skills as well play a huge factor.
So, how do you prepare for a PMO Director/Manager interview? Well that easy, really don’t overthink this because if you do, you are going to psych yourself out of getting a great job.
First, you need to look for some sample questions for PMO Manager/PMO Director roles. Once you have those questions, you practiced a ton, you will be ready. I help people with interviews and practice interviews all the time, so when you are ready, if you want to reach out to me here, I am happy to help.
The other key component of this job search is looking at the specific job description of the role you are interviewing for as you prepare. See, the job description for your upcoming PMO itself tells a whole ton of information about what you are walking into if you do indeed win the job. The more details, the more the company values the role, the fewer details…. Watch out! But, if you are also new in the PMO Manager role, the job descriptions that have the least number of details are great growing opportunities for you. Here is a set of Project Management Office – Director/Manager PMO Interview questions that you should seriously consider before your next interview.
Types of Interview Questions
Before we start, as you know every company handles these interviews differently, but most of them have the same types that you should be prepared for in your interview. These include:
- Behavior Interview Questions
- Star Method Questions
- Scenario-Based Interview Questions
- Professional Experience Based Questions
- Hard Skills
- Soft Skills
I highly recommend you spend time and prepare each of these areas. They are about to come up in the interview questions below and you know will happen again when you are having the interview. So be prepared.
Ok, let’s dive into these questions. You excited? I am, I am sharing questions and insights I have never shared before and you are getting it from someone who has done it, and still doing it today. Want real world advice, well here you go.
I am going to break these questions into two groups; your leadership and people skills, and your PMO and Project Management skills. Here is a solid list of pmo interview questions to get you started in this process.
Project Management Office Director/Manager – People & Leadership Interview Questions
- What is the largest PMO organization you have managed? How many resources?
- Have you had functional management responsibilities before? (Hire / Fire)
- Do you have experience managing both individual contributors and management/managers, or both?
- What has been the most challenging individual situation you have had to manage? Explain the situation, the process you followed and the outcome?
- Have you ever built any PMO People Management programs? Mentoring systems, Buddy Systems, Leadership Programs. If so, explain, how successful or not? What was the outcome?
- When interviewing individuals for your organization, what skill sets do you look for when you are hiring?
- How do you manage up? How do you manage down? How do you manage relationship with your peers?
- How do you handle communicating organizational changes? What is the process, have you experience doing PMO re-orgs? What was the outcome?
- Have you ever had to give development feedback to your direct reports? What was the situation, how did the person take it, what was the outcome?
- How do you create a positive work environment? What pivots do you think PMOs have to make in this remote world we live in to keep environments positive?
Ok, once you get those questions in, now you focus on job specific questions that you just know will come up in your interviews.
Project Management Office – Director/Manager PMO Interview Questions (Tactical PMO Focused)
- Have you ever built a PMO? Explain where, type, size, and what did you have when you first started?
- Have you ever had to come in and take over an existing PMO? What did you do when you started, how did you approach it, what was the outcome?
- Have you ever run a PMO that you have built? Have you ever had to run a PMO that you had not built?
- What are the major components of a PMO from your perspective? Which ones have you used in the past?
- Have you ever developed and implemented a Governance process? What did you implement, how large, what was the outcome?
- Have you ever implemented Project Portfolio Management in your PMOs? How did that go, explain the process, and what was the outcome?
- Have you ever built resource management capabilities into your PMO?
- How important is Organizational Change Management in running a PMO? Do you have experiences in any formal frameworks? If so, which ones and how have you used this in managing a PMO?
- What PMO tools/software do you have experiences with? What tools have you used, how did you use them and what was the outcome?
- What is the hardest part of running a PMO? Why? How do you tackle those challenges?
Ok, that’s enough for now and a great start to get you preparing for a PMO Director/Manager interview. How did you do? Tough eh, maybe a bit tougher than you might get in a real interview, but that’s ok I have done this for years, I know it very well and trying to share my expertise with you. I want to share with you what you are going to deal with when running a real PMO, so good to know now what you will be facing before you start into the role.
As you prepare and practice your answers to these questions, my #1 advice that I can give you is “think wide, not deep”. See a PMO Managers role looks wide, they are driving organizations; they are not tactically getting into every project. You just can’t and still be scalable. The minute you make that pivot in your head, you will look at every one of these questions differently. You will understand the root of these questions I am asking you above, and your answers in the interview will be from that perspective.
Remember, the best project managers in the world do not make for the best PMO Managers! The skills sets are different, the focus is different; they are just not the same roles. So, in these PMO Manager interviews, don’t knock their socks off showing them you are the best project manager in the world.
There are tons and tons of interview advice you can find on the internet, and I suggest you do that and get yourself prepared. But, I can help as well, and if you want the answers to these questions above or go deep with me, then check out my site here where we can work together and I can help you land that next role.
If you like, I created this into an Ebook for you that I thought you would enjoy. Here is that link, let me know what you think!
What do you think?
Oh hey, when you do win that job, go check out my How to Build a PMO article to get you started building out your new PMO. You are going to love it.
Bill Dow, PMP
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