Example questions and answers for a PMO role

Example PMO interview questions and answersThe last post, covered the typical challenges to someone trying to secure a project management role and actions to take to address the challenges, view blog post.  If you have tailored your CV and it has passed the HR filter, you hopefully will have secured an interview.  This is great news.  Now it is important that you prepare yourself so as to present yourself as well as possible.  Before going into some example interview questions for a PMO role, I just wanted to provide a couple of general pointers that will help.

General interview tips

  • Make sure you know the information of who you will be meeting
  • Confirm date / time / address
  • Look up the address and make sure you know where it is (conduct test run if necessary)
  • Make sure you allow enough time to get to the interview (especially where public transport / driving is involved)
  • Smart dress (dry cleaned & pressed)
  • Take note pad and pen
  • Take spare copies of your CV
  • Research organisation (Internet)
  • Research interviewer (LinkedIn)

 

Specific interview questions for a PMO role

What is your understanding of a PMO?

The interviewer will want to make sure that you have a good understanding of what a PMO is.  Therefore, it is critical that you know the answer.

Make it clear that PMO’s can take many forms depending on the objectives of the organisation.  However, the PMO will be a function or department in an organisation to drive the standardisation of tools and processes for project delivery.

What do you consider the primary objectives of a PMO?

This is designed to test that you have a view on what an organisation wants to achieve by implementing / having a PMO.

Objective should be to provide transparency and visibility of the status of projects by implementing tools and standards.  The PMO should be the trusted source of this data so that senior management can be confident that the information is accurate and timely allowing them to take the required action.

What are the benefits of a PMO?

This is testing that you understand what benefits a PMO will deliver to an organisation.

By implementing practical and pragmatic tools and processes, this should ensure that all projects are executed to the same standard.  This will help ensure that all important steps of project execution are completed and allow risks and issues to be quickly identified and escalated.  Doing this will improve the probability of the successful outcome of each project.

How would you start to implement a PMO?

This is a popular question if you are going for a lead role in a PMO.  The interviewer wants to see that you have a clear plan on how to plan the implementation of a PMO.

Always good to start by saying that an environment scan will be conducted to understand current tools / processes, identify what is working (and what is not working well), etc.  Ensure that this is not made to sound like a long, bureaucratic process.

Based on the output of the scan, focus will be on core functions like:

  • Standardising / improving reporting
  • Focus on standard risk / issue ratings
  • Check to ensure all risks / issues / actions being managed
  • Review cost data – ensure visibility
  • Ensuring robust plans are in place
  • Key documents being stored

Then the next phase being to:

  • Ensure governance is in place
  • Change control
  • Benefit management
  • Dependency management

Then as the PMO has bedded down:

  • Quality assurance
  • Active challenge of projects

How would you gain support for the PMO?

It is quite common for there to be resistance to the implementation of a PMO.  This checks to see how you will win the support of the stakeholders so as to make the PMO a success.

Focus on identifying key stakeholders.  Setting up meetings to understand their requirements, concerns, problems, etc.  Credentialize yourself by talking about previous experience – demonstrate you can add value when it comes to delivery.

Discus your plans for the PMO.  Ask for their feedback.  Iterate design.

This is a good approach and will show that you know building relationships through face to face meetings is critical.

What services should a PMO provide?

This can test skills and understanding at all role levels.

For junior roles the services would be consolidation of regular reporting (status, RAID’s, costs, etc) and production of management report.  Providing support to the project teams and sponsor.

You then can expand into higher value services such as change control, dependency tracking, etc.

Then at the senior end, owning the change agenda, mentoring project managers, pro-active drive of change agenda, etc.

What would a successful PMO look like?

This tests that you have a clear idea what the end state will look like and the benefits it will provide and, importantly, to show how it is a success.

A PMO will be successful if it has implemented tools and processes that are easy to use with minimum overhead, while providing visibility and transparency.

The PMO should be the trusted partner to senior management and project teams.  Project managers should feel comfortable, actively seek the input of the PMO to help with issues.

Metrics will show that projects are mobilised quicker, reduced time projects report Amber or Red and improvement in the number of projects that deliver in line with the business case.

Summary

Of course there will be other questions that will be asked.  However, ensuring you are comfortable answering questions around the themes above will help ensure you are prepared for similar questions.

Looking for an advantage?

The PMO Manual by PM MajikIf you are serious about securing a role within a PMO, either your first role or your next role, you may be interested in The PMO Manual.  This offical PM Majik resource covers all of the key topics to designing and setting up a PMO.  This means that you can feel confident going into the interview that you can talk about the steps involved in the process.

For a relatively small investment you can benefit from knowledge that has been gained over 25+ years of setting up global PMO’s.  Best of all, within moments of placing your secure order, you will have full access to the information.

For more details visit The PMO Manual

If you are looking for a resource that covers the wider topic of project management interview questions, you may want to investigate Project Management – Interview

 

 

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