4 Skills Technical Project Managers Need to Ace that Phone and Video Interview
Updated: April 18, 2023
Phone and video interviews started becoming a more common practice before the Covid-19 pandemic made everything go virtual. While a technical project manager may be comfortable speaking over the phone when communicating with a coworker or client, interviewing is entirely different.
Why Phone and Video Interviews Are Important
They are often just a segue into an in-person or video interview as they help to establish your credibility and lay the groundwork to move the interview process forward. While most of us focus on how to interview without coming across as arrogant, it is just as important to know why you may actually want to showcase your skills to help set you apart from the other candidates.
Technical Project Manager Skills to Showcase
Phone and video interviews are the first chance to demonstrate your abilities and showcase the following skills essential for any successful project manager:
Clear communication is essential to being a successful technical project manager. From a project’s initial planning stages to completion, open lines of communication are crucial to team members, clients, and other project stakeholders. Consistent, straightforward communication reduces the likelihood that something is mishandled or misunderstood along the way. Active listening is also a critical component of effective communication. Ensure you fully understand what’s being said and develop appropriate communication plans for specific personality types and projects.
How to Prepare: Phone and video interviews can be a test of your communication skills and an excellent chance for you to display them. Come to the conversation prepared. Develop a “cheat sheet” with background info and examples of your applicable skills. Speak confidently and clearly. Actively listen, take notes, and ask appropriate follow-up questions. Don’t let any awkward lulls or accidental interruptions impact your focus. Additionally, make sure to acknowledge your written communication skills. Remember that project plans, statements of work, timelines, and status reports are required components of any project management role.
Problem-Solving and Negotiation
A technical project manager must solve internal conflicts, address concerns, mediate differing opinions, and negotiate outcomes. Challenges are inevitable, but how you react and resolve them is the key to diffusing situations and mitigating conflicts. Instead of casting blame or procrastinating, good problem solvers tackle obstacles head-on and diplomatically persist until they resolve the matter. As a project manager, you’re bound to be confronted with various unique and pertinent issues that require quick decision-making followed by a well-thought-out response.
How to Prepare: Be equipped to discuss specific instances in your career where your problem-solving and negotiating skills were tested. Share a challenge that you faced. Include the specific actions you took to manage it and the results of your efforts. These can be examples of how you resolved a conflict between team members or negotiated a “win-win” with fellow managers, senior management, or third-party suppliers. This narrative is also an opportunity to highlight any specific technical or subject matter expertise necessary to address and solve the problem.
Flexibility & Adaptability
With many employees, responsibilities, and timelines to oversee, technical project managers must be able to modify their approach to tasks on the fly. Flexibility is crucial in the tech industry due to the niche nature of many roles. Therefore, project managers who can quickly pivot and adapt to changing circumstances are more attractive to potential employers. You should be well-versed in what each member of your project is doing and at which stage the project stands. This is so you can swiftly implement the necessary changes to meet project timelines and goals, even if it means undertaking tasks outside your assigned duties.
How to Prepare: Similar to displaying your problem-solving abilities, consider circumstances in which you’ve had to change course or create a workaround in the middle of a project. Explain to the interviewer what caused the sudden modifications, how your team was affected, and how you were able to navigate them to success.
A technical project manager has an extremely high level of accountability, making it challenging to keep their work in check. Team members also look to their superiors as an example, mirroring their work ethic and vision for their projects. For these reasons, self-motivation is a necessary skill for all project managers.
How to Prepare: One of the best ways to self-motivate and convey this motivation is by pinpointing the greater purpose of your role. Feeling connected to a larger mission is a driver for many leaders. They can see how their efforts contribute to the organization’s overall goals. Identify this purpose and convey it during the phone or video interview, then inquire about the long-term aspirations of the organization. Use this information to align your position with their greater mission and discuss how you can assist the company in getting there.
Virtually any project manager candidate can develop new technical skills or strengthen existing proficiencies. By demonstrating how you can effectively implement the skills outlined here and explaining how they augment your role as a project manager, you’ll quickly set yourself apart from the competition and ace the phone and video interview.
About Benchmark IT –Technology Talent
Benchmark IT offers technology consulting, executive search, and direct hire recruitment and staffing services. We service a wide range of clients and industries throughout the metro New York area and beyond. Our proprietary recruitment process and dedication to precision, ethics, and personalized service set us apart from other recruiting firms. As a result, Benchmark IT has become a trusted partner among Fortune-ranked companies, mid-market, start-up, and growth-phase firms since 2007, proving why our candidates choose to work with us.
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