I tried to calm down the customer on the phone and told him that we, as whole project team, will be arriving on site in one hour to investigate the problem and fix it. Right after my customer phone call, I called the software developers and test engineers to come back at office to investigate this issue. We were in the office, whole project team, in 45 minutes. Our software engineers investigated the problem. However, they could not find any hint regarding the problem.
Majority of the subscribers were able to do calls without any problem. Customer was getting angrier each minute because as the time passes, number of complaints started to increase. All reported incidents were from Louisville, Kentucky. We thought that this is a local problem affecting only a part of the subscribers. We contacted with three of the subscribers who reported this problem and asked them to re-initiate a call.
In the meantime, our software and test engineers collected logs of the failing calls. After analysis, they found that a customized routing for Louisville city was not updated by customer during deployments. After defining the routing, problem was resolved. It was a long six hours of my life. Customer was on my neck and asking the situation each minute while we were trying to fix the issue.
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If you look at the answer, first part reflects that the candidate did his responsibility by post deployment tests to avoid any failures. Second part highlights the emergency of this issue. Third and the last part highlights how he handled the failure. This project manager interview question will assess your monitoring and controlling skills and your familiarity with project management tools. The primary responsibility of the project manager is completing a project scope on time and on budget in the agree quality levels.
To do this, a project manager must use his or her skills and project management tools. After I completed the initial project planning, I take a baseline. I use this baseline to compare the progress of the project and actual values against the baseline. Each week or in every two weeks, I forecast the duration and cost of remaining project activities with my team to determine whether the negotiated deadline and budget will be met. I use Microsoft Excel to keep track of issue log. I assign an open issue to a project resource or any external resource in project issue log.
I set a deadline for the issue and I follow the issue until it is resolved. I use Microsoft Project for creating project plan. However, I have used Jira software tracking tool as well. When I am using Microsoft Project, I compare the actual values of the tasks with the baseline values. This helps me to see whether a task is on track, behind schedule or ahead of schedule. When I am using Jira, I create my own dashboards for late tasks or open tasks. I report these tasks to the assignees each week or more frequently if they are urgent.
This answer shows the technical knowledge of project manager candidate. Answer also provides solid samples on how to monitor and control a project like taking baseline and comparing actual values against baseline. This project manager interview question will assess your risk management and communication management experience together. Bear in your mind that, failures, emergencies or critical points about a project must be communicated face to face. If face-to-face communication is not possible, then, you should choose teleconference meeting or phone call.
We were working on an online learning portal project of an oil company. Deadline of the project was Feb 15, Although we completed our development tasks and internal tasks on time, customer could not complete their acceptance test on time. Executive management of the customer was pushing to deliver the project on time.
However, since customer could not complete their acceptance tests, it was risky. First, I called my manager.
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I wish we could have spoken face-to-face but she was in a business trip at that time. I told her the situation. She agreed with me to speak about the risk of the situation with the customer.
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Then, I organized a meeting with the project team. I told the team that they did all they have to do. I added in the meeting that, we, as project team, met our deadlines and objectives. However, customer could not complete their acceptance tests on time. Therefore, we will be postponing the project launch for one month.
This made some of the project team members upset because we were working hard to complete the project on time but the project was postponed because of a customer-sourced delay. Finally, I organized a meeting with executive management of the customer. During the meeting, I told to the project sponsor and executive managers of the customer that, customer acceptance tests are not complete yet.
In addition, if we launch the project, we might face critical problems on live environment and this can cause dissatisfaction and lose of reputation. At the end of the meeting, executive managers were agreed to wait till customer acceptance tests completion. This answer shows that the project manager approaches to the failure communication in a systematic way.
First, he reports to his manager. If his manager would not accept the situation or propose alternative ways with the project team and customer, he could have changed the approach to the team and customer respectively. After getting the approval of the manager, he speaks with the team first and then communicates to the customer respectively. Project team motivation is crucial for the success of a project. If a project team is not motivated, it will be impossible to reach project objectives. Or, even if you reach your project objectives, project quality will suffer.
This project manager interview question is critical to get insights about the people management skills of the candidate. After I create the project baseline, I mark the milestones of the project. Then, I send this project plan to all project team members. Whenever we pass a milestone successfully, I organize an event to celebrate this. This can be a picnic, a weekend trip or a dinner depending on the project budget or amount of the allowance provided by the company for these celebrations. Additionally, I try to celebrate birthday of each project team member. I organize a 30 minutes break for celebration and invite all project team members to this break.
Moreover, if a project team member over performed during the project, I send a special email to his manager to appreciate his efforts.
I know that these kinds of emails will be important for the line managers of project team members when they are doing annual performance evaluation of the employees. My appreciations will bring additional points and opportunities for promotion or bonuses for the project team member respectively. This answer shows that, project manager candidate does not do only regular celebration activities like milestone and birthday celebrations.
He can also speak or contact to the functional managers of the project team members to appreciate project resources for promotion or better annual performance evaluation.
Managing outsource personnel or supplier is a different project management skill. If you are applying to a company that works with outsource personnel or suppliers, this project manager interview question will be an elective one. If you have a project management experience in a vendor, most probably, you will have outsource and supplier management experience as well.
Let us first define what outsource and supplier is. Outsource personnel is hired or acquired by a company only for a limited time or for a specific project. For instance, assume that you are installing a database for a utility service provider in scope of your project.
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You need a database administrator for this work. However, your company does not have a full time database administrator. You have to hire or outsource the database administrator for a limited time to work for your project. Suppliers are material, equipment, tools etc. In your project, if you need database servers, and if these servers will be provided by a 3 rd party company, this company is supplier of your project. I was working for a billing system project for a telecom operator.
Our company was not having a SDP product expert. Therefore, we had to outsource two SDP product experts for three months to work in our project. I managed the communication with Ericsson to outsource these two consultants and planned their start and end dates in the project.
To do this, we have negotiated with a server installation company, Servus. I was in the process of negotiation with this supplier. I managed the SDP consultants and Servus, server installation company, throughout the project.