Are you preparing for a program manager interview? If you are worried about the type of questions that are going to be asked, we got you covered! This article will provide you with an insight on some of the commonly asked program manager interview questions so that you can be confident on your big day. These interview questions can be usually grouped into three parts: Role-specific, Situational or Operational and Behavioural.
Program management is the process of managing several projects which are usually related to improving the overall project delivery of the teams. Most people confuse program managers from project managers. When there is a large project which is made up of a number of several projects, it is known as a program. This is where a program manager’s role comes into play.
As we are now clear of what program management is, let us check out the 20 prominent interview questions asked in a program manager interview:
Q1. What are the causes of a project failure?
The most common failure of a project is due to the lack of communication. Some of the other prominent ones are lack of flexibility and direction.
Q2. What is program governance?
Program governance is the way of providing structure and guidance to a program so that it aligns with the organisational goals.
Q3. What are the most important metrics according to you?
This answer is more about how you measure the effectiveness of the program and how the metrics lead to value measurement. Some of the important metrics that you should consider discussing are cost variance, schedule variance, resource utilisation, customer satisfaction, quality and gross margins.
Q4. Are you familiar with the PMI code of ethics?
PMI members have determined that honesty, responsibility, respect and fairness are the values that drive ethical conduct for the project management profession. Download the PMI code of ethics from their website to have a good understanding of those ethics.
Q5. What is the difference between the role of a project manager and a program manager?
A project manager is directly responsible for handling the projects while a program manager is responsible for the overall functioning of the project group.
Q6. How is change management important in program management?
Any adjustment and changes can have an impact on various aspects of program management. There can be an impact on the processes, systems, job roles and organisational structure. This is why change management is important to understand the effects and how to manage it effectively as changes are inevitable in a work environment.
Q7. How will you gather the needed program participants?
Tell the interviewer how you plan to inculcate interest among potential participants and the different channels that you use to reach out to them.
Q8. What strategy do you prefer – control vs management?
Program management is about managing the program and not babysitting the team. You need to effectively communicate with the members and not be a control freak.
Q9. How do you evaluate the complexity of a program?
The complexity of a program depends on its components, the number of people involved in it and how much organisation it needs.
Q10. Have you ever had to deal with a program that was falling behind schedule?
It cannot happen that all the time programs finish on schedule perfectly. You will face issues related to quality and schedule. Tell them how you have handled those issues in the past and how will you deal with it better in the future.
Q11. How do you determine if a project is healthy or not?
To determine if a project is healthy or not, you should be able to determine a lot of metrics associated with it. Some of the metrics have been discussed in question no. 2.
Q12. How do you deal with a communication problem while managing a problem?
The best way to avoid any communication problem is to fix a communication plan in the planning stage of a program. If there is a clear plan, there will be less confusion when the program is in process. There are various tools like fishbone analysis and RACI chart which can help in getting a good communication plan in effect.
Q13. Discuss the ways you will handle stakeholders?
Keeping the stakeholders in the loop is the best way to handle them. Remain respectful and keep an open communication regardless of how they interact back.
Q14. How will you manage your sponsors?
Sponsors are the executives who are responsible for the program initiation. As a program manager, you will need to show high commitment and involvement levels to have the sponsors on the good side.
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Q15. How do you group projects into a program?
There are two methods – a) the common organic method of tying together similar projects or b) top-down method starting from a business outcome.
Q16. How do you prioritise a group of projects?
Explain how you feel which projects are essential to the success of the program and why they are prioritised. Projects that need more management and has more risks are usually prioritised before others.
Q17. What are the ways you can minimise dependencies between different projects?
To minimise dependencies between different projects, as a program manager, you should collaborate with the project managers and use effective team management tools.
Q18. How do you arrive at your program budget?
Creating a program budget depends on various criteria like the program parameters that are involved and the various resources that are being utilised, with a value placed on each factor.
Q19. How can you control the scope of projects?
As program managers are controlling various projects, to handle them efficiently, they should clearly define, control and document control specifications.
Q20. Does small and large businesses have similar processes?
No. The demands for large and small businesses differ and that is why the practices are not similar.
To ace your program manager interview, you need to have more than just experience. Skills and confidence are very important when you appear for an interview. The above program manager interview questions can help you. However, if you want to gain perfect program management skills, you can go for an online professional program management certification.
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