The role of a program manager is to oversee interconnected areas of a business, helping it fulfill its potential and achieve its objectives.
If there were no program managers, projects that shared threads might be disjointed and unproductive. That is why employers ensure they go for the best when hiring program managers.
If you are looking at getting hired as a Program Manager one day, then our update is for you. We have listed the Top 10 Program Manager Interview Questions and how best to answer them.
This article will also benefit employers who desire to know the best way to get the best out of many pools of candidates in Program Management.
Having a great program manager will make your team more productive and effective, whereas a poor manager will have your employees actively searching for other employment opportunities.
Who is a Program Manager?
Managing programs involves overseeing a wide range of projects and managing the project managers who are in charge of those projects.
They can fall into many different functions and areas, such as operational/technical management and human resources.
If you’re in search of a job, you should read this Program Manager Job Description Template For 2022
What is the Difference between the Program Manager and Project Manager?
It is easy to mistake a program manager to be a project manager because they both sound alike. Nonetheless, the Program Manager and Project Manager go their separate ways, both in definitions and roles.
The main differences between a program manager and a project manager include: program managers supervise project managers; they deal with the technical aspects of a project, and program managers take a more strategic approach to a project.
Are you a construction project manager? See this Best Construction Project Manager Job Description
Qualifications Required of a Program Manager
There are different levels of experience needed for program managers depending on the type of programs your company offers.
If your programs are software-based, then you should look for program managers with experience in software engineering, etc.
You may also select candidates with certifications in project management.
Read through this article; Best Project Manager Job Description Template for 2022
How to Prepare for Program Manager Interview Questions
Like we said earlier, it’s important not to confuse program managers with project managers or product managers. While the job titles seem similar, and they do both oversee projects, they are not the same thing.
It is possible for project managers to work in any niche, depending on the company they serve, but most of their job focus is on the current project at hand, rather than on the extensive project.
A program manager usually oversees several projects (and, occasionally, a team of project managers) that are all related by a common element, such as a common company goal. They are also responsible for guiding strategy, keeping the team focused on the right direction.
In preparing for Program Manager Interview questions, applicants should ensure they do their research starting from a comprehensive overview of the job description. Then follow it up with the company’s vision and mission statement.
This will provide a good outlay of what to expect and how to expect it during the interview.
It’s always easy to answer an interview question that’s straightforward – like the “do you have skill X?” kind of question. You assert you do and give an example to back it up.
On the other hand, you can admit it if you do not, but go a step further by talking about how you plan to gain that skill or any steps you are taking to gain it.
Top 10 Program Manager Interview Questions
During the interview, it is important to use behavioral-based interview questions to gauge a candidate’s leadership skills, communication abilities, management abilities, and problem-solving abilities.
Successfully completing an interview requires both art and science. There are a lot of unknowns, but focusing on key areas or competencies in the interview and answering questions based on them will give you the edge.
You should spend time during the interview learning as much as you can about the candidate’s experience. Learn about programs or projects they have managed and the results they achieved.
There are a whole lot of questions one is likely to encounter while doing a project manager interview. Different companies with different questions specific to their requirements for the job. However, based on the nature of program manager jobs, below are the questions one is most likely to be asked during a program manager interview.
1. What is the difference between program and project management?
This question comes up a good number of times. Your answer should be straight and precise. As compared to program management, a project manager is more tactical. A project manager handles the day-to-day activities that occur within a project, such as assembling and leading the team, managing resources and schedules, and executing the project.
Typically, a program manager oversees multiple projects that have a common strategic goal. This is a leadership role that requires project managers to work together, formulate and adopt strategic goals, and communicate and coordinate with the top management.
2. What is the Difference between Governance and Management as it relates to Program Management?
As part of governance, decision-making at the strategic level is undertaken, finance is planned, and oversight is undertaken. It provides values, purpose, direction, and structure, which form guidelines for management. They need different individuals for governance and management positions.
Generally, a program manager has a management role as they implement company goals. However, within a given program, they play a governance role and provide guidelines for project managers.
3. How do You Evaluate a Project’s Performance?
The goal of program managers is to continuously evaluate the performance of a project to ensure that it is on track to achieve its objectives and to provide feedback to the project managers.
Metrics that can be used to evaluate a project includes;
- Examine whether the budget reflects actual spending.
- Check if project milestones are being met on time.
- Reassess the project’s business context to know if it continues to satisfy business needs.
- Assess the stakeholders’ satisfaction with the project deliverables and the project manager’s communication.
4. What is Earned Value Management?
By using Earned Value Management, one attempts to measure the performance and progress of a project in an objective manner. Earned Value Management measures the time, scope, and cost of a project.
Basically, EVM has three main components:
- Project Plan – all the activities that must be accomplished for a project to be completed.
- Planned Work (PV) – all the tasks outlined in the project plan plus any overhead.
- Earned Value (EV) – the budgeted cost of actually completing the tasks.
5. How Do You Determine Funding Requirements for a Program?
If a program takes several years to complete, period funding requirements can be applied to all the funding requirements for individual projects, and the budget for the program management team.
The periods could be quarterly, half, or yearly.
6. How can You Tell that a Project is at Risk?
Program managers can monitor a project and spot risks early in a few ways:
Central dashboards – They have to keep track of important metrics across all projects and ask for input from project managers on deviations from the plan.
Stakeholders participation – Involving key stakeholders on a regular basis will provide an honest view of a project’s state, as stakeholders will be more than willing to point out potential issues.
Constant Communication – Communicate directly and constantly with project managers. Creating trust with project leads will make sure problems aren’t hidden.
This question intends to reveal your leadership and management abilities to the recruiter. Employers are trying to find out how you handle risks, your communication skills, and how critical your thinking is.
Additionally, a simple answer can be put this way “I use project and program dashboards to give me a unified, real-time picture of project health. I simplify reporting processes and communicate with project managers and leaders regularly. In addition, I facilitate better communication among project managers and teams by building trusting relationships.
7. What is the Most Common Reason Projects fail?
The employer uses this question to know how well enough you know the job. They equally want to be sure you can predict potential disasters. It is hard not to come across this Program Manager interview question in an interview. Your answer can come this way below.
”I would mention poor communication as a single reason. When the lines of communication breakdown, the resulting situation invites failure. For example, misunderstandings can lead to one group prioritizing one aspect while others concentrating on another.
There might not be adequate communication regarding changes, resulting in slow progress and the possibility of re-doing work for those who weren’t told they needed to take an alternative course of action.
We can eliminate all of these with sound communication between everyone involved in the program”
8. How do you determine which is the priority among multiple projects?
The hiring manager is interested in knowing your strategy while faced with multiple projects. Your answer should reveal what you think and details of how you access different projects. Your answer can come this way below.
The first step I take if I need to set a priority is to look at all possible dependencies. Often, certain projects require specific milestones before another can advance, so this is an important consideration.
In addition, I analyze several project aspects, such as the goals, budgetary requirements, risks, and resource constraints. Additionally, I speak with stakeholders and sponsors to understand their views. As a result, I can prioritize the projects in a way that builds the most value for the company.
9. How do you avoid scope creep?
In project and program management, scope creep refers to the unexpected exigencies that could come up suddenly and ruin all the efforts that have been put into the project.
Your answer is best put this way;
Having vigilance is critical in managing scope creep. However, critical thinking is also required. After all, every project shifts a bit along the way, so the ability to distinguish scope creep from genuine changes is crucial.
To ensure that every aspect of the project is well-defined before moving forward, I keep communication open with team members and stakeholders and act as a primary resource for questions and changes. By doing this, I’m able to stay informed on any requests that extend beyond the original scope, enabling me to step in and assess the situation as soon as possible.
Finally, if a change is not necessary, we can decide together if a change is needed, and, if it is, I will handle the situation appropriately.
10. What is your Plan for Change Management?
As a result of any significant change in the way things are done, there is usually some resistance to change and they must avoid its negative psychological consequences. You can approach the change management for a program officer in a phased manner.
Make it clear why the change is needed and how it will affect the team, department, or company. Using data to support your claims will strengthen your message and reduce hesitation or resistance. Inform the project manager and everyone involved about this change.
Secondly, try to start a pilot project for the change that will involve one or two project teams. Try to identify project managers and teams that seem the most open to implementing the change. Use the pilot not only to garner support within other teams but to also iron out any kinks.
Last but not least, after the pilot, create a schedule with all the project managers during which the teams will make the change
Program Managers earn well above project managers. That is why employers go the extra length to ensure they receive enough convincing that you can deliver on the job.
They culled our top 10 program manager interview questions from industry recruitment experts and the trend among hiring managers.
You can subscribe to our newsletter for subsequent updates on interview questions and other rich content.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Question)
Below are the questions you should prepare well for:
- What was the biggest challenge you faced while managing a team of project managers?
- How did you measure the success of deliverables?
- Describe how you developed a budget and allocated resources for the last program you managed.
- Tell us about your most recent.
It is you who can do the job and provide exceptional results for the company. You will be a great addition to the team. You have a combination of skills and experience that distinguishes you from others.
Despite your enthusiasm, don’t take up too much time answering. You don’t have to tell the hiring manager everything about you that you think makes you an excellent candidate. Tell them a few important details that will inspire their interest.
How did you contribute to your most recent program? Tell me about a time when you had the task of developing a budget or allocating resources to a past program. Tell me about a time when you were managing a program that was behind schedule.
- 10 Essential Program Management Interview Questions – www.toptal.com
- Interview Questions to Hire the best Program Managers – lever.co
- Program Manager Job Description Template For 2022
- Construction Project Manager Job Description
- Restaurant Manager Job Description Template For 2022
- Property Manager Job Description (Updated) 2022
- Case Manager Job Description Template for 2022
- Best Marketing Manager Job Description for 2022
- Best Project Manager Job Description Template for 2022