Great Advice for a Great Interview

Sitting across from a Professional Recruiter for an interview is one thing. However, sitting across from the Hiring Manager is something entirely different. As Project Managers we are grateful for the role recruiters’ play when it comes to employment opportunities, but we also understand that the hiring manager ultimately has the final decision as it relates to bringing us on board.

Since a hiring manager can make a decision on the spot, what do hiring managers think of PMPs and what can you do to make the most of the interview? We interviewed a couple of decision makers and below is a compilation of what we found out.

What is Your Perception of a PMP-Certified Project Manager?

The managers we interviewed stated that PMPs are typically viewed in a better light than a self-trained Project Manager. Having a PMP Certification shows that you have invested in your career and understand how to manage a process from beginning to end. This translates to a shorter learning curve with only small refinements being necessary to adapt to the new organization.

Additionally, more hiring managers are viewing PMP Certification as the bare minimum necessary to hired as a Project Manager. Garrett Suhm, SVP Product Development at Silverpop says that “as a rule we don’t hire Software Engineers without a computer science degree. Similarly, we don’t hire Project Managers without their PMP Certification.”

What Does a PMP Bring to the Table that a non-PMP May Not?

Due to the fact that PMPs are required to obtain a minimum number of project hours to receive their certification, it means that they have been in the trenches with project teams, resources and clients. Many new, non-certified project managers lack this experience and as a result may not clearly understand all the things that can possibly go wrong with a project.

Additionally, some new Project Managers may fall into the trap of being people-pleasers. They may want to give their resources some slack, or over-deliver for their client or give something away for free. On the surface, these may seem like the right things to do, but a battle-scarred PMP knows the outcome is not good for anyone. This experience results in a Project Manager who demands accountability, understands project profitability, and knows how to convey to a client that, with enough time and money, anything is possible.

Another strength PMPs bring to the table above non-PMP candidates is there is an understanding of an industry standard. There is a common language, process and deliverables that ensure alignment and a strong foundation for everyone follow.

What Advice Would You Give to a PMP That Interviews with You?

There are three main areas you can keep in mind when you are interviewing with a hiring manager.

  • Show How Your PMP Certification Applies in the Real World – The reality is that in some cases, someone with a PMP certification may just be good test taker and may not necessarily understand how to apply what they have learned. Show how you have solved real world problems as a result of your certification. It may be a methodology you learned, or a tool you picked up from a class or something you gleaned at a networking event. Whatever the case, show how you have turned theory into reality.
  • Show Leadership in Action – Let’s face it, it’s not Project Management…it is Project Leadership. “Show how you have led entire teams from the beginning of a project to the end. Not just the development team or the Client”, recommends Richard Palmer, President of Online Info. Exemplify how you are a decision-maker who makes things happen, not just a note taker who records what happened.
  • Show How You can Solve Their Problems – Successful businesses solve people’s problems. You need to view yourself as your own successful business and understand what problems your prospective employer or client is facing. Once you understand that, you can provide them with your unique approach to solving their problem.

If you have ever sat in the seat of a hiring manager, you know that many times you make the decision on the spot of who you want to hire. Make it easy for the hiring manager to make their decision by showing how your PMP-Certification will make their job that much easier!

Here is some additional insight from those who make hiring decisions:

“Until someone has experienced a project that has gone out of control, they don’t really understand how quickly that can happen. It means a lot to see that you understand the importance of staying on top of things and keeping your project under control.”

Richard Palmer
Online Info

“My advice to a PMP interviewing with me is to ask what causes me heartburn in my business and then show me how you can solve that problem.”

Garrett Suhm
SVP Product Development

3 Responses to “Great Advice for a Great Interview”

  1. Gregory Barnett says:

    This article is informative and relevant, especially during this time of high unemployment. It’s great to actually hear the thoughts of hiring managers as it relates to PMP’s along with the advise on how to convey the benefits of what PMP’s bring to an organization. What I’ve found is that Project Management is still not widely recognized outside of IT. This article provides real world examples that can open minds as well as doors.

  2. pdus2go says:

    Thanks Gregory. Glad you found it useful. Out of curiosity, what Industry are you in and how have you been able to (or seen others) have a successful interview?

  3. due date calculator says:

    Wow great blog, I was looking for something else on ask but found your site on page 1 so thought I would pay a visit and now have bookmarked.

Leave a reply

PMI Logo1 Powered by, Inc. | Copyright © 2007 - 2018,, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

"PMBOK, PMI, PMP and REP" are trademarks, service marks or certification marks of the Project Management Institute Inc. Inc. | 3500 Lenox Road, Suite 1500 | Atlanta, GA 30326 | 404-815-4644