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Questions about Planning during Interviews

16 replies [Last post]
Nicolas Berger
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Hi to All,

I’m gonna have interviews quite soon and it looks like I’ll be questioned about my skills and abilities and planning. I’ve got no problem with that but I’m just wandering what type of questions people can ask, knowing that this part of the interview will be conducted via telephone rather than face-to-face.

What should I expect ?

Thanks guys ;-)

Replies

Anoon Iimos
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i once had a telephone interview which i can’t hear clearly what the other side is saying, and all i did was say yes (i can’t remember exactly how many yes i’ve said), but i got the job!

i did it the second time (the same situation - not clear), and i’ve never heard from them again!

my belief is, if the job is for you! then it’s for you! if not, then forget it!
Nigel Winkley
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We often ask questions like "Give me an example of where you solved the problem of not getting progress", "...how you used EV", "what are the 3 most important aspects of planning", "How do you show that planning is useful to PMs".
Oh and take your MP3 player off during the interview - one guy i interviewed had his Walkman on during the interview! He didn’t get the job - I didn’t like his music which i could hear! Seriously
And good luck!
Nige
Arnold Puy
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That’s true Oliver, I have a lot of friends. They are planners in designation but they are not very familiar in Primavera. When you ask them regarding the Site Works, most of them answered correctly.

I’ve got a telephonic interview before and the guy asked me regarding the Global Change, Floats, Constraint & Milestone and that’s it.
Oliver Melling
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True, but i think that software questions do need to be asked in order ensure you get someone who can hit the ground running. A planner who has spent 20 years on MSP will need a little time and training to get used to something like P6.
Nicolas Berger
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I’m not a beginner in Planning & Scheduling but I hate being asked questions on critical path, blabla bla. It does not make any sense to me especially by phone.

When you look at a resume and if you check references by giving a call you know that the guy is suitable for the position and it is not necessary to ask these theoritical questions.

But we’ll see.
Tom Howard
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A dumb-ass question is a dumb-ass question whether it’s in Punjabi or Mandarin Chinese. And anyway, if their English is that poor how can you be sure they are interpreting any advice given correctly?

This is NOT a language issue I am commenting on.


Oliver Melling
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Tom,

I agree some of the questions are laughable.....but you do have to remember that some of these people are asking questions in a non-native language!

If you posted a question in arabic during the first 2 weeks of you career what would yours say?

There will always be charlatans and people winging it, but imo they just make people who know what they’re on about it look better.
Tom Howard
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"I think the type and quality of questions often asked in this forum illustrates this perfectly"

Ha ha ... totally agree with this point... it’s laughable the amount of ridiculous questions asked on these forums by people who have obviously been tasked with positions and challenges well above their planning experience and suitability.... eg


hElo all, my Name is mustafer, and i wish to build new 130 level tower in dubai. do you have idea about how i build tower ? what tower made of ? what best mix for concrete foundation ? i very thankful for idea.

your honorably,
mustafer

If asking questions about forward and backward passes keeps these numpties out of the industry I’m all for it.
Alex Wong
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Dear planners

Theroy is important but I think my question will be differnt instead of asking forward pass I would ask.
Where should we use constraint, and why
and What is the reason try to avoid using constraints

How to do a delay analysis, what are the ways to bring forward a schedule.

Still the most important quality in a planner / scheduler is "COMMUNICATION" IMHO

Regards

Alex
Omar Grant
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Hi Tom, I told of this example because my experience of many young/new planners and schedulers has shown me that a lack of basic understanding of the methodology of network analysis coupled with total dependence on computer based planning programs to do their thinking for them is exactly why there are so many problems these days in the planning of many projects. I think the type and quality of questions often aked in this forum illustrates this perfectly. Anyway - would you stop teaching children arithmetic just because electronic calculators exist?

cheers, Omar
Tom Howard
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"how to do a forward & backward pass " - Omar, are you living in 1982 ?

This is not in the least bit relevant to modern planning. A computer will do this very easily for you these days. I have been to many interviews over the years (and the only job I wasn’t offered was at Bovis in Manchester), and no-one has EVER asked me to perform a forward / backward pass. Wouldn’t have a clue how to do it, and have never needed to know. Show me a planner who can write a decent method statement, understand prelim build up or alternative construction methodology above that any day of the week !


If you applied for a job at Tesco on the tills, they wouldn’t test your ability to add up the prices on a basket of shopping....

My encounters of planning interviews is that they will ask about previous experience and get you to talk through case studies ie challenges you may have faced as a team and individually on those schemes. They need to know what your responsibilities were, as planning differs so much from company to company

They will want to understand your technical ability ie knowledge of software, and perhaps your understanding of general Project Management eg explain float or a critical path.

If you are fresh to the industry it will concentrate on your motivation for becoming a planner (it’s surprising how many people have told me "because I heard it pays well..."), and what attracts you to the industry.
Ashutosh Nema, PMP
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Hi
I don’t know how much experience you have but In my telephonic interview they asked me general question like Total float,negetive flot,lag,reletionship related question,recovery schedule,level of programme.
They also asked me about the Baseline and update checking and One more thing they will more inclined towards your current job profile ur contribution for the project etc....
Be clear and specific.
Wish u best of luck...

Ashutosh Nema
Carmen Arape
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Nicolas,

My experience after two telephone interviews is:

Be confident and do not lie. The interviewers have presented some planning scenarios and I was able to answer with my experience to one scenario BUT to the other one I did not have a clue. I was sincere in my answer and express confidence in managing the potential situation.

Be yourself, do not pretend to be the perfect planner.

Listen FIRST and at the moment of answering, please shows that you are proactive and optimistic person.

Give the impression of a winner in LIFE and It is not how good you are and most important is how good you want to be.

Cheers,
Anoon Iimos
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what will you expect? expect that they don’t know planning as well, that’s why they need one
Alex Wong
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Hi Nicolas

Would like to share an experience with you

I got an offer 4 years ago for an senior planning management position through telephone interviews alone. (in total 4 telephone interviews)
1st time - senior managers
2nd time - clients (the position is project based)
3nd time - clients + senior managers
4th time - company director
After that is all about salary packaging

The key is, be confident, know your trade (well you cannot fake that), listen to their needs and provide a solution that fit their needs.

As a planner, I believe there is 2 key qualities I am looking for in all level of planner - communication skill + analytial skill and if the interviewer is smart enough, it can pick up very quickly. And these skill you will not able to prepare or fake.

Good Luck + and just relax

Alex
Omar Grant
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Hi Nicolas, Just don’t be like a person I interviewed over the telephone a few years ago - I asked him how, if he was in a situation where he had only paper & pencil and he was asked to plan something, how would he proceed. I was, of course, expecting some sort of explanantion of how he would create a network of activities, do a forward & backward pass etc. After a lengthy silence, this guy said "I would use the papaer to write a letter to my manager requesting a PC and a copy of Primavera!!" I suppose you have to award marks for quick thinking!

cheers,

Omar