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What questions would you ask in an interview if you want to hire a Planner / Scheduler?

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Raul Santos
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If you are one of the persons that will interview candidates for a Planner & Scheduler position, what questions would you ask him / her?

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Kathy Castle
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Explain me the Critical Path

What is the difference between total float and free float ?

What is WBS ?

Zoltan Palffy
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What dates are derived from the forward and backward pass ?

Who owns the float in a project ?

What are some of the characteristics that make up a good scedule  ?

Have you ever used the DCMA 14 point schedule anaylsys ?

How do you determine durations ?

Have you ever resource loaded a schedule with units and costs ?

What is the definition of a critical path ?

How do you work in a team environment ?

How often do you walk a job site ?

What tools do you use to measure progress ?

Whats the purpose of a WBS ?

Have you created status reports ?

What are some of the import considerations when planning a project ? 

Anoon Iimos
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You may or may not be capable of doing a comprehensive schedule all by yourself. This always depends on the complexity of projects or details required. Multi-disciplined projects require specialists for each trade. So inputs from each trade are vital to the creation of a comprehensive schedule (dealing with sub-contractors may make it more difficult).

On the same manner, maintaining a schedule of course requires inputs from each discipline.

Therefore, creating and or maintaining a schedule especially for complex projects is always a "Teamwork"! (Never a one-man army, as no one can be a master of everything).

Now, for interviews (or finding jobs), I believe in the saying that: "It's not always what you know, but whom you know".

Of course most recruiters were not planners themselves. They just rely on the data (or requirements) given to them by the employers (and sometimes employers don't mind to make interviews anymore, as perhaps just putting trust to the recruiter). 

By any means, "Luck" always have a part in any dealings. 

From personal experience, I was once called for a week's interview, at first was a panel interview and the rest were just drinking sessions (maybe just to find out if I get drunk). Well, not bad when you're given business class tickets and hotel accommodation for the project afterwards. 

Mike Testro
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Can you build it?

Kylie Gorham
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When I have interviewed, after asking for the person to use their own words to describe their experience, I have asked some very pointed questions often using examples e.g.:

  • What inputs do you rely on to create and maintain the schedule, their approach? Someone who relies on other people to tell them what activities to create, durations, quantities, sequence is more a person who uses the tool. Someone who refer to drawings, MTOs, specifications, contract documents is more of a planner.
  • I ask about on site experience - particularly for construction - because its that fundamental understanding of who does what, when and what workarounds can be employed that indicate if they will be dynamic in reviewing the schedule or just an updater.
  • I ask about the composition of the team(s) they worked in. Its always interesting people who say they 'prepared the monthly report' until you understand they were one planner in a team of 3-5 and did not have the primary responsibility.
  • I ask what phase of the project(s) they worked through. Sometimes people are serial 'set up' planners, who don't stay through the execution phase and learn from experience the practical adjustments and workarounds you need to do to report accurately [I am a little like that in recent history especially working more in IT than construction lately].
  • I will have an example ready and say ... here is the project s curve - have a look at it and give me your thoughts/feedback. I expect then to notice if it is updated to the current time period e.g. not six months old, to notice deviation of actuals from baseline, to be able to comment on how many months variance it indicates, to notice a sawtooth and ask about it, if the forecast curve is ridiculous or not and to have a first glance sense of the health of the scope they are looking at. 

Kylie

Santosh Bhat
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If they only ask about your knowledge of software - they dont want a planner/scheduler - they want a data entry clerk.

Anoon Iimos
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They usually ask: Do you know how to use a certain software ? (When I guess they themselves have no idea how to use it). 

So if you always say Yes, then perhaps you got a big chance.