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Preparing For A Project Manager Interview: Brush Up On Your PRINCE2 Documentation

Updated on February 20, 2014
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Technical Questions In A Project Manager Interview

Typically, a project management interview is behavioral-based. That is, it focuses on talking through certain skills and behaviors exhibited by the candidate in their past roles. However, many project management jobs ask for certain professional qualifications, so you are likely to get asked some technical questions in an interview to demonstrate your knowledge.

This article deals specifically with the PRINCE2 qualification, and gives you a quick cheats guide into the most commonly used PRINCE2 documentation, to help prepare you for an interview.

Business Case

What is it? Written at the project start to justify the project and outline the expected benefits. Typically, but not always, benefits are often financial.

What does it contain?

  • Purpose of project
  • Reasons for doing the project
  • Options explored
  • Benefits
  • Risks
  • Costs
  • Timescales
  • Cost-benefit analysis

Who is responsible for creating it?

Often the project manager, but it can be written by the project sponsor

Project Brief

What is it? The project brief is an outline of the project drawn up at the start. It is eventually incorporated into the project initiation document. It is intended to give readers a picture of the project and what it will involve.

What does it contain?

  • Project background
  • The objectives of the project
  • Scope
  • Deliverables (products)
  • Constraints
  • Assumptions
  • Business case
  • Risks
  • Quality expectations
  • Acceptance criteria
  • Plan and timeline
  • Review and reporting
  • Budget

Who is responsible for creating it?

The Project Manager

Project Approach

What is it? The project approach outlines in detail how the team intends to complete the project. This can include alternative routes considered. It should demonstrate that the project is feasible, and that the team have the skills, know-how and capacity to complete it.

What does it contain?

  • Solution/product to be created
  • Description of approach
  • Alternative options explored (if necessary)
  • Type of solution(s)
  • Justification for approach

Who is responsible for creating it?

This can be done by a specialist (e.g. technical lead, product manager) or the project manager.

Project Initiation Document

What is it? One of the most important documents on a project, the Initiation Document is the fully detailed document created during the early stages of the project and is signed off by the project board before work starts. It often contains a summary of documents preceding it, such as the project approach, communication plan.

What does it contain?

  • Project description
  • Project approach
  • Business case
  • Team/organization structure
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Quality management plan
  • Configuration management
  • Risk management
  • Communication plan
  • Project plan
  • Project controls

Who is responsible for creating it?

The Project Manager

Checkpoint Report

What is it? The checkpoint report is a snapshot of the status of the project at any point in time, and is produced at regular intervals during the project (at the project manager's request). Its purpose is to ensure that everything is on track.

What does it contain?

  • Report date and reporting period
  • Work in progress
  • Work completed
  • Work planned
  • Lessons
  • Work package tolerance status
  • Issues
  • Risks

Who is responsible for creating it?

Either the project manager or a work package owner / team lead

Quality Plan

What is it? Also referred to as the quality management strategy, this defines clear expectations of what quality the product will need to meet, and how this will be measured and controlled throughout the project.

What does it contain?

  • Quality management procedure (this can be an existing in-house procedure if available)
  • Tools and techniques
  • Quality records
  • Reporting
  • Timescales
  • Roles and responsibilities

Who is responsible for creating it?

Project manager or test/QA manager

Communications Plan

What is it? The communication plan is essentially a communication strategy for the project. It is intended to agree at the start how information should be communicated during the project, and who should be on the distribution list.

What does it contain?

  • Procedures
  • Tools and techniques
  • Records
  • Reporting
  • Timing
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Stakeholder analysis

Who is responsible for creating it?

The Project Manager.

End Stage Report

What is it? Since a PRINCE2 project is split up into stages, an end stage report is a summary report for the project board covering the status of all activity that has taken place during that stage. It is used by the project board to decide if the project should move forward to the next stage.

What does it contain?

  • A summary report from the project manager
  • Business case review
  • Review of project objectives
  • Review of stage objectives
  • Review of team
  • Review of products
  • Lessons
  • Issues
  • Risks
  • Forecast

Who is responsible for creating it?

The Project Manager

End Project Report

What is it? This is similar to the end stage report, but is the final report at the end of the project. It also includes any lessons to come out of the project.

What does it contain?

  • Summary report from the project manager
  • Review of the business case
  • Review of the project objectives
  • Review of products
  • Team performance
  • Lessons learned

Who is responsible for creating it?

The Project Manager

Exception Report

What is it? Every project has a given tolerance - slack to alter the plan without needing additional authorization. When a project needs anything beyond this - for example, a deadline slips, then an exception report is raised and sent to the project board.

What does it contain?

  • Description of the exception(s)
  • Causes
  • Consequences
  • Options
  • Recommendations

Who is responsible for creating it?

The Project Manager

Highlight Report

What is it?

The highlight report is a status summary of the project. It is intended as a written communication about the project to interested parties and senior executives (mainly the project board) to help monitor progress.

What does it contain?

  • High level project status
  • Activities in progress
  • Work completed
  • Variance from plan
  • Quality review
  • Issues
  • Risks
  • Change control
  • Budget
  • Work planned next period

Who is responsible for creating it?

The Project Manager

Workpackage

What is it? This document outlines the description of each package of work that is assigned to an individual or team within a project. It explains what needs to be achieved, any what end result is expected. It is intended to provide a written guideline to everyone working on the project, so that work expectations are clear and carefully communicated.

What does it contain?

  • Team manager's name
  • Workpackage description
  • Procedures
  • Constraints
  • Interfaces
  • Tolerances
  • Reporting arrangements
  • Escalations
  • Approvals

Who is responsible for creating it?

The Project Manager

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      Networkbee 2 years ago

      Very Informative in a gist - Thanks