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Top 5 Useful Tips For PMO Job Interviews

Updated on September 1, 2017
MKishor profile image

Kishor has years of working experience in software industries focusing on Agile and Project Management, A PMP & CSM certified professional.

When the organizations and its people start ignoring the project management standards and procedures knowingly or unknowingly, then the Project Management Office (PMO) comes to their rescue to remind them that they are heading towards a path of difficulties, and may get failures soon. As long as the project management office is actively functioning inside the organization, no needs to worry about the project management standards are being followed in the projects. They will assist you to implement the standards in your projects.

PMO Job Interviews
PMO Job Interviews

The Project Management Office (PMO) is a group or department within the organizations or any business unit that standardizes the proven project management processes and procedures. And, facilitate the required supports and guidance to the projects.

A project has to go through many phases to reach to its end. Each of those phases requires effective management using the processes and procedures to get the desired success. So, whether the projects runs through the Initiation phase, Planning Phase, Executing phase, or closing phase, the standard methods and procedures need to be applied effectively in each phase for better management of the overall project.

And, when you led the projects without following the project management standards you may get the success at times, but you are putting your project at higher risk. The risk of failures increases when the standards are not followed properly in the projects.

There can be several factors for the failure of the projects, it may be improper planning, unrealistic schedule, inaccurate cost and budget estimation, or can it be any unforeseen events happened internally or externally. Whatever the reason it can be, ultimately when a project fails to deliver the intended deliverables, it is the project manager who primarily gets blamed. But from a wider perspective, it is the organization that loses its face and ultimately destroys the relationships with its customers.

At times, the project managers feel the heat of managing the projects by following all the standard procedures. Isn't it great if somebody presents there to guide him? Of course, it is not always possible for a project manager to keep track of all the advanced processes, documents, and templates to be used in the project. As there are a lot of other tasks that need to be managed by them including people management, customer dealings and much more.

1. What is the need of a Project Management Office?

The Project Management Office or the PMO is the group of the right blend of people whose aim is to make others aware of the latest project management processes, standards and various updated documents and templates. So, that the projects and the project managers get the much needed helping hands from the PMO to sail their projects smoothly.

Before going to an interview, it is better to brush your skills to hit the right spot. Let's discuss the top 10 useful areas where you should be focussed before entering the interview room.

Know the Basics of PMO
You should be aware the basic term and definition, such as the purpose of Project Management Office and its importance to the organizations, and the need for a Project Management Office.

2. What are the types of PMO?

Basically, there are three types of PMO structures found across the organizations based on their degree of control and influence in the projects. At some places, they just play the role of consultant to promote and assist project managers in applying the project management processes into their projects. While in other organizations, they have the authority to enforce the project management standards.

So, based on the level of controlling and influencing abilities of the PMO, it is broadly divided into three categories.

Supportive PMO:
The supportive PMO are the coach, guide and light bearer of the project management standards and procedures. They provide the various standard templates of project management, guides, and other documents. And coach the people to make them aware of how to use those documents and when. They conduct various training and sessions to make the people aware about the best practices and procedures. Their level of influence into the projects is very low, they just guide and support, but cannot enforce.

Controlling PMO:
The controlling PMO has a slight upper hand in terms of the level of power. They not just support the projects by providing the required templates and documents, but also ensures that the specific templates and frameworks of project management are being implemented in the projects. The level of influencing abilities of the controlling PMO is little higher than the supportive PMO.

Authoritative PMO:
The Authoritative PMO has the complete control over the projects. They directly manage the projects by enforcing the latest project management processes and procedures. They ensure that the projects are following all the expected standards in all the phases without any miss.

3. What is the role of PMO in an organization?

There are many important roles the Project Management Office plays in an organization. We have already discussed many such roles and responsibilities of the Project Management Office (PMO) in this article. Few of them are as follows:

  • The PMO ensures that the projects are following the project management standards and procedures
  • They guide the projects to adapt the standard templates, metrics, charts and other documents
  • They help the project managers to find the right resources by sharing the resources across the projects in the organization
  • They coach the team, provides training in regular periods to keep everyone updated on the project management standards and processes

4. How PMO works in your Organization?

You should be aware of some common responsibilities of the PMO. What are the tasks they perform in your organizations?

The PMO takes the responsibility of creating and maintaining different templates and documents according to the project management standards to be applied uniformly across the projects

  • They keep on auditing regularly to ensure that the projects are following the project management standards and procedures
  • They also share the resources among the projects whenever the projects need the help to get the suitable resources.
  • They are the coach, guide and torch bearer of the project management standards. Time to time they provide training and creates awareness in the organization.
  • The PMO plays another important role of status updates. They used to monitor the projects and keep sending the status to the upper management at regular periods.

5. What is the need of PMO over the Project Managers?

What is need of Project Management Office when the Project Managers are capable of doing the same work?

This can be a common question to judge the level of understandings in this subject. There are many organizations where no formal project management offices can be found. The project managers individually take care of the standard and procedures, and nobody is there to ensure that whether proper processes are being followed.

They may get the success by managing the projects on their own style or following the project management standards, but isn't it risky to depend on one person's capability instead of a group of people who are the expert in already proven project management standards and procedures?

The Project Managers thinks only about the success of the project. And the immense pressure of meeting the deadlines keeps them so occupied that at times they may look for shortcuts skipping the standard processes. Which may get the success to them at times, but in a longer run, those mistakes can cost them dearly.

Apart from the above questions, you may need some questions on configuration management as the PMO has another important role in archiving the documents with correct versioning. So, do prepare to get some questions from that area. Also, expect some questions on change management, change control in case the interviewer wants to test your understanding of change processes.

Do you think PMO plays an important role in the success of the project?

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© 2017 Kishor Mohanty


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