By Ben Snell
Hi everyone, and welcome to my latest blog. In this post I’ll be talking about my ongoing search for my first role in project management and some of the steps I’ve been taking to increase my chances.
A first thing to mention would be that since my last blog I have actually had a few interviews for some project roles! The first being a Project Manager role for a small learning and development organisation and the second working in the Project Management Office for a department in the civil service. The interview process for the former is still ongoing but both interviews have been very positive so far. The interview for the latter role did not go so well. So badly, in fact, that I thought it would be both useful for others and therapeutic for myself to write a blog post about it.
Interviews are difficult. Some people are blessed with a silver tongue and “the gift of the gab”, that enviable ability to go into an interview and calmly charm their way through the process with minimal preparation. For the rest of us interviews can be a fairly fraught experience, full of sweaty palms and blank minds. This was certainly the case for me.
Despite my best efforts to prepare and pull the project experience out of my past roles (as detailed in my previous blogs), on the day I just didn’t perform well and ultimately didn’t get the job. The first and most important thing to do in this situation is be kind to yourself and don’t beat yourself up, everybody has an off day and a bad interview is not reflective of your skills and knowledge! A bad day is just that; a bad day. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t things to be learned from the interview process though and it’s always good practice to seek feedback after an interview. It’s a good self-reflective practice and, even though it can be quite painful to do, will help you improve in the long term and make that next interview a successful one. The feedback I got mostly revolved around my responses being too “high level” and that I didn’t provide enough detail about my own personal role in each of the scenarios. While I wasn’t successful in securing this position, I think it’s always important to look at the positives from this experience. I now have some concrete things I can work on to make my next interview a success, which leads me onto some other things I’ve been doing to help my job search.
My current employer has a mentorship programme and in conversation with my mentor last week, I was given a few excellent pieces of advice. She suggested keeping a learning log to identify my own skill and knowledge gaps. Also to create business objectives for myself for activities like job shadowing with other departments and reaching out to hiring managers within our organisation as a way of networking, all informed by the improvement areas in my learning log.
This brings me full circle to my interview experiences, although I didn’t identify the gaps myself they are definitely something for me to address with these methods. In the coming weeks I’ll reach out to hiring managers, get involved in some job shadowing and volunteer myself for some project experience so that, next time, I’ll be better prepared for any interviews I secure.
As always, thank you for reading my blog. I hope some of these tips prove useful to you whether job searching or not, even if the only take away is to be kind to yourself after a bad day.