Program Managers drive operations across various functions and levels of an organization by creating and implementing business planning processes. They tend to work on cross-functional initiatives that involve many different stakeholders, including those at executive levels. Their work typically involves creating and developing process improvements, driving alignment and efficiency on strategic programs/initiatives, and analyzing metrics to demonstrate the impact of their programs relative to the specific business objective. Doing so requires them to manage stakeholder expectations, influence leadership and other key players, as well as being able to communicate program plans effectively. As program manager work spans many industries, the specific requirements for a particular program manager role vary. The core group of skills highlighted here are essential for program managers to be successful in any context.
Core skills for Program Managers
Program Resource Management
How to effectively interview Program Managers
While it might seem difficult to figure out whether a candidate will succeed as a Program Manager in your company, a well-developed set of interview questions that tap into the core skills required to perform in a Program Manager role will go a long way in helping you decide.
But where do you start? How do you develop a set of great interview questions?
The best interview questions come directly from a job analysis. A job analysis is an evidence-based method that focuses on assessing key features of a particular role. These features describe both the job itself (i.e., tasks, responsibilities, and performance objectives), and the characteristics required of someone to perform successfully in the job (e.g., knowledge, skills, and abilities). A job analysis forms the basis of many HR practices such as compensation, performance management, and - you guessed it - how to interview and hire candidates.
At Hireguide, we’ve done the job analysis work for you. We’ve used the method to identify a core set of skills associated with the Program Manager role, and we’ve developed and validated a list of behavioral and situational questions with answer guides that tap directly into those core skills. And that’s not all. We’ve compiled these questions and created a Program Manager Interview Template for you that integrates other interviewing best practices. Skills-based interviews will not only help you make higher quality and evidence-based hiring decisions, but research also shows they enhance fairness and reduce bias in your hiring process.
Example interview questions to ask
Imagine a program you are managing requires additional resources and has unexpected expenses but has already exceeded its budget. What would you do?
- Suggests reassessing spending plan and key objectives to decide best strategy
- Considers reducing project scope/time or identifying lower-cost resources
- Analyzes whether certain resources can be reallocated based on priorities
- Suggests approaching appropriate stakeholders to revise the budget if necessary
- Relies on contingency reserve to allow flexibility/reduce risk of budget overrun
Tell me about a time you proposed a new process/idea for a project/program, but it was met with some resistance from relevant stakeholders (e.g. client, manager, teammates). How did you advocate for your idea, and what was the outcome?
- Uses data-driven insights to promote ideas
- Presents ideas in an innovative and accessible way to convince stakeholders
- Solicits feedback and/or input on their idea from others
- Considers the other's point of view to tailor the delivery of their ideas
- Communicates how the idea will benefit the client/program/organization