Hiring Guide

Program Manager

Specific duties of a Program Manager can vary from business to business — along with factors like company culture, work environment, and team dynamics — it’s vital to tailor any job description and interview content to your company’s needs and expectations.

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Why you should hire a Program Manager

Program Managers help companies achieve success by coordinating activities for projects and/or developing and managing a program's lifecycle. By organizing and managing various programs and activities, they improve company efficiencies and ensure strategic business success.

In this hiring guide, we'll provide everything you need to hire a great Program Manager.

Top 12 skills for Program Managers

Designing and Implementing Programs

Strategic Planning
Critical/Analytical Thinking
Rick Management

Stakeholder Relationship and Expectation Management

Relationship Building
Influencing
Conflict Management

Coordinating Cross-functional Initiatives

Verbal Communication
Negotiating
Motivating Others

Project and Resource Management

Budgeting
Program Resource Management
Project Management Methods

Sample Program Manager job description

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.

Sample questions for Program Managers

Question 1

Communicating effectively with different stakeholders is really important to coordinating resources well. What are some general communication tactics you would use to ensure success in this role? How might you adapt these or use different tactics when communicating with senior leaders?

Peanut Adams
Senior Resource Manager - 10 years professional experience

What does this question reveal?

Candidate has the ability to communicate effectively to ensure success in their role

Answer tips

  • Emphasizes the importance of being clear and concise in all forms of communication 
  • Understands the audience/stakeholder and tailor messages according to their needs 
  • Over-communicates to ensure expectations and deadlines are understood and documented
  • Follows up with stakeholders to ensure actions/tasks get completed
  • Confidently advocates for resources, especially with senior leaders

Question 2

Give me an example of how you built and maintained a business relationship with a stakeholder in one of your previous roles. Why did you choose to develop a relationship with that person, and how did you go about doing so?

Allie Schlosser
Program Manager - 8 years professional experience

What does this question reveal?

Candidate has the ability to build and maintain positive relationships with stakeholders

Answer tips

  • Shares a specific example of a successful relationship with a stakeholder
  • Sought opportunities to interact with and support them
  • Anticipated their needs and displayed initiative in addressing any issues
  • Recognizes the business benefit of building a relationships and communication networks 
  • Recognizes that relationship maintenance is an ongoing activity

Question 3

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?

Alycia Damp's portrait image
Hireguide I/O Psych Validated
Alycia Damp, PhD IRHR

What does this question reveal?

Candidate has the ability to respond to promote their ideas to drive program success and impact the organization

Answer tips

  • 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