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View Full Version : Get interviews but not job.. any tips?



northernrampage
12th May 2008, 18:43
Hello,

I'm a project manager with a few year's permanent experience from a media company (a large corporation), now I'm trying to move into contracting, hopefully something more creative, ideally a digital agency.

Have had 4 interviews in 2 weeks, but think I think I'm not blagging enough on the experience front, as feedback is generally "you don't have the solid budgetary experience we need" or "not sure you could fit into this environment". I have done some costing, what do contractors do in this situation? If you think you can do something are you still totally honest if you haven't got exactly what an employer wants? I don't want to lie but think something in my attitude isn't working.

Two agencies have said they'd happily consider me 1 or 2 contracts down the line. They've also said I'm "nice, bright, intelligent" and would fit into the culture. But one also said "how honest I am".

I'm fed up of getting feedback that makes me sound like an andrex puppy, any tips good.

Thanks.

Dow Jones
13th May 2008, 10:17
As a PM to another, it sounds to me like you need to brush up on your budgeting, forecasting and estimating techniques. What tools have you used for those? Was it just MS Project?
What size of projects have you been involved with? Hundreds of thousands, a few millions or multi-million?
Maybe you've been doing 'sub-project management' ie not all aspects of it, maybe you are good at the technical side.
Emphasise what your strengths are (can't be good at everything) and brush up on all other areas. Silver lining about the interviews you've had so far is the FEEDBACK (both good and bad). That is important, as all good PMs should know.

Zippy
13th May 2008, 10:17
Do you think 'honest' may be getting translated into 'possibly not tactful enough'? Or maybe your honesty means you appear to lack confidence a bit.

Like you, I don't like to lie about my experience so if I get asked about something I don't know much about I say so - but also tell them I know how to find out. Some clients are happy with that and some aren't.

Keep chipping away and you'll get there.

beaker
13th May 2008, 10:46
Digital agencies run on tight margins, and since they generally only charge for their time, the PM's ability to manage budgets is critical to company profitability.

What they want is someone who can deliver to budget. So you need to able to say something like "I delivered a 6 month, £200K project to time and budget... I consistently deliver projects on budget... I raise change requests with clients for additional work... sometimes you need to negotiate with clients and internal teams to bring the project in on budget... blah blah blah."

Also remember that the industry is fast moving, creative and a bit loose with processes. So if you seem too straight laced, they might not think you'll fit in.

NotAllThere
13th May 2008, 11:19
Brush teeth? :D

Well, it's either just bad luck or interview technique.

The interview exists for you to sell your services to the company. You have to convince them that they lose if they don't take you on. You are not under any obligation to tell the whole truth, but it is wise to not tell lies.

Ask if it's ok if you take notes, and if it is - do so. Done right it makes you look more competent. Also jot down the names of the people interviewing.

Make eye contact with each member of the interview panel. If you don't, then some may feel that you were ignoring them. Don't glance down at look at their cleavages. Try to work out who the decision maker is, and make sure you include them, by looking at them, in answer you give.

Be confident, but not arrogant.

Prepare "success stories". Before the interview, compile a list of common questions and how you're going to answer. Maybe there's one like - "How do you deal with a troublesome team/steering committe member?". Think of time that this happened, and what you did. Write it down in the most positive light that you can.

You should also add to your list those occassions where you feel you did particularly well. During the interview, where appropriate, work these stories in. When you don't have to cast around for answers, it makes you look like you know what you're about.

Finally - convince yourself that if they don't take you, they lose. And maintain that attitude throughout the interview.

oloks
13th May 2008, 11:19
I bet you have a brilliant CV, which always gets u the interview, but you are not very good at defending what you have on the CV.

Go through your CV, 'you need to be able to provide specific examples to support what you have written down and be confident about it.

Most of all build up the confidence and always learn one or two things from each interview....

Keep on hitting the door..one will surely open

:smokin

original PM
13th May 2008, 12:49
a bit off topic this but just wondering if I can get some advice on the subject of budgets etc

So the client wants a solution/product for say £200k - you go away get requirements and then you can do a full spec and you find it comes to £300k - what do you do - work has already been done in collecting requirements so do you then go back to client and re negotiate saying it will be £300k or you reduce the scope of what they want (go away re budget go back re present they then say no - do you then go away re budget - ad infinitum (you get what I mean)

but in all this work is still being done gathering requirements and so this needs to be charged for.

but lets say you do finally get the requirements down to a point where you can hit 200k - but hang on you already need to bill 10k for for the work already done so actually there is only £190k left 'in the pot'

ok so project goes ahead is 95% complete and then it is realsied that another 20k is required - client wont pay so company decides to 'foot' the bill themselves and so works for free (as opposed to not deliver and therefore get nothing).

I have only really delivered projects which have been agreed already and all I am doing is producing a budget based on requirements and monitoring costs against budget I guess the stuff above is about more about tendering for projects externally as opposed to delivering projects internally and monitoring budgets.

One other point - we are currently working on a project and we have some people banging on about the budget and return on investment - but the stakeholders (and accounts who hold the purse strings) don't give a damn because the system is needed to support business needs going forward and as the company makes £30 M profit per year - does it matter if the new system costs £300k or £400k as it will give them a stable platform and the project was never concieved as an exercise in making money or getting return on investment.


Anyway really just any ideas and comments on budgetting in projects would be useful!

(sorry for the long post if any of you actually got down here!)
:p

beaker
13th May 2008, 13:05
a bit off topic this but just wondering if I can get some advice on the subject of budgets etc

So the client wants a solution/product for say £200k - you go away get requirements and then you can do a full spec and you find it comes to £300k - what do you do - work has already been done in collecting requirements so do you then go back to client and re negotiate saying it will be £300k or you reduce the scope of what they want (go away re budget go back re present they then say no - do you then go away re budget - ad infinitum (you get what I mean)


Generally, yes, say we have costed your requirements and it will cost £300K if you want all of this. If they only want to spend £200K you can then work with them to prioritise the requirements so that you deliver 2/3rds of what wanted. You can then put the extra requirements into a second phase.



but in all this work is still being done gathering requirements and so this needs to be charged for.

but lets say you do finally get the requirements down to a point where you can hit 200k - but hang on you already need to bill 10k for for the work already done so actually there is only £190k left 'in the pot'


Correct. So what you should do before you start is negotiate a budget specifically for requirements gathering, so you can provide an accurate spec and quote.



ok so project goes ahead is 95% complete and then it is realsied that another 20k is required - client wont pay so company decides to 'foot' the bill themselves and so works for free (as opposed to not deliver and therefore get nothing).


Depends why the extra 20K is required. Did you underquote the job? In which case you should foot the bill. Or did the client ask for extras? In which case hit them with a change request.



I have only really delivered projects which have been agreed already and all I am doing is producing a budget based on requirements and monitoring costs against budget I guess the stuff above is about more about tendering for projects externally as opposed to delivering projects internally and monitoring budgets.

One other point - we are currently working on a project and we have some people banging on about the budget and return on investment - but the stakeholders (and accounts who hold the purse strings) don't give a damn because the system is needed to support business needs going forward and as the company makes £30 M profit per year - does it matter if the new system costs £300k or £400k as it will give them a stable platform and the project was never concieved as an exercise in making money or getting return on investment.


Most projects that are conveived to make money will have some type of ROI done on them (a popular one is NPV anlaysis), but as you say some are just fundamental to running the business so must be done at (almost) any cost.


Anyway really just any ideas and comments on budgetting in projects would be useful!

(sorry for the long post if any of you actually got down here!)
:p

Wilmslow
13th May 2008, 13:09
Hello,

I'm a project manager with a few year's permanent experience from a media company (a large corporation), now I'm trying to move into contracting, hopefully something more creative, ideally a digital agency.

Have had 4 interviews in 2 weeks, but think I think I'm not blagging enough on the experience front, as feedback is generally "you don't have the solid budgetary experience we need" or "not sure you could fit into this environment". I have done some costing, what do contractors do in this situation? If you think you can do something are you still totally honest if you haven't got exactly what an employer wants? I don't want to lie but think something in my attitude isn't working.

Two agencies have said they'd happily consider me 1 or 2 contracts down the line. They've also said I'm "nice, bright, intelligent" and would fit into the culture. But one also said "how honest I am".

I'm fed up of getting feedback that makes me sound like an andrex puppy, any tips good.

Thanks.

Assuming you are northern, can you send me a PM - I have details of a decent agency that I have worked through who may be looking for a PM.

northernrampage
13th May 2008, 21:17
Thanks everyone for all the info, really useful. I'd had my CV honed to within an inch of my life and when I kept reading it I think I doubted my own ability, have to get my answers together and brush up on budgeting.



Also remember that the industry is fast moving, creative and a bit loose with processes. So if you seem too straight laced, they might not think you'll fit in.

Re. straight laced, I'm wearing a very conservative grey suit to digital agency interviews, should I invest in a suit that's slightly funkier? Usually I say it doesn't matter, but not so sure with some of the interviewers I've had.

NickFitz
14th May 2008, 00:59
Re. straight laced, I'm wearing a very conservative grey suit to digital agency interviews, should I invest in a suit that's slightly funkier? Usually I say it doesn't matter, but not so sure with some of the interviewers I've had.

It's possible you could put them off you if you look too conservative (small "c", not talking politics :rolleyes:)

In my longer-term experience people are happy to accept that you wear a suit as a sign of respect for the context of the meeting, but in the new media world things are changing rapidly - the last time I wore a suit to an interview was about three years ago, and none of the interviewers were suited (this was at a major commercial broadcaster).

Since then my only interviews have been at Yahoo!: checking by email a few days before the interview I was told "Don't bother wearing a suit - none of us will be wearing one, and you might feel a bit out of place." Then there was one at the same broadcaster but at their London offices... but that was a bit weird, as it was ex-Yahoo! and other people I already knew interviewing me, so I just turned up in the t-shirt and jeans I wore to work at Y!.

I know a number of younger people (I'm in my forties, they're in their twenties or early thirties) who are running successful digital agencies, and I can see them thinking that somebody in a conservative suit would lack the dynamism they're looking for - it's prejudice, but in a weird non-traditional form :freaky:

I'd suggest you try what I did, if you can - email or phone them before the interview asking them if they expect you to be suited and booted. I've overheard somebody in the office saying to a candidate on the phone "No, don't bother - this is a media company, wear what you like."

Although a zingy suit, with no prior warning, might work even better - no need to dress like Russell Brand, but just enough that they don't mistake you for their Dad's accountant.

HTH :)

northernrampage
21st May 2008, 17:37
Assuming you are northern, can you send me a PM - I have details of a decent agency that I have worked through who may be looking for a PM.

Hello,

I am about to move back to the north-east.. but currently in London... for some reason I can't post you a PM though, not sure if it's because I am a newbie.. but will ask for advice about getting jobs up north on another thread perhaps.. thanks for offer though :)