Question forms part of
Other interview questions that are similar
Are you able to adapt to change?
How do you respond to change within a project?
Do you prefer waterfall projects or agile for change management?
Are you interested in a change management position?
What the interviewer is looking for by asking this question
This is a fairly typical PM question. You can expect this question to be asked if you are applying for Junior Project Manager or Business Analyst roles, you are less likely to receive this question if you are in other project support functions but it is a possibility. Similarly you are not likely to get this question if you have a large amount of project experience and are going for more senior positions with more responsibility.
The interviewer is looking for 2 things when asking this question:
- Are you aware of the best practices with regard to Change Management within a project? Do you understand the difference between Agile and Waterfall projects when it comes to making changes midway through a project, and can you articulate the differences when prompted?
- Given 1. above how do you communicate with stakeholders?
The first thing the interviewer is looking for is a fairly ‘by the book’ response. Change Management is a fairly defined process and this should not cause any issues for anyone who has studied Project Management previously. The second part of the question is more about you and your stakeholder management skills. This part of the question is not ‘by the book’ and should allow you the opportunity to describe your communication style – and hopefully differentiate you from the other candidates.
The best approach to answering this question
The best approach to this question will hit on the 2 key points raised above.
Firstly describe how if it was one of your projects, that there would be a defined change management process in place. This process should have been approved by the client/customer, supplier, project team and all relevant stakeholders.
Once you have gone over that you can now talk through how you would remind the stakeholder of this change process and offer to walk them through getting their Change Request submitted for review by the project team. The best candidates will weave into the response an example from their prior experience. Talk about a project that you recently led that had a change request come up right in the middle (Use the B-STAR technique)
Make sure that you are prepared for follow-up questions such as:
- What would you do if there was no defined change process?
- What would you do if the stakeholder in question held great authority over the project?
- What if the change that was raised is considered a show stopper?
Finally ensure that you make the interviewer aware that you are answering the question assuming a waterfall approach was undertook. If the project was being ran using Agile methodologies talk about how the change would be looked at and prioritised immediately and adjustments made to the sprint plans and backlog catalogue.
How NOT to answer this question
Don’t refuse the change point blank. There are well defined processes for how to handle changes within all project methodologies. Flat out saying NO is not in any of them. Talk about how you worked with the stakeholder and guided them through the previously agreed process.
Don’t just accept the change without review. Similar to above, there is a process for change management. This process should have been approved prior to the project initiation. Do not just say that you would accept any changes, mention how you would put the CR through the defined process and go with the decision that is produced.
Don’t just give an example. Weaving an example into your answer is what separates a good answer from a great answer. However you still need to describe the theory behind your answer. You need to explain and detail how you are aware of proper project management processes only then can you show that you have real world experience with an example. Otherwise the interviewer may not be assured that you know the process or if the example was just a fluke.
What would you do if a Stakeholder approached you with a change midway through a project? – Example answer
“If this was one of my projects then there would be a clearly defined change request process that should be followed for all requests. This will have been discussed with all stakeholders and approved by all. Given this I would speak to the stakeholder in question and guide them through the Change Request process so that their request could be reviewed and actioned if necessary.
When these type of requests occur I find it best to gently remind the stakeholder that there was a process agreed at the beginning of the project and to remind them of that process and how changes are reviewed and progressed. I had a similar request recently where a senior stakeholder wanted to increase the scope of the software product we were deploying in a month’s time, the stakeholder reached out to me directly and requested it was added for the first release. I gently reminded my colleague that all change requests needed to be raised to the CR portal and would be triaged by a member of the project team, as his change was above the agreed small change limit it would need to be approved by the Change Board. The colleague was content with this and progressed his item through the proper channels were the request was approved for deployment in second release.
Of course this all assumes that the project was being deployed using waterfall methodologies, if we were following a more agile approach the change request would have been prioritised and added to the sprint plan where appropriate.“
Other Interview Question and Answers
79 Civil Service Interview Questions (And Example Answers)
94 Project Manager Interview Questions (And Example Answers)
PMO Analyst Interview Questions (And Sample Answers)
27 Scrum Master Interview Questions (And Example Answers)
35 Project Coordinator Interview Questions (And Example Answers)
32 Test Manager Interview Questions (And Sample Answers)
34 Change Manager Interview Questions (And Sample Answers)
33 Team Leader Interview Questions (And Sample Answers)