9 questions to ask a Project Management Officer before you hire them

9 questions to ask a Project Management Officer before you hire them


The Project Management Officer (PMO) is a strategic role within an organisation with prime responsibility for the success of many key initiatives within the business. The individual needs a good business mind, be able to ‘helicopter’ from strategic to tactical tasks, be able to multi-task, be detail-conscious and be a great communicator.

If you are looking to hire a PMO, then the following questions might help you get the right person

1/ What do you think is the main role of the PMO in an organisation?

A strategic response that is centred around the value to a business of the PMO role is a good indicator of a strong candidate. An appreciation of value, ROI and risk management illustrate good business acumen.

2/ What is your experience with managing the end to end governance process for specific strategic programmes?

In addition to tactical success such as on-time,on-budget completion of a project, a major risk for a business is non-compliance. Acknowledging the importance and demonstrating expertise in governance is key for this role.

3/ Can you tell me how you would provide a structured project/programme management approach and any related tools?

At a more tactical level, knowledge of tools and techniques such as RAID shows the ability to manage programmes at a day to day level.

4/ What is your experience with forecasting, risk management and escalation?

In addition to day to day management, planning, risk and corrective action plan are required skills. Probe to see how the candidate manages these elements.

5/ Tell me about how you have prioritised multiple projects within an organisation and the pressures and trade-offs.

Prioritisation and managing expectations are key to the role. Look for how they define priorities and manage expectations.

6/  Who would be your typical stakeholders and how would you communicate and manage them?

A good PMO touches many departments and stakeholders across the business. Mapping out a  wide network of stakeholders from different disciples across the business will illustrate the reach the prospective PMO will expect.

7/ What does success look like for a PMO?

A balanced answer including both tactical and strategic elements shows a well-rounded candidate. Outcome-based success, and how it is measured and reported are key points to look out for.

8/ What are the major challenges in the role and how would you overcome them?

A great question to prompt what will be the major focus areas that the candidate will expect to be tackled within the role.

9/ What would be good checklist items for providing support and guidance for project teams?

The success of this role is dependent on the success of the team, but many may not have an appreciation of the importance of the project or the technical knowledge required. 

Ask for examples of how team members can be supported on both a technical and emotional level.