Technical program management is one of the jobs that are very attractive nowadays. The profession has been around for a long time. Unfortunately, only a handful of people are aware of it. So, if you are interested in this career path, this article will serve as a guide. These are common questions you can encounter during a technical program manager interview. And we also provide suitable answers for each.
1. Why Are You Interested In This Role?
Based on our conversations with people who have prepared for the Google Technical Program Manager Interview, this is one of the most important questions you’ll be asked. Working as a technical program manager is a fulfilling job. It means handling many complicated and varied tasks. Part of their duties is to oversee complex projects. They align them with larger business goals. They also coordinate project teams and budget requirements. You get great satisfaction when everything aligns in place.
2. What Are The Roles Of A Technical Program Manager? (List Out In Bullet Points, At Least 4 Items)
Technical program management is about managing technical-related projects. You contribute to the conception, development, and implementation of these programs. You need to understand the subject matter of all related projects. You also need to be able to perform all the usual project management tasks, such as:
- Scheduling and managing the timeline
- Communication with stakeholders
3. What Are The Qualities That A Technical Program Manager Need To Be Successful?
Technical program managers need previous experience and technical knowledge. Even better if they are familiar with the installation and upgrades. Or internal and external maintenance of the systems. Being familiar with relevant technologies is a bonus. Applied processes in the context of the company are also crucial. Other soft skills they need to possess are people and organizational skills. And there are the flexibility and ability to work under pressure.
4. What Major Challenges Did You Face During Your Last Role? How Did You Manage Them?
Being a technical program manager requires being calm and composed. The customer sense this. And it is in their nature to be nervous. You have to understand the customers, their needs and point of view. So the biggest challenge was taking the customer by the hand. And between us: It is not challenging. With an understanding of the customer, this turns into a pleasant working relationship.
5. Describe Your Daily Routine As A Technical Program Manager? (Pls Include Routine At The Workplace Only)
I spend the morning completing the annual baseline goals. These goals result from the company-wide KPIs. I meet with project managers from different departments in the afternoon. I ensure that projects are going according to plan and program goals are met. I end the day with a meeting with management. I share monthly project metrics with management. If I still have time, I prepare for next month’s budget report.
6. Describe Briefly About Your Experience?
During my last job, I developed the work continuously. I planned and was responsible for the implementation of features together with my team. But also provided cross-departmental support in project design and implementation.
I took over the interdisciplinary project management. I was in direct contact with colleagues from BI, Marketing and Sales. My task was to optimally bundle and use the knowledge from the specialist teams.
I also had a clear view of the company’s goals. I was a central part of a 6-person team. We were jointly responsible for prioritizing the product backlog. I use agile methods and formats in a targeted manner. I strive to make program management as efficient as possible. For example, through dailies/weeklies, sprint planning includes sprint goals, refinements, and reviews.
7. What Kind Of Strategies And Mindset Is Required For This Role?
All must own a high level of organizational, leadership, and communication skills. But when it comes to technical programs, you need to have knowledge and know-how. For this reason, technical program management is a special field. It comes with its challenges and opportunities. Program managers interested in the technical side of their job need to combine strong technical skills with soft skills. Such as leadership skills, time management, and strategic thinking.
8. What Is The Biggest Challenge You Foresee In This Job?
First of all, program managers face similar challenges as project managers. But the span is wider. The roles of program managers and project managers are different. They share some common responsibilities. For example, steering projects and coordinating communications. Technical program managers’ duties and responsibilities vary from company to company. Common responsibilities include project strategy, quality control, and performance reporting. Then there are change management and risk planning. With this thing in mind, a good program manager should have all of these skills and more.
9. How Do You Stay Motivated At Work?
A technical program manager connects the business and technical aspects of different projects. They track their progress. And ensure, among other things, that standards and cost targets are met. This distinguishes them from the project managers. Project managers are responsible for one project only. Their actual tasks depend heavily on their respective job. In general, you work closely with management and the technical teams. You translate strategic requirements into technical solutions. You perform and organize work to support problem analysis and resolution. Added to this is the continuous updating of projects and programs. With such a varied job, it is hard not to be motivated.
10. Describe A Time You Failed In This Role And The Lesson You Learned?
From schedule delays to budget issues, technical program managers face roadblocks. This is like other functions within a team. Program managers have a unique position. They deal with expectations from above as well as from below. I do not think there is a particular situation when I failed. But there were certain situations when I faced difficulties. Cross-departmental issues like misaligned goals and lack of communication negatively impact long-term goals. Then, without direct reporting, program managers often face problems of authority and leverage. The last is a problem that is repeated now and again. With long-term program schedules, it can be challenging to keep short-term projects on track to meet annual goals.
11. Why Do You Feel You Are Qualified For This Role?
I have skills that would make me a successful technical program manager. They include organizing, planning, scheduling, program strategy, reporting, drafting applications, and budgeting. Aside from the specific skills, I have a good level of people skills. This helps to coordinate collaboration. And inspires employees to perform at their best.
12. Share With Us Your Greatest Achievement
This was a new role in the company when I took it. My superior told me that project tasks are often offered to career starters. And young professionals. These offers are gladly accepted. After all, the project names often sound promising. Furthermore, many up-and-coming employees are tempted to take responsibility. They define goals, delegate tasks, and motivate in a project.
Yet, he has seen inexperienced project managers suffer shipwreck. Even more when the promised support from other departments does not materialize. This means that deadlines are missed, and costs spiral out of control. The success of the project is jeopardized and the mood in the team eventually falls to zero has arrived.
So, further project and program management positions are viewed with skepticism. When, after a few months, he told me that he is greatly satisfied with my job, I felt very proud.
13. What, According To You, Are The Most Important Duties Of A Technical Program Manager?
Program managers are responsible for coordinating smaller projects. Project goals that lead to the achievement of company-wide goals. This means they work with the project managers to ensure day-to-day project goals are being met and the overarching programs are on track. Program managers also streamline internal processes and define best practices for many projects. This enables the project managers to have a clear orientation when carrying out their projects. It also avoids mistakes due to lack of communication and wasted time at work. Other strategic responsibilities include coordinating projects with a project manager. You need to ensure results are aligned. This all comes down to strategy implementation.
Next, they oversee collaboration. Project managers typically focus on collaborating on one-off projects. Program managers ensure collaboration is cross-departmental as well. While this is challenging, it is also one of the most rewarding aspects of the job. Program managers also typically focus on creating program roadmaps to overarching business goals. This differs slightly from a project manager creating individual project roadmaps. A program manager can encourage teamwork by introducing new tools that facilitate communication. Such as program management software or team-building games. While these methods are very different, they encourage teamwork and increase transparency.
At last, they set success metrics. Both a project manager and program manager should analyze and report on ROI. But a program manager is responsible for aligning enterprise-wide ROI with overall goals. This means regular meetings with the project managers. They need to ensure that individual projects achieve the goals originally set. Program managers are often the go-to resource for reporting to senior management. This is both about ROI metrics and overall program performance.
14. What Is A Project And What Is A Program?
In short, projects are temporary and programs are underlying strategies. But there are a few other important differences and similarities to note.
Put simply, multiple projects make up each program. This means that each project has specific objectives. Which in turn represent broader program objectives. Projects have clear timelines and deliverables. Programs consist of long-term business goals with multiple dependencies
While there are many differences between the two, they still share some similarities. Both a project and a program have four components. Scope, difficulty, context, and uncertainties. What differs is the level of complexity. Projects tend to be smaller and involve fewer uncertainties. While programs tend to be larger, have many complex relationships between departments. And involve more uncertainties.
15. What Are The Main Skills That Are Required Of The Technical Department Of A Company?
What is commonly called hard skills, objective, and measurable skills, turn out to be no longer sufficient? Those characteristics that go under the umbrella of soft skills, interpersonal and behavioral skills that integrate and complete the profile of each of us, become increasingly important: being autonomous in one’s work, knowing how to organize, punctuality and precision, knowing how to work in a team, knowing how to communicate, … … and so forth.
I do not think it is hazardous to say that the latter has now surpassed the former. The passion for what we do, always managing to get involved to explore new paths. And always setting the bar a little higher to be able to overcome it. These are the stimuli that must push us to do better and better.
More and more often we realize that customers are looking for competence and professionalism. This is undeniable. But they ask for much more. Figures to trust and to rely on. They are a reflection of the company they represent. And a path of integration and achievement of common objectives.
16. Program Logic Vs Product Logic? Is This The Transformation Towards A New Way Of Approaching The Market?
An approach oriented to planning goes beyond the product. The product becomes only the medium. The program and its success are the final goals. A clear definition of a path to meet the customer’s needs is the fundamental step. The company should always commit not to limit itself to limiting the solution to a need. The nature and the business background push companies to move. And this is done by analyzing the problems of customers. Before talking and proposing solutions you need to listen.
Important steps are the analysis, risk assessment, and organization of a work team. Then you study the impact of integrations with other systems. At last, you control the various phases of a program. These are some of the elements that a company should always follow
One thing is certain. Or rather two. The organizational effort behind the scenes of a program is not trivial. And to hit the mark, you need the contribution and effort of everyone, without exception, at any level.
17. When Dealing With Customers, Do They Usually Explain The Problem To You? Or Do You Explain The Problem To The Customer?
A little bit of both. Some customers are technically savvy. They already know the problem, but not the way to the solution. On the other hand, some customers only come into contact with technology when they use it. Here you have to do basic work and take the customer by the hand. So that you can find a quick solution that is implemented with the means available to the customer.
18. How Do You Manage To Stay Technically Up To Date?
I achieve this through the daily application of knowledge. And further training through research, webinars, attending training courses, and internal knowledge transfer.
19. List Some Characteristics That Are Typical For Programs, But Not For Projects
Programs have the following characteristics:
- The deadlines are either not set at all or are rolling due to the large scale and impact of the work.
- The goal is multiple outcomes with interconnected dependencies that can evolve as business needs change.
- A set of outcomes are achieved together to increase efficiency, accuracy, or reliability, or to meet other business needs.
- The work enables the company to implement a long-term corporate goal or a long-term, enduring initiative.
- Success brings long-term benefits or opens up new functions for the company.
20. What Would Your Dream Program Be?
It is hard to pick a single dream program. I have a passion for physics and engineering. I am also interested in new developments in technology and people. Maybe my dream program is not in a specific industry or area. But in a job where I can always learn new things, travel a lot, and work with different people. For me, this is a fascination and a challenge in one.
21. Is There Anything Else You Would Like Us To Know?
I think we have covered most of the aspects. I know you are looking for a person who can integrate immediately into your company. And someone who will immediately start contributing. With my previous experience, I think I would fit just right.
22. How Long Have You Been Looking For A New Job?
In recent months I have explored the job market well. I am very interested in your position. It seems to be one of the most interesting that I have been presented in this period. I am looking for something special for my career that goes to exploit my interests and the skills gained. And yours is one of the positions in which I am seriously interested.
23. Are You Willing To Travel?
I need more information on this. What type of travel are we talking about? Meetings with customers and suppliers? How many days a month should I travel, on average?
24. What Advice Do You Follow To This Day?
Do not give up. Sometimes things seem impossible or insurmountable. This is when it pays to take a step back and then start with full force.
25. What Tips Do You Have For Interviews For Technical Positions?
In the end, job interviews are always about getting to know and exploring both sides. If the chemistry is not right, do not do it. Even if that is sometimes easier said than done.
In the end, know that every interview is different. A good interviewer will tailor their questions to the company, the job, and you.
The interviewer wants to find out whether you are suitable for the position. At the same time, you try to find out whether the position is right for you.
Here is a list of 25 of the most common technical program manager interview questions. There are also explanations on how to answer these questions well. So, prepare well and good luck!