1

I've worked in the high tech/software development industry for a while, but I struggle to form an answer to this interview question.

The interview question intends to learn how I contributed technically to the project. We have all roles (architect, engineering managers, tech leads etc) in the team who help with solving technical challenges. I rarely was needed to solve any challenge of this sort.

However, I don't prefer to present my answer this way in the interviews. Any suggestions/pointers on how to approach this question?

  • The title says "non technical" but the body says "contributed technically". Is that correct? – Tiago supports GoFundMonica Aug 30 at 20:45
  • 3
    Hi nsh, welcome to PM.SE! As your question stands, it's not possible to have a single, canonical answer and is likely to be closed. I haven't closed it yet as I believe we have a relatively fairly common problem on management career and I'm thinking if there's a way to make it a better fit. Anyways, I strongly advise you to take a look at dont-ask criteria for the site. – Tiago Cardoso Aug 31 at 9:48
3

My answer would be:

I facilitate technical answers. I trust the team to provide technical answers; I make sure that there is nothing that stands in the way of their understanding the problem and providing the answer.

Sometimes that means making sure that the boundaries of the problem are clear (scope management). Frequently it is my job to facilitate communication between stakeholders, either because we don't have the right insight to the problem. Sometimes it is my job to step in and communicate with the stakeholders so that the sponsors and stakeholders get the information they need (schedule, cost, resources, etc.) without interfering with the solution that the technical staff are crafting - preserving the "flow" or "makerspace" of the makers.

Sometimes my job is to listen to the techs; there are days when the most valuable thing I can do is to be a rubber duck. Other days, the most important thing I can do is to get coffee and get out of the way.

1

I would answer that as PjM/PdM I am not expected to contribute to the project; I am expected to create a comprehensive spec and schedule and then to track it to timely completion.(*)

To do so I need some technical knowledge, which I will get by either talking to those who have the knowledge and/or by doing some research on the subject. I need enough technical knowledge to be able to create the Use Cases and the schedule. But I don't need to be able to contribute.

What I will possibly contribute will be the result of asking newbie questions which may force the engineers to think of use cases they hadn't thought of.

(*) Personally I prefer the PjM/PdM to not contribute to the project. This ensures they are not emotionally involved in any details, which enables them to make sensible decisions, not clouded by conflicting emotions such as but I thought of this great idea, why do you want to change it.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.