The benefits of having a project list (it’s your interview cheat sheet!)

Project List andrew-neel-237802

I wish I knew the things I do now when I was looking for an IT job.  Years ago, I was a C++ developer who was horrific at interviewing.  I didn’t know how to prepare for an interview and had no idea how to give concrete examples to showcase all of my previous work.  If I kept meticulous records of all the projects that I have ever done – whether it was new builds or maintenance and all of the challenges I encountered, interviewing would have been much easier.

I firmly believe that everyone would benefit from having a project list, especially if you’re in the Technology field. It should consist of all the projects you’ve ever worked on in your career. I know this task sounds daunting, but after answering the questions below and starting a live working document you will be armed with the best interview tool and cheat sheet.

First things first… What do I mean by a project?  

A project can cover a wide range of accomplishments and tasks, large and small. Ask yourself these questions when documenting your past projects. Trust me. A little time and effort here will go a long way when you are exploring future endeavours.

Ask yourself the following: 

  • What was the business reason or problem behind what you did?
  • What were the solutions that was proposed and who came up with the solutions?
  • What solution was selected and why (now knowing what you know, was that the best one)?
  • Who were the business stakeholders?
  • What did you do?
  • What were the timelines/specifications/budgets/resources?
  • What was the technical/business challenges you faced?
  • How did you resolve them?
  • What was the end result?
  • What could you have done better?

What’s are the benefits of having a project list document that is separate from your resume?  

  1. The best Interview cheat sheet.
    It will arm you with lots of examples to answer any behavioural or situational questions that are thrown at you.  Reviewing this list before you enter your interview will ensure these projects are at the forefront of your interview answers and allow you to answer with specifics.

 

  1. Learn about yourself.
    When reviewing your career from this angle, you will learn what you enjoyed or did not enjoy of each project and may discover a trend.  This can be your guide when thinking about a career path.  Maybe you didn’t really enjoy managing timelines and budgets as much as you thought you would, or maybe you really like mentoring a junior developer and teaching them how to solve complex problems.

 

  1.  Celebrate your accomplishments and find ways to improve.
    Use this list to celebrate your wins so far in your career.  It will also allow you to review everything and reflect on how you could have done things better.

I would recommend that this is a living document, you can add to it whenever you remember something new and complete a new project. I know from experience that it’s not easy trying to remember what you did 5 years ago at the drop of a hat, but if you prepare this way for an interview you will appear confident while being able to back up your experience.

I wish you the best of luck with all your interviews!

June Coffey, B. Sci Computer Science
Principal Consultant, IT Solutions

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