Trying to become a BA TOMORROW
August 31, 2011 12:58 AM   Subscribe

Business Analysts, Project Managers, and HR - HELP!

I’ve got an interview TOMORROW with a pretty big company here in TX. The job is for a web PM/BA. I’ve never officially worn either of those hats but in my organization I’m essentially a producer which I believe fits very well. I really enjoy the producer hat so I’m really excited about the opportunity. What I’m looking for is guidance from Mefi ‘s in PM and or BA, and help from those in HR.

PM and BA’s – what are things I should mention, terms, tools, references, buzz words in the industry that will get them to hire me?

HR – basically the same question, what will get them to hire me?

My anonymous details (sorry not too much detail):
Front end web developer – HTML, CSS, XML, a little jquery
Solid web best practices, SOM, SEM
Email creation
social media
mobile websites

My current role has me working will all levels of the organization, analyzing what is needed and making it happen either with my skill set or managing our web vendor.

I've done my homework and reviewed previous BA related questions that were very helpful.

Anything else I should know/do/consider is greatly appreciated! Wish me luck!
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
read up on the company, know as much as you can about them before the interview...
posted by fozzie33 at 2:49 AM on August 31, 2011

Things are different at every company but I think if you've got an interview you've already gotten past "HR" and just need to impress the interviewer.
posted by ghharr at 5:56 AM on August 31, 2011

I'm a former dev that made the transition into being a BA. If you want some keywords/buzzwords to drop in, check out my LinkedIn profile. I'm not looking for work at the moment, but if I were, those are the things I'd be hitting in any interviews.

A bigger company is probably going to have a lot of defined processes and teams in place. I guess I'd probably stress how well I would fit within that system, working with others, being organised, attention to detail, etc. If you know what their software development methodology is (Agile? Scrum? Waterfall?) you could talk about your experience/knowledge of that.

In a smaller company (like the one I work in now), it's more about all the different "hats" I can wear without being over-reliant on any particular processes or methodologies.
posted by web-goddess at 6:09 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

Some project managers get to be really hands on, some are basically glorified task masters. It's often hard to gauge this going to an interview, but on the whole, I would focus more on the fundamentals of project management (Scope, Schedules, Budget, Process, etc.)

In my personal experience, the people I report to could care less about my technical knowledge or ability. Absolutely focus on any Information Architecture/User Experience you have, feel out interest in the SEM/SOM stuff, and base how much you talk about the other stuff on the questions they ask you. This isn't a monologue, so for the most part you can take cues from what they ask and work your skills into your answers.

Put another way: If they ask about your technical skills, by all means, let them know. If they don't ask, they probably don't care.

Buzzwords are always a mixed bag, because people will often respond to them extremely positively or extremely negatively. That said: Talking about increasing conversion (assuming you're selling something) is always safe. Gamification is the big one being bandied about by muckity mucks as of late, but if you run into people at all cynical about managment-speak, this is a guaranteed eyeroller.

Good luck! In the right organization, project management can be incredibly rewarding.
posted by SpiffyRob at 6:11 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

As others on this thread already mentioned, Project Manager may mean different things to different organizations. If a company is looking for BA/PM, it is likely a smaller project with more hands on where you have the accountability for requirement management and getting it turned around from your development within committed timeframe/cost from your development team. Your development/domain experiences are important if your team will need to use the same skills, but probably not as critical as your other softer skills. It is hard to provide specific advise without more details. But I would say:

- brush up on your situational management experience (e.g. in what situations have you managed very difficult user communities, crazy deadlines, overbudget projects, difficult conversations with key program stakeholders where you have effectively communicated bad news successfully etc.)
- Showcase recoveries you have made (time, cost, scope)
- sizes of teams managed, how you manage teams
- depending on the type of organization and size of projects - some understanding on PMP fundamentals and familiarity with MS Project will be helpful. At the other end of the spectrum, I have always liked "Making Things Happen" (Berkun) - if you have time for that ...
Since you have been working with project teams - you probably already have a good grasp of things on the BA side for web development.

keep in mind that the first interview with "large companies" are often not the decisive interviews. You need to get through the door - the interview is usually with either an HR recruiter or a domain expert inside the company. Once your resume' gets picked up, if you appear to be good, the recruiter will usually rather leave the judgement to the next level rather than screen you out. You'll probably have a bit of time to prep more (but in subsequent interviews be consistent with whatever you say in the first interview ...)

good luck and good wishes ...
posted by justlooking at 7:53 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

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