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PLM Job Interviews: The Candidate’s Perspective

Lionel Grealou Leadership PLM Talents 4 minutes

man holding microphone while talking to another man
Image Credit: PEXEL

Finding a new job is never as easy as it sounds, though it is an essential part of one’s personal development process. There is a high variety of PLM-related roles available out there, even if they do not always directly refer to PLM as such. There are also multiple options to consider: from working directly with an OEM or supply chain, a consulting organization (a.k.a. a service provider) or a solution vendor; and typically, many other factors such as industry, technology, type of business, geography, type of engagement, level of seniority, etc. Many opportunities are implementation project-related, with more or less technical experience requirements; some can be corporate positions and more strategic or operational.

Reading between the lines of the job description, it is critical to link to past experience and the context of the role on offer when applying to a new position. Does it relate to a client-based projects, is there an expectation of mobility, what will the candidate bring and learn through this new assignment or role?

In this post, I explore questions typically asked (or which should be asked) by candidates during PLM job interviews, how they are likely to make a difference when presenting themselves to hiring managers.

For more on the hiring manager’s perspective check out the previous article – The Hiring Manager’s Perspective.

Everyone has opinions and expectations when applying to a new job. It is important to relate these in context of the open position and put them on the table to the hiring manager as early as possible in the interview process. Many PLM job descriptions are very technical or seem to include everything required to deliver a given project; hence the need to differentiate what is project-specific and what is the value that the candidate will bring to the project. Similarly, when discussing past project involvement, candidates must be very clear about their own role and responsibilities, rather than focusing on the overall strategy or approach which might not have been defined by them anyway.

Below are a number of generic questions (in no particular order) which candidates should aim to address in PLM job interviews; first to clarify their understanding of the job on offer, second to demonstrate their interest and that they can be a good fit for the open position being discussed. These shall obviously vary and be adjusted based on the context, type and seniority of the role. All questions are not expected to be relevant for every PLM job interview at once:

  1. How does this role fit in the wider PLM team, organization or function, and who would I be expected to interface with? Is the target operating model already defined and what you I be owning or co-owning together with my peers?
  2. What would be my KPIs in context of the team that I will operate from, and how will my objectives link to the project or function?
  3. What technologies or industry processes will I be expected to operate with, or learn on the job, and how is it likely to make a difference to the selection process for the role that I am applying for? (in other words, what is mandatory to know upfront and what can be learned on the job or via subsequent training.)
  4. What is the current and expected new digital context, across PLM, ERP and other enterprise solutions, what will this role be exposed to from the wider business and IT landscape?
  5. What business imperatives would this project, function or role link to, and how would this materialize on my day-to-day activities?
  6. What learning or certification would be made available to me so that I keep current with the latest advances and technologies? Are there formal and informal learning mechanisms already in place?
  7. What is the business context of this role, how will it affect or drive the relevance of this role, now and in the future? (is this role aiming to fill a gap that was identified a long time ago, is it a temporary role to respond to a short-term need, is it a strategic long-term position, etc.)
  8. What are the short-term expectations of the role during the first 2-3 months, versus medium- or longer-term expectations?
  9. What is the current project or function structure, what roles are already fulfilled and for how long? What other roles are currently open (or to be available soon) for the same project or function?
  10. What are / were the business or operating requirements, strategies and challenges, in context of this project, function or role itself? (any information which might help understand the context, and the potential challenges ahead.)
  11. What would be the potential progression opportunities, development paths (if any) from this role? How are others grown or evolved from such role into other positions and roles?
  12. What are the top-3 qualities expected for the ideal candidate for this role to possess?
  13. Is there a need for knowledge transfer or acquisition when embarking onto this role? Is this role new or already fulfilled, and what will the previous person be doing once I join the team?
  14. If working for a services provider or vendor: what would be the travel requirements, types of assignments, first with this role but also in the wider context?
  15. If working for an OEM or supply chain, or in the context of a client project: what is the business context and where will I be operating from, potentially interfacing and sometimes travelling to global sites, etc.

It is important for the candidate to stand out from the crowd by focusing on their past experience and contribution, rather than staying vague or high-level. In the eyes of the hiring manager, the important criteria might be also the potential fit within the team or project, and the ability to make adjustment based on everyone’s specific value-add and skills (including soft skills, like the ability to lead, learn, help others, etc.).

Once again, many questions above are not specific or unique to PLM, or even enterprise platforms and operations. They clearly sit at the intersection of multiple disciplines, context and personal development paths. Obvious questions will also include rewards and recognition, sales and delivery, and other variable compensation-related topics, or even the current implications of COVID on the role, which are not in scope of this post.

What are your thoughts?

This post was originally published on Momentum-PLM on 2 February 2021.

Disclaimer: articles and thoughts published on v+d do not necessarily represent the views of the company, but solely the views or interpretations of the author(s); reviews, insights and mentions of publications, products, or services do neither constitute endorsement, nor recommendations for purchase or adoption. 

About the Author

Lionel Grealou


Lionel Grealou, a.k.a. Lio, helps original equipment manufacturers transform, develop, and implement their digital transformation strategies—driving organizational change, data continuity and process improvement, managing the lifecycle of things across enterprise platforms, from PDM to PLM, ERP, MES, PIM, CRM, or BIM. Beyond consulting roles, Lio held leadership positions across industries, with both established OEMs and start-ups, covering the extended innovation lifecycle scope, from research and development, to engineering, discrete and process manufacturing, procurement, finance, supply chain, operations, program management, quality, compliance, marketing, etc.

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