How to Pass the APM PPQ using STAR

Paul Naybour

Using STAR for APM PPQ

In this video, we’re going to look at some hints and tips to help you during your interview for the APM Project Professional Qualification. Sometimes people struggle to organize their thoughts, so we’ve been conducting mock interviews to assist them. Participants have expressed the need for a structured approach to answering questions, ensuring they cover all parts of the marking scheme. That’s why we’ve been using something called the STAR method, which has proven to be extremely useful. In this video, we will explore the interview process for the APM PPQ and how the STAR model can aid in preparation and providing answers.

The APM PPQ Interviews

The PPQ interview consists of two parts. The first part involves a scenario roleplay, where the assessors portray the sponsor or a key stakeholder. They will assign you the role of the project manager, who was recently appointed. You will receive a mini brief in addition to the detailed brief provided earlier. The objective is to assess your ability to communicate effectively and logically resolve problems, make decisions, negotiate with stakeholders, and demonstrate your competency in decision-making with limited information.

The second part involves the selection of four assessment criteria from the syllabus. The questions will be specific and focused, such as evaluating ways to provide leadership for the project and why it’s important. You won’t be asked about general topics like stakeholder management or leadership; instead, you’ll need to concentrate on generating a vision. It is essential to prepare answers for each of these assessment criteria.

Using STAR for Your Interview

Now, let’s discuss how the STAR method can assist us. It is recommended to begin by setting the scene, explaining the current situation described in the case study. Then, consider what good project management would look like based on the principles of project management. Keep in mind that the approach should be tailored to the specific project. For instance, a massive infrastructure project would require rigorous systems and procedures, while a small, low-cost project with a small team may adopt a simpler approach. Relate the principles to the case study and determine the appropriate actions to implement those principles.

Provide two approaches to implementing the actions, highlighting the pros and cons of each. If the question requires evaluation, conclude with a recommendation on how to proceed. Additionally, consider the expected outcome of your recommended approach. For example, if the question asks for visionary leadership, mention that there is currently no evidence of an overall vision in the case study. Then, discuss the importance of vision and present two ways to achieve it, considering the presence or absence of a visionary leader. Finally, provide a recommendation based on the case study, such as inviting the sponsor to present the vision to the team.

An Risk Management APM PPQ Question

Let’s explore another example, a risk management question. Carefully evaluate ways to record risks, specifically focusing on the risk register. Start by describing the situation, emphasizing the shortcomings of the current risk register, such as lacking key details and not being used effectively. Next, explain the desired outcome of having a well-structured risk register with clear priorities, risk owners, and effective risk reduction measures. Present a couple of approaches to achieving this, such as drafting the risk register in Excel and soliciting feedback from the team, or conducting a workshop to populate the risk register collaboratively. Finally, recommend the most practical approach based on the project’s complexity, size, and available resources.

Listen to the Questions Very Carefully

During the interview, pay close attention to the questions and seek clarification if needed. It is helpful to write down the question and underline key aspects to ensure you address them properly. Remember, focus on answering the question as asked. Avoid jumping to conclusions or missing important details. Always relate your answers to project management principles and demonstrate how you would follow established processes.

How to prepare for the APM PPQ Assessment

To prepare effectively, familiarise yourself with the assessment criteria, as they provide insight into the expected questions. You can also practice the STAR method with a partner who is

also preparing for the APM PPQ or use mock interviews as a training tool. Keep in mind that this video provides a brief overview, and for more detailed preparation and training, you can visit our Power Project Training website.

I wish you the best of luck in your PPQ interviews and assessments. I hope you find the STAR method to be a useful framework. Remember to apply it to each of the assessment criteria, and with thorough preparation, I am confident you will succeed in your APM PPQ.

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