To become a project manager, you’ll likely need to go through an interview process and answer the given questions correctly. While each hiring process is different, there are some common questions you can expect to be asked.
This article will provide tips and advice on answering project manager interview questions and various example questions you may encounter.
Let’s get right into it.
What are employers and hiring managers looking for when interviewing people for a project manager?
Employers and hiring managers typically look for leadership, problem-solving, communication, and organizational skills when interviewing people for a project manager role. They also want to make sure that the candidate has a good understanding of project management concepts and practices.
Here are some of the top qualities employers look for in a project manager:
Project management skills
One of the top qualities employers look for is a candidate skilled in project management. This includes having the proper knowledge and skills to manage people, resources, and processes and good problem-solving and decision-making abilities.
Resilience to stress
Project management can be a stressful role. Therefore, employers are looking for strong candidates who stay composed and focused under pressure.
Good leadership is essential for project managers as they must motivate their teams and drive them towards successful outcomes.
A good project manager must effectively manage their time and ensure that deadlines are met on schedule.
Excellent communication is vital in project management. Candidates should be able to communicate clearly and concisely with their team members, stakeholders, and other people involved in the project.
Project managers need to have the right attitude when working with others; they should be able to build and maintain successful working relationships with their team.
Accountability and organization
Project managers need to take responsibility for outcomes and organize resources to achieve the best results.
Identifying problems, coming up with solutions, and troubleshooting effectively is essential for project managers.
These are some qualities employers look for when interviewing candidates for a project manager role. You must demonstrate these skills during your interview so employers can accurately understand your abilities.
25 Interview Questions for Project Managers
Here are some common questions you may encounter during a project manager interview.
1. What standards must a project meet for you to consider it successful?
This question tests your understanding of project management principles. It also shows the interviewer what you believe are the criteria for success.
Answer: A project must meet deadlines and budget, stay within scope, have good communication amongst team members and stakeholders, ensure successful delivery of deliverables, and any other important metrics.
2. With more people working from home than ever, it’s crucial to know how to manage a remote team effectively. Are you prepared?
This question helps the interviewer understand how well you are equipped to handle a remote team.
Answer: Yes, I am prepared to manage a remote team. My experience in project management has taught me the importance of good communication and collaboration among group members. I have also developed strategies for maintaining effective communication with a remote team, including regular check-ins, clear expectations, and open feedback loops.
Additionally, I’m familiar with various tools and technologies that can be used to help facilitate successful remote work.
3. How do you prioritize your tasks?
This question helps the interviewer understand your thought process and organizational skills.
Answer: When prioritizing tasks, I assess the time frame, complexity, importance, and risk associated with each lesson. Then, I prioritize the tasks based on their urgency and impact. I also take into account any dependencies between tasks when assigning my priorities.
Finally, I create a timeline for completing all tasks to meet deadlines.
4. What project management skills do you think are most essential to be successful? Can you give us some examples from your own experience?
This question helps the interviewer understand your opinion on what project management skills are essential for success.
Answer: The essential project management skills include communication, accountability, problem-solving, and team building. Communication is vital to ensuring that everyone involved in a project stays on the same page. Responsibility is also crucial because it helps keep everyone motivated and focused on delivering results.
Problem-solving skills are essential for dealing with unexpected issues that may arise during a project. Finally, successful team building ensures that all team members can work together effectively to reach their goals.
5. Can you describe any past challenging projects you have overseen? How did you go about surmounting the challenges presented by those projects?
This question tests your experience managing complex and challenging projects.
Answer: I recently managed a project that required coordinating with multiple stakeholders across different departments. The challenge was to ensure everyone was on the same page and working towards a common goal.
To address this issue, I developed an effective communication plan that allowed us to keep all stakeholders informed about progress and upcoming tasks. Additionally, I implemented clear timelines for completing each lesson as well as providing regular updates on our progress.
By managing expectations and staying ahead of potential issues, we completed the project successfully within budget and deadline.
6. What steps would you take to get the project back on track if it has gone off the rails?
This question helps the interviewer understand your approach to addressing issues when a project is not progressing as planned.
Answer: If a project goes off track, I first assess the situation and identify the root cause of any delays or problems. Then, depending on the nature of the issue, I develop strategies for getting back on track, such as re-evaluating timelines, delegating tasks more efficiently among team members, or providing additional resources if necessary.
Finally, I create detailed metrics to measure progress and ensure we remain focused on meeting our goals. Additionally, I guarantee that all stakeholders are kept informed and updated throughout each step to provide collaboration and alignment of expectations.
7. What is one of the biggest mistakes you have made in your past projects, and how did it impact your current approach to work?
This question helps the interviewer understand how you learn from mistakes and use them to improve your performance.
Answer: One mistake I made in a past project was that I underestimated the time required to complete specific tasks. This oversight caused our timeline to be pushed back significantly, resulting in cost overruns and delays.
As a result, I now place greater emphasis on closely estimating the scope of a project before beginning any work.
Additionally, I have adopted more proactive communication strategies for keeping stakeholders informed about progress throughout each process step. These measures help me ensure that timelines are realistic and that we remain on track for success.
8. Could you provide us with an example of a project which didn’t meet its goals? Are there any specific instances you could share with us?
This question helps the interviewer understand how you troubleshoot and identify potential issues before they become problematic.
Answer: One example of a project that didn’t meet its goals was when I was assigned to lead a web development project for a client. Initially, our timelines appeared realistic, and we had all the necessary resources to complete the job successfully.
However, as the project progressed, we realized that some unexpected challenges arose due to a lack of communication with other stakeholders involved in the project.
As a result, we could not complete the work within the initially agreed-upon timeline and budget. To address this issue in the future, I have implemented more robust processes for communication with all stakeholders.
I have additional time and resources to ensure that project goals can realistically be achieved. This experience has helped me recognize the importance of proactive communication and improved planning for future projects.
9. What do you do when a customer is unhappy with the quality of your work? How do you deal with an unsatisfied stakeholder?
This question helps the interviewer understand how you handle difficult conversations and address customer concerns.
Answer: When a customer is unhappy with the quality of my work, I first listen carefully to their feedback and try to identify the areas where they are not satisfied. Then, I take responsibility for any issues that have arisen, apologize for any inconvenience caused, and discuss ways to move forward together to address their concerns.
10. How do you plan to manage team members who butt heads with one another?
This question helps the interviewer understand how you handle conflicts between team members.
Answer: When managing team members who are having difficulty working together, I first ensure that both parties know the expectations and deadlines set for a project. Then, I facilitate open dialogue between them where we can respectfully discuss each person’s point of view. If necessary, I suggest adjusting their approach to work more effectively together.
11. What is the difference between a risk and an issue? And what are some of the main types of risks that come up in projects?
This question helps the interviewer understand your knowledge of project management terminology and ability to identify potential issues.
Answer: The difference between a risk and an issue is that a risk may occur, preventing you from meeting project goals, while an issue has already happened, preventing you from reaching those goals.
Some common types of risks that can arise in projects include technical, financial, legal, schedule, personnel, and environmental risks.
12. What is RAID in project management?
This question helps the interviewer understand your understanding of project management terminology and techniques.
Answer: RAID stands for Risk, Assumptions, Issues, and Dependencies. It is a method used to organize and manage project-related information by identifying potential risks that could affect the timeline or budget of a project, as well as any assumptions or dependencies which could impact its success.
Additionally, it can help identify any issues that may have already occurred and need to be addressed to move forward. RAID aims to ensure that all stakeholders know the different elements associated with a project so that appropriate measures can be taken if necessary.
13. What techniques may you use to define the scope of a project?
This question helps the interviewer understand how you approach defining project scope and your understanding of fundamental project management techniques.
Answer: To define the scope of a project, I typically use techniques such as creating a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), writing user stories and acceptance criteria, conducting stakeholder interviews, analyzing existing documentation, and preparing functional specifications documents.
Using these methods, I can gain clarity on what needs to be done to complete a project and create a clear timeline for when different tasks need to be accomplished. Additionally, I ensure that all stakeholders know the objectives for each lesson so that everyone can work together effectively toward achieving success.
14. How do you determine which team members to assign to a project?
This question helps the interviewer understand how you delegate tasks and assign team members.
Answer: When determining which team members to assign to a project, I consider various factors such as their experience level, availability, current workload, strengths and weaknesses, and interests. For any project to be successful, it is essential that each person involved has the proper skill set and is passionate about what they are doing.
Additionally, I ensure everyone’s workload is manageable, so no one feels overwhelmed or overworked. By carefully considering these factors and thoughtful delegation of tasks, I can confirm that the project runs smoothly and efficiently.
15. Do you know the triple constraint triangle of project management?
This question helps the interviewer understand your knowledge and understanding of key project management concepts.
Answer: Yes, I am familiar with the triple constraint triangle of project management. It is a visual representation of three main elements that must be managed to complete a project: time, cost, and scope.
The triangle illustrates how any changes made to one part will affect the other two elements, thus highlighting why it is essential for all stakeholders to agree on their expectations regarding each piece before beginning a project.
By being aware of this concept, I can ensure that I remain mindful when making decisions throughout a task not to compromise its success.
16. How will you prevent adding unnecessary features to projects you manage?
This question helps the interviewer understand your approach to ensuring that a project stays on track and only includes necessary features.
Answer: To prevent adding unnecessary features, I prioritize tasks according to their importance and ensure that each part contributes significantly to achieving the desired outcome. To do this, I analyze user needs by conducting research or surveys and use this data to decide which features are most relevant for meeting those needs.
Additionally, I ensure that all stakeholders involved in the project are aware of the objectives and can agree upon what should be included in the final product before work begins.
17. When would you need to bring up a problem to a higher authority?
This question helps the interviewer understand your approach to conflict resolution and when you are likely to seek additional support.
Answer: Generally, I will first attempt to solve any issues that arise before escalating them. If it requires additional resources or expertise, then I may require assistance from someone within my team or at a higher level.
Additionally, suppose it involves multiple stakeholders and representatives from different departments. In that case, I might need to bring in somebody with more authority to reach an agreement quickly and efficiently.
18. What’s your preferred method of leading others?
This question helps the interviewer understand how you like to lead and manage others.
Answer: My preferred method of leading others is by encouraging a collaborative approach to problem-solving. I strive to create an environment where team members feel comfortable expressing their opinions, ideas, and concerns without feeling judged or ignored.
By doing so, I believe everyone can contribute effectively to reach the best possible solution for any situation. I also ensure that everyone involved understands their roles and responsibilities and any deadlines they need to meet to work together efficiently.
19. What project management software do you find most user-friendly?
This question helps the interviewer understand which software you find most intuitive and easy to use from a user perspective.
Answer: From my experience, I have found Jira, Trello, and Basecamp to be some of the most user-friendly project management software available. These platforms are pretty intuitive, offer a variety of features that simplify the workflow process, and provide excellent support if any issues arise.
Furthermore, they allow teams to communicate efficiently using task boards and other collaboration tools such as chat rooms or file sharing.
20. In layperson’s terms, what are the differences between project monitoring and controlling?
This question helps the interviewer understand how you differentiate two key project management processes.
Answer: Project monitoring involves keeping track of progress and performance against the objectives established for a project. It ensures that any changes to the scope, timeline, or budget are identified quickly so that appropriate action can be taken.
On the other hand, project controlling is a slightly more proactive process in which corrective measures are implemented if deviations from initial plans occur to minimize their impact on the overall outcome.
21. What are the tenets of EVM, and how can they help improve your project management efforts?
This question helps the interviewer understand your knowledge and experience with Earned Value Management (EVM) and how it can improve project management efforts.
Answer: Earned Value Management is a structured method to measure project performance. Its tenets include the following: establishing a baseline budget, setting measurable goals, tracking progress against established goals, and analyzing variances between actual performance and planned performance to better guide decision-making.
EVM helps to identify potential problems early on so that corrective action can be taken before they become too costly or difficult to address. Providing accurate and timely information about the project’s progress can help ensure that resources are allocated efficiently and any risks are identified early on to implement more effective strategies.
22. What are stakeholder analysis and Power-Interest Grid used for?
This question helps the interviewer understand your knowledge and experience with stakeholder analysis and Power-Interest Grid, as well as their purpose.
Answer: Stakeholder analysis is a process by which organizations identify their stakeholders and analyze them in terms of power, interests, and influence on the project. The Power-Interest Grid is one tool that can visually evaluate stakeholders according to these criteria.
It assigns each stakeholder to categories based on their level of power (high or low) and interest (high or low) to provide a clear understanding of how they might impact decisions related to the project.
Doing so can help project managers anticipate potential problems and develop strategies for more effectively engaging stakeholders.
23. What differentiates a Program, Project, and Portfolio?
This question helps the interviewer understand your knowledge and experience with program, project, and portfolio management and their differences.
Answer: A program is a set of related projects that work together to achieve a common goal or outcome. It involves organizing multiple interdependent activities, such as setting goals, establishing timelines, scheduling resources, managing finances, etc., to complete all required tasks.
A project is a single task or activity identified as necessary to achieve an overall goal or objective. It typically has a defined start and end date and involves specific deliverables that must be completed along the way. Finally, a portfolio includes all programs and projects under the management of an organization.
It is often used to coordinate resources and prioritize efforts to ensure that the most important work gets done first. Organizations can maximize their efficiency by effectively managing a portfolio by ensuring that each program or project receives the appropriate attention it needs at any given time.
24. What are Ishikawa/ Fishbone diagrams, and why are they useful?
This question helps the interviewer understand your knowledge and experience with Ishikawa or Fishbone diagrams and their purpose.
Answer: Ishikawa or Fishbone diagrams are tools used to analyze possible causes of problems and identify potential solutions visually. They involve drawing a “fish skeleton” with a head representing the problem and bones representing potential causes.
This allows for a more organized and structured way of analyzing the issue at hand and helps uncover any hidden or underlying problems contributing to it. Using Ishikawa or Fishbone diagrams, organizations can quickly identify root causes and develop strategies for resolving them.
25. How do you calculate the three-point estimating method?
This question helps the interviewer understand your knowledge and experience with three-point estimating methods and how they are used.
Answer: The three-point estimating method involves calculating an expected duration of time, cost, or another measure by considering optimistic, pessimistic, and most likely scenarios. It requires the determination of three distinct values that represent these different possibilities for a given task or activity.
Once these values are established, they can be used to calculate the expected value. This method helps to provide more accurate predictions by taking into account potential risks and possible delays, which may otherwise not be considered.
As such, it enables organizations to better plan and prepare for projects while reducing uncertainty as much as possible.
Questions for You to Ask in a Project Manager Interview
Here are some questions you may consider asking in a project manager interview.
How many days, weeks, or months would you like it to take until we find your perfect candidate?
Why it is essential to ask this question in your job interview: Asking this question gives you an understanding of the organization’s timeline for hiring a project manager. It also allows you to plan accordingly to ensure that your application is submitted in a timely fashion and that you have enough time to prepare for the interview adequately.
To whom will I answer in my day-to-day life?
Why it is essential to ask this question in your job interview: Asking this question during a project manager job interview allows you to understand who your direct supervisor will be. It also helps you understand the structure and hierarchy of the organization, as well as who you can go to for help when needed. Additionally, it gives you an idea of what kind of working relationship you may have with your supervisor or colleagues.
Can you describe your process for training new hires?
Why it is essential to ask this question in your job interview: Asking about the training process that the organization follows provides insight into how they approach onboarding new employees. This information can help give you a better understanding of the culture and expectations within the organization, which is especially important if you are considering joining the team. Additionally, it gives you an idea of the kind of support available to new hires and how quickly they can become productive team members.
How often do you review someone’s performance?
Why it is essential to ask this question in your job interview: Any project manager position needs a clear plan for monitoring and evaluating performance. Asking about this allows you to understand what metrics are used to measure success and the frequency with which these assessments take place. This information helps you create realistic goals and expectations from the beginning and ensure that everyone on the team is working towards them.
What tools do you use to manage your projects?
Why it is essential to ask this question in your job interview: Asking about the project management tools that the organization uses gives you an idea of what kind of technology and systems they use for tracking progress, managing documents, and more. Understanding these systems can help you better plan projects, optimize resources, and create a smoother workflow. Additionally, it allows you to determine whether or not you would be comfortable using these tools daily.
What is the leadership style of this team?
Why it is essential to ask this question in your job interview: Knowing the leadership style of a team helps set expectations from the beginning when it comes to working with others. It also allows you to understand how decisions are made, how feedback is given, and what kind of environment you can expect to work in. This information can help determine if the team fits your skill set and working style.
What qualities and experience would the ideal candidate have for this role?
Why it is essential to ask this question in your job interview: Asking about the desired qualities and experience that an organization looks for in a project manager gives you an understanding of what they value most. Knowing these attributes allows you to highlight the strengths that match those criteria and helps you prepare better answers during the interview. Additionally, this information helps give you an idea of how competitive the hiring process may be so that you can adjust your approach accordingly.
Tips For Preparing for a Project manager Interview
Here are some of the best tips for preparing for a project manager interview:
Do your research
Learn as much as possible about the company, and its current projects, aside from the position they are hiring for. Make sure you understand the job duties and requirements so that you can ask informed questions at the end of the interview.
Practice your answers
Prepare some of your answers to common questions asked during project manager interviews, such as “Describe a difficult situation you faced in managing a project?” or “What methods do you use to manage multiple projects?” Practicing your responses will help ensure that you come across as confident and knowledgeable during the interview.
Know yourself well
Think about your skills, experience, strengths, and weaknesses. Ensure you have examples of how you demonstrated these traits in past projects.
Prepare example questions
Take the time to develop exciting questions demonstrating your knowledge of project management principles and practices. This will help show the interviewer that you are genuinely interested in the position and invested in doing an excellent job if hired.
It is essential to make an excellent first impression, so dress professionally for your interview. Be sure to avoid any clothing that is distracting or inappropriate for the office environment.
Project manager Interview Questions FAQs
What are the five skills of a project manager?
Here are the five essential skills for a project manager:
- Planning and organization: Ability to create detailed plans, set goals, delegate tasks and monitor progress
- Communication: Ability to communicate effectively with team members and stakeholders at all levels
- Leadership: Ability to motivate the team, build consensus and resolve conflicts
- Problem-solving: Ability to think strategically, anticipate problems, and find solutions
- Adaptability: Ability to adjust on the fly when objectives or circumstances change
What are the four leading roles of a project manager?
The top 4 roles of a project manager include:
Strategizing and planning: Setting the overall goals and objectives for the project, creating the timeline, budgeting, and developing a strategy for completion
- Executing and monitoring: Delegating tasks to team members, setting deadlines, tracking progress, and ensuring quality control
- Managing resources: Allocating resources, such as materials and personnel, to ensure the project is completed on budget
- Evaluating performance: Reviewing progress and evaluating results to ensure objectives are met
What is your greatest strength as a project manager?
Answering this question requires self-reflection. Consider the skills you possess that make you a successful project manager and discuss how these strengths have benefited your team. Such qualities include organization, problem-solving, communication, attention to detail, adaptability, and leadership. Ultimately, emphasize why your particular set of skills makes you an ideal candidate for the role.
For example: “My greatest strength as a project manager is communicating effectively with team members and stakeholders. I have excellent interpersonal skills, which allow me to build consensus among all parties involved in the project. I’m also adept at identifying potential problems and finding solutions that benefit everyone.”
Acing your project manager interview requires being prepared to answer questions about your skills, roles, and strengths. Following the above advice can show your interviewer why you’re the perfect candidate for the job. Good luck!