Before you arrive for your scheduled interview for a new project manager position, it makes sense to do whatever you can to prepare for the interview. One way to do this is to think about what project manager interview questions might arise during the interview. In this guide, we’ve compiled the most common IT project manager interview questions, technical project manager interview questions, and senior project manager interview questions.
Another obvious way to prepare for a project manager interview is to ensure you have the right skills for the job. You can gain these in a high-quality online project management course.
Project Manager Interview Questions and Answers
Most interviewers will ask about your current experience and why you’re interested in the job. However, to truly prepare, you must be well-versed in answering more in-depth questions for the role. Here are some of the top project manager interview questions hiring managers ask:
Can You Tell Me About the Last Project You Worked On?
Asking about previous projects you worked on is a common question because it gives hiring managers direct evidence of your skills and experience. In most cases, they want to find someone who worked on identical or similar projects to what the company usually works on.
When answering this question, there are a few things to remember. First, make sure you only discuss projects you are allowed to discuss. If confidentiality agreements or secret clearances cover your projects, review them beforehand to know what you can discuss.
Secondly, discuss how you contributed to the project while providing quantifiable and qualifiable details. You want to describe what you did and its positive impact on the project. Providing numbers or qualifying details helps hiring managers put it into perspective.
Thirdly, make sure only to provide details that the employer can verify. It is not uncommon for employers to check with your previous employers about specific project contributions.
What Steps Would You Take If Your Project Is Off-Track?
Expect a hiring manager to ask you how to handle project problems. The idea is that they can evaluate your strategies for dealing with issues, which is where most project managers get into trouble.
This is your chance to discuss your methodologies and critical insights into how to fix problems. Everyone’s answers will differ here, so it’s a good chance for you to stand out with detailed answers based on your experience.
What Are the Biggest Mistakes You Have Committed in Your Past Projects?
You should expect a few project management interview questions regarding previous mistakes and incomplete projects. Be careful how you answer these questions. Most people fall into the pattern of focusing too much on the negative impact on the project. Instead, turn that negative into a positive.
Keep the description of the mistake short, preferably just one or two sentences at most. Then, immediately pivot into how you recovered and got things back on track. Also, discuss how you prevented similar problems on projects since then. Changing the narrative to a positive one will minimize the risk of disqualifying yourself from the job.
What’s Your Approach to Handling Underperforming Staff Members?
You’ll likely get a lot of questions about your staff management style, especially if you will be expected to manage a team of staff members.
Staff management is one of the biggest potential problems companies can have. Your goal is to show you have a method for managing staff members and resolving internal work problems.
If you need to go into more detail about a specific example, do it hypothetically. You don’t want to disclose specifics about workers at other companies, which may be a red flag for some companies.
What Is Budget Management?
You will likely be asked a project management interview question about budget management, which is among a company’s most significant concerns. As you answer questions about budget management, try to include any big achievements you have. For example, saving the company thousands of dollars due to better budget management is good to mention.
Otherwise, you want to demonstrate a solid understanding of managing a budget responsibly. You can do this by discussing budget management methodologies and supply chain logistics. The more you can show that you can responsibly manage the money for the project and make decisions that can reduce costs without sacrificing quality, the more impressed the hiring manager will be.
Speaking of quality, you should stress how there are times when spending more is the better option. Many companies are becoming wary of project managers that cut costs at any cost, often leading to significant problems later. Give examples of when you think keeping higher costs is appropriate or necessary, and define why. Any argument favoring quality and safety can balance a counterargument about cutting costs.
What Is an Ideal Project?
Some of the questions you get will ask you to create scenarios, like imagining your ideal project. These types of questions are designed to expose your preferences. For example, no one is likely to mention budget problems or any issues in an ideal project. What you avoid the most shows your preferences for problems you want to deal with.
If you are asked a question that has you create a scenario, your best option is to give a realistic, not a perfect, counterargument answer. It shows that your thoughts are more grounded in what is likely possible than just picking the ideal circumstances you want.
How Has Project Management Changed Over the Course of Your Career?
Companies cannot ask about your age in most cases, but they can ask questions that reveal your age and level of experience. Asking about changes to the industry during your career is an effective way to see how long you have been in the industry and what affects your work the most.
When you answer this question, focus on positive changes that can help the company. Advancements in technology, for example, are a significant benefit to companies. Discuss specific ways that you do things differently now from in the past.
You can also touch on changes that have been negative in the industry, but only if you can offer positive suggestions for overcoming them. This topic can quickly turn into a negative situation if you let it. Remain positive and offer solutions. That way, the hiring manager sees you as someone who tries to keep improving rather than someone overrun by changes outside your control.
How Do You Handle Communications With Stakeholders?
Finally, you can expect project management interview questions that probe how you respond to other staff in authority positions over projects. For the most part, these will be the stakeholders of the project. Companies want to understand how you see the stakeholders because it relates directly to project management. They are the one element of the project that you don’t have direct control over, and they can cause issues.
Like other questions, frame your answer positively. Avoid showing negative thoughts about stakeholders, as this is a major problem for the hiring manager. Instead, express a willingness to work closely with them at every step to get better results.
These are just some of the project manager interview questions you might be asked during your interview. However, you may be asked other questions not included on this list. Additionally, it is unlikely that you will have to answer all of these questions during an interview. It doesn’t hurt to be more prepared, though.
How to Prepare for a Project Manager Interview
Even if you currently work as a project manager, it can be nerve-wracking to interview for a new position with another company. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to prepare for a project manager interview.
Always start by carefully reading the job description and researching the company. Look at its website to learn more about its vision, mission, and culture. This can give you a better idea of what the company might want in a candidate. During the interview, you can reference this information to inform your answers and to let the interviewer know you are interested enough in this specific position to prepare for the interview.
You can also gather examples and data from past projects, so you have something to reference during the interview. It is much better to demonstrate how you generated project sales or increased performance by a specific percentage than to say you were great at leading a project.
Be sure you do not accidentally include confidential or proprietary data without permission. This can make the interviewer concerned that you could share their company’s data at a future job interview.
Learn More About Project Management
Finding the right team defines the outcome of a project. Show interviewers that you are the right person for the job by preparing for the interview with research and thinking about how you would answer common project management interview questions. Learning more about project management, in general, can also make a big difference. Consider a project management bootcamp to ensure you are up-to-date on the latest PM tools and techniques. You’ll spend time learning from experts with real-world experience and practicing core project management skills on industry-specific projects.