Prepare yourself to be a Project Manager with these project manager interview questions and answers!
A project manager interview can test many different aspects through a series of a quick volley of project management interview questions and answers. They will include core fundamentals, philosophy, skills, tools, and techniques.
Whether you are on the receiving side of the queries, or the shooting side, you need to prepare yourself properly. Interviewers carry a list of project management interview questions to evaluate the candidate appropriately. Similarly, you need to be equally prepared if you are answering the questions.
A project manager's job is one of the most elusive jobs in the market because of its high pay scale and better position. However, even after undergoing tough project management training, the most challenging part to land a job is giving a successful interview.
Given below are a few crucial project manager interview questions and answers.
Project manager interview questions fall into three broad categories:
• Fundamental knowledge
• Situation-Based Questions
• Technical Questions and Skills
Let us look at each of these project manager interview questions and answers.
Project Manager Interview Questions - Fundamental Knowledge
A project manager needs to know project management tools and techniques and have a clear idea of their choices. If knowledge didn't matter, there would be no reason for project management degrees.
These project management interview questions test the knowledge of the candidates about project management fundamentals.
1Q) Explain the Project Life Cycle
Many project managers forget to include the termination or the closure phase as part of the project cycle. You should not make a similar mistake.
In project management, a project life cycle takes into consideration everything from the starting to the ending of the project. The different phases of project management in chronological order are:
• Initiation is the phase that helps to check the feasibility and constraints of the project.
• The planning phase is for developing a plan to move forward.
• The execution phase is to act upon the previous plans.
• Monitoring and control phases are to track with numerical values and use them to control outcomes and outputs.
• The closing phase is to resolve all issues with the project and send documentation to the business.
2Q) Which Documents are Essential in the Project Initiation Stage?
Project initiation is probably the most important stage in the project lifecycle. Project management interview questions like this check the candidate's knowledge about not only the initiation stage but also the planning, execution, and monitoring and control phases, as without successful initiation, no project can ever become successful.
The documents a project manager most often needs are the following:
• Business Case File: It contains the scope, purpose, objectives, deliverables, constraints, and assumptions of the project. It also contains the financial cost and benefits analysis of the project.
• Project Agreement: The project agreement lists every critical aspect of a project. It is signed by the customer and the project manager as per mutually agreed terms and contains details such as cost, scope, time, and other conditions of the project.
• Stakeholder Register: The stakeholder register contains the details of every stakeholder responsible for the project. The stakeholder register is a dynamic list that sees additions and deletions depending on the nature and progress of the project.
3Q) Tell Us Something About Stakeholder Analysis. How Important is Power-Interest Grid?
Stakeholders are the decision-makers in any critical project. Through these project management interview questions, the interviewer tries to gauge the project manager's ability to analyze the key stakeholders and utilize this knowledge to execute the task accurately.
Stakeholder generally refers to anyone associated with the project, which may include the project management team, customers, government officials, and other staff responsible for working on the project. Through stakeholder analysis, the project manager identifies the who's who of the project. It also enables them to ensure that they stick together during the project lifecycle.
The Power-Interest Grid makes stakeholder analysis simpler. It categorizes the stakeholders based on their importance in the project and their impact. In any project, some stakeholders have a higher role than others. Power-Interest Grid enables the project manager to design stakeholder engagement activities, essential for any top-class project.
4Q) Define Fishbone Chart. When Would You Use it?
It is one of the advanced fundamental questions that you may find in almost every interview. These project manager interview questions test your knowledge of quality control tools.
Since it is a frequently asked project management interview question, you must already have the answers ready.
Ishikawa Diagram, popularly known as the Fishbone Diagram is a hot topic for many project management interview questions.
Ishikawa Diagram is a data visualization tool that helps to find the cause for every effect. It is one of the most important quality control tools to understand the problems in one chart. You may look at the bigger picture of the problem, without straying away with symptoms.
5Q) What is RAID in Project Management? Why Do You Need One?
These project manager interview questions tests your knowledge of handling risk using standard procedures.
These questions should not baffle you, and you must have your answers completely ready at the tip of your tongue.
The term RAID means risk, assumptions, issues, and dependency. It is a risk aversion technique that helps keep track of present risks and prepare for future uncertainties.
6Q) What is a Time and Materials Contract?
Interviewers ask this question to understand if you know the value of stakeholders and the legal way of agreeing to a project. Project manager interview questions of this kind gauge if you know how to quickly negotiate with and handle external stakeholders through a written agreement.
Answer the question with confidence.
A time and materials contract is a mutually accepted agreement between a contractor and a company. It helps to set the terms and conditions for contractor payment for their work.
The paying rate is dependent on the following factors:
•Hourly Labour costs
•Material and equipment usage costs
•A fixed income add-on to manage profits
7Q) What is the Work Breakdown Structure?
Interviewers are on the lookout for a project manager who can manage mammoth projects. Unless you know about the work breakdown diagram, you can not manage a complex project or deliver a significantly larger project within the deadline, according to client specifications or customer needs.
Project management interview questions like these test your ability to look at the bigger picture while dividing them into numerous smaller pieces.
A Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) helps to systematically arrange tasks by breaking them off into manageable sections and assigning and tracking them over time. It is a method of planning for the project without jumping head-on into a complicated and challenging project.
8Q) What is the difference between Risks and Issues?
When you have a problem at present, it is an issue. They require instant attention, and usually, someone will resolve them immediately. There can be many issues in project management, such as electrical or server problems.
Risks are more of a future based concept that could likely happen in the long run. Careful planning is essential in resolving these problems. Some of the most prominent risks that haunt projects include budgeting risks, scheduling risks, and performance risks.
Situation-Based Project Manager Interview Questions
A project manager's job is more about handling real-world situations rather than having textbook knowledge that anyone can mug up over time and spit it out on an interview. Hence, the project manager interview questions in this section utilize a situation-based approach to understand what the project manager would do if the situation presented itself.
9Q) How Do You Prioritize Tasks?
A project manager has to perform a lot of tasks. A change in the order of these tasks can make a lot of difference in the outcome.
The interviewer seeks a project manager who can separate tasks based on priority to perform most efficiently. These project management interview questions test your time management skills and flexibility.
As an interviewee, your job is to convince your interviewer that no matter whatever tasks your employer or client throws at you, you will be able to handle it like a pro.
The answer to this project management question requires the understanding of importance and urgency.
The generic process to handle priorities is to divide them into urgent and important, as well as crucial and trivial. The priority goes to the urgent and important tasks first, followed by other tasks. Now the important tasks take centre stage that is followed by others.
Additionally, tasks that require specialists who are available for a limited time should be able to skip the priority line. However, the customer or the client should always be the top priority. A project manager always sees to it that the project completion happens way ahead of the deadline for testing and other modifications.
10Q) How do You Handle Working on a Tight Budget?
Many project managers get so involved in making a fruitful project that they often forget to look at the expenses column shooting through the roof. You must understand that budgeting is one of the most important duties of a project manager. No matter how well you execute the project, you need to stay within the budget. If it exceeds the budget, you cannot fulfil organizational financial goals.
These project manager interview questions underlie the importance of balance across various project management disciplines, and answers to them must follow the approach.
Whenever you have a tight budget, you need to keep a track record of spending. Focus on daily expenses, operational costs, and other losses, and eliminate as much as possible. Make sure that you are well under budget since there will always be adverse situations that can affect your budgeting plans.
11Q) Have You Ever Failed at a Project?
Interviewers are looking for honest candidates with integrity and experience with failure. These project management interview questions test your ability to tactfully deal with a difficult situation.
However, you should not be too honest at how miserably you might have fared at your project. It could start a volley of unfavourable questions. On the other hand, you can not deny that you have a failure.
Whether it is in terms of smooth workflow, staying within the budget, completing tasks within the deadline, or product quality, it still counts as a failure. Even school projects consist of people who never work!
To answer these project management interview questions, you need to describe your role as a project manager or a quasi-project manager who headed a task. It is always very essential that you do not bring up any internal conflicts since it devalues your role as a project manager.
Answer in a way that showcases an impossible possibility and a gamble between two conflicting project management fields of thought.
Do not get too involved in the story, presenting unnecessary details; stick to the point. End the narrative with a message of what you learned from the ordeal, and how you matured from experience.
For example, if a trusted client asks you to modify equipment a day before delivery over a phone call, most project managers will comply. However, after modifying the equipment, the client denying any interaction will be a valuable life lesson. It can teach you to keep proof of conversations and transactions.
You may have your share of misfortune. You must share it as a learning experience.
12Q) What is the Most Important Skill of a Project Manager?
It is one of the tricky project management interview questions that gauge your personal interests, your understanding of project management, and the reason for your preference.
It is a project management interview question, where you know that all the skills are equally important, but need to choose one skill.
Make a decision and mention either communication, leadership, or time management skills. Back it up with your reasons for the same.
For example, you could say that there would be chaos without proper leadership skills, or if you do not have time management skills, you can never deliver a quality project within the deadline.
13Q) Which Project Management Tools are Your Favorite? Have You Ever Used Them?
This question requires you to showcase your tool knowledge and provide answers with examples demonstrating your expertise in the said tool.
The most commonly used and essential tools are as follows:
• Gantt Chart
• PERT Chart
• Work Breakdown Structure
• Product Breakdown Structure
• Logic Networks
14Q) Can You Manage to Work From Home? How Would you do it?
Answers to project management interview questions like these can vary. The questions are meant to test your brainstorming capabilities, flexibility, and adaptability.
You need to understand that this question has almost zero relevance with bookish knowledge and everything about project management. It tests your knowledge of project management and if you can tactfully manage problems even remotely.
Answers to project management interview questions of this nature should generally follow a similar pattern mentioned below.
•Divide the work into sprints, and allow everyone to confirm work completion status.
•Contact vendors and suppliers through online channels.
•Communicate with the team every day, and know their availability status, boost employee morale.
•Increase training of productivity software and tools, and collaboration through teamwork software.
•Use remote automated tools and software to keep track, follow up, and enhance work.
•Organize more frequent and short video meetings with a focus on the problem, and brainstorm with the team to find solutions.
•Motivate the team through the work cycle while keeping track of daily goals.
•Plan for a few days ahead of schedule on daily tasks and prepare alternatives in case of risks.
•Use project management tools and techniques to provide an edge amidst absence in the workforce.
•Outsource whatever work can be completed more efficiently by others.
Skill-Based Project Manager Interview Questions
There are various skills that a project manager needs to have. These project management interview questions help to bring out the traits of a project manager within the candidate.
15Q) Tell Me Something About Yourself
The question tests your project management capabilities concerning communication skills and the ability to grab an opportunity when it knocks on your door.
It is your chance to create an impression and grab the opportunity, starting with a home run.
Start with your personal information, list your professional and educational skills, and also talk about your goals. Explain with passion about yourself and always try to put the role of the project manager in the backdrop. Make sure that they understand your passion for the role of the project manager.
Even if you have no experience, make sure to illustrate how you led and managed the projects of your team. The first impression is usually the last.
16Q) There is some internal conflict between some members of your team. As a result, the work is getting hampered. How will you handle it?
You need to answer the question with the standard procedure to handle conflict.
A project manager needs to understand the reason for the conflict and listen to both sides of the story. Now, they must provide a solution that favours both parties. If no resolution is achieved, the project manager must make a decision that does not hamper or strain ties within the team.
17Q) How Will You Resolve Conflict Between Your Team and Customers?
A project manager needs to know conflict management techniques to pacify the stakeholders or project team as and when required. A top-class project manager is always unbiased and non-judgemental. They must intervene at the right moment and solve the dispute in an amicable manner.
To solve a dispute, a project manager may need to collaborate, employ problem-solving techniques, compete, accommodate, and reconcile.
A healthy team is not the one that never faces conflicts but is the one that sticks together despite opposing viewpoints. And, it is the task of the project manager to ensure that the team stays together despite occasional ups and downs. In the end, the customer needs to be happy and so must the team.
18Q) What Type of Leader are You?
If you face this type of project manager interview questions, you need to explain the preference of your type of leadership. Don't say that you'll lead the team with an iron fist, which will give a negative impression, almost like that of a despot. Instead, the correct answers to these project manager interview questions can be any one of the following:
•I like to lead the team through my example and be their source of motivation.
•I will delegate people to lead people in separate departments for a smooth functioning workplace.
•Under my leadership, the entire place will be one giant web of communication where employees can respond quickly to problems without much interference.
19Q) How Will You Manage the Team Workload?
If you are the one facing these project management interview questions for the position of a project manager, you need to understand that the employer is looking for someone who can plan and use all resources most efficiently. They are seeking someone who can shift a lacklustre company into a profitable empire through organizational changes.
The trick to answering these types of project management interview questions is finding balance. As a project manager, the goal is constant improvement and skill development.
Hence, the first step is to analyze the work distribution and speak to the overburdened workers for optimization, and delegate tasks to the lesser burdened employees. Finally, the plan will be to upskill everyone, so that any employee can switch for an absent one.
20Q) Do you know how to use 'X' software?
Every industry has a set of tools that you need to be accustomed to while working on a project. It is important to research well about the industry before applying for the job.
When you are asked these types of project management questions, answer it with examples of projects that you have executed using the software, if you are skilled at it. There is a good chance that you may be assigned a small task to demonstrate your skills.
However, if you do not know a particular software, it should not deter you, as long as you know a pseudo software. There is a good chance that you will know a similar software and there will not be major changes between the two except the user interface.
In such cases, express your knowledge in the related software and your zeal for learning. Most of the time, interviewers usually want to see if you can learn the software as early as possible.
21Q) How Does a Nuclear Reactor Work?
These questions help to determine how you respond to out of the box questions. The interviewer wants to see if you can keep your composure when some problem arises that requires instant wits and fast thinking. It will be a bonus if you know the answer to this question.
However, there is no reason to panic if you do not know the answer. You need to understand that there is no way that you could have prepared for these types of project manager interview questions that have nothing to do with project management. However, what you can do is show an interest in learning new things.
Do not answer anything wrong. Instead, you can try to ease the mood by saying that you will look for it later and answer the question. If you answer all other project management interview questions and answers correctly and show a learning attitude, you will be on the radar of the interviewer as a potential project manager candidate.
Project Manager interview questions can be stressful. The interview can contain questions that are at the core of the subject, technical calculations and chart analysis, experience and situational questions, and sometimes even questions that are miles out of range from anything related to project management. Naturally, only the well-prepared candidates make the cut. However, if you receive proper training and education from a reputed institution and practice a few mock tests, you can ace it and get the job.
Attend PMP Certification Training organized by StarAgile and become Certified Project Manager Professional.