Every project manager must be well prepared for a job interview. Having a lot of skills and good knowledge of project management practices and tools is not enough. Having a sleek and modern project management certificate is also not enough to start your dream job. Preparing for a job interview is one of the most important steps to professional success.
In the article, we share some example interview questions to applicants for a project manager. For each question, we share an appropriate answer with the interviewer.
Tell us about yourself
What motivates me to start project management are the qualities I have already built in, such as good organization, conscientiousness, and a professional approach concerning the tasks I take on during work. I am also confident that I have the necessary strong work ethic, qualities, and determination to deal with project management.
With my experience in managing projects, people and operations, I know how important it is not only to take responsibility for everything that happens but also to make sure that my team will achieve its goals and they always bring the expected results.
This is the role I am most productive in, with my natural skills and qualities. My motivation is also that my skills and qualities can be used adequately as a project manager because of the companies providing high standards, a supportive approach to their staff, and also a constant desire for improvement and development. Read more: “Sample job interview questions for a project manager”, https://www.islandjournal.net
What do you think is the most important skill of a project manager?
In my opinion, a project manager does not have only one important skill. I believe that leadership skills, time management skills, self-organization, and the organization of people around are equally important.
What do you do when you start working on a new project?
First, of course, I have to get acquainted with the project, its business goals, then the scope. It is also important for me to get to know the team so that I could arrange an introductory meeting with its members. I will look for the budget set for the project, and any other restrictions, and I will look at the risks described. More on the topic: “Project manager interview questions”, https://www.mmrls.org/project-manager-interview-questions/
How do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years I will have optimized the processes, I will be very used to the organizational policy, and most likely I will have already built excellent relationships with both directors and clients.
Finally, I can safely say that I will have become a very valuable staff with many completed projects for our organization.
Are you a proactive person?
I am always on the lookout for potential risks and I demand that everyone around us work together.
I am aware that stakeholders, customers, and suppliers from third countries can always be delayed, so I do not wait for an answer indefinitely.
What are the main areas of knowledge for a project manager?
You will probably be expected to list the following phases, stages, and activities you already know:
- Integration (Includes familiar stages of initialization and planning)
- Scope definition and management
- Time planning
- Cost management and planning
- Quality management and planning
- Human Resource Management
- Communication management and planning
- Risk Management
- Supply management
- Stakeholder management
These are the ten “areas of knowledge” listed in the “PMBOK” book. Read more: “Top tips and trends for managers and modern management in 2022“, https://managerspost.com/top-tips-and-trends-for-managers/
Have you ever had your colleague or manager influence your actions or decisions?
Yes, of course, the competence of the team, the business experience of the directors, and the strategic goals of our organization depend on me, which means that the team gives me a proposal and the directors have specific goals or requests. Many events and situations can affect my actions or decisions.
How do you know if your project is going according to plan?
The project will probably have a precise plan, budget, certain costs, and planned time and tasks. All these variables affect the “deviations”. Recall the topics for Schedule Variance, Cost Variance, Baseline from the Cost Management Plan module. More on the topic: “Questions for a project manager interview”, https://projectmanagers.edublogs.org
Each specific period, part of the budget falls. If the budget is exceeded or the planned tasks are not completed, the project does not go according to plan.
If we also work with specialized project management software I will be able to update all the information and progress and you will see the movement of abandonment or progress.
Do you know anything about the Pareto principle?
Many years ago, Mr. Pareto proposed his idea that everything in the world has only 20% importance, and the other 80% is not a priority.
- 20% of the staff do 80% of the project work
- 20% of the ideas and functionalities of the project would satisfy 80% of the stakeholders or the end-user
- 20% of the time you spend on anything is more useful than 80% of the rest of your life.
- 20% of the things you learn in your life will be used in 80% of situations throughout your life.
- 20% of people are more educated than the other 80%
- 20% of the program code of the project does the most important things of the functionalities.
- and so on
In the context of project development and management, this principle is stated when prioritizing tasks.
Prioritization is usually a function that is associated with the Product Management role. He chooses which work will be developed first, which next, or which does not make sense to develop at all and will be abandoned by the plans.
This is a very good philosophy, but in practice, I would use much more serious and adequate methods. Read more: “Top tips and trends for managers in 2022“, https://www.businesspad.org/top-tips-and-trends-for-managers-in-2021/
You will probably get something like:
And what methods would you use then?
I would use very popular methods for prioritizing tasks such as MoSCoW or Kano models, but even these can take a lot of criticism, as prioritizing tasks is not based on any objective assessment, but only on the subjective idea and opinion of the Product. manager, or stakeholders. Reference: How to Become a Project Manager Without Experience and Degree, https://scrumtime.org/how-to-become-a-project-manager-without-experience/
I would calculate the business value of each task separately and compare it to the value of the others, instead of just choosing some tasks that I think are important.
If the customer is not satisfied with the result and does not accept the product, what would you do?
The product I developed followed all the conditions, specifications, requirements, scope, and many agreed parameters. Quality is defined, defined, tracked. The likelihood that the client will react in this way is very small, and if he did, I would act politically and discuss with him his spontaneous and unexpected feedback.
The next thing I would do is to open the scope of the project and other documents that describe the requirements and quality or other documented parameters. I also review everything described and compare.
By this time, most likely, the customer will have lost some confidence to argue and refuse to accept the product. The client is important and you need to build partnerships, so I always maintain a polite and good tone, regardless of the result. If I do not find a problem, I remind the customer that he can make a formal change request, for any part of the product that he would like to change.
How do you tell your team bad news, such as failed aspects of the project?
The morale and enthusiasm of the team mustn’t fall under any circumstances. Even in crises in the organization.
If there are objective reasons for the failure of the project, I will not point out specific guilt to anyone, but I will organize a general discussion and we will look for and analyze the problems altogether, as a team. Read more: “Sample Exam Questions for the BVOP Project Management Certification Test“, https://bvop.org/posts/examtestquestions/
I will create a clear statement with the discovered and clarified problems and I will share it with the team, with the recommendation to learn the lessons from the mistake, specifying that I will do the same.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a project manager?
The challenge for me in one of the projects was to synchronize many countries in a common goal and to create an atmosphere of cooperation and order.
It usually takes a lot longer to define all the details of a project than the parties initially expected, and this can lead to some impatience. It is also a challenge to gather all the necessary details in the beginning so that I do not have problems and delays later.
The challenge for me is also the market situation, policies, suppliers, and anything that would be an obstacle to the smooth work process. Read more: The Project Manager and their responsibilities – how to become one, https://wikipedia-lab.org/
What projects do you prefer to work on?
For me, every project is a new and interesting beginning, regardless of its field and its peculiarities. In every project and situation, I develop and learn. The field of the project I am applying for has always been of greater interest to me.
What work tools do you use?
I mostly work with Microsoft Project and Project Plan 365, but each organization may have its tools, which I do not mind using and I would even be happy to get acquainted with them in-depth.
How do you deal with project changes?
I am a professional on this topic. I have developed approved forms for requesting a change, creating a process for accepting, analyzing, and planning change.
I have always been strict in defining the scope and requirements of the project, so it is likely to minimize any changes. More on the topic: Project Manager and HR Specialist interview questions with examples, https://phron.org/project-manager-and-hr-specialist-interview-questions-with-examples/
How do you keep the team motivated?
For each team, it is very important to always have a responsible project manager next to them. For me, the motivation of the team is very important.
Whenever I can, I support my team in every possible way, because the leader does not follow rules and textbooks, but does everything possible for his people.
People feel good just from the fact that there is always someone to listen to them. Only so far I would have won my team, which is automatically motivated by my approach to work.
I’m always in favor of the idea of seeking further advice from directors or the Human Resources department.
I would also remind the team of the topic of regulated bonuses if any.
I try to organize personal meetings with team members because it gives them a sense of sharing and openness with their project manager.
I also try to break down work periods and tasks into smaller ones, because the team will more often finish their work on time, which in turn will make them produce more serotonin. And more serotonin in the team’s brain means stronger motivation and a stronger connection between me and him. It is an established and proven fact that completed tasks motivate people and that makes them happy in a very natural way.
If the projects are very long, I would suggest the idea of breaking them down into smaller ones. This will ensure shorter performance periods and again the team will be satisfied and happy more often.
I always officially thank my team for a job well done.
And yet you have no experience, why do you think so confidently that you will do the job?
I have completed the most serious project management course and I have had many real assignments that have prepared me very well for my future career. I have officially provided real experience of 150 hours of project management, and although it is not part of my workbook, you should keep this in mind because I have done many things that many project managers have not even done throughout their careers.
What qualities or skills do you think will be useful in this job?
I want to become a project manager for three specific reasons:
The first reason is that I want to be the person who has full responsibility for the implementation of difficult projects, as well as for motivating the people I work with to be the best they can be. I am not a person who wants to sit in the background and do easy work.
I want to succeed in life and feel that I am also improving in my work. Secondly, I have a lot of experience in project and people management and such a role is a natural progression for me based on years of hard work and self-development.
Thirdly, I believe that I have the right interpersonal negotiation and persuasive skills to complete challenging projects to the required standards, such as scope, time, quality, and budget. In terms of what motivates me, I can bring as a project manager many years of expertise in various situations, the ability to inspire, motivate and drive the team forward, as well as the guarantee that I complete the project with very high results while sticking to the specific project and budget objectives.
What features, traits or habits do you think will prevent you from doing your job well?
It is difficult for me at times to wait for others to return when the completion of my task depends on them. This shows that I am impatient at times and during a telephone conversation with a company the employee told me that I am quite assertive… I emphasized to her that my assertiveness is that I want to do my employer’s work as quickly and efficiently as possible.
How would you manage a project, from start to finish?
While managing each project, I always follow a 3-step process: the Planning phase, the Implementation, Monitoring, and Control phase, and finally the Closing phase.
During the first stage of Planning, I will get acquainted with the requirements of the project, the specifics, the budget, and the deadline for completion.
At this stage, I will prepare a Risk Management Plan and decide which team members will be most appropriate for each specific part of the plan.
During the Implementation, Monitoring, and Control phase, I will maintain daily contact with all team members and also keep the client informed about the progress we are making, the challenges we face. After all, I will organize a conversation with the team to discuss ways in which we can improve for future projects based on both the work we have done and the challenges we have faced.
What is your biggest weakness?
Perhaps my biggest weakness is probably the fact that I see my job as the most important aspect of my life. In the past, it has sometimes been difficult for me to strike a healthy balance between personal and professional life and the hours I have spent managing and completing projects.
Despite being too dedicated to project management and spending too much time, I feel that I am becoming a more advanced and senior project manager and have managed to become a highly effective negotiator who can find those on the team with the most appropriate qualities. to help me achieve the company’s goals.