Top 20 Project Management Interview Questions
If you are looking to begin your career as a project manager or you just want to change jobs within the project management industry, then this article is for you. Project management jobs are vast and span across industries, however during any project management interview, there are generic areas that all project managers are supposed to be proficient in. It is based on these that we a compiled a list of expected project management interview questions and what the interviewer intends to learn about you when asking these questions.
1.What skills do you have in the industry?
The interviewer is trying to find out how knowledgeable you are about the industry you have applied to. While it is true that as a project manager, you have a good understanding of how projects work, unfortunately industry knowledge is not directly transferable. For example, the processes in the construction sector differ from the health care industry, thus the need for the question.
2. How would you rate your project management skills?
This question aims to achieve 2 things. The first is to determine how honest you are when you have to be your own judge. (Note the interviewer has your resume and would probably ask for reference from your past employers or colleagues). The second is to set a benchmark against which you might be judged on the job.
3. What do you consider the most important skill of a project manager?
This question intends to find out your strength and area of competence as a project manager. Most people would answer this question by emphasizing their strengths as the most important skill of a project manager.
4.How do you handle missing a deadline?
Time management is one of the major characteristics of a project manager. The interviewer is trying to find out what strategies you would use to ensure projects never miss their deadline. It also aims to find out your ability to work effectively under pressure.
5. How do you handle scope creep?
While the question is focused on scope creep, the interviewer actually intends to find out how you manage the key project stakeholders. The key project stakeholders are the ones who are more likely to add to the project scope, and it is your responsibility as a project manager to manage them and avoid scope creep.
6. How do you delegate responsibility?
This aims to test what kind of leader and team member you are. As a leader, you must recognize that project management is a team effort, and you must be able to delegate responsibilities to your team member in order to be effective. Ability to delegate responsibility successfully therefore makes you an effective team member and transfers the success of the project to the team and not the individual.
7. How would you rate your problem solving skills?
The interviewer hopes to measure how honest you are as an individual when assessing yourself. It also aims to see how much problem solving technique you have as a project manager, as you are going to have to deal with solving problems at every stage of a project.
8. What type of technical skills do you have?
Just like question 1 above, the interviewer hopes to know if you have any relevant technical skill in the industry, which can give you an advantage over a non-technical project manager.
9. How do you work with project sponsors?
Project sponsors are the people who have the budget to maintain the project. The interviewer wants to find out how you work with the sponsor to maintain the budget and keep a deadline to avoid extending the budget.
10. What were your challenges that happened with your last project?
Every project comes with its unique challenges, and every good project manager learns from the challenges of the previous project in order to ensure the success of newer projects. This question hopes to find out lessons learned from previous projects, and how they can be effective in a new project.
11. How do you make sure your project remains on track?
Time is one of the triple constraints of project management. This interviewer hopes to understand your time management knowledge. This includes what actions you would take in order to ensure your project doesn’t miss its deadlines and also what techniques you would apply when time becomes a major project constraint.
12. You have just been employed to restore a project that has been off track, how would you handle this situation?
This question aims to understand how you manage complex situations and your reactions under extreme pressure. The interviewer wants to understand your approach to complex problem solving. Jumping right into the project would not solve the problem, because you have yet to find out the original cause of failure. Describe what you would do to determine the root cause of the failed project, then based on the cause, what steps you would take to restore the project back on track.
13. Your stakeholders have conflicting interest, how do you manage the situation?
Conflict resolution is a key attribute of any project manager. The question hopes to understand how skilled you are in conflict management and if you would do everything necessary and within the law to ensure conflicting stakeholders do not derail the project from its original goals.
14. How do you motivate your team members?
Having a good understanding of how to keep project team members motivated can determine the success or failure of any project, and this is what this question sets to find out. From this question, the interviewer would access your ability to motivate your project team in different situations and thus questions would be answered best using simple case studies to drive your point home.
15. How do you maintain customer relationships?
Your employer understands that the customer relationship is key to the continuous survival of the business, thus the question first tries to establish that employing you wouldn’t kill the business. Also, since most businesses have to deal with repetitive purchases or recommendations, your employer wants to find out if by virtue of your employment, sales would increase.
16. How did you solve communication breakdown challenges in your last project?
The average project manager spends about 90% of their time communicating, therefore making it one of the most important skills a project manager should possess. Your interviewer doesn’t intend to test your communication skill here, but rather wants to find out about your conflict resolution skills. What manner/approach did you use in resolving the conflict that came about as a result of communication breakdown, and what lesson did you learn from it to prevent future communication breakdown?
17. What are the key challenges in this industry?
Technical project managers are gradually booming. A technical project manager is a project manager who is also a professional in a particular field. To answer this question, make sure you are conversant with the challenges, opportunities and latest technologies in your industry. Be proactive by identifying prospective areas of challenges and possible solutions to evading or correcting them.
18. Have you ever been proactive on a project, and what was the outcome?
This aim of this question is to test your ability to identify and prevent issues that can have negative effect on a project.
19. What is the most complicated project you have managed? How did you handle it?
Every project either complicated or not aims at meeting the project goals on time and within budget. The interviewer wants to have knowledge of your understanding of project lifecycle and magnitude of projects you have handled versus the organization’s job role you have applied for. The interviewer understands that projects are all about scale, and if you can handle a small project successfully, you can most likely be scaled up to handle bigger projects.
20. One of your project team members is unproductive, how do you handle it?
Firstly, you should understand that the performance of your project team members determines your effectiveness as a project manager, therefore it is in your best interest as a project manager to ensure effectiveness amongst team members. However, this question in an interview setting aims to find out the following:
- Your motivational skills (If unproductiveness is as a result of demotivation).
- Your leadership skills (If team members are unhappy with your approach and it’s beginning to show).
- Your problem-solving skills (if the team member used to be productive, then suddenly becomes unproductive).
- If you are assertive (Ability to let go of a team member who is lazy, unproductive and unwilling to change).
The question can be crafted in a wide range of formats, however the answer understands the mind of the interviewers when they ask these questions. A knowledge of the interviewer’s mindset would help you to craft your thoughts to proffer the best answer in an interview setting. Remember to always prepare, be confident and honest with your answers.
Good luck with your interview!