10 Project Management Interview Questions You Need to Prepare For
Do you have an upcoming interview for a project management position? Be prepared to answer a combination of behavioral and situational-based interview questions aimed at revealing your leadership, communication, and organizational skills. The interviewers will likely also probe your experience of dealing with difficult team members, and your project management failures and successes. To help you breeze through the interview, here are 10 common questions you need to prepare for.
10 Project Management Interview Questions You Need to Prepare For
1. Tell me a little bit about your career path, how did you move into Project Management?
The classic open ender. You can expect to hear this one in any interview setting, not just project management roles. This is a chance for you to set the tone for the interview and give the interviewer an overview of your career history while highlighting your key competencies and skills. Have something prepared for this and be wary of the length of your answers. This is not an opportunity to filibuster the interview; be succinct and engaging with your answer.
2. What are your favorite aspects of being a PM?
Another of the ‘softer’ questions you will likely be asked in the early stages of the interview. You can use this as a chance to get a little technical and display the depth of your knowledge of project management. Most important, however, is to show some passion! The ideal candidate in your interviewer’s eyes likely isn’t a procedural perfectionist with calculated answers. They will be looking for someone who will bring life to the organization and drive projects forward. Show them you have what it takes!
3. What was the outcome of your last project?
For this question, there is no need to wax lyrical about what a success your last project was. Your last project may have been a failure but your interviewer isn’t looking to tally up your successes and failures but rather to gauge your reaction to project outcomes and your ability to learn from them.
It is worth thinking this one through and having an example prepared, but don’t be afraid to be totally honest in your answer. Your sincerity will shine through while highlighting your ability to perform a post-mortem and learn from previous projects.
4. When every task is urgent, how do you determine what to prioritize?
With all the intricate details and moving parts of a project, it is very easy to get bogged down and overwhelmed. However, a strong project manager possesses discerning sifting abilities, enabling them to identify the most important components of a project and filter out the static noise.
Deciding which areas of a project require the most resources is a tough call, especially when every single component seems like it should be the #1 priority. Show your interviewer that you have the ability to comfortably convert a muddled mass of responsibilities into an organized hierarchy of action items, and follow through on all the tasks.
5. How will you gain and keep the support of your project sponsors?
Building and maintaining support for your project is absolutely imperative, and losing that support is essentially a kiss of death. If your sponsors aren’t able to see the definitive purpose of your work, their support will rapidly dry up — along with any hope of completing the project.
Project managers are responsible for managing these upwards relationships, ensuring that sponsors understand the value of the project as it progresses. When answering this question, demonstrate strong negotiation skills and a history of building strong relationships with colleagues. Be personable here and display an awareness of the social dynamics surrounding projects.
6. How would you characterize your communication style?
Being a strong communicator means being self-aware about your own communication style. There isn’t a single ideal style that all project managers should have, but they should be hyper-aware of how their communication methods affect those around them.
If a candidate is unable to clearly characterize her own communication style, it indicates that she may not have an adequate grasp on how she’s perceived by others. Possessing an awareness of how you communicate enables you to navigate difficult conversations as they emerge, and project managers need to be able to know where they stand.
7. What projects have you managed and what different styles have you used?
From Waterfall and Agile to strong leadership and self-organizing teams, your interviewer is looking to learn how flexible and adaptable you are as a project manager. Be sure to provide variety in your examples and in particular, highlight the times where you have had to pivot from one style to another. If possible, try to find out if the organization uses any particular style and reference this in your answer.
8. How well do you know our industry?
In addition to the extensive list of organization, communication, and leadership skills a good candidate must possess, a project manager also needs to have some solid expertise in the particular field. Do your homework ahead of time and have a basic understanding of the company and field. Do your best to speak of past experiences in separate fields also, with an emphasis in highlighting the parallels and your translatable skills.
9. How do you turn around a project that isn’t going as planned?
Anyone who has ever worked on a project knows this to be true: Things don’t always work out as you originally intended. From the classroom to the corporate boardroom, all projects are vulnerable to the unexpected.
What really matters is how a project manager deals with whatever gets thrown at them.
The ability to reevaluate and reprioritize as a project progresses is a crucial skill, but it’s also important to keep up the team’s overall morale. Show you can change course and keep the team energized when things aren’t looking so great.
10. Tell me about a time when you encountered a serious conflict and how you dealt with it.
Conflict resolution is one of the most challenging and commonplace management tasks. This question gives you an opportunity to provide your interviewer with examples of your managerial skills in action. Again, sincerity can go a long way here; don’t hammer home the point that how you tackled the conflict in a project team and came out on top. Express how you identified the root of the conflict and the positive impact that its resolution had on the project rather than your ego. Moreover, this is another opportunity for you to prove that you are a project manager who is capable of learning from past experiences.
Looking for more interview tips? The below SlideShare outlines five essential skills you should include on your application and prepare for the interview. Good luck!