Do you have an upcoming interview for a project manager position? While it may have you feeling nervous or even a bit intimidated, the best way to prepare for that interview and ensure hiring success is to know how to answer these common questions project managers encounter.
Not quite at the interview stage yet and looking to learn more about what it takes to become a project manager? Check out our guide: How to Become a Project Manager.
How To Answer Questions During Project Manager Interviews
Organizations expect a lot from their project managers, as they are put in charge of ensuring that projects are completed within budget and on time. Regardless of the field or industry, it takes a unique blend of skills to manage projects. And, while an employer may give your resume a strong look, your interview performance could be what pushes you past other candidates.
Although we cannot guarantee that you will be asked the following questions in your project manager interview, try preparing for them anyway. At the very least, they can give you some practice on how to ace your project manager interview while helping you fine-tune and recall the details of relevant past experiences that could get you the job.
Common Project Manager Interview Questions
Below is a list of some common interview questions you may come across when applying for a project manager job.
1. Tell Me a Little Bit About Yourself
Even if you are interviewing for a results-oriented project management position in a scientific field, you are still a human at the end of the day. If the interviewer starts the session with a question about yourself, you can make it a bit personal to include your interests and family. But first, keep it work-oriented.
Begin with the present, follow with your past, and finish by discussing your future. Talk about your most recent role and what it entails. List past experiences and how they relate to the position you are interviewing for. Lastly, describe what type of work you see yourself doing in the future and how you would like it to be with that company.
Try to incorporate your love and interest in the job into the conversation as well. For instance, if your applying to be the project manager of a software development firm, talk about how much you love tech or how you programmed computers as a hobby (if, you in fact, did).
2. What is Your Experience in This Industry?
It is not uncommon for project managers to switch industries or even go down different paths within a given industry. This is especially common in the software development realm, where there are so many different branches of development projects a project manager could pursue. For instance, game development versus mobile development. The interviewer will probably want to see your experience in their specific industry, however, so you can be a seamless fit.
Even if you are switching industries, that is no excuse not to be familiar with the one you are interviewing for. Study up on the company and their industry by reading articles or contacting project managers in similar positions to get their experiences.
Do not think that a lack of industry experience will keep you from getting the job. If you are new to the industry, list what you learned about it in your research and why you want to become a part of it. You can mention other industry experience and how skills and knowledge from it can be transferred here. Any mentions of your academic background should be fine.
Looking to grow your experience as a project manager or increase your hireability? Consider obtaining one of these Top 5 Project Management Certifications.
3. How Would You Describe Your Leadership Style?
There are several leadership styles, such as affiliative, democratic, visionary, directive, pacesetter, and coaching. Some may work better than others for particular projects, and an employer may be seeking a specific type of leader to join their organization.
Be sure to define your leadership style before your interview. If possible, make sure it aligns with the software development team you are interviewing with so you would be seen as a seamless hire.
4. What is a Project Plan?
While simple on the surface, this question may be used to see how well you understand basic concepts of project management.
Answer the question by listing the different project plan elements, such as team members, tasks, and milestones. You can take things one step further by using one of your past projects as an example.
5. What Was the Last Project You Worked On?
An interviewer could ask this to learn how many people you can manage, your preferred project management approaches, etc.
To answer, describe the project in detail regarding its primary goal and the steps you took to achieve it. Reveal your team size and how you collaborated as a group. Talk about the project’s successes, how you addressed obstacles as they arose, and what you learned so you could improve in future projects. If possible, bring in some metrics for specifics to give the interviewer a clearer picture of what went on. Doing so will show that you are prepared and detail-oriented, two characteristics that ideal project managers possess.
6. What Was Your Best Project?
Every organization has different standards and definitions of success. This question could be used to gauge what you consider a success so the company can see if it aligns with theirs.
Success is not strictly tied to meeting deadlines or staying within budgets, as a project that helps an organization incorporate change could also be seen as successful. To best answer this question, discuss a project that resulted in several types of success, if possible. While modesty is a good trait, use this question to really show your strengths and how you aim to help the company in multiple ways.
Besides describing the successful end result, tell what you did specifically to help your team stay on track and boost productivity.
7. What Was One of Your Most Memorable Setbacks During a Project?
Even the best-run projects run into problems. How you handle those problems as they arise will determine if a project succeeds or fails.
Since this question is likely to appear, have several examples ready of unforeseen challenges and how you handled them. One of the best ways to relay examples from your past is the STAR method. Here is what it entails:
- Situation – Begin by describing details of the situation and why it occurred or what went wrong.
- Task – Describe the task that was needed to remedy the situation.
- Action – Explain the action you took to solve the problem.
- Result – Reveal the final outcome and what you learned from the process.
8. What Methods Do You Use to Promote Team Collaboration?
A project cannot be successfully completed without team collaboration. As a leader, you will be expected to facilitate collaboration and keep your team members on the same page and motivated.
List your preferred processes or methods for team collaboration. One example could be as simple as using icebreakers in kickoff meetings. Explain how your processes helped team members communicate and why you chose them.
9. How Do you Prioritize a Project’s Tasks?
Project managers must juggle many tasks at once. Some may even juggle many projects at once, making prioritization a critical part of their job description.
Use past examples of how you prioritized tasks. Whether you used some combo of stakeholder needs, deadlines, etc., try to link your answer to the project’s interest.
10. Do You have a Preferred Project Management Software or Tool?
PM software can make the life of a project manager easier and ensure that everything runs swiftly and smoothly. This question will be used to gauge your experience with project management software, so the hirer knows they will not have to spend time and resources onboarding you. As you detail your chosen PM software, the interviewer can also learn more about your preferred techniques and tools for managing projects to see if they are a right fit for the organization.
If you have experience with several types of PM software, try to answer the question by describing one that aligns best with the organization’s practices. Doing so could make the hirer’s decision a lot easier.
We have some great primers, reviews, and guides to project management software and tools. Here is a sampling:
You can also read individual project management software reviews and PM tool comparisons by visiting our project management section.
Project Manager Careers
Now that you have some ideas about the types of questions you might be asked about in a project manager interview, it is time to begin the job search and see what options are available to you. TechnologyAdvice is always on the lookout for great new team members, so be sure to check out the TechnologyAdvice careers page to see if any project manager positions are open – or any other career opportunities are available that might interest you. If you submit an application, be sure to tell that you heard about the role from Developer.com.