Project Manager Interview Questions With Answers

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 19 October 2022

Published 25 June 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Project managers often have a specific skill set that they use to manage a project from beginning to end. Interviewing for project manager positions requires being able to show a prospective employer that you know how to perform project management work effectively. If you are a project manager who is looking for a new position, understanding what types of questions you might be asked and how to answer them can be useful. In this article, we explain what a project manager is and provide a list of project manager interview questions with answers.

What is a project manager?

A project manager is a professional who oversees a specific type of project from beginning to end, including managing any staff who are involved. Project managers usually work towards a deadline, manage the project budget and allocate resources like work hours. Project managers work in a variety of industries, including software development, technology, construction and more. Some project managers have specialised training in their industry, some may have training in project management specifically and some project managers have both.

Related: 7 project management roles

Project manager interview questions with example answers

Here are some of the top project manager interview questions with example answers:

1. What is the most important thing a project manager does?

Interviewers ask you this to determine what your outlook is on project management and what you prioritise. Your answer should show who you are and your understanding of what you feel is most important.

Example: 'In my experience, communicating with your colleagues, sponsor, management and clients the most important thing a project manager does. Throughout the project, clear communication can tell you what is expected for your project and what the priorities are. Communication ensures a project moves smoothly and that any problems are identified early.'

2. Have you ever had a project that didn't meet the deadline or budget?

You may be asked this question to identify how you respond to issues within a project, including how you explain the reason for a missed deadline or a budget you exceeded. When answering questions like this with the potential to become negative, it's a good idea to use the STAR technique, which stands for situation, task, action and result.

Example: 'I managed a project where the client requested an additional feature near the end of the project. I analysed the workload of my team, how much development time this feature would require and how my team felt about their ability to add the additional feature. I determined that the amount of time my team needed to add this feature would either require not meeting the deadline or reducing the amount of time spent on another feature. I spoke with the client about this and they decided to push the deadline back to accommodate the late change to the scope.'

Related: How To Use The STAR Interview Technique in Competency-Based Interviews

3. How do you prioritise tasks on a project?

Interviewers ask you this because being able to prioritise effectively is an important part of any project manager's job. Your answer should show that you are capable of evaluating the importance of tasks and communicating clearly with your team.

Example: 'At the beginning of every project, I find it helpful to evaluate all the tasks that will need to be completed. Some tasks can't be completed until another task is done first, so that has to be considered. Some tasks require the involvement of specific employees whose schedules may be limited, which also has to be considered. After I make my initial assessments regarding what tasks need to happen and when, I speak with my team to determine what their opinions are and if they see any tasks that need to be prioritised differently.'

Related: Transferable Skills: Definitions and Examples

4. What was your most successful project?

You may be asked this to evaluate how you determine what a successful project is and that you know how to manage a successful project. It's often useful to use the STAR method in answering this question.

Example: 'I was managing a large-scale construction project for a client that involved building three large mixed-use commercial buildings. The client wanted one building completed first so that they could use that to lease space in all the buildings, which meant I needed to manage that building's schedule and budget on its own as well as the overall project on a more extended timeline.

The client had a large but firm budget and established deadlines for the completion of each building individually. By allocating my resources effectively, including the workers that built the building, I managed to get the first building completed early so that the client could begin showing the space earlier than planned. The other two buildings were completed on time and on budget, which meant the client's tenants could move in on schedule. The client was so happy with our work that they hired my construction company again for another project and requested me as their project manager.'

5. What is your leadership style?

Potential employers ask you this question because they want to know how you see yourself as a leader and if your style will fit with their company culture. You should be honest about how you prefer to lead your teams, but emphasise the positive aspects of how you lead. It can be helpful to prepare by knowing a bit about different leadership styles and which would apply to you.

Example: 'I believe I have a coach leadership style, as I really enjoy collaborating with my team members. I want to offer myself as a resource to those I manage so that they can grow and learn. I try to mentor my team effectively, communicate any changes or updates clearly and use this collaborative environment to complete projects that make all the stakeholders and clients happy.'

Related: 13 Leadership Styles and Their Characteristics

6. What escalation paths do you use when facing a problem?

Interviewers ask you this to determine if you know when to escalate a problem to your superiors and if you know when you should handle the problem yourself. Your answer should make it clear that you understand how to handle escalation effectively. You can also use the STAR technique if you have a good example.

Example: 'I prefer to handle any issues myself when possible or by working with my team members. However, sometimes issues arise where I need to discuss a problem with the client to determine the best way to resolve it. Ideally, I can resolve nearly everything on a project without escalating, so that when I do need to involve my client, they know it is a real issue I need their help with.

For instance, once I was managing a project where the sales team had promised the client a feature we weren't able to deliver. I spoke with my entire team and did a lot of research before determining that feature was impossible for us to create for this particular project. Then, I spoke with my sponsor to decide how to proceed. My sponsor and I contacted the client and explained the situation to them. They were disappointed, but appreciated our honesty and agreed to have the project proceed without that feature.'

Related: Top 9 Leadership Skills to Develop

7. What project management methods do you use?

Many companies who employ project managers have at least one method they use, if not more. When you're asked this in an interview, it's to determine if your experience will be useful for how they manage projects. Even if you don't have experience in the specific method they use, by explaining how you use a different method you can show them your understanding of effective project management methods.

Example: 'I have researched a few different project management methods including Lean and Agile, but the one I've used most commonly in my work as a project manager is the Scrum method. I find that by working in sprints, my team is often more focused on the tasks that are of the highest priority. Additionally, the regular meetings used in Scrum allow me to discover and manage any problems quickly. The meetings also facilitate clear communication for the entire team.'

8. How do you handle team conflicts?

Interviewers ask this because managing conflict within your team can be a challenging but common aspect of project management. You should show that you understand your responsibilities for managing conflicts as a project manager and can use the STAR technique to do so.

Example: 'I often encourage my teams to try to handle conflicts amongst themselves first. Just like I don't need to take every issue to the project sponsor, not every conflict requires my attention. For those conflicts that I do need to be involved in, I work with everyone involved to determine the source of the conflict and find the best possible solution.

For instance, when I was managing a recent software project, the lead developer and the web designer disagreed about how something should be created. They were unable to resolve the issue on their own, so I had a meeting with both of them to find a resolution. After listening to the evidence and reasoning from both sides, I determined the best option was the one the developer was suggesting because of its alignment with budget and deadline goals.'

Related:

  • How to become a freelance project manager in 7 steps

  • Project manager vs resource manager: what's the difference?


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