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Project Management Interview questions you need to know

project management interview questionsWhen going for an interview – regardless if it’s for a Project Management role or any other role, you need to make sure you are prepared. Preparation is everything.

When asked in the interview, you need to be able to come up with some examples quickly – like: Why should we hire you? What do you bring to the table?

If you have to think about these answers to long and can’t provide a concrete example, you won’t get the job.

So how do you need to prepare?

Your Experience:

Write down the experience you gained in the last 3 years. You can do this by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What have you done?
  • What was the outcome of it?
  • How did your outcome help the company to improve or reach their goals better?

For example:

I’ve been a successful Project Manager on several projects in the last couple of years. The projects I was leading were about:

  • Example Project here: Infrastructure Investment into Core Platform – Project
    A platform consolidation, to reduce the number of applications and to reduce risk and realize efficiency gains.
    This $4m project had 20 project resources and took 18 month to implement. This project helped the organisation to improve their revenue by reducing costs via data driven decision-making and faster speed to market via better and more flexible technology.
  • Example Project here: Extend Asia Market offering – Project
    A project to support the newly created Asia market, the company needed to enhance its existing customer application to support Asia business.
    The objective of this project was to broaden the market opportunity, reduce operational costs and inefficiencies. The project had a budget of $2.5m and a project team of 10 members.
  • Your Project Example here: XXX
    Your experience here

Interview Questions:

Different Interview Type Questions:

Next, familiarise yourself with some common behavioral and common knowledge interview questions which are typical for Project Managers.

Behavior or behavioral questions are questions, which will relate to your traits and action. You will be asked about a typical situation in the past and how did you react to it.

For example: How did you motivate your project team members?

Based on the answer you will give, the interview person will conclude how you would behave in a similar situation in the future.

Competency questions also called knowledge questions, will typically deal with your knowledge and experience.

For example: How would you validate that the IT estimates, you received, are correct? How long is a typical iteration? How would you define your project role and responsibility?

In an interview, you typically can expect a combination of behaviour and knowledge based question.

Project Management Interview Questions:

Below you will find some common Project Management interview questions and answers, which are frequently used among different industries:

1. PM Interview Question: Tell me about yourself:

Background:

Always be prepared to answer this question. This is one of the most common questions to start an interview process. Make sure you have prepared an answer by outlining your skills, knowledge and experience beforehand. This will help you to market and to “sell” your skills as Project Manager. The person who interviews you is after information on how you can add value to the company.

Answer:
I’m an experienced Project Manager with a record of successful project delivery. I’m efficient and highly organised. This enables me to be as productive as possible on the job.
At my last Company X, I was involved in the merger of two insurance companies. As a Project Manager, I was responsible and accountable for a budget of $30m, my project team was 80 members strong. The project needed to be delivered on a tight timeline due to legislative changes. I’ve delivered this project within the 10-month deadline and under budget. The company achieved business benefits due to FTE savings of $1.5m in the first year.

 2. PM Interview Question: Given what you know about this role at the moment, what is that you find attractive or motivating?

Background:

This is an important question, as the future employer wants to know if you really want to work for them or if you are just applying for any job. Interviewers want to hire people who are like-minded and want to work for the same company. Therefore be passionate! Demonstrate your research! You need to mention the following:

  • Knowledge of the company’s reputation and market position
  • You would like to work for them
  • Show confidence that you can do the job
  • Demonstrate commitment for this role and company
  • You need to mention activities from the job description and how your skill would fit into it

Answer:
I’m really interested in working for your company. I‘m familiar with some of the people who work for you; or I have conducted web research and found / believe that the products / services are impressive and very interesting. Your company is leading the market and was ranked highly at the “Choice of Employee of the year”. From my understanding, this company has a very dynamic, very competitive, and fast business culture. And your company has the reputation for hiring top talents.

I do believe my Project Manager skill set would fit very well with your job requirements and I’m sure I can help you to be more productive and efficient in your project delivery.

3. PM Interview Question: Can you please tell me how you will contribute to this company?

Background:
The best way to answer this is to give an example of what you have achieved in the past, and to relate this to the future. Relate your abilities to the employer’s goals. You will want to let the interviewer know that you have the skills necessary to do the job they are hiring you for.

Answer:
I’m an experienced Project Manager who worked for X number of years in the industry. I’m familiar with different project management methodologies and processes. I’ve delivered many successful projects in the past like Project X, Project Y– which were very complex in nature and provided the expected benefits to companies I’ve worked for. I’ve also trained and mentored others in the Project Manager discipline up-grading their capability.

I do believe that my knowledge and skills will greatly improve the quality and the delivery of your projects.

4. PM Interview Question: Can you explain how Agile works?

Background:
You skills and knowledge is being tested. In an interview you always need to be prepared to answer skilled-based questions. In your answer you would need to highlight the following:

  • Mention that you have this skill and knowledge
  • Show confidence that you quickly can adapt new technology / processes used in the company
  • Mentioned if you have used their or similar system / application / online forms in the past?
  • Do you have any certification or attended any training?
  • Describe that you have experience managing projects using similar project methodology

Answer:
I was the Project Manager on a project which was responsible for developing an Online website including a database & shopping card facility for a toy-shop. We were using Scrum as a framework to achieve high business value in the shortest amount possible due to iterative and incremental software builds. We prioritised our user stories and assigned them to sprints. The first sprint delivered the basic website with shopping card and toy descriptions, so that customers were able to see the toy store’s online presence. Any further sprints increased the functionality of the website. Every morning we were holding stand-ups to discuss what the team did yesterday, today and what obstacles they have to deal with. Progress was updated in the sprint burn down charts. After sprints we generally had a sprint retrospective, where we discussed what works well and what didn’t.

The benefits we had with the project was: The toy stores website was online very quickly and making money (time to market). Due to customer engagement the entire time, we met stakeholder expectation and the toy store owner was certain of what she got. Because we got early feedback from user’s who were using the website, we were able to make changes quickly and improved the user experience, helping the shop owner to increase revenue.

5. PM Interview Question: Tell me about a time when you were half way through a project or initiative and were required to abruptly change direction. 

Background:
Your flexibility and adaptability is being tested. You need to outline on how you dealt with it, what exactly did you do and what was the impact. In your answer you would need to include the following

  • How you adjusted your personal style to meet changing demands
  • You can change priority without getting confused
  • You can work effectively in a broad range of different tasks and assignments
  • You can work effectively with a range of different people and with different working styles

Answer:
The company X I was with, was in serious financial trouble. While I was working on project X, the decision came through to let all contract staff go.
1/3 of my project team was gone within 7 days. I had to assess the effects of this change to the projects timeline, cost, scope and deliverable’s. I updated my project plan to reflect the changes and the impact and communicated those to my stakeholders (e.g. business owner and later to the steering committee).

6. PM Interview Question: Your project is two weeks away from beginning testing on the critical programs developed for this effort.  While confirming resource assignments with the testing resource assigned to your project, you discover a conflict.  The testing resource has been extended for eight weeks by the project manager for the initiative on which they are currently engaged.  This is the only testing resource in the organisation that has the skills required to complete testing for your project.  What do you do?

Background:
Your judgement and accountability is being tested. In your answer you would need to include the following:

  • Analyses information from a range of sources
  • Assesses risks and benefits
  • Engages in critical questioning
  • Identifies flaws in own and others’ thinking
  • Identifies key issues and linkages
  • Identifies relevant solutions
  • Recognises the consequences of new ideas
  • Selects the most appropriate solutions

Answer:
In this situation, I would confirm that the Test / QA resource was allocated by the resource manager. Has this decision been approved? If the testing resource is not available, I would need to find an alternative solution. I could use a Business Analyst to do the User Acceptance Test and a Developer for the System and the Unit Test.

I would analyse the impact of the change and the risks and possible issues (e.g. delay in testing, delay in delivery of project, quality issues might happen). Once all the aspects of the change have been assessed, including  cost, scope, and time – I would present this to my business sponsor and get approval.

7. PM Interview Question: You have been asked to takeover a project that has “gone off the rails”.  How would you ensure the success of this project? 

Background:
This question will test if you use a consultative style when working in a project environment. Your answer needs to address on how would you determine you have enough information to turn the project around? Your example needs to include:

  • Adjusts behaviour in light of information from others
  • Considers alternatives in light of information from others
  • Seeks information from others
  • Shares information with others and seeks response.

Answer:
Generally, I perform the following steps when taking over a troubled project:
Arrange a one-on-one meeting with the PMO or Program Manager to get as much high-level information as possible. What did happen? How far is the project through? What are the risk and issues?
Next, I try to get as much project documentation as possible, like status reports, financial information, and project schedules. Once I have an understanding of the project, I will conduct an internal team meeting to discuss the project as a whole (e.g. outstanding issues, customer pain points, and what are the next items to deliver).
The last step is to introduce myself to the project customer and to provide him or her with my background and experience and my revised project status report and schedule for the next week.

One last Note:

Lastly, don’t be discouraged if you don’t get the job. It’s a tough market out there and it might take some time to get a job. I heard of someone, who was unemployed for 5 month. She sent out 150 resumes, got 9 interviews, made it to 4 second round interviews and finally got the job.

It’s really a numbers game. Keep hanging in there and you will get a job eventually!

If you have come across any additional Project Management Interview questions – please let me know. I would love to hear from you!

Project Management Interview questions you need to know was last modified: April 17th, 2014 by sandra

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8 Responses to Project Management Interview questions you need to know

  1. Mark April 16, 2014 at 7:42 pm #

    Thanks Sandra – some great tips and interview questions. I had my Project Management interview last week and I got asked the following question: “What are the most difficult decisions to make? I was not really sure, what to say…Do you have a suggestion?

    • sandra April 16, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

      Hi Mark, this is a behavioral interview questions. There is generally no right or wrong answer to it. The best thing is to give a concrete examples of a difficult situations that actually happened at your work. Then mentioned what you did to solve the problem. Always, try to keep your answers positive. For example: Though it was a difficult situation when our Senior Developer gave notice without any warning, but I was able to rearrange his workload until I hired a replacement.
      Hope this helps.

  2. kittz October 19, 2014 at 12:10 pm #

    i really loved every answer. thanks for your tips

  3. Anil August 4, 2015 at 2:47 am #

    Thank you Sandra !!!

    I have my interview scheduled 2morrow. Hope i will do good.

    Regards,

    Anil

    • sandra August 5, 2015 at 1:48 pm #

      Good luck – let me know how you go 😉

  4. Michael November 9, 2015 at 6:52 pm #

    I really love this post!! Thanks so much!

  5. Sreenivas November 24, 2015 at 8:00 pm #

    Hi, Great post it was really helpful. I was also looking out for questions related to IT project cost management. Do post back if you have some.

    Again thank you for the informative post.

  6. Swati June 9, 2016 at 10:42 pm #

    HI Sandra, great and very helpful post. One question I had faced in one of th interview” What are the KPIs or how KPIs are measured in Project Management.”

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