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Project Management Interview Questions

Preparing for your Project Manager Interview

PM Interview Questions

At Arras People we spend a lot of time preparing both project managers and project support professionals for their interviews. So much so that we thought we'd share some of the best questions we have up our sleeves. We think both job seekers and interviewers (looking for further generic questions to supplement their own) might find these examples quite useful.

In this 1st series we're looking at the project manager interview and specifically at those questions designed to find out about your project management skills and knowledge.

Give an example of how you tackle the initiation of projects?
Choose a combination of technical and soft skills

Describe how you have undertaken the practical application of a project methodology for a programme or project?
Use a specific or generic examples of areas of methodology

Briefly describe the project lifecycle.
A real opportunity to show your experience by not just providing a theoretical answer

What has been the most significant project you have worked on?
Think about what is important for the organisation - is it complexity, budget size, number of people involved or the subject matter of the project?

What was your actual role in your last project?
A question aimed at those relatively new to project management - trying to understand your level of authority.

What is the most important skill a project manager should have?
There is no right or wrong answer yet the answer you give would provide an interesting insight!

You're asked to take on a new project; what are the first few questions you would ask?
Again there is no right or wrong answer

What do you think about the project failure rates that have been published over the last ten years?
Do you keep up to date with what's happening in your profession?

How would your project management experience benefit our business?
An answer that relies heavily on the research you can do on the company

Which is most important; technical project management skills; softer managerial skills; or previous domain knowledge?
A great question that could literally take you anywhere....!

"You have taken over as PM on a project that is behind schedule and over budget. What will you do to recover the situation?"
Thanks to @ukprojectmgr

"You have to deliver a large scale business change project, what's the first piece of information you would request?"
Thanks to @sukhhayre

Specific Project Management Skill Areas

RISK: How have you managed risks on a project you have run? How do you carry out failure factor analysis? What do you put in your risk management plan?

CONTRACTS: Given a situation when we are delivering a project without a contract but on a promise that the customer will pay (they have always paid before), what are the issues?

FINANCES: How do you start costing your projects? What experience do you have of building a change request for more money to complete your project?

QUALITY: Consider the statement 'inadequate quality management will result in project problems'. Give an example of why this should be.

ISSUES: What methods do you use to capture issues when initiating your projects?

CHANGE CONTROL: In terms of time quality and cost and time please give an example of how you have managed change? How did you identify and determine the impact of your change options? Give an example of where a requested change was refused and how you managed it?

STAKEHOLDERS: Who are some of your stakeholders? How would you communicate with your stakeholders? What tools or process would you use? What's the difference between a sponsor and a stakeholder?

TEAM MANAGEMENT: Which management theory has given you the greatest insight into managing a team? How do you create a productive successful team? How do you manage conflict? What kind of leader are you?

Project Management Careers Advice

Project Manager Interviews - Soft Skills

Continuing our Project Manager Interview series, we concentrate on the softer skills side of the Project Manager role and interview questions that may come up.

  • What mechanisms do you employ to enable you to cope with a heavy workload?
  • Can you give an example of when it has been difficult to maintain your own effectiveness due to external changes or pressures?
  • How did you manage the situation? Will you describe your decision making processes with reference to a particular decision you have made recently?
  • How do you manage the situation when your plan of work is upset by unforeseen circumstances?
  • What aspects of your leadership style might positively or negatively influence members of a team? Can you give me an example of each?
  • How do you make your opinion known when you disagree with the views of a colleague? How would you deal with a direct report who is failing to meet their objectives?
  • Can you give an example of where you have had to direct work through colleagues who were reluctant to participate? How did you deal with the situation?
  • What is your style of management?
  • When you see underperformance in a process or a person how do you handle it?
  • How do you like to track your business progress? How do you develop, manage and communicate you businesses plans?
  • How do you manage your customers and stakeholders expectations?
  • How do you ensure communication has/is happening?
  • Leadership, give examples of motivation, team work and where you have made a difference.
  • How do you communicate your ideas, influence and persuasion what examples?
  • How have you identified and resolved conflicts in your teams?
  • What does diversity mean to you?
  • How do you deal with sound business but sometimes annoying process, delegation, levels of authority, have you ever managed to get and existing policy and practice changed?

Project Management Interviews - Short and Sweet

You need to get in the mood fast, it could be several months or even years since you've had to face another round of interviews with new employers or on the phone with recruitment agencies so here's Arras People's short and sweet question samples to get you in the mood. 

There are always going to be some basic questions that you get asked every time you apply for a role through a recruitment agency and then you'll meet Arras and hopefully we'll ask a few different ones:

  • You applied for XXXX role - could you tell me what attracted you to apply for it in the first place?
  • What makes you the right person for this role?
  • What skills and experience do you want to highlight straight away in relation to this role?
  • What relevant experience do you have in - (a) could be a particular industry sector (b) a particular project subject matter
  • Tell me about the process knowledge you have - IT development lifecycles - project management methodology
  • I notice you have the PRINCE2 practitioner's accreditation - do you have your candidate number to hand or would you be able to email it over to me later?
  • The role demands that the Project Manager has exceptional leadership skills and a good deal of assertiveness - how would convey this about yourself?
  • What would others in your team right now or previous role really say about you? What kind of feedback on people management skills?
  • Tell me why in five words your CV should be in front of the client today?
  • Having heard more about the role is there anything that makes you want this role even more than before?
  • The specification for the role is asking for a proactive, enthusiastic and ambitious individual - are you this?
  • Are you passionate about your project management role?
  • What elements of your role do you not like performing at present - why?
  • What was the last thing you learnt?
  • Describe your last conflict situation on a programme or project - how was it resolved?

Further Resources from Arras People

Project Management Career Q&A

PM CV Webinars

Project Management CV Webinars