If you’re looking for the perfect project management role, you have likely already listed your degrees, PMP certification, and skills on your resume. But, have you prepared for the most common project management interview questions that you will likely face as you sit for your evaluations?
Read on to learn what you can do to best prepare for your big project manager job interview. Before we look at some of the more common project management interview questions, we’ll break down the day-to-day responsibilities you will face and examine some skills needed for project management.
What Does a Project Manager Do?
Project managers are responsible for the entire lifecycle of a project. They will lead, plan, design, and oversee aspects of a specific project. These are talented individuals with a knack for leading people, balancing budgets, and keeping their eye on the prize.
These individuals have a good grasp of project management software like Slack, Asana, Basecamp, and Trello. You can go a step further and earn a certification in many project management software tools to further prove your proficiency.
What Skills Do You Need to Take On a Project Manager Role?
While you can learn some critical skills in project management courses, all good project managers need is leadership. While leadership is the base skill, there are tons of different skills that situations call for.
Good Interpersonal Skills
Working on a project with others means a lot of communication between team members. A challenging project may sink or swim, depending on what kind of leadership style you exude.
For example, if you consider yourself a ‘hands-off’ type of project manager, you might not work well during an intensive kind of project. This is especially true if you use the ‘sprint’ methods found in a software development work cycle like Scrum. Earning a credential in Scrum is also a possibility.
Along with whatever leadership style you use, you’re going to need to communicate with each member of the project team.
Successful projects all stem from a great organization. On both small and large projects, organization is crucial as it keeps you and your team on task.
Using natural leadership techniques and project management tools, the ideal project manager has everyone on the same page. With clear, concise goals and expectations for the working week, project managers keep everyone up to date.
Every project manager deals with risk. Very rarely does a development process go off without a hitch. Time and time again, errors and setbacks can occur. It’s up to the project manager to take command and use software and general knowledge to implement a useful risk analysis for anything that can go wrong.
How to Answer Common Project Manager Interview Questions
It’s time for your big job interview, but what should you be expecting? You will most likely get asked typical job interview questions, but you’ll also face some common project management interview questions. Let’s explore them below.
Can You Manage a Remote Team?
This is a more topical and recent interview question, but a crucial one. If you plan on being a fully-remote project manager, you’ll need to explain how you will manage your team without being in direct contact with members daily.
Your answer to this question should focus on how adaptable you are to changes. Working remotely presents significant changes in how work gets done. You should exhibit how well you can adapt to any substantial change while still delivering weekly goals.
You can even emphasize how well you and team members adapted to remote work in the past. For example, a project manager may send out daily or weekly emails with that week’s goals or update their team through a series of Slack posts.
How Do You Prioritize Different Projects?
When asked how you prioritize different projects, the interviewer determines how well you can analyze goals and deadlines. The interviewer wants to know if you can discern what’s essential versus what needs completing.
For example, you know that completing the testing phase is crucial. However, your software engineers have run into an unexpected error and need to fix it right away, but you only have time for one task. Do you slow down the process by fixing the bug right away?
Discuss in detail what you would do in such situations.
What Is the Best Quality of a Project Manager?
This question gives you the chance to exhibit your value to the hiring manager. You need to bring up concrete examples of situations in the past in which your considerable skills have come in handy.
What Is the Most Challenging Project You Managed and How Did You Ensure Success?
Giving the interviewer a concrete example of a time when you achieved your goals under a time of extreme stress is an excellent method of exhibiting your worth.
This is also where your response should include aspects of the STAR method. The STAR method is a quick and easy way to frame your personal experiences to help you in an interview.
You first take the situation, the overall experience. Then, the task you needed to complete. Next is how you acted under duress. Finally, what was the result of your actions?
Using the STAR method maps out your experience clearly and concisely for you and the interviewer. It also shows you have put a lot of thought behind your answer. It also indicates forethought and knowledge of management.
For example, while working on a software project, engineers encountered a problem setting your schedules back two weeks. Clearly explain how you took this seemingly negative experience and turned it into a resounding success.
If it wasn’t a success, how did the situation help you learn? Did it make you better at risk management? Always turn negatives into a potential positive.
What Was the Biggest Mistake You Made on a Project?
Describing your biggest mistake on a project is an excellent opportunity to further turn negative aspects into positive ones. In software development, things can go wrong at any time. However, it’s how you react to problems that will define your skills as a project manager.
Describe a time when you made a mistake. Don’t be afraid to be honest, but make sure that you emphasize what you did after the error occurred. You don’t want to say you got upset and got angry at your associates.
Instead, tell them how you rose above the mistake and it turned into a positive. Make sure that your example highlights the valuable knowledge you learned.
How Do You Deal with Conflict Between Team Members?
When asked how you deal with conflict, the answer to this question should exhibit your exemplary communication skills. If your team members are fighting, you don’t just send them emails telling them to stop.
As a successful project manager, you need to engage in effective conflict management. You need to meet with your conflicting team members and hear both of their sets of grievances.
You should be impartial and offer compromises and advice on how to proceed. Your response should include what you would do, and what you have done and why you did it.
Conclusion: Practice Your Project Management Interview Questions and Answers
Now that you know what to expect for a project manager interview, you should feel well-prepared for whatever project management position is on your horizon.
If more in-depth behavioral interview questions come up, remember to utilize the STAR method for some winning results. Through a mix of personal work experience and the STAR method, the hiring manager will see you are a good fit for the project manager role.